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JEHOCHANAN [Standing on the wall, speaking to his men, among whom are Archelaus and Jehuda.]

Take care lest anybody suspect you have weapons beneath your cloaks. And pretend to be townsmen, fearing the enemy’s power. Let one man hide behind another’s side, in the manner of a coward, as if cringing from Titus. Pretend to be eager for peace, and to have left the city because you fear an enemy attack. By this pretext you will deceive the Romans guarding the walls. Let every man hide this deceit behind a hangdog expression, and clamor for peace at the top of your lungs. When Titus has been tricked into granting you a truce, let each man rush against the enemy at full strength. But here comes Titus. Now you must use your wiles. [Enter Titus.]
TIT. [To one of his officers.] Gather select forces to protect against an enemy excursion as you pitch the camp we have moved from Mt. Scopus. Order the men to level our earthworks and fill in the ditches. Let the cedar fall out of the sky, chopped down with our steel, lest anything impede our soldiers on their march. [Seeing the Jews.] Why are these cloaked civilians gathering before the walls?
ARCH. Famous heir of the whole wide world, Titus, mercifully receive the suppliant entreaties of our people and stretch your kindly hand over these wretches. The tyrants are oppressing us with extreme hardships.
TIT. [Aside.] What’s this? They are asking for my help against the Zealots. But they are afraid to approach, hanging back, fearing my trustworthiness.
JEH. We are city-men. Hear us, in your kindness. You are the sole remedy for our salvation. Help us in our suffering. Open the city gates, and we shall enter. We give you our word that your men will be able to enter safely, so that you can dictate laws to the city as its sole governor. Terrible hunger works its way through our vitals, our backs are swollen with welts from the lash. Both the tyrants and the dire conspiracy of abandoned men mark down everyone for murder. [To the Jews behind them in the city.] Why do you goad on our rebellious spirits, forbidding our escape with your threats? [To Titus.] Our words are fruitlessly borne on the light breeze, nor will their blind madness arm us as harsh agents of their evildoing.
TIT. What sudden commotion do I hear in the city? (Then let them that be upon the walls throw stones into the citty.)
JEH. They are dumping garbage on the head of anybody who attempts to reach the wall or fends of the Zealots with stones. Give your aid to our just complaints and lend a kindly ear to our prayers.
TIT. [Aside.] Their heavy complaints touch me, their sad sorrow oppresses my heart. But I suspect the secret schemes of this treacherous race. Who expects fidelity in such a wicked enemy? How greatly their minds recoiled from peace when Josephus recently exhorted them to accept a truce! Then fear strikes my anxious heart lest these people suddenly assault me from the rear. If ever I can lay avenging hands on the Zealots — but I shall follow where my martial duty leads me, and not rashly allow myself to be deceived by trickery. [To his men.] I order each one of you to remain in his place.
JEH. Is this Titus’ celebrated clemency? Is this the way he treats the wretched? In your opinion we are not sufficiently unhappy? Are you able to betray so many suppliants to tyrants?
LUCIUS [To his comrades.] Since we are now tired, why should we continue to work the ground, already exhausted by our mattocks, or dig deep trenches? Are you men able to spurn the booty offered us by the enemy? [At this point the supposed refugees come out of the city gate.] These civilians are standing unarmed before the walls, protected only by their cloaks. We can easily take them captive. [Suddenly the Jews spring back, revealing that they are armed.] Draw your swords. They are moving back. What’s this? An ambush. To arms! They have weapons beneath their cloaks. Both shame and fear compel us to act. They are harming us in a fight, our enemies are besetting us from all sides. Stones come flying from the walls and our fellows are falling. Why should I be sluggish and vainly put off the battle? [They fight.]
JEH. Do you thus immediately submit with downcast spirits, cowardly soldier? Are you unable to bear a wound? Is this how the Romans used to conquer? Are you not ashamed to be the capital of the world, you who find it tedious to confront your enemy? Can the Romans be deceived merely by the saying of a word? Oh, your courage is worthy of a boastful sham-soldier, you incarnation of the most arrogant of recruits! How prudently you guard against your enemy’s stratagems!
TIT. Let those Jews who display bad faith in their dealings hope for no good. Things always happen for the best for each man who governs himself with extreme caution and for all who guard against hidden schemes, loyal and kind to each other. Although the Romans have always met with success before with Fortune’s favor, because they always obeyed their general’s orders and did nothing other than what he commanded, now (I shudder to say it) they are attacking chaotically. They pay no heed to their leader and, worse of all, in Caesar’s presence they join battle rashly without orders. The rules of military discipline are weeping, but Vespasian will weep even more when he learns for this very conspicuous injury suffered by his country, since he grew old as a soldier, fighting in so many campaigns, but never arrogantly disregarding the conventions of war. Our ancestors used to impose the death penalty for even light infractions. Now my whole army plays the deserter. Once a father ordered his son beheaded because he fought a successful battle unbidden. If that victorious youth could not hope to obtain his life from his father, what penalty awaits you who can derive no profit from your adventure? Therefore let each man who voluntarily deserted his duty pay the severest penalty. By your example the rest will learn how shameful it is for soldiers to fight without their general’s command.
NICANOR Magnanimous commander, be merciful and spare your subordinates. Of their own free will they acknowledge their great offense and are quite shamefaced. This is a fault of soldierly courage, not of rebellious spirits. Have mercy on them, even if they have erred: they are soldiers overeager for glory. Do not be severe and frown on them, nor let your well-justified revenge be visited on brave men. Excuse their guilt with your customary clemency. Whatever injury their present boldness has inflicted will be repaid with interest in the future. Look on your fellow citizens with a kindly face. [Aside.] What is Titus doubtfully pondering in his breast?
TIT. Nicanor, it is a dire and shameful wrong to attack the enemy when your general does not wish it. I praise their boldness, but I require their obedience. I applaud men who are avid for glory, but I condemn their arrogance. But even though they have erred shamefully, I shall not spurn so many penitents. I shall avenge myself merely by holding them up as an example, for this will hurt them all the more. But since it would be a sad thing to destroy all these men (beheaded though they ought to be), let the very welcome deeds of the many atone for the infamy of a few. For the army demands this alone, as does my own conscience. [To the soldiers.] Let your future good behavior atone for the mistake you have just made. I absolve you of your great guilt, but let every man know that he owes his life to Titus.
Now I shall consider how to wreak vengeance on the enemy. At this point the ravine and the uneven roadway make it too difficult to climb the walls. Here my attacking troops would stumble, and the first wall seems too stout for my rams. From another place the climb to the wall will be less arduous. At the point where the tomb of Jehochanan the High Priest faces the city, the second wall raises itself more gently, not abutting the first one, and is lower. In this place it will be easier for me to break through the third wall, by which route, going through the citadel Antonia, the Temple and the Upper City can be taken. In this place, Sylla, let the ram batter the walls, and let our soldiers strive to break in.


TIT. Nicanor, quickly announce this to the Zealots. Now that its walls are damaged, the city is tottering, terrified of the victor’s final push. Let it at length restrain its rebellious ferocity. The conquered Zealots perceive that the city is in extreme difficulty, for a long time having vainly struggled against the Fates. Why should their pointless arrogance goad them on, or their blind anger inspire them? Therefore let Jerusalem submit her conquered hands, before the victor levels her to the ground.
