views updated May 23 2018


BERENICE (1) (last half of first century b.c.e.), daughter of *Salome, sister of *Herod and of Costobar the Edomite. She was the wife of *Aristobulus (son of Herod and Mariamne). Berenice bore Aristobulus three sons (*Herod, who became king of Chalcis; Agrippa, who became *Agrippa i; and *Aristobulus) and two daughters (Mariamne and *Herodias, the second wife of *Antipas (Herod Antipas)). Berenice did not live harmoniously with her husband, who was proud of his descent from the Hasmonean Mariamne. She was used by Salome to obtain information about her husband so as to arouse Herod's enmity against him. After Aristobulus had been put to death in 6 b.c.e., Berenice was given in marriage to Theudian, brother of *Doris, the first wife of Herod and mother of his son Antipater. She spent her last years in Rome, where she gained the friendship of the emperor *Augustus and *Antonia, the widow of Drusus. On the strength of this friendship Antonia was well disposed toward the young Agrippa i, even to the extent of assisting him with large sums of money when he was heavily in debt.

(2) (b. 28 c.e.), the oldest daughter of Agrippa i. At the age of 13 she was married to Marcus, son of the *alabarch Alexander Lysimachus. After the death of Marcus she was married to *Herod, king of Chalcis, her father's brother. Two sons were born of this marriage – Berenicianus and Hyrcanus. On the death of her husband in 48 c.e., Berenice went to stay with her brother *Agrippa ii, who had succeeded Herod. The residence of brother and sister under one roof gave rise to calumny. Berenice was married a third time, c. 65 c.e., to Polemon ii, then king of Olba in Cilicia. However, she left him after a short time and returned to the house of her brother. She was in Caesarea with Agrippa in 60 c.e. when Paul was put on trial before the governor Festus (Acts 25:13–26;30). The Jerusalem riots of 66 c.e. found Berenice in the city in fulfillment of a Nazirite vow made when she was ill. She risked her life in an attempt to keep Gessius Florus from provoking the multitude, but was unsuccessful. When she attempted to pacify the rioters, they burned down her palace, forcing her to flee. Later, when the Syrian governor *Cestius and his

army marched on Jerusalem, she went over to him with her brother. She remained in the Roman camp even when Vespasian commanded the army fighting against the rebels. Titus, son of Vespasian, fell in love with Berenice who was 39 years old at the time. She was with him during the siege of Jerusalem and witnessed the horrors of its destruction. In 75 c.e. Titus established her in the royal palace at Rome and conducted himself toward her as if she were about to become his legal wife. The ruling circles in Rome, however, did not look favorably upon the affair and when Berenice began to act like an empress, the opposition to her deepened and Vespasian compelled Titus to send her away. After Vespasian's death in 79 c.e., she returned to Rome. However, her previous relationship with Titus was not renewed. The Greek inscription in honor of Berenice by the civic leaders of Athens dates apparently from the period of her travels between Italy and Judea.

Her story has been the subject of fiction as in Leon Kolb's Berenice, Princess of Judea (1959) and Lion Feuchtwanger's Josephus trilogy.


berenice daughter of costobar:

Schuerer, Hist, 152, 215f.; Pauly-Wissowa, suppl. 3 (1918), 203, no. 19; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (19643), 287, 292; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (19502), 270. berenice daughter of agrippa i: Pauly-Wissowa, 5 (1897), 287 9, no. 15; Schuerer, Hist, 238–42, 245, 248; Klausner, op. cit., 35; 5 (19512), 20, 140–4, 265, 281; A.H.M. Jones, Herods of Judea (1938), index.

[Abraham Schalit]


views updated May 11 2018

Berenice. Opera in 3 acts by Handel to lib. by Antonio Salvi already used by Perti in 1709. Prod. London 1737. Well-known minuet occurs in the ov.