Herod I

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HEROD I (73?–4 b.c.e.), king of Judea from 37 b.c.e. until his death. Herod was the second son of the Idumean *Antipater and *Cypros. Nothing is known of his youth, but it is clear that he began the struggle for power early in life. In 47 b.c.e. he was appointed by Antipater governor of Galilee, ruthlessly crushing the revolt against Antipater's rule led by Hezekiah, and having the rebels put to death without trial. The imposition of the death penalty, solely on his own secular authority, led to Herod's arraignment before the *Sanhedrin in Jerusalem; had he been found guilty he would have faced the death penalty. Herod, however, intimidated the judges by appearing before the Sanhedrin with a heavily armed guard. But a member of the Sanhedrin, probably *Shammai, admonished his colleagues, rebuking them for their cowardice, and warned them that any deviation from their legal duties would eventually bring about their own deaths at the hands of the culprit. At this the members of the Sanhedrin resolved to pass sentence. However, *Hyrcanus ii interrupted the session and allowed Herod to slip out of the city. Herod escaped to Roman Syria where the Roman governor appointed him governor of Coele Syria at Samaria. By virtue of this appointment Herod was able to return to Jerusalem and threaten his enemies, and his father was barely able to prevent him from entering the city and punishing his judges, including Hyrcanus himself. A record of the clash between Herod and the Sanhedrin seems to have been preserved in the talmudic story (Sanh. 19a) where, however, the incident is ascribed to Alexander *Yannai. After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 Herod joined Cassius, who temporarily established his rule in the East. Heavy taxes were imposed upon the inhabitants of Judea and Herod exacted them with great zeal, in order to curry favor with the foreign ruler. In 43 Antipater was killed by the Jew Malichus, seemingly with the connivance of Hyrcanus. Herod and his brother, Phasael, appealed to Cassius

who had Malichus murdered. That same year Antigonus ii, son of Aristobulus ii, invaded Galilee but was driven out by Herod. Hyrcanus, afraid of the vengeance of his nephew, now accepted Herod as a savior. At that time Herod became betrothed to *Mariamne. By this betrothal Herod was able to attach himself to the Hasmonean dynasty, but at the expense of bringing trouble to both parties.

Power Through Rome

In 41 Marc Antony arrived in the East. Despite the complaints which Herod's opponents laid before Antony, Herod succeeded in bribing the Roman ruler, who appointed him and his brother Phasael tetrarchs of Judea, apparently under the supervision of Hyrcanus. Herod's opponents, who had already attempted to express their views before Antony, sent another large delegation which the Romans dispersed with much bloodshed. The leaders of the previous delegation, who had been imprisoned by order of Antony, were put to death.

In the year 40, the Parthians invaded Syria. With their assistance Mattathias Antigonus was able to seize the throne of Judea; he captured Jerusalem and besieged Herod, Phasael, and Hyrcanus in the palace of the Hasmoneans in the city. Phasael and Hyrcanus were persuaded to leave their stronghold to negotiate with the Parthian commander, who was in Galilee at the time; Phasael was put in chains by the Parthians and committed suicide (or was killed), while Hyrcanus was taken captive. Herod succeeded in escaping from Jerusalem together with his family. He left the fugitives in *Masada in the care of his brother Joseph, and himself went to Alexandria and from there to Rome to ask Antony for the throne. Since Herod had already proved his loyalty to Rome, the senate, on the advice of Antony and Octavian, proclaimed him king of Judea, and he was promised the assistance of Rome in his attempt to gain the throne. Herod now mobilized an army of mercenaries and attempted to conquer Galilee. This he failed to do, apparently because of the vehement opposition of the inhabitants. He thereupon turned to the coast and to Idumea and then relieved Masada, which had been besieged by Antigonus. The war dragged on for about two years without Herod's being able to defeat Antigonus. When Herod realized that he would not be able to conquer Jerusalem with his own forces, he requested the help of Antony. The Parthian war having ended, Antony was able to send a large army under the command of Sossius. In the spring of 37 b.c.e. the combined armies laid siege to Jerusalem, which held out for five months but fell at the end of the summer. Only with great difficulty was Herod able to prevent the Romans from completely destroying it. Antigonus was captured and later put to death by Antony, prompted, no doubt, by Herod.