NIC. [Calling out to the Jews on the wall.] Stubborn city, noble with your stiff neck, why do you still dementedly rage with your impotent wrath? Does your pointless arrogance goad you on, swollen because a kindly God once gave great things to your ancestors, mindful of His Covenant? Degenerate progeny of Abraham, are you still able to hope that your horned leader will lead you between the heaps of the standing sea, that pregnant clouds will rain down food, that the barren desert will spew forth water for you? Your unconquered virtue greatly puffs you up. Have not the children of the chosen race once felt the cruel government of a barbarian king? Indeed, when Pompey was general, the Jews’ necks were submitted to the sad yoke, and that proud victor himself stabled his horses in the Temple. But forget Pompey. Control of the city is in Titus’ grasp. Jerusalem’s high walls, its towers built on the lofty hill-crests, offer it scant protection. Forget all those miracles that happened in Egyptian cities and your enemies drowned in the swirling waters. Why should you be consumed by your desire or your ambition, relying on its evil pursuits? City, even at this late hour you must abandon your rebellious spirits, repress your stubborn ferocity, lest Titus, loosing the restraint on his justifiable wrath, totally abolish the seed of this rebellious race, wreck your nation, and sell you into slavery to your enemies, or whatever else an angry victor dares to do. Titus in his mercy will forgive you your serious offenses, and at no time will he not be favorable to the city. He only claims the right to rule. [Aside.] Why do their remain silent like so many mutes? Is it thus that they strike my left shoulder with a dart? [He falls.]
TIT. The arrow has disrupted the channel of life for this officer. Is this the way the city expresses its gratitude to a deserving man? It cannot spare an officer who is talking good sense to it? Let the forest be cut down and raise our rampart to the sky. Let the oak groan, cut down with its trunk severed. Let the wounded cedar, once eloquent, collapse with a great crash as it is summoned out of the sky, lying on the ground. Let the leafy ash lose its shadows. The executioner will flay furrows into the backs of whatever prisoners we have taken. Finally let them die, consumed by fire. Let some of them be half-eaten by beasts and then, still living, provide a second meal for them. [Enter the commander of Titus’ foreign auxiliaries.]
COM. Noble prince, mighty leader in war, our descendants will sing your praises for many generations, nor shall any age abolish your glory. Thronging battalions of soldiers are provided you by the race of Africa, stretching far over the globe, by that part of the world where springtime eases the warm day and the nearby sun touches the inhabitants with his fire, where the forest never loses its leaves because of cold. The world has freely sent you the distinguished strength of its youth, so that they will fight with you as your comrades in arms. (Let the Souldiers be Moores, Africans, Aramites, Chaldeans, Persians, Burgundians, Brittons, Kederans, <as described by Josephus> in The Jewish War.) Great leader, why hesitate to use your forces to smash their rebellious spirits? Why are we spending so much time vainly attacking their walls from our camps? Now let a miserable slaughter cover the Jewish fields, let our greedy soldiers divide their magnificent spoils. Let the eager victor see the city’s high glory leveled to the ground. Let Jerusalem have itself to forgive to its protracted ruination.
TIT. Great-hearted captain, let not the enemy’s courage, which you do not know, raise your spirits immoderately. Such a powerful city cannot be overthrown in war by the first attack. Will any later age believe that twenty-four thousand men boldly offered themselves in battle, effortlessly cut down as men are wont to chop off the heads of poppies with their sharp swords? Think of them as wild beasts, not men. You are suggesting something stupendous. After this long drawn-out fighting, rest your men’s exhausted hands. Leave the battle to our cohorts. My battle line desires to stand with bared weapons, so that it will win the glory of conquering the Jews.
NIC. (?) [Aside.] Why is Titus plunged in silence? He can work harm on our enemy in battle. But a messenger hurries hither. [Enter Artorius.]
ART. After our wooden rampart struggled to overtop the walls with its proud head, the busy hands of Isaac’s children provided a defense. Their barrage of arrows prevented us from carrying on with our work, and they sent out fighting-bands, rushing through sally-ports. The Romans protected their works with planking. Their ballistas shot huge rocks, huge stones flew whizzing through the air. Why say more? Both sides turned to their accustomed skills. The Jews avoided the Romans and returned, not leaving their positions undefended. The Zealots knew what to do about the rocks and took precautions: for these were white in color and their conspicuous hue gave warning that one had been launched. So not just the sound of the shot, but also the shouting of the Jews in nearby watchtowers, warned them of incoming rounds even as the battering-ram brought its swinging arms into play. Lest the rocks fall without hitting their dodging targets, the Romans painted them black in the hope of deceiving the enemy’s eyesight. After that the rocks did not miss their mark. Each one weighed a talent, and the missiles flew through the air for more than a stade. [Exit.]
TIT. Now we must work out some plan which will be more suitable for action. You, Lepidus, will remain here to learn if any refugee crosses the walls, finding out what final strategies the citizens have devised: have they decided to defend their barricaded walls or does some unholy frenzy drive them against their own people — the one thing remaining when hope of salvation has departed? [Exeunt all but Lepidus.]
 LEP. Within the city a hoarse trumpet call strikes the air. At the same time, they are fighting, and I can hear battles erupting in various parts of the city. Inside, the shouting of men and the clash of arms fill Jerusalem, the groans of the dying and the voices of men exhorting each other. Even though they see armed bands of their enemies threatening their walls, they have no fear to lay cruel hands on themselves. Do they dare wage a civil war while their enemy looks on? Can Isaac’s children have such open contempt for Titus? [A refugee, Aeneas, steals out from the city gate.]
But who hastens here from the city? Suddenly he stands stock-still in amazement, his hair on end. Pale, he shudders from terror’s recent chill. [To Aeneas.] Why do you keep silent, your eyes staring? Ease your mind, fear nothing hostile here.
AEN. Why do the Fates forbid me to die along with my country? I would gladly join the fellowship of the blessed shades. Why do my enemies deny me the death I crave?
LEP. Let no tremor shoot through your quaking limbs. Gather your wits, not regarding yourself as a captive. Describe to me the situation in the oppressed city, what plans the tyrants have for the war. Are the tyrants still breathing savage battles? Blind fury rages in their obstinate hearts.
AEN. When your dense throng surrounded the walls and the Roman standard-bearer raised aloft the eagle, when the ram threatened the wall with its iron horn, Schimeon, who happened to be nearest, gathered his wits and threw his bands into the battle. He reinforced the walls with timber baulks and hastened to strengthen it with horizontal beams. But out of fear of Schimeon, Jehochanan did not budge from his place. The credulous people, now shattered by the devastation and killing, formed the vain hope that a Roman victory would give them a brief respite from their troubles, as the victors would take time to inflict their vengeance. But after the Romans broke off the fighting and the bugle sounded the retreat for their maniples, the three tyrants were swept back into their mutual destruction: in sum, they were more interested in domestic slaughter. They stabbed at each other impiously, in the manner of beasts.
LEP. Consider yourself lucky that you left the city. Henceforth you will be safe in Titus’ camp. [Exit Aeneas.] What racket are the citizens making? [Enter Ophir, another refugee.] Do not be afraid.
OPH. Grief, madness, murder, famine are besetting the city. After the iron-clad horns of the battering ram began to do damage to the walls, lest from afar the Jews’ arrows keep them from doing their work, Titus ordered the Romans to batter the walls at three points. The city, thus pounded, reverberated with terrible echoes. A mighty shouting went up to heaven. [Exeunt. Enter Schimeon and Jehochanan on the wall.]
