ANTIOCH more than deserved the praise of "a very pretty place,"
which MenelaŘs had bestowed upon it. In fact,
it was one of the finest cities of the world. The old
town which the first Antiochus
had found had been improved away by him and his
successors. All that could be done by a despotic power
made very short work with the wishes and even the
rights of private owners of property, and by a lavish
expenditure of money, had been done by five generations
of rulers, and the result was magnificent. Broad
streets ran from side to side; and those who grumbled
that the narrow alleys of the old town gave at least a
shelter from the sun were consoled by the rows of
planes and limes, planted alternately, which shaded
sides of each thoroughfare. Rows of houses, which
looked more like palaces than private dwellings,
 occupied the best quarter of the city, and even the
poorest regions had nothing of the squalor of poverty.
the filth so common in the East was conspicuously
absent from Antioch, for every gutter ran with an
stream of water, drawn from a higher point of the
Orontes and carrying into that river at a lower point
defilement of the streets. Temples, in which a whole
pantheon of gods was worshipped, were to be seen on
hand. The pure and harmonious outlines of Greek
architecture could be seen side by side with the
conceptions of Oriental art. If the kings and their
Greek subjects worshipped Zeus and Apollo, and, above
Aphrodité, who had here her famous grove of Daphne, so
the Syrian population were faithful to Baal and
Ashtaroth. A magnificent amphitheatre, capable of
holding at least thirty thousand spectators, rose, a
mass of white marble, on the north side of the city; a
colonnade ran round the four sides of the market-place,
gorgeous with the lavish colours of the East, for here
the art of Greece had been superseded for once by the
more ornate native taste. But the river, rushing down
between its noble embankments of stone, was the chief
ornament of the place. The Orontes had not gathered
round it the splendid associations that clustered about
Tiber, but its broad, clear stream was in everything
else more than a match for its Italian rival.
 MenelaŘs and his companion, who, it may be guessed, had
reasons of his own for regarding with anxiety the
summons that brought him to the capital, were not a
little relieved to find that the King had been called
by urgent affairs.
Tarsus, one of the most important cities in his
dominions, had rebelled. Its antiquity, its wealth, and
fame as a seat of culture, a character in which it
claimed to be a rival of Athens itself, had combined to
the Tarsians a high opinion of themselves. Successive
rulers, beginning with the Assyrian kings, its first
founders, had allowed the city a certain independence;
and its pride was grievously wounded when the young
King, with the reckless levity that distinguished him,
handed it over as a private possession to his mistress.
The citizens pitched the lady's collectors into the
Cydnus, shut their gates, and defied their sovereign;
Mallos, another Cilician city which had suffered the
same indignity, following their example. The King had
marched to reduce the rebels—a task, it was
probable, of no little difficulty—leaving a
certain Andronicus to
act as his deputy, and specially to dispose of the
charge on which MenelaŘs and Sostratus had been
This charge was one of a very formidable kind.
MenelaŘs's dealings with the treasures of the Temple
been so secret as he had hoped. Such things cannot be
done without a certain
 number of confederates, and such confederates are very
apt to give a finishing touch to their villainy by
betraying their chief. In this instance one of the
journeymen employed had considered himself
paid, rightly thinking, perhaps, that if sacrilege can
be recompensed at all, it ought to be recompensed
handsomely. Personally he was too insignificant to
venture an attack on so great a potentate as the high
priest, but he knew whither to carry his information.
He told what he knew to a priest, who, besides being a
devout Jew, was a member of the family to which the
high priesthood properly belonged. The priest, after
satisfying himself that the story was true, at once set
about bringing the offender to justice.
His course was plain. MenelaŘs, we have seen, had
supplanted Jason, and Jason had himself purchased the
dignity. But Oniah, the rightful high priest, who had
been displaced by Jason, was still alive. Antiochus,
naturally fearing his influence with his countrymen,
had kept him at his capital, treating him, strange to
with remarkable consideration. But Oniah was one of
those men who extort veneration even from the most
of profligates. His venerable figure, his face beaming
with benevolence, his blameless life, and the charities
which he dispensed up to and even beyond the limit of
his means, had won for him the regard of all Antioch.
Even the heathen would stop him in the
 streets and beg his blessing. Oniah was a power in
Antioch for which even the reckless young profligate on
throne had an unfeigned respect.