When he came to power, Herod took absolute control of the government by putting to death 45 members of the Sanhedrin who supported the Hasmoneans. This destroyed the political power of the Sanhedrin, which seems to have been left with only the authority of a religious court, lacking any real influence in practical legislation. He also made the appointment to the high priesthood dependent on his favor and during his reign dismissed and appointed high priests arbitrarily. Herod was king only by the grace of Rome, which regarded him as a convenient instrument for carrying out its policy in the East. He established his rule on the basis of Roman patronage, and with great diplomatic skill and personal charm succeeded in winning the favor of the constantly changing Roman rulers. Herod was loyal to Antony during the period that he was all-powerful in the East. Herod leased the district of Jericho, which was of great economic importance, from Cleopatra, who had received it together with some maritime cities from Antony. When war broke out between Octavian and Antony, Herod, at the request of Cleopatra, was sent to subdue Malichus, king of the Nabateans. After a heavy defeat at the beginning of the war, Herod defeated the Nabateans near Philadelphia and finally subdued them in 31 b.c.e.

However, with the defeat of Antony at Actium it seemed as if Herod was doomed. But, unperturbed, he immediately abandoned his old friend and endeavored to join the side of the victor. Because of Herod's past friendship with Antony, Octavian ordered him to come to Rhodes to defend himself, but realizing to the full the benefit that Herod could bring Rome in the east he was not only gracious to him but even returned to him those regions which Antony had given to Cleopatra. Later Herod welcomed Octavian at Ptolemais (Acre) with great pomp, provided his army with abundant provisions, and then went to Egypt to congratulate him on the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra. At that meeting Octavian ceded to him the maritime towns and certain towns in Transjordan. During the period of Octavian's rule in Rome

(as *Augustus), Herod attained the pinnacle of his power. In 23, Augustus decided that the area of his rule be extended by the addition of territories in northern Transjordan (Trachonitis, Bashan, Auranitis). In 22/21 Herod went to Mitylene to visit Agrippa, Augustus' son-in-law, who was acting as viceroy in the East, and there established extremely cordial relations with him. In 20, Augustus himself came to Syria and met Herod; in consequence of this meeting, districts in the Ḥuleh Valley (Paneas and Ulatha) were transferred to Herod's kingdom. In 19 Herod set sail in the Black Sea at the head of a fleet in order to aid Agrippa in his campaign against the kingdom of Bosphorus.

From this time on Herod was able to unite under his crown the whole of the region previously ruled by the Hasmonean kings (except for some of the cities of *Decapolis), as well as areas beyond those borders in the northeast. His subjects included Jews, Greeks, and many hellenized Syrians. He was regarded as one of the most powerful monarchs in the sphere of Roman patronage in the east, and foreign authors flattered him with the title "the Great." His official status was that of "a king who was an ally and friend of the Roman people" (rex socius et amicus populi Romani). This was a personal rather than a hereditary office; he had the right to suggest heirs but confirmation lay with the emperor. Similarly, he possessed no authority to conduct an independent foreign policy and there is no reason to suppose that in his time Judea was exempted from paying tribute to Rome. In internal affairs, however, Rome gave Herod unlimited authority. In this sphere he was given four prerogatives: administrative, judicial, financial, and the authority to maintain his own army; within this framework he did as he pleased, being subject not even to Jewish law. His council, convened in the manner of hellenist kings, had no more than an advisory function. Insofar as Herod did not inherit his governmental institutions from the Hasmonean kings he set up an administration which was highly hellenistic in character. Most of its officials were without doubt hellenizers or even foreigners. In his court too he was attended predominantly by hellenizers, conspicuous among them being Nicholas of Damascus, his chief counselor, who wrote his biography and instructed him in Greek wisdom. His favorites were graded ("the king's familiars," "the king's friends") in the hellenistic manner. His army, too, seems to have been hellenistic in character. Jews constituted only a small portion of it, his main force of professional soldiers being composed of foreign mercenaries from Thrace and Gaul.