SCHIM. Let a herald make the following proclamation throughout the city. Those terror-stricken men who are presently cowering within the Temple now have free access to the walls. Released from their sacred prison, let them fear nothing. Jehochanan, for a long time the Roman ram has battered our walls with its horn. The battering-ram, never letting its arm swing to no good purpose, moves its great weight so that a part of the wall has been demolished. The inside of the wall gapes wide, with the result that an equal danger confronts the both of us. Let the rivalry of our souls cease, and also our discord. Let us join forces as Jerusalem’s avengers.
JEH. Jehochanan, I know what an angry victor can dare, and our evils cannot be finished save by bitter fighting. From the outside, Titus threatens us with fire and crucifixion, and they have marked down David’s city alone for punishment. A secret serpent hides within our bosom which, unconcerned about our welfare, eagerly devises wrongdoing in its mind. We are only brave when it comes to killing each other. I shall join myself to you as a comrade in this war. [Exeunt. Enter Terentius and Antonius at ground level.]
TER. Although our savage ram has dealt out its blows, on high the Zealots have resisted us from their citadel. Our enemy has blocked our effort, and though the air has hurled down torches and smoking firebrands. Their missiles fly everywhere; their arrows, shot from every side, conceal the sky. When one of our men has been a bit too slow in shooting at an enemy, he has been the first to feel the winged shaft, and in the same way the man aiming his javelin is whirled around backward. While another hurls a rock through the air at the walls, he is suddenly hit in the face by an arrow, and the rock goes wide, striking nobody. The bars of the city gates open up and the enemy battle-line suddenly rages at us. Torches are suddenly kindled, so as to disrupt our wooden ramparts. The planking catches fire and roars. The enemy would have achieved his goal if Titus had not seen this outrage from afar and brought up reinforcements. Then with its resonant brass the trumpet blew and a shout arose to heaven. Titus threw in his Alexandrian cohorts. He made his way through the missiles, through the fire. They used their good right hands in the fighting, and harsh death was no source of fear. This man fought with the sword, that one plied his lance, another shot arrows with his bow, many threatened the enemy with their curved blades. Unmercifully the soldiers on both sides gave bodies to indiscriminate death, the sated earth drank fresh blood, the gore of the two sides intermingled. Titus rushed against the enemy, surrounded by a band of cavalry, and with his own hand dispatched twelve of the enemy to the Underworld. Immediately the enemy gave way to panic and fled, receiving themselves back into the city by means of an open sally-port. Titus crucified a captive Jew, so that the sad spectacle would frighten the rest. With an arrow an Arab transfixed Jehochanan, an Idumaean nobleman, a man who surpassed the others in warlike praise, while he happened to be speaking to a soldier-acquaintance. The missile protruded from his back and he fell headlong on the ground.
ANT. Is there no hole gaping in the wall?
TER. Indeed, only the ram belonging to the Fifth Legion broke off a corner of the citadel, and the Jews feared the collapse of the exposed tower. But the intact wall withstood this trifling damage.


LONG. The moon had completed scarce her orbit, guiding her chilly chariot. One of our great machines suddenly collapsed. As it fell out of the sky, it filled the fields with a horrendous crash. The mass of my soldiers, ignorant of the cause, were swiftly awakened. Terrified, each man snatched up his weapons in haste, his astonished heart leaping in his doubtful breast. Just as the swollen south winds dampen the sides of water-laden clouds and they split the sky, so the commotion tumult oppressed our legions. Nor could anyone say what had happened. Timorous, they pondered this event in their confused minds, and even though there was no enemy present, they imagined various fears. Then each man demanded the password, as if the Jews had now captured their camp.
[…] What was the outcome of this huge commotion?
LONG. The wooden structure collapsed of itself, nor did the enemy’s courage or action play any role. When Titus ordered that this be announced throughout the army, the soldiers’ minds became settled and quiet. [Enter Artorius.]
ART. Even though the Jews were no less courageous, and even though their blood ran just as high, they could not withstand the damage done by our machines. Every kind of missile was shot against them. One man hurled whizzing stones from his sling. Another fired arrows from his death-dealing bow. Many men sent brazen shot humming. A part of the Jewish force was laid low by the number of advancing Romans. They could not level the tops of the earthworks, and the siege machines fended off their fires because they were iron-clad. The Jews did not hurl rocks down from above, nor throw torches, previously soaked in sulphur. Gradually they retreated toward the city. The ram dealt out its blows with impunity, and a chunk of the wall broke off where it struck, at a point where its wooden mass prevailed over the opposing wall (the Jews called this machine “Nikon” because it laid everything low, as a victor, from a distance ceaselessly battering the tottering fortifications). Suddenly shaking with fear, they fled within.
Afterwards, because they could not mount more ambushes in broad daylight, or avoid the dangers of fighting on open ground, or perhaps because they were exhausted by their vigils and the extended battles, or erred in their judgment out of excessive caution, or were done in by their exertions, or possibly because a second wall remained, they betook themselves to hidden recesses and turned their backs on their enemies. Our men attacked this battered wall by way of its gaping hole, and our cohorts competed with each other in climbing over the ruins. But a new wall was quickly thrown up in their way. They were ashamed that all their efforts had been frustrated, and they were tired of renewing hazardous attacks. They quickly retired to their camp in chagrin, but the greatest part of the wall has been razed. [Enter Cornelius.]
ART. Tell me what prevails in the besieged city.
CORN. Grief, outrage, hunger, ruin, devastation, all the things that occur during a protracted war.
ART. Quickly tell me who is the victor.
CORN. Titus, not far distant from the second wall, sought to climb it by bringing up ladders, and on their side the Jews divided their forces. Jehochanan put up resistance from the citadel Antonia, next to the tomb of Alexander, and from the portico of the Temple. Not far away to the north, the son of Gioras and his gang defended Jehochanan’s tomb in order that the right noble captain could keep the Romans from the walls. Every day the citizens’ forces made eruptions, and every day they were forced back into the city. The Roman and Jewish armies constantly joined in sharp fighting. What manner of crime did their soldiers not commit in their impatience? When they fought on equal terms, the Roman forces prevailed, but the Jews fared the better when it came to fighting from the wall. Kindly Fortune and their much-praised martial skill sustained the Romans, while the Jews were supported by fear, fed by boldness. The former were stimulated by hope of a speedy victory, the latter were inspired by hope of salvation. Neither side was overcome by exhaustion in the fighting. On both sides the men slept under arms, and at dawn renewed the fight. They were inspired by their captain’s popularity, but most of all fear of Schimeon urged them on, lest he order somebody executed without any trial. The Romans drew their inspiration from their frequent victories in the past, their oft-proven virtue, their martial skill, their constant wars, the expanse of their empire: they were scarcely accustomed to being conquered, always to conquering. But their greatest inducement was the presence of Titus, the man who gave out the rewards for courage. The gravest crime was cowardice when Caesar was looking on and bearing witness. Each man strove with extra vigor to prove himself valiant when his eagerness was on view. (Enter Titus, escorted by many of his men. Josephus is one of his companions.)
TIT. Longinus, flower of the equestrian order, you charged the strongest part of the enemy battle-line drawn up before the walls, and, breaking through them all, met and killed two of their bravest men, running one through face-to-face, and then, drawing out your sword from the first one’s body, stabbed the other in the side as he turned away. Then, wielding your sword, you cut your way through the enemy and were the first to return to your own men. Posterity will extol you to the heavens.
