Sosius, Gaius°

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SOSIUS, GAIUS °, Roman general, governor of Syria, and conqueror of Jerusalem in 37 b.c.e. After the Parthian conquest of Judea and the consequent appointment of *Antigonus the Hasmonean to the throne in Jerusalem (40 b.c.e.), Herod made his way to Rome and was recognized by Antony and the senate as king of Judea. He returned to Palestine at the head of a considerable force but was eventually forced to turn to Antony for assistance in subduing the country. After his conquest of Samosata, Antony appointed Sosius governor of Syria, with orders to support Herod. Sosius immediately sent two legions and himself followed with the remainder of his army. He joined forces with Herod. The two laid siege to Jerusalem in the spring of 37 (although certain discrepancies exist regarding the precise date of the siege and fall of Jerusalem; cf. Jos., Ant., 14:475 n. a, p. 694; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (1964), 509–11). The ensuing battle appears to have been fierce, and Josephus stresses that Jerusalem fell – as in the conquest by Pompey – "on the day of the fast." Scholars have interpreted this to mean either the Day of Atonement or the Sabbath (according to Dio Cassius, 49:22), but it is also possible that the reference is to a special fast declared at the time of the siege to arouse divine intercession (cf. Schalit, op. cit., 510). On the fall of the city Antigonus came before Sosius and begged for mercy, only to be jeered at for his tragic change of fortune by the Roman general who, after calling the Jewish leader "Antigone," had him put in chains and eventually put to death. Sosius furthermore explicitly instructed his soldiers to plunder the city, and after perpetrating a terrible massacre they were finally restrained only by Herod, who promised to distribute to them rewards from his own funds.


Jos., Wars, 1:327, 345–57; 5:398, 408–9; idem, Ant., 14:447, 468–9, 481–8; Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19013), 357–9.

[Isaiah Gafni]