The Dynastic Murders

Despite this, there is no doubt that Herod remained an eastern monarch both in his mode of life and in his attitudes. He destroyed, in the full eastern hellenistic tradition, all members of the Hasmonean house, whose existence seemed to him to endanger his position. When he began his reign, after defeating Antigonus and putting him to death, he ignored the right to the high priesthood of the legal heir *Aristobulus, brother of his wife Mariamne, in favor of *Hanamel the Egyptian. This led Alexandra, mother of Mariamne and Aristobulus, to complain to Cleopatra, and Herod was compelled to dismiss Hananel and appoint Aristobulus. However, he kept the young Hasmonean under close surveillance and, on becoming aware of his growing popularity with the people, issued a secret order for him to be put to death. The young Aristobulus was drowned by Herod's courtiers in 36 while in a swimming pool in Jericho. Alexander complained to Antony about the murder and Herod was summoned to defend himself; but once again he was able to save himself by bribing the Roman ruler. Before his departure for Rhodes to present himself before Octavian in 30, Herod had the aged Hyrcanus put to death, so that, should he himself die by order of Octavian, the ex-monarch should not rule in his place. However, these murders created bitter and tragic enmity between Herod and Mariamne. There was in addition a pent-up hatred between the proud Mariamne and Herod's mother Cypros and his sister Salome. In order to keep them apart, before setting out on his journey to Octavian, Herod sent Mariamne and Alexandra to the fortress of Alexandrion and instructed his officers there to do away with Mariamne should he not return. He seems to have done the same before his journey to Antony in 35. Mariamne learned of this and her enmity toward Herod grew. The tension continued after Herod's return from Rhodes. In the end Mariamne was accused by Cypros and Salome of attempting to poison her husband. The king set up a family court accusing Mariamne of adultery and of planning to murder him. She was found guilty and put to death in 29. After her death the king was filled with remorse and suffered from such severe melancholy that he became dangerously ill. Having heard a rumor that he was dying, Alexandra attempted to seize the citadel of Jerusalem but failed, and she too was put to death.

There now remained (apart from her two daughters) only Mariamne's two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus; these were designated to inherit Herod's power and were sent to Rome to be educated. Following the death of Mariamne, Herod contracted many other marriages. But even before his marriage to Mariamne he had married Doris of Jerusalem, who was possibly an Idumean, and who had given birth to his first-born son, Antipater. Of his 10 wives, the names of eight are known. These included Mariamne, daughter of Boethus, a priest from Alexandria, Malthace the Samaritan, and Cleopatra of Jerusalem. He had 15 sons and daughters by these wives.

In 18/17 the two sons of Mariamne returned home and by virtue of their birth and their good looks at once endeared themselves to the people. They openly revealed their resentment at the slaying of their mother as well as their contempt for Herod's family. They quarreled with their father and with his relatives, particularly with his sister Salome and his brother Pheroras, as well as with their half brother Antipater; the last named was brought back to the court by Herod to counterbalance Mariamne's sons and to demonstrate that the succession could fall to another. Eventually Herod did in fact make Antipater heir apparent. For some years the court was full of intrigues, slander, and mutual accusations until finally Herod was forced to bring the matter before Augustus. The latter endeavored to make peace between Herod and his sons and on his initiative a new succession was evolved which, on the death of Herod, would divide the kingdom between the three sons. Antipater, however, attempted to undermine the position of his brothers and eventually the quarrels were renewed. Herod, whose mistrust and cruelty became pathological in his old age, was convinced that Mariamne's sons were plotting his death. Imprisonments, investigations, and tortures against a background of slander and spying turned the court and the whole country into a hotbed of intrigue and made the lives of Mariamne's sons unbearable. Some efforts at reconciliation were made, but in the end Alexander and Aristobulus were brought before Herod's council accused of conspiring to murder the king. Herod obtained permission of Augustus to punish them as he thought fit. The trial court, which included Roman officials, found the king's sons guilty, and ignoring the protests of Nicholas of Damascus, Herod had them put to death (7 b.c.e.).