But the Jews are plotting how to inflict future injuries on us. Why do they trust any more to the kindly Fates? They are carefree about dying, and think the easiest fate is to perish along with an enemy. In their extremity, people lash out violently. But it is most praiseworthy for a general to care for the safety of his soldiers, no less than to set up victory trophies. In his victory the winner will take more precautions. For it is a loser’s triumph to destroy the greater along with the lesser. One must carefully guard against people thinking you win thanks to pure chance, since you cannot avoid the disgrace which is the companion of danger. It is safer to conquer your enemy with as little losses as possible. [Enter three Jews, Cantor, Alanus, and Archelaus.]
CANT. Great-hearted general, noble offspring of Caesar, graciously hear my words. Why are you wheeling up your machine against the walls, attacking our high towers with its constant rotation? See, we have fallen at your knees as suppliants. Help us in our affliction, gently restrain us in our error. We have endured unspeakable things. Restrain our madness.
TIT. Do the Jews voluntarily repent their stubbornness? [To his men.] Let our arrows cease. [To Cantor.] Why are you calling on Titus?
CANT. So you might snatch us from the savage tyrant’s jaws. I promise that I am your obedient subject, and whatever my unhappy lot brings me will be no cause for shame.
TIT. I should gladly congratulate the city, if this were the common opinion of all her citizens. But I freely grant your request.
ARCH. The rest of us humbly beg the same thing, that the war be ended and fostering peace return.
ALAN. You cowardly soldier, is this the way to cast aside your warlike spirits? Should you have submitted your neck to the yoke voluntarily? Is our sacred race able to walk behind a triumphal chariot, hands bound behind our backs? Judah’s children should die as free men.
CANT. [Aside to Alanus.] Hear me privately. Be loyal and secretly announce this to Schimeon. Titus has interrupted his attack on the walls. There will be a time of rest for him to form his plans.
TIT. What is Cantor secretly muttering to the soldier?
CANT. [To Titus.] How long will this doubtful war drag on? What can our stubborn spirits hope for? Ravishing hunger burns at our vitals, everywhere the Zealot movement is prostrate because of self-inflicted killing, the insane rage of famine spreads through our veins. The Temple is befouled. The one hope that remains for us is the clemency of Titus, so long offered. [Aside, to his companions.] You, pretend to have stabbed yourself to the heart. At this distance Titus cannot perceive the deception.
TIT. Oh, the obstinate madness! They are killing themselves. Regret for their deaths moves me no small amount.
CANT. An arrow shot by an Italian hand has struck me. A suppliant, am I not begging for your grace? See, here is the missile, torn out of my body. Why do you allow me, a refugee, to suffer such horrible things?
TIT. Cantor, you should not take it amiss if a bolt, shot from the wall by an unknown hand, strikes you [To one of his men.] Lend a hand to this fallen man.
JOS. Why do you order a hand to be lent to this treacherous fellow? Jewish perfidy is well known.
TIT. Aeneas is running up and reaching out to him.
CANT. First, take this money in the outspread lap of your garment. [He picks up a rock and throws it at Aeneas.]
TIT. What’s this? While Aeneas stretches out his garment to the refugee, the treacherous man tries to brain him with a rock. He saves his life by dodging, but a nearby soldier is done in by a severe wound. Why should I be so crazed as to look any further? The trickery is manifest. Now I realize that mercy in war is a harmful thing, and that harshness is less taken in by fraud. All over the field our siege-machines are falling. See how our tower suddenly glows, as it is put to the torch. Stop! The fire, crackling under the sky, threatens our works and, powerful with its flame, strives to set them ablaze. How these Jews offered their suppliant hands to the victor! They are leaving their walls exposed to their enemies. Let our forces climb the high parapets.


ALEX. Sons of Judah, why do you not recognize that your fate has been hurried along, you have consumed the greater part of your allotted span? Alas, each of you is rushing towards his predestined end, nor can exert any control over himself. God on high drags along the unwilling and (even worse) makes this His own undertaking. [Enter Lucius.]
LUC. After Titus made his dash through the city, no armed enemy opposed him. Without difficulty he made his way to the Clothes Market. From all sides many people begged him to think about preserving the city for its inhabitants, and the Temple for the city. Titus swiftly published orders to his troops that nobody should offer injury to the citizens. If the Zealots attacked them in their arrogance, then they should resist without harming the townsfolk. But what’s this? Why does the noise of fighting rise up to heaven within the city? [Enter Artorius.]
 ART. Titus is hard pressed within. He orders you to aid him in his distress (Then let Alexander with his men go into the Citty to Succour Titus.) If Titus had immediately taken the city by storm and had paid no heed to the citizens’ entreaties, Jerusalem would have come within his power. But the Jews took his patience for cowardice, and persuaded themselves that he was showing favor to them out of fear. So our general’s brief truce whetted their appetite for fighting, which had previously faded. [A trumpet calls offstage.] But why is the bugle sounding retreat? The Romans are abandoning the city. [Enter Titus.]
TIT. What a great virtue is sad necessity, which spurs on the coward and forces the timorous to conquer in battle! Our Roman courage is unable to overcome their fierce spirits, and we have been forcibly compelled to leave the city.


 SAB. After three days our general won control of the second wall, after his savage machine was given its head to mete out heavy blows. Although the Jews stood before the wall, defending it with the spear, when finally they could not withstand their enemies’ assault, and shot arrows vainly into thin air, they gave our machine the time to do its damage. Now they have fled within. [Enter Titus.]
 TIT. The storming of the third wall looks to be a light matter, and I shall grant the enemy a very short delay for forming their plans. The majesty of the second wall will make an impression on them, and their minds will recover their lost sanity. Famine oppresses these people who have been hungry so long, and their captive booty does not suffice to feed them. Alexander, prefect of my army, you must immediately parade the army before the city walls. Let the legions spread out before them, shining with iron and bronze, in case the great splendor of their arms and the superb strength of our men might moderate the fierce spirits of our enemy. And in their sight let our officers dole out pay to their detachments in a prominent part of the field.
ALEX. I shall carry out your orders. [Exeunt omnes, except Artorius, one of Titus’ retinue.]
ART. Why does he refuse to make use of this victory, fallen into his hands? Although the unarmed common folk praise Titus’ great clemency because they think he is going to give them back the goods their masters have stolen, the bellicose accuse him of fear, saying that he makes these generous offers since otherwise he could not hold the city. If our general had been fixed in his purpose, and had immediately laid waste to everything that was his by right of conquest, as the victor he would have immediately swept all before him, at no cost. (Then let Alexander bring in the whole Army and many upon the walls behold it. {Archelaus and Jehuda view all this from the wall.]).
ARCH. The Roman army is lined up with drawn arms. All across the field their shining standards gleam. The infantry marches, threatening with its curved blades, and the standard-bearer shows the way to battle, moving his eagle. How elegant, how huge is this warlike array! My mind shudders, my fearful heart dances with terror. What kind of prey are we offering to these enemies? At length, we ought humbly to beg them for peace. Whatever necessity dictates will not be shameful. Everyone has his own destiny. The foundations for our future hope have been laid, nor has anyone proven kindlier than Titus. He will readily listen to our entreaties.
JEH. You cowardly soldier, you dream of peace too late. After all our crimes, can you hope for forgiveness? After the violence we have offered to God? Why is your spirit collapsing? Our proud wrath cannot be deflected. All our safety lies in the sword. We must be courageous, and Fortune favors the brave. A victor is always quick to punish. Titus is promising us the sword, the torch, his terrible crosses.