It may, then, be easily imagined that no little
sensation was produced when this venerable personage
before Antiochus, and, in the presence of the Court,
accused MenelaŘs, whom he had steadfastly refused to
acknowledge as high priest, of having embezzled much of
the treasure of the Temple at Jerusalem. That Oniah,
whose veracity and good faith were beyond all question,
should make such a charge was primâ facie
evidence of its truth. As he was known to have many
friends in Jerusalem, it was more than probable that
evidence would be forthcoming. The King did not
hesitate a moment in acting upon this probability. Of
he did not look at the matter in at all the same light
as that in which it was regarded by the devout Oniah.
the dispossessed high priest the robbery of the sacred
vessels was a monstrous sacrilege, an offence of the
deepest dye, not only against his country but against
his God. Antiochus felt that it was he who had been
wronged. The treasures of the Jerusalem Temple were his
treasures. He might be content to leave them, at all
events for the present, where they were; but they must
be ready to his hand whenever the occasion should
and any one who presumed to appropriate them was a
traitor and a villain. Hence the urgent summons to
 MenelaŘs and to Sostratus, who, as Governor, could
hardly fail, thought Antiochus, to have been cognizant
the whole proceeding.
Almost immediately after the despatch of the summons
came the trouble with Tarsus. The King started to
in person his rebellious subjects, and left, as we have
said, Andronicus in general charge of affairs, and with
a special commission to hear the accusation which Oniah
was bringing against MenelaŘs. The choice was an
unlucky one. Antiochus was sincerely anxious that
justice should be done in the matter; but to get
in any particular case when it is not the rule of the
administration is exceedingly difficult. Andronicus, to
put the facts quite simply, was an unprincipled
villain, ready to sell his decisions, when he could do
impunity, to the highest bidder. He was an old
acquaintance and confederate of Sostratus, and
MenelaŘs, who had
established friendly relations with the Governor during
their journey from Jerusalem to Antioch, soon received
a hint as to how he should proceed. The hearing of the
case had been appointed for the sixth day after his
arrival. Before that date one of the sacred vessels
which he had taken the precaution of bringing with him,
been exchanged for five hundred gold pieces, and the
gold pieces had found their way into the pocket of
On the day appointed Oniah, supported by the
 principal Jewish inhabitants of Antioch and by not a
few of the most respectable Greeks, appeared to
substantiate his charges against the usurper MenelaŘs.
The evidence appeared to be overwhelming. The artizan
who had been employed to fabricate the worthless
imitations of the precious vessels told the whole story
fraud with a fulness of detail which seemed to bear all
the stamp of truth. Another witness related how he had
carried one of the original articles to a goldsmith at
Sidon, and actually produced a rough memorandum of its
weight, which had been made upon the spot, to be
afterwards embodied in the formal receipt.
The line of defence adopted was bold, not to say
impudent. The whole affair, according to MenelaŘs, was
conspiracy on the part of the irreconcilable Jews to
overthrow a loyal subject of the King. The witnesses,
declared, had been suborned, the documents had been
forged. He then went on to bring a counter-charge
his accuser. And here he found a certain advantage in
the transparent honesty of Oniah.
"Do you acknowledge," he asked the ex-high priest, "the
validity of the appointments which our most noble lord
Antiochus has made to the office of high priest?"
Oniah frankly confessed that he did not.
"Do you consider yourself to be still, according to the
Law, in rightful possession of that office?"
 "I do."
"And bound to assert that right?'
"By lawful means."
"And you hold all means to be lawful that are enjoined
in the Law of Moses?"
"And among such means you would count the banishment
from the precincts of the Holy City of all such as do
worship the Lord God of Israel?"
Oniah felt that he was becoming entangled in this
artful web of questions, and made an effort to break
"I appeal," he cried, "most excellent Andronicus, to
all who, in this city of Antioch, for these four years
past have known my manner of life. You see sundry of
them, nor of my own nation only, in the court this day.
Ask them whether I have not lived in all peace and
quietness, not seeking to disturb, either by word or
the dominions of my lord the King."
MenelaŘs, of course, had not come unprovided with
witnesses. The old man had, to tell the truth, used
of an imprudent kind. He was a patriot and a believer.
As such, he had his beliefs and his hopes, and it was
part of his character to express such beliefs and hopes
quite openly. He had talked of a day when the Holy Land
should be no more the prey of the alien and the
heathen, when a king of the House of David should rule
Sion, when the Temple should regain all the
sacred-  ness and all the glory which had ever belonged to it. Such
language, construed strictly, was not consistent with a
thorough loyalty to the Syrian monarch. But no one who
knew Oniah, a man of peace who had the good sense to
recognize what was and what was not possible, could
suppose that any scheme of revolt against existing
authorities had ever entered into his mind. In fact he
had not said a word that had not been said before by
or more of the prophets. Still, words which breathed a
spirit of independence, when reported by witnesses, and
acknowledged by Oniah—who was, indeed, too honest
to deny them—gave Andronicus the occasion for
which he had
been looking. He gave his decision in the following
"The charge against MenelaŘs is postponed for further
hearing. Meanwhile the documents produced and the
witnesses will remain in the custody of the Court. As
for Oniah, he must be reserved for the judgment of the
King in person. I should myself have been disposed to
release him; but in the absence of my lord, considering
that the peace of the realm is so essentially
concerned, I do not venture so far."