Antipater thus appeared to be the unopposed heir to the throne, although his claim still lacked the endorsement of Augustus. Automatically he began fearing for his position, and Herod's love of his grandchildren, the sons of Alexander and Aristobulus, caused him to feel his position insecure. He began to form plans to rid himself of the king. A gloomy chapter again began of mutual accusations of varying degrees of veracity and of murder plots, in which Pheroras and his wife were also involved. While Antipater was in Rome, having been sent by Herod to obtain the emperor's assent to the succession, his plot against his father was discovered. On returning to Jerusalem he was brought before a family trial in the presence of the Roman governor of Syria. Sentence of death was pronounced which required confirmation by Augustus. Augustus is reported as having commented, "It is better to be Herod's pig than his son," but the sentence was nevertheless confirmed. However, when the sentence was carried out in the year 4, the aged Herod was lying in his palace in Jericho, and died five days later. Herod apparently died of cardio-renal failure, or failure of the heart and kidneys, but he was already suffering from major illnesses from around 7 b.c.e., accompanied by bouts of uncontrollable anger and cruelty. In his last will he divided the kingdom between his sons *Archelaus and Herod *Antipas, the sons of Malthrace, and Philip, son of Cleopatra.

Ereẓ Israel under Herod's Rule

Herod was a courageous soldier and commander, an efficient and energetic administrator, and in particular a talented diplomat whose skill lay in his ability to assess who were the real powers of his period; his personality was such that he knew how to win over all types of people. At the same time he was a man of unlimited ambition whose opportunism was never restricted by ties of friendship or loyalty (the only exception being his loyalty to his brothers); when in power he brooked no opposition but ruled with cruelty, intensified by his suspicion and jealousy. Herod's rule destroyed the internal organization of the Jewish community. In contrast to the Hasmonean kings who had ruled jointly with the popular institutions, Herod abolished all traditional autonomous institutions, and in practice he did away with the authority of the Torah, although this never took official form. He regarded the kingdom as his private property. One of the aims of his policy was to strengthen the foreign element in Ereẓ Israel and to bring the kingdom into the Roman hellenistic cultural orbit, with the aim of securing it as a sure link in the Roman Empire. Apart from political considerations, a personal inclination toward Greek culture was responsible for his policy. He established Greek cultural institutions such as the theater and the hippodrome in Jerusalem, and outside his own country in Syria, Asia Minor, and the islands of the Aegean Sea he erected splendid public buildings, such as aqueducts, theaters, and colonnades. In Greece itself he proffered aid to gymnasiums; his monetary grants helped finance the Olympic games, and earned him the honorary title of life president. In Ereẓ Israel itself he carried out building projects and extensive settlements that undoubtedly benefited the rural population, particularly the landless peasants, and also helped to root out the menace of robber bands. This was true particularly of the areas in Trachonitis where highway robbery was a daily occurrence. On the other hand the establishment of cities of veterans strengthened Greek influence and reinforced the position of the foreign element in the country. Herod built Sebaste on the site of *Samaria and in 27 allocated land to 6,000 of its inhabitants; he established *Caesarea and made it the largest port in the country (22–9); he rebuilt the maritime city of Anthedon and established the cities of Antipatris, Phasaelis, *Geba Parashim, and *Heshbon. To ensure his internal authority and for the protection of the borders, Herod built or rebuilt a number of fortresses: *Antonia in Jerusalem, *Machaerus and *Herodium in Judea, Herodion in Transjordan, Cypros near Jericho, and *Masada. He built palaces for himself in Jerusalem and in other cities.

Scholars are divided in their assessment of the economic condition of the people and state, and of the financial sources of his government. In addition to government and court expenditure Herod also spent money on gifts for his relatives and Roman politicians who were his allies in Rome. At the same time his kingdom paid tax to Rome. Herod's revenues are estimated at 2,000 talents a year, of which 1,300 were produced by the taxes of Judea; it is possible that the remaining 700 talents were drawn from his business undertakings and from the income from his private property. He rented the copper mines of Cyprus from Augustus for 3,000 talents, taking half their output. By expropriating the wealth of his political opponents he acquired many estates in different parts of the country, and apparently inherited much landed wealth from the Hasmonean house. A substantial part of his revenues from these properties, however, came from payments made by the peasants on his estates: "Since he was involved in expenses greater than his means, he was compelled to be harsh to his subjects… since he was unable to mend his evil ways without harming his revenues, he exploited the ill will of the people to enrich himself privately" (Jos., Ant. 16:154–5). He even acted in a completely arbitrary manner toward the Greek cities he founded, although the old Greek cities succeeded in preserving a certain degree of self-government, apparently under the patronage of the emperor.