TIT. Since our fortune is running high and the city cannot stand for long, I shall give a rest to my exhausted cohorts and declare a pause in my campaign. Josephus, you must stand a stone’s throw away and exhort the Jews in your native tongue. Often eloquence overcomes violence. Why should the Zealots be afraid to yield a city that has previously been captured? God’s Temple is being offered as booty to a foe who does not want it. God’s holy mysteries are violated, the priest himself lies slaughtered as a victim. Only we enemies can bemoan the city’s catastrophe. What further crimes can the rebels now invent?


Although Jewish courage has been outstanding, and the greatest martial glory has distinguished our nation, nevertheless you should not have challenged the Romans, men of unsurpassed military virtue, to war. This virtue of theirs has forced peoples to offer their necks to the yoke to whom you, conquered in battle, have submitted your hands. Did the strength of your triple wall urge you on, or its sixty-cubit height? Do you not see that God’s house is in immediate danger of ruination? Spare the altars, spare its holy altars, spare God’s former dwelling-pace (for God Himself has abandoned it, since you have profaned His sacred rites). The altars are red with domestic blood, hostile soldiers are occupying the sacred precincts. What more need I say? Madness rules in the Temple. The Romans, their pure hands free of the stain of sacrilege, are eager to spare it. Why are you yourselves harsher than your enemies? They forbid the befouling of the sacred pillars with blood, and plan on preserving those things which pertain to our sacred Law — if you permit.
What further hope sustains you? The third wall alone remains, now that the first two have fallen. Is God going to rescue you with His hand? Are you expecting heavenly assistance from the sanctuary? The God Who used to protect you has departed from here and gone over to your enemies, because the Romans cultivate His rite with the same honor that the Jews once did, whereas we have offended Him. Opposed to you, God assists them — who doubts this?
Caesar has brought his fasces to all shores. Once upon a time Pharaoh held sway over the world. After him, the Jews had an equal dominion. The Assyrian domain stretched over many peoples. But their power has passed to the Romans, and the toga-clad race rules far and wide, save for where the land beneath the parching dog-star thirsts for water, and where the fields are hoary with frost. By their indomitable virtue they have conquered fierce peoples, nor is any nation silent about their victories.
But it is preferable to die a fine death in battle, rather than submit your necks to the yoke as slaves. When have the Jews failed to prefer a profitable servitude to a useless freedom? When a land which had previously flourished with crops grew barren, our forefathers would cheerfully move somewhere else, even if they would lose their freedom. Isaac’s offspring deserted their own home, and as newcomers betook themselves to Egypt. They wanted to turn the soil with the plow, so as to put an end to their ghastly famine. The father took with him his twelve children, the excellent beginnings of our nation. Joseph, sold into the land of the Nile, shamefully lay in prison with his legs enchained. But, released from bondage, as a stranger he shone among the highest nobility. Everyone carried out the orders that issued from his mouth, and he had no wish to return to his native land. Rather, he flourished there with his family as a refugee. Benjamin, held there by his brother’s pious trick, yielded to his overpowering scheme and did not think it a crime to go into servitude. On your necks you bore the yoke of the king of Assyria, a pleasant submission. You have obeyed the Egyptians (would that this had happened just once!), the Macedonians, Persians, Palestinians, and you were conquered by the Seleucids. You regard the Romans alone as oppressive, although they make you equal to your masters. It used to satisfy you to bear Caesar’s noble yoke, so that the city’s servitude would be moderated. We must think that obedience to Rome, in harmony with all the other nations, is a form of freedom. For the master’s dignity ennobles the servant’s submission. Romulus’ city, however, does not demand our submission, since it had been the mother of freedom. Once upon a time she could not tolerate the scepter of an arrogant king.
The man who throws off his master’s yoke is not a champion of public liberty, but rather a rebellious slave, bringing a shameful death down on himself. But let it be so. Let us assume it is to your advantage to refuse to tolerate Rome’s bridle. Let us inquire if this is free — or rather, whether it is not lethal. The Roman forces, the downfall of our nation, the burning of the house of God are upon us. We should not now be thinking about what may be useful, but about what is possible, nor is every question that touches our people to be measured by our untrammeled desire. There is a natural law throughout the animal kingdom that every beast must yield before a stronger one. The bull defers to the lion, the stag to the bear, the she-goat to her mate, the hawk to the eagle, and the dove to the hawk. The roebuck, furthermore, casts himself down as a suppliant before the leopard. Nature has commanded few to rule, most to obey, and honor has elevated only a small number. Mildness is the ornament of the majority. Nor are the animals ashamed to yield.
g (Here let him pause a while. [To himself.]) What’s this? They remain silent. Then I shall impress on the our holy traditions.
You polluted offspring of father Abraham, have you no shame to turn everything topsy-turvy? Why have you assembled your shields, your swords, your arrows? Weighed down with weapons, your militia is waging war — war against Rome herself. These were scarcely the weapons of our forefathers. Our great ancestor Abraham migrated from his land, and as a newcomer came to the kingdom of Geram, having Sarah as his companion. There the lascivious king of Egypt kidnapped her. As a captive, Abraham did not use his numerous soldiers, but he left himself defenseless and did his fighting with prayer, the shame of an abducted wife, and he did not persuade himself to resort to violence. He put on the armor of pious eloquence. Fearlessly he found his help in God, Who convinced the king while he was asleep. So the wife was given back without any fighting, and yet her husband won a victory. The king had his sleep, Abraham was in anguish, Sarah was terrified. The king renounced his crime and proclaimed that Sarah had remained faithful.
When Jacob was afraid of his brother’s hand, prepared for murder, he removed to another dwelling and took along his prayerfulness as a traveler’s aid. Brought to God’s encampment (as our forefathers say), Man wrestled with God. He who regarded himself as Man’s superior prevailed. His wand a-waving, our stammering leader terrified the kingdom of Egypt with miracles. Oh mighty wand! It hid the sky in darkness, drowned the land with rain, it dried up the waves of the ocean. Raging with his armed might, Pharaoh pursued the Jews. God, rich in victories, protected them. Our horned leader prayed. The hanging mass of the waters gave us a dry way for our footsteps. And the waters, closing in from both sides, drowned pursuing Pharaoh in their eddies. The people were amazed, Moses sang, the king sank down.
Joshua commanded seven priests to sound their trumpets, and the people to assault heaven with a great shouting. The walls collapsed, handing the citizens of Jericho a defeat. Their opponents’ army dashed into the city, killing everything, just as an Indian tigress is wont to despoil the flock deserted by its shepherd.
Gideon chose three hundred men for war, bidding hem carry no arms, but rather mysterious things. He placed lamps in their left hands, trumpets in their right. When the jars were broken and the trumpets blew raucously, the panic-stricken enemy took to their heels. Midian was dishonorably sent beneath the waters.
The Amalekites died, done in by a shameful wound. The wrath of God oppressed them no less than our struggle. This contention made us captives, God’s anger rendered them sacrilegious. The fighting scattered us far and wide, God’s anger entirely sustained us. Captivity created an association of the holy people with the gentiles, but their quarrelsome behavior abolished our favor towards them.