The foundation of Herod's kingdom and its only real strength was the power of Rome, although Herod possibly found a certain measure of cooperation from the Jewish people. The New Testament (Matt. 22:16; Mark 3:6; 8:15; 12:13) refers to a sect of Herodians whom some think to be identical with the *Boethusians whom the Talmud mentions with disapproval. Herod's dependence on Rome was absolute and his loyalty to it boundless. He imposed on his subjects an oath of loyalty to Augustus, and as the possessor of Roman citizenship which Julius Caesar had bestowed upon his father, Herod added the family name of the Julians to his own name. He erected temples to the emperor in the non-Jewish parts of his kingdom, introduced sports in honor of Augustus, and sent his sons to Rome to be educated. The final manifestation of servitude to Rome and one that the Torah loyalists could never forgive was the placing of the Roman eagle upon the facade of the Temple.

His Relationship with His Jewish Subjects

Despite his willing subjection to Rome and his enthusiasm for Greek culture, Herod had to try to make himself accepted to some extent by the Jews. He even attempted, albeit without success, to win over the Pharisees; when many of them refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the emperor and to himself he did not do more than fine them. He was also careful not to flout the external expressions of the religion of Israel; he refrained from putting images of idols or his own portrait on his coins, and, with the exception of the Roman eagle, from bringing images within the borders of Jewish settlement. He did not permit his sister Salome to marry a Nabatean prince who refused to be circumcised. It should be noted that according to Jewish law Herod was a full Jew (being the grandson of an Edomite proselyte), although he was not qualified to reign. To demonstrate his loyalty to Judaism, he decided to rebuild the Temple. He erected a splendid edifice to take the place of the previous unpretentious building, at the same time extending the boundaries of the Temple mount (see *Temple). About 10,000 commoners and 1,000 priests were occupied for nine years in building it; "Herod's building" is the Temple described in the Mishnah and in the writings of Josephus (parts of its external area have been excavated in recent years). From time to time Herod even showed concern for the needs of the people; in 25 b.c.e., a year of hardship and famine, he purchased grain for the people, distributed clothes, and supplied seed, and on two occasions lightened the burden of taxation. The productive capacity of his country was undoubtedly increased by his settlement projects and by the irrigation works which he constructed around Jericho, and also by his securing the border regions and suppressing banditry; his building projects, too, took the form of extensive public works.

All this, however, was of no avail, and far from winning the hearts of the Jewish people and their sages Herod was regarded by them as the destroyer of their traditional institutions, the murderer of their kings and leaders, and the agent for a foreign government. He incurred the wrath of those loyal to the Torah and pledged to national independence; during his time the foundations were already laid for the spiritual climate which was to give rise to the sect of *Zealots who opposed all foreign rule and any authority except that of the kingdom of heaven. During his reign his opponents did not dare oppose him openly, but when he was dying two Pharisaic scholars, Judah b. *Ẓippori and Mattathias b. Margalit, incited their followers to remove the golden eagle from the facade of the Temple; Herod's last act was to order that the perpetrators of this deed be seized and burned to death. After his death the people's anger was such that it exploded into open rebellion against his heir until the latter lost his throne. The Talmud calls Herod "a slave of the Hasmonean dynasty," and recounts the killing of the Jewish scholars and the murder of the Hasmoneans. It even ascribes the building of the Temple to Herod's wish to atone for slaying the scholars (bb 3a–4a; Ta'an. 23a). In Christian tradition too Herod is remembered as a cruel murderer. Herod was more acceptable to the Jews of the exile than to those of Ereẓ Israel. He intervened on their behalf several times, exerting himself with the Roman authorities. He even succeeded in obtaining the restoration of the privileges of which they had been deprived by the Greek cities of Asia Minor, as well as the right to collect the half shekel for the Temple.

Extant from the time of Herod are his coins, the remains of buildings, and a limited number of inscriptions. The main historical sources are the works of Josephus (the Antiquities and the Wars). Fragmentary accounts about Herod from the works of Nicholas of Damascus have also been preserved. There is also an allusion to Herod's rule in the apocryphal "Assumption of Moses." Fragments of rabbinic literature involving Herod are aggadic and very limited, possessing little historical value.

The Herodian dynasty retained its rule over Ereẓ Israel, or over parts of it, for three generations. However, its sovereignty was taken from it as soon as Herod died, for Archelaus was only recognized by the emperor as "ethnarch" and his two brothers as "tetrarchs" in their patrimony. The rule of Archelaus and Herod Antipas was discontinued during their lifetime, they themselves being exiled. Herod Philip's nephew Agrippa i, son of Aristobulus the son of Mariamne the Hasmonean, ultimately received Philip's territories from Caligula as a personal favor. He also received the title of king and united under himself the whole area ruled by Herod. His son *Agrippa ii inherited the royal title, but he only ruled over certain border regions. Agrippa ii died childless and with him and his sister *Berenice, the house of Herod came to an end.

[Shimon Applebaum]

In the Arts

Preeminently in European drama, the figure of Herod was immensely popular from the medieval period onward, inspiring a vast amount of literary treatment. Herod appears in the English Chester, Towneley, and York cycles and also in one of the Digby Plays, Herod's Killing of the Children ("Candlemas Day"). Here tradition made him a near-comic figure, an irate, roaring tyrant who descended from the stage to beat onlookers with an inflated bladder. In France, on the other hand, Herod was starkly portrayed as the cruel author of the Massacre of the Innocents, as in a passion play by Arnoul Greban (1420–1471). This was also the case in Germany with Hans Sachs's tragedy Der Wueterich Herodes (1552). Other early works on the theme include a German play by Sixtus Birck (1501–1554) and Marianna (1565) by the Italian writer Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568). In the 17th century, writers began to endow Herod with more complex human emotions, portraying him as a jealous and passionate husband driven to murder his unfortunate wife, Mariamne, only to fall a prey to hallucinations and remorse. This interpretation won particular favor in England, where a whole series of dramas made their appearance, notably Lady Elizabeth Carew's Tragedy of Mariam, the Faire Queene of Iewry (1613); The True Tragedy of Herod and Antipater: with the Death of Faire Marriam… (London, 1622) by Gervase Markham and William Sampson; and Herod and Mariamna (1673), a five-act verse tragedy by Samuel Pordage. Works of the same period in other languages were Mariamne (1610) by the French tragedian Alexandre Hardy; Herodes infanticida (Leiden, 1632), a neo-Latin tragedy by Daniel Heinsius; El mayor monstruo, los zelos (or Tetrárca de Jerusalém, 1635) a more sophisticated treatment by the Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca; Mariane (1635) by the Frenchman Tristan L' Hermite: and the melodramatic La vida de Herodes (1636) by the Spaniard Tirso de Molina.