Why should I dwell on such things in my address? All things are full of horror and groaning, and each man is helping along our nation’s ruin. So far, these very baleful omens do not terrify you. For a long time you have placed no trust in heaven’s threats, you who are harder than stones. But turn your eyes, look at the wonderful handiwork of our city. What manner of city is this? What manner of Temple? Do the gentiles have such great and admirable public sights? Who would hurl firebrands here, who would apply a hostile hand? What could be more worthy of your efforts to preserve it? What could be finer? In difficult times the vigor of our squabbles dissolves. Things acquire senses which lacked them before. The mountains tremble and sweat, dripping blood. Why are you more rock-like than the rocks themselves, unmoved by the crags’ tears? If the keenness of your vision is dimmed, at least let every man take pity on his family. Let your parents, your sons, your sweet wives hover before your eyes, who will shortly be consumed either by famine or war. Or (and this is sadder) they will be sold, and their necks will undergo the yoke of slavery. In a faraway land the Jewish chosen people will be carried along as a noble display in a victory procession.
My own mother and wife are exposed to this peril, I know. My family is scarcely ignoble, and my house was once among the most distinguished. But let nobody think that this is the only reason that I am urging such things on you. I am not concerned about them. Kill them, take my family’s blood as the price of your own salvation. I myself am now ready to die, if you are only willing to consider my arguments after Josephus is dead. If any of you suspects that we might break the treaty, you have my father, mother, and wife as pledges for this agreement. With their blood they will expiate the violation of trust. I swear by God, the terrible Avenger of crime, at the same time I shall offer myself in the city for the killing.
[To himself.] They are muttering, collecting spittle in their mouths.
TIT. [To his officers.] I order that each of you who has any Jewish captives in custody should free them from imprisonment and return them safely to the city. I think it of the utmost utility that we wheel the horned ram up to the citadel Antonia. As I see no signs of peacefulness in the city, let two ramparts be erected where Jehochanan was once buried, since by that route the Upper City can possibly be taken. At the same time, the Temple can be occupied by way of the Antonia. Unless I capture it, it will not be safe for us to take Jerusalem. [Exeunt Titus, Josephus, and the entire Roman party.]
ZACCAR {A starving man, stealing out of the Cittye.] Does anybody see me? Shall I be captured and dragged back? Whether I remain at home or escape, in either case I shall die. There is no place safe and free from hardship. Hunger, captivity, terror are in the city, and they are attacking from without. But weapons frighten me less. To the extent that one of us retains his physical strength, he is suspected of hoarding food in his home. And if he happens to confess to having any, they apply manner of torture. They invent punishments of novel cruelty. They scourge their victims’ bare backs with sharp rods while making false accusations of desertion against the wretches. And in order to extract our citizens’ money, they make open announcements that, if food is not given to themselves, they will devour their flesh along with that of their children and sweet wives. A wife would scarcely confess to her starving husband that she had any food, a mother would scarcely tell her son. They are unashamed to take away the ultimate dregs of life from their near and dear. In my misery I am compelled to leave the city to pluck grass and whatever bark may still be on the trees, ([Exit.] Let a mute steal out of the Citty with a little rotten hay in his hand; let another follow and pluck the hay out of his mouth and runn away the other dying for want, and let be shewed such other like Acts to express the famine. Then let many escape over the walls and flye, the Romains meeting and killing them.)
SCHIMEON (upon the Walls.) If any refugee deserts the sacred city, or even shows the slightest signs of flight, the sword will be drawn and probe his guts, a rabid wild dog will tear his body with its fangs. Herald, publicly announce these things to the citizens. If anyone henceforth converses with Josephus, let him pay the penalty for high treason. If somebody dislikes this decree, anyone is free to lay cruel hands on him, and there shall be no investigation of the deed.
My dear friend Anani bar Benado, Mathias is secretly thinking about escaping to the Roman camp. Unless the treasonous fellow and his knavish sons are immediately condemned to death, they will do great harm to this city. Who is unaware that these men know all sorts of secret hiding-places and byways in the city? The traitor is able to let in the Romans. [Mathias and his sons are dragged in.] The priest and three of his sons are here, since the fourth has already escaped to the Romans. With justice, I say they deserve to die.
MAT. Schimeon, I beseech you to do me this one favor now. Let the sword pierce my vitals immediately lest I, their father, have to watch my sons die. I am not asking for my life, I just want to be the first to perish. I am tired of the breath of life, and I hope for baneful death. I am only asking for the order of our demise. I was the first to see the light of the sun, I am the first to feel the approach of an old man’s end, so let me not in my unhappiness survive my sons. Even if I were to keep silent, piety legitimately demands it. Previously I opened up the city gates for you, and so I confess I am guilty of an unspeakable crime against my city. I was your sole friend, Schimeon. So by right I owe this penalty to my fellow citizens, and you have incurred this debt to me.
SCHIM. You will die.
MAT. But concede this one thing to me, that an unhappy father might kiss his sons before he dies.
SCHIM. No, from their high ramparts let our enemies watch you paying the penalty, in case they might care to fight and liberate their traitor. Let the priest Ananias die at the same time, and whatever leading citizens offer themselves. Let the sword be driven deep within their breasts, let the greedy vultures feed on their limbs.
MAT. My sons, I have been the cause of your death. My nation, forgive me: I acknowledge my crime. I freed you from Jehochanan’s murderousness But in truth, alas, see how Schimeon is worse than him. We hoped he would be mild, we found him a beast. Our gentile opponent consumes us with his fire. But you, worse than the enemy, hurl your torches into the very Temple. He offered and granted us a truce so that we might perform God’s holy rites. You shed the blood of God’s people in the middle of the market-place. You (alas, my spirit shrinks from saying this) extinguished the sacred fires burning on the altars with the blood of our priests. Oh my nation, what salvation can rescue you? Too late I acknowledge my foolishness. Willingly I pay this penalty I owe to you — not the penalty of crime, but that of folly. I owe my fellow citizens this forfeit, you owe me your gratitude. The townsmen demand this penalty as the price for my betraying the city to you. When did I ever betray you? Because I asked you to be the nation’s champion, I am guilty in the sight of Jerusalem. Alas, city, we both paved the way for your downfall, I by my mistake, Schimeon by his unspeakable knavery. I am grateful to you for this, Schimeon, that I will not outlive the conflagration of my city. Go ahead, sons, prepare the way for your father. This tyrant will not let me go on before. That old-fashioned inhumanity of the Persians has returned. Wicked King Antiochus forced their mother to watch her sons as they were about to die.
But come now, quickly give the order that the sons be killed in their father’s sight — quickly. For me this will be a reward, not a punishment. I shall receive the executioner’s blow in my son’s embrace. I shall fall over their bodies and be a sepulcher for them. I shall cover them like turf, lest they be devoured by wild beasts, more savage than yourself. Sons, announce to your ancestor’s holy shades that our free people are enslaved by a race of traitors. A people for whom the sea made a passage, for whom the sun stood still in mid-sky so that it might overwhelm the enemy, is not permitted even a safe slavery. It is much better for me to die than to live on after my sons’ cruel death.
My sons, how welcome it is for us to die rather than endure slavery’s yoke! The injuries of the body are preferable to those of the mind. What advantage is there for you in witnessing the massacre of your fellow-citizens or the sad death of your nation? Hurry, executioner. For this is Schimeon’s command. While you are still holding the bloody sword, strike the father. Let your blow not lose its vigor. This will be the sole remedy for me in the hour of my death. Thus the pain of the wound or the sword-blow will trouble me less. Strike me in the sight of the Roman army. For this is Schimeon’s order. Let them witness this crime who will avenge it. Our enemies are groaning, although no friend groans. Let the Romans be the judges of this affair. For Schimeon is butchering me without trial. I call on the Romans to testify on my behalf. They never saw me playing the traitor in this war, they never saw me deserting my city’s houses. Now I pay the penalties worthy of my crime, since I summoned by sons’ enemy. [They kill him.]
SCHIM. Behead Aristaeus the scribe. Let the executioner kill Canachu the priest. These four are guilty of this crime. [Exeunt all the Jews except Jehuda and Archelaus, who have been present during the execution of Mathias and the others.]
JEH. Why should we constantly put up with such horrible things? What hope of salvation remains for us? How long should we give our loyalty to this ingrate of a leader? Famine clings to our bones, the enemy possesses the city. Schimeon mocks the loyalty of men who deserve well of him. Our sole cause for fear is that our captain may visit punishment on us, for the Romans are offering guarantees of peace. So why hesitate to betray the city? Thus we can save our nation and ourselves. Schimeon will suffer no greater hardship if he pays the penalty quickly: he has nothing to hope for.
ARCH. Noble Judes bar Judes, command me to share any danger with you. Fearlessly I promise you my loyalty.
JEH. [Calling down to the Romans.] Noble Roman soldiers, whose great virtue won the rule of the world, your clemency has overcome even our barbaric spirits. I beg you to bring the final assistance to Jerusalem in her misery. Our tyrants our drowning us in their savage waves, their barbaric cruelty scourges us unhappy people. Give us back the friendly leisure of nurturing peace, aid us in our agony, promise us life. We shall hand you over the city, its walls undefended, and whatever Fortune brings us in our agony will not be shameful.
FRONTO [To Sylla.] Their pain sadly wounds my heart. In the face of such ills, who can be hard-hearted? Let us aid them in their affliction. The warrior strives to win in battle. When he emerges the victor, he immediately cultivates peace. It suffices for him to know that he is able to destroy the conquered.
SYL. Soon the city will be captured, and Titus will spare the afflicted. Rome is accustomed to conquer by courage, not deceit, nor will she ever accept traitors, fighting according to the rules of war no less than she fights with vigor. Titus has all but taken the city. Why should they turn it over at such a late date? [Schimeon suddenly appears on the wall.]
SCHIM. Jehuda, you wicked traitor, is this how you keep your sworn faith? Are you able to watch the Roman soldiers flying throughout the city, and your fellow citizens with their hands bound behind their backs? [To his men.] Remove the criminal head of this criminal fellow, and visit a thousand punishments on his associates. [Exeunt. Enter Josephus and Sabinus at ground level. They are spotted by Jonathas on the wall.]
JOS. Here is the tower where my father Mathias Currus, bent by his years, is imprisoned — if he is still alive. Nothing is greater in my prayers. I shall dare to approach closer to me walls to see if I can free my father along with my fatherland.
 JON. [On the wall.] Josephus is coming. I shall throw a rock at him. [He does so.} Josephus has fallen. Let the traitor die. Josephus is giving up the ghost. [To his friends.] Rush there so that we may steal his body from the Romans. The armed Romans are much too late in guarding his body. (Let Sabinus lift up Joseph and chafe him till he recover life in him.)
SAB. His heart is not beating, he has yielded up his life. [Then he notices that Josephus is still alive.] Recover yourself, gather your scattered wits. Get up. Is he breathing? Has he revived? Such great virtue cannot die at once. [Josephus’ mother can be seen approaching on the wall.] Why does Josephus’ mother approach in outrage? For a long time she has been living in another family’s house, in bondage and guarded by two men. (Let Josephus mother come to the top of the Walls and speak to the Maied†.).
MOTHER Is this the honor accorded to childbearing? Is this how they regard all those months of travail in carrying a child? Was I, a mother, spared for this moment, so that I can neither perform maternal duties towards a living son, nor bury him when dead? As his mother, I would rather have hoped that he would perform the burial rites owed to a departed parent, that I would give up the ghost in his arms, that he would cherish his mother’s stiffening limbs and breathe in her last gasps. But since the sad Fates have denied this wish, would that your pitiable mother would be allowed to embrace your body, to close your eyes with her hand! I want to embrace your corpse. I am your survivor — although much more than I would have wished. Would that I could gaze on your body from the walls, and even if I can scarcely touch you, nonetheless would that nobody would prevent me! But my unhappy lot must be borne. In my misery, what should I fear, now that I have been deprived of such a son? Why should I be afraid of my destiny? Death is a kindness. Let everyone now throw their spears at me, let each man now plant his sword in my heart. Although I cannot do this while still living, in unhappy death I can cover my son’s body, and my garment can serve as a single shroud for the burial of two. My enemy will perhaps grant me this, that as his mother I can hide my son’s eyes with my garment, that we can join face to face and hand to hand.
JON. If you want to hasten along the tardy Fates, why not hurl yourself off the high wall?
FRONT. How greatly I pity her! Alas, who is not moved by his mother’s sorrowful speech? Her own people insult her, her enemies cherish her. Among her own people there are threats and cruelty, among us Romans kindness and pity.
MOTH. If there is any piety among you, stab me with your swords. I, the mother, carried in my womb the man on whom you demand revenge. Unhappy me, I nursed him, I suckled him. If you want to kill him, kill me first.
JOS. [Recovering.] How sweet it would have been to meet death before my nation perishes! I would die for my country, as long as I could make it see reason. Alas, how unhappy I am! Now I am not a son striving for his parents’ salvation. They are bent with their great age, and if they meet their end in prison, death will be their liberation. We should tremble for our holy altars and Temple courtyards, for God’s Temple, for our half-destroyed walls. I exposed my breast to injury lest I see my country glowing with flames and our heavenly Dwelling belching smoke.
MATHIAS CURRUS ( (being in Prison in one of the Towers of the Cittye Wall.) Why should I unhappily lament my imprisonment and bondage, now that my dear son has revived? Suddenly joy strives with sorrow. O Joseph my son, my son dearer than life itself, would that I could embrace you, or speak a few words with my child! But, my boy, what is the point of bewailing your misfortune? That you are an exile? How many exiles are there in this country? Their enemies delight in supporting them, their friends in ruining them. If you must die, you will perish along with your nation. (Let him sing this looking out at a grate, and Recorders bill by his voyce.)
The father is held in chains, the son wanders in exile, the city is swollen with madness, Sorrow is overcome by sorrow. Why should the father mourn the son? Why should the son bewail the father? The city is destroyed by abandoned men. Sorrow is overcome by sorrow. Whenever the owl sings, he mourns. His song is mournful, his lamentation is tuneful. His sorrow drenches his song with tears. Sorrow is overcome by sorrow. [Exeunt omnes. Enter Arsimon, escaping over the Walls.]
ARS. Inside the city Schimeon is forbidding our escape, and from the outside we are deterred by our enemies’ cruelty. But hunger overcomes both dangers and compels me to flee against my will. (Let diverse one after another escape over the Walls in diverse places. [Enter Schimeon on the wall and Titus below.])
TIT. [Calling up to the Jews on the wall.] What great insanity occupies your mind, that the fates of this tremendous war and the horrendous threats of battle inspire no fear in you? We victorious Romans have seized the surrounding region and can see ruination staring David’s city in the face. How much more pleasant is a single day of living in the sunlight than an eternal night of death! Which of you can retrieve his personal fortune or rescue God’s Temple from the savage fires? If harsh necessity compels you, submit your conquered hands to the victors. The high glories of your towers are toppling, the greater part of your city and the glittering treasuries of so many of your citizens lie in ashes. (Let him shew foure with the right hand cut of.) See, the hands of these treacherous Jews have been cut off, lest anyone claim that they deceitfully came to us as fugitives. The majority of them lie dead, cut down by the sword. Let us not offer pledges of security to citizens who exhibit no interest in fidelity, treaties, or peace.