The subject continued to attract attention in the 18th century, with plays by Elijah Fenton (Mariamne, 1723), who adopted a milder approach; Gaspar Lozano Montesino (Herodes Ascalonita, y la hermosa Mariana, 1725?); and *Voltaire, whose Mariamne (1725) made the king a criminal adventurer. Literary treatment of the theme became more varied in the 19th century, however, with poems and novels as well as plays: "Herod's Lament for Mariamne" was one of Lord *Byron's Hebrew Melodies (1815), and Friedrich Rueckert wrote Herodes der Grosse (1884), consisting of two five-act dramas: Herodes und Mariamne and Herodes und seine Soehne. Perhaps the outstanding dramatic treatment of all time was Herodes und Mariamne (1850), a powerful tragedy by Friedrich Hebbel, who made his hero a basically noble man of action. Hebbel's play, said to have been inspired by Byron, was later translated into Hebrew by Jacob *Fichman. It was followed by several treatments by Jewish writers, including Isaac Mayer *Wise's The Combat of the People; or, Hillel and Herod (1859), a historical novel; Hordus (1887), a Hebrew verse tragedy by Judah Leo *Landau; Fun Kleyn tsu der Kroyn (1889), a Yiddish historical novel by Nahum Meir *Schaikewitz; and Di Letste Khashmonayim oder Kenig Hordus (1907), a Yiddish drama by Judah Loeb Wohlmann. The late 19th century also saw the appearance of a rare Russian work on the subject, Dimitri Alexandrovich Alexandrov's Tsar Irod i tsaritsa Mariamna (1893), a verse tragedy based on the history of I.M. *Jost. By contrast, Henry Solly's Herod the Great (1896) tried to refute Josephus and to whitewash its hero. Interest in the subject was maintained in the 20th century, the outstanding work in English being Herod (1901), a tragedy in blank verse by Stephen Phillips. This was followed by Mariamne (1911), a poem by Thomas Sturge Moore; Księżniczka żydowska (1927), a tragedy by the Polish writer Wacław Grubiński; Kaj *Munk's En idealist (1928; Herod the King, 1947), one of the Danish writer's dramatic sketches of the "strong men" of history; Hordus u-Miriam (1935), a Hebrew novel by the Palestinian writer A. Orinovsky; and Die Doper… (1937), an Afrikaans drama by the South African writer Jacobus Johannes Müller. Two English plays were King Herod (1931) by Mary Danvers Stocks and Herod and Mariamne (1938), a drama by Clemence Dane based on Hebbel's German classic. Later works include Herodes (1942), a Flemish novel by Ernest Claes; a Dutch play of the same title (1955) by the Jewish writer Abel *Herzberg; and Jacob Weinshal's Hebrew novel Hordus Aḥi (1960).

Herod the Great mainly figures in portrayals of the New Testament episode of the Massacre of the Innocents (Matt. 2). The wholly negative account of Herod in the Gospels cast him in the role of folk villain in medieval popular imagination, which regarded the "Holy Innocents" as the first Christian martyrs. Herod's consultation with his priests and magicians and his reception of the Magi are subjects found in medieval art. Herod is shown seated on his throne while a devil whispers evil counsels into his ear. The scene is represented in a fifth-century mosaic at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, on 11th-century bronze doors at Hildesheim, in medieval manuscripts, including the 12th-century Hortus Deliciarum and the St. Louis Psalter, and in carvings in several medieval cathedrals, including Chartres, Notre Dame (Paris), and St. Moritz, Vienna. The Massacre of the Innocents was a popular subject throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It also occurs in Byzantine ivories, as carvings (notably those at Notre Dame), and in manuscripts. The episode was treated by medieval Italian artists, notably Giotto (c. 1266–1337) in his frescoes in the Arena Chapel, Padua, and Duccio (c. 1255–1319) in his Maestà altarpiece for the cathedral of Siena. Giovanni Pisano (c. 1245–1314) made a bas-relief of the subject (now in the Museo Civico, Pisa). During the Renaissance, it was treated by the German painter Lucas Cranach (1472–1553; Dresden gallery) and by the Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel (c. 1520–1569; Vienna Museum), who made the massacre a snow scene. Tintoretto (1518–1594) was one of the Italian artists who painted the subject (Scuolo di San Rocco, Venice). Herod's massacre was especially popular in the 17th century, when it was treated by Flemish, Dutch, Italian, and French painters, including Rubens (1577–1640; Pinakothek, Munich), Poussin (1594–1665; Petit Palais, Paris, and the Musée Condé, Chantilly), and Guido Reni (1575–1642; Pinacotheca, Bologna).

Popular Christian tradition relates that Herod suffered a terrible death: Eaten alive by worms, he finally committed suicide with his fruit knife. This was seen as a fitting punishment for the Massacre of the Innocents. The most striking depiction of Herod's agony is a painting by the Italian artist G. Archimboldo (c. 1530–1593) of a head of Herod formed out of interlacements of the little nude bodies of the "Holy Innocents," resembling the swarming of worms. In medieval representations of the subject, Herod is sometimes shown seeking relief in a bath or tub (some early printed Haggadot used this bathing scene as an illustration of Pharaoh's cruelty toward the Israelite infants). Other medieval artists portrayed him in the act of suicide, with a demon gathering his soul as it issues from his mouth.

In Music

Musical treatments of Herod were at first extremely dominated by the New Testament portrayal. The "Play of Herod," which had a distinct and important place in the religious drama of medieval Europe, was usually performed on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) and, in its most extended form, included the confrontation with the Magi (or Three Kings from the Orient), the Massacre of the Innocents, and *Rachel's Lament. In most of the extant manuscripts, the musical notation is only fragmentary and the version found at Blois alone contains a complete and decipherable notation of the items sung. In later times, the New Testament Herod motive practically disappeared from the repertoire, except for motets (such as Palestrina's Hostis Herodes impie, 1589) and cantatas for the Feast of the Innocents, the subject lending itself too readily to political and religious exploitation. From the middle of the 17th century onward, the baroque "rediscovery" of Josephus brought the story of Herod and Mariamne to the attention of operatic librettists and composers. Two fragments of Herodes und Mariamne, an opera by G.F. Telemann (1681–1767), are known. It seems, however, that the unhappy ending of the story prevented its utilization: The ending could not be mitigated, since the New Testament associations obliged librettists to make Herod the blackest of villains. The subject thus became amenable to free stage treatment only in the 19th century, where its musical history begins with a parody: Siegfried August Mahlmann's successful Herodes vor Bethlehem (1803), for which the incidental music was written by Jacob Karl Wagner. In 1823, Isaac *Nathan published his setting of Lord Byron's poem about Herod and Mariamne. Hérode, a "lyrical and dramatic scene" on Herod and Mariamne, was composed by Georges Boyer (1885), and this was followed by Gabriel Pierné's cantata Les Enfants de Bethléem (1907). Hebbel's Herodes und Mariamne had meanwhile made its appearance on the stage and incidental music was written for its performances. The best known of such compositions was that by Karol *Rathaus. Michael *Gnessin's Hebrew Songs for voice and piano, opus 37 (published in 1930) contains a textless "Song of Mariamne," and is explicitly associated with Hebbel's drama.

[Bathja Bayer]


Derenbourg, Hist, 145–65; L.F.J.C. de Saulcy, Histoire d'Herode (1867); M. Brann, Die Soehne des Herodes (1873); F.W. Madden, Coins of the Jews (1881), 105–14; N.S. Leibowitz, Hordosve-Agrippas (18982); W. Otto, Herodes (Ger., 1913); British Museum, Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Palestine (1914), xcvi–xcvii, 220–7; H. Willrich, Das Haus des Herodes zwischen Jerusalem und Rom (1929); Cambridge Ancient History, 10 (1934), index; A. Schalit, Ha-Mishtarha-Roma'i be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1937), index; M. Narkiss, Matbe'ot Ereẓ Yisrael (1938), index; A.H.M. Jones, The Herods of Judea (1938); G. Baglio, Gese re Erode (It., 1938); A. Reifenberg, Matbe'ot ha-Yehudim (1947), 17f., 36f.; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (1963), 9–169; S. Yeivin and M. Avi-Yonah, Kadmoniyyot Arẓenu (1955), 320–2; S. Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great (1956); idem, The Later Herods (1958); Alon, Meḥkarim, 1 (1957), 26–47; F.O. Busch, The Five Herods (1958); Schuerer, Hist, index; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (19643); idem, Koenig Herodes: Der Mann und sein Werk (1969). in the arts: C.E.H. Coussemaker, Drames liturgiques du Moyen-Age (1860); I. Sondheimer, Die Herodes-Partien im lateinischen liturgischen Drama und in den franzoesischen Mysterien (1912); M.J. Valency, The Tragedies of Herod and Mariamne (1940); W. Lipphardt, in: mgg, 8 (1960), 1023–24. add. bibliography: S. Zeitlin, "Herod: A Malevolent Maniac," in: jqr 56 (1963), 1–27; M. Stern, "The Reign of Herod," in: whjp (1975), 71–123; D.M. Jacobson, "King Herod's 'Heroic' Public Image," rb, 95 (1988), 386–403; D.M. Jacobson, "King Herod, Roman Citizen and Benefactor of Kos," in: baias, 13 (1993–94), 31–35; N. Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty: Origins, Role in Society and Eclipse (1998); N. Kokkinos, "Herod's Horrid Death," in; Biblical Archaeology Review, 28:2 (2002), 28–35.