SCHIM. [Calling down.] Titus, why do you threaten Abraham’s children with the yoke of dire death? God’s chosen race will never be made prey for your triumphal procession, or offer its conquered neck for your trophies. Nor can the Jews follow Titus’ triumphal chariot, their hands bound behind their backs. Your clemency is more murderous to us than your almighty cruelty, surrounded by so many Furies. The cruelty robs us of life, the clemency of life as free men. Brave men ought to defend their nation, and for this we have long ago pledged our lives. For this reason we have often received the expectation of a happy afterlife in heaven. We are eager to bear up under whatever horrible, cruel, bitter things you threaten us with, as long as we are fighting for our sacred rites, for the Temple of God, to which the nations of the ends of the earth piously defer, which nobody ever allowed to be violated with impunity. Titus, your weapons and your legions make no impression on us. Let torches be hurled, let your soldiers thunder horrible imprecations, let the city flow blood. Titus, you are achieving nothing. Our distinguished destiny, God of our heritage, You will appoint a large reward for the ruination we undergo. Eternal joy awaits us in heaven, we shall have the pleasure of mounting to the high kingdom of our Father Who dwells among the stars. Our forefathers have prepared a place for us among the souls of the pious. In heaven’s blessedness they daily await the arrival of their descendants, who shall be their companions. Rome will never see Jewish necks bearing the yoke, never following the splendid triumphal car, exulting in its laurel-wreathed fasces, like so many sacrificial victims. From the cradle, the Jewish race is consecrated to the service of God almighty. [Enter Momaganim.]
MOM. Heir of the world, glory of the universe, why are you Romans afraid to climb the walls? Why do you allow Jerusalem to remain standing after this long siege? Is this Roman courage? Is this the way Italian victors used to fight?
TIT. Mighty Momaganim, distinguished descendant of kings, this labor, this work is open for all comers. Why do I hesitate to attack Jerusalem?
MOM. In that place where the wall affords an easy access, the Jews will learn what King Antiochus’ offspring can do, the descendant of great Alexander. [Exit.]
TIT. Raise up the crucified bodies of the refugees, so that their fellow citizens can see them. Such a sad sight will terrify their minds. I pity them in their misery, but I am compelled by the fact that the enemy constantly scorns my clemency. (Let bodyes hanged on Crosses bee sett up against the Cittye.).
SCHIM. [To his fellow Jews.] Is the Romans’ cruelty sufficiently familiar to you now? Observe the ways they are treating the refugees. The Jews who humbly beg for their lives are immediately nailed up on crosses. So now go running off to the Roman camp! Titus is not the only man who will crucify his enemies. Let this Roman see his own men on the cross. (Let the Jewes also set up bodyes crucified within the Citty. [Enter Antonius.])
ANT. Our machines have been set afire and destroyed.
TIT. Did the cowardly guard tolerate this disgrace?
ANT. Although the waning day was turning to dusk, their perils gave no rest to the citizens, nor did heavy slumber relax their limbs. While they were desiring to find aid for their afflicted situation, the merciless ram deterred them and the blind testudo, shaking the walls with its pounding, devastated their hope. In a daring foray, some Jewish youths fought to overcome these machines by hurling torches: Jorminus, distinguished in battle, Ishmael, no whit inferior in strength, Magarus, strong in his arms, and also Jiptach, joined to them as a comrade. Each of these, girt with his trusty sword, hastened furtively in a direction where there were no enemies. Under the protection of a wall-like cliff and holding their breath, they kept their silence. By this circuitous route they finally reached the place where a machine stood on its wooden platform, thrusting up at the sky. Magarus with his clever brain probed the sturdy wooden structure, and a timber beam was extended in the middle of a hole. He concealed his hidden fires with no less skill and, knowledgeable in this sort of work, fixed a time for the fire to break out. Lest the force of the flame make the thing go off prematurely, he fed the fire with dust-impregnated twisted linen, and then blocked his tunnels with baulks of wood. Afterwards he sank to his knees and raised up his voice to heaven, holding up his two hands to the sky. “King of the angels, You Who hold the sole government of this world, to You we offer up pure victims according to Your rites. From us no incense breathes its odors for false gods which craftsmen’s hands have cast in the leaf-filled ovens, hammered out in manifold shapes from the malleable ore. We have dedicated to You a pure altar: the sun sees nothing better in the world as he rises, scattering his rays, nor leaves anything better behind him as he plunges into the salt waves. In Your blessedness, guide our undertaking. Our faith, which is not in vain, testifies that at Your bidding fire came down from heaven in defense of Elijah, destroying Ahaziah’s sacrilegious henchmen and the fifty partners of his crime. The new fire received by the wood leapt up, sprinkled with the mixed potion in its excavated trench, when Nehemiah restored our lost holy places and Abraham’s captive seed returned as free men to their native land. Add Your fires to ours, give strength to our flames.”
The moon had scarcely completed a third of her journey, nor had the rosy dawn returned, shedding light on the world, when the fuse was consumed and the menacing fire erupted. The consuming flames spread, fed by tinder, the burning beams crackled, and the machines came tumbling down with a crash. The mob of Romans were awakened in amazement, unaware of the plot. In terror they snatched up their weapons in a hurry, at the same time striving to put out the raging flames. In fear they saw their tents licked by the flames. At this point they abandoned any idea of concerted effort. Each man preferred to look out for himself.
Soon the bugler gave a signal on his tuneful horn and the cohorts emerged out the cam gates on another side. Their horrendous shouting filled the air. The Roman soldiers ignored the fire and turned to the fighting, their battalions rushed about with no discipline. With no advance warning, their martial virtue could not withstand the raging enemy. The Romans immediately began to yield. Taking a thousand forms, spendthrift death did its savage work. The enemy pressed these frightened men with redoubled strength. This man fired off arrows, that one shot stones with his whizzing sling, others wielded their curved blades. The Romans could not long withstand their missiles, and they retreated under the barrage. What a horrible spectacle of death! This man fell, wounded by a swift-flying spear. That one received a savage sword-thrust between the jaws, another died with his guts spilling out, a lance transfixed the breast of yet another. Some had their heads crushed by flying rocks. Their bodies were strewn across the fields in a great slaughter. Virtue is accustomed to shine most brightly amidst the greatest dangers.
TIT. Here comes hangdog Momaganim. [He enters.]
MOM. Thrice, four times noble son of Caesar, I scarcely know whether your courage or your prudence is more capable. Now I see that caution, not fear, was your reason for first battering the walls with the ram’s horns, so that a great gap in the wall would provide a ready route into the city. Excessive rashness is the enemy of wisdom. While I was bravely doing battle with the Jews, my contempt for the enemy’s courage increased my optimism and I had no hesitation to undergo any danger. But in the thousandfold slaughter of my men I was the sole unhappy survivor, and only the quickness of my feet saved me.
TIT. Your Macedonian glory profits you nothing. Without forethought, courage in battle is always an injurious thing. A general’s rashness can look forward to nothing. In waging war I follow this maxim: I take sole responsibility for my undertakings.
The city should quickly be surrounded by circumvallation by a large number of our troops, so that henceforth the Jews will keep their people within their walls, so that they can kill each other off by mutual injuries. They are scarcely concerned with our opposing army. Furthermore, let famine dwell in their hollow bones, for this evil increasingly oppresses them. We see their homes assaulted by this consuming pestilence, and twelve thousand of their principal citizens dead from it.

Go to Act IV of the Third Action