He was proceeding to give orders for the removal of
Oniah, when an ominous murmur from the audience, with
the court was crowded, made him pause. Prisoners who
saw the inside of an Antioch dungeon were sometimes not
heard of again. The
 air had a certain power of developing very rapid
diseases, so rapid that the sufferers were not only
buried before any tidings of the sickness reached
their friends. Antioch was not disposed to see the man
was probably the most widely respected of all its
inhabitants, exposed to such a risk. Andronicus, who
not even trust the soldiers to act against so venerable
a person, drew back. He was willing, he said, to accept
sureties in a sufficient amount for the due appearance
of the accused. The sureties were forthcoming in a
moment, in sums so great and so absolutely secure that
Andronicus had no pretext for refusing them. He
proceeded to adjourn the Court for fourteen days.
During the interval he took the opportunity of making a
change in the garrison of the capital. Troops recruited
from some of the regions bordering on JudŠa, and
accordingly among the bitterest enemies of its people,
replaced some Greek mercenaries. The strangers knew
nothing about Oniah, except that he was a Jew, and,
Jew, of course hateful. They could be relied upon to
obey orders, and those who knew Andronicus were sure
orders he would issue.
Oniah's friends urged him to fly. He was too old and
feeble, he replied; it would be better for him to die
his post. Then they implored him to take sanctuary.
 "What!" he cried, "take sanctuary in a heathen temple!
There is none other in the place. I would sooner die a
It was not in a temple, they explained, that he was to
find shelter. It was in the Gardens of Daphne that they
wished him to take refuge. And they proceeded to unfold
an elaborate argument, the gist of which was that the
Gardens were a civil, and not a religious, sanctuary;
that there would be no occasion for him to enter the
consecrated enclosure; he would be simply availing
himself of a custom which forbad the entrance of the
Minister of Justice into a place devoted to the
amusement of the people. It is probable that they
their argument beyond the limits of the truth. It was
with great difficulty that Oniah could be made to
When he did so at last, on the urgent representations
of his friends that the hopes of a free Israel were
largely dependent on the preservation of his life, he
could not help foreboding that the concession would not
profit either himself or them.
The world scarcely contained a more beautiful
place—beautiful both by grace of nature and
diligence of art—than
the Gardens of Daphne; and certainly none that seemed
more unlikely to shelter a devout Jew. Its avenues of
cypress and laurels, its delicious depths of shade, its
thousand streams, clear as crystal and untouched by the
drought of the longest, most fiery summer, were but a
part of its
 charms. Of some, perhaps the chief of its attractions,
it is best not to speak; but there were others, less
unseemly indeed, but such as must have been absolutely
scandalous to such a man as Oniah. The curious thronged
to see the gigantic statue of Apollo, a match both in
size and costliness of material to that of Zeus in the
plain of Olympia. (It was sixty feet in height, and
wrought of gold and ivory.) To complete the resemblance
the famous meeting-place of the Greek race, there was a
running ground and rings for wrestling and boxing.
Finally, Daphne claimed to rival another great centre
of Greek life in its special characteristic. It was
stoutly maintained that the Apollo who haunted the
laurel-groves of Daphne was as true a prophet as he who
spoke through the lips of Pythia at Delphi. Crowds of
men and women, eager to learn the secrets of the
came to the groves of Antioch. The method by which they
saw into the secrets of fate seemed singularly simple.
The questioner dipped a laurel leaf into the stream
that flowed by the shrine, and lo! the surface appeared
written over with the intimations of fate. Simple it
was, but the priests had spent a world of pains in
acquiring the art of invisible writing, and they did
their best to learn something about the history and
prospects of the applicants.
Such was Daphne, and no one could be more astonished
than were its inhabitants and visitors
 at the strange figure whom they saw before them;
strange to the place, indeed, rather than to them, for
as has been said, was one of the best-known personages
in Antioch. The rumour of his coming had gone before
him, and a crowd, half curious, half respectful, had
gathered to meet him. In not a few, indeed, curiosity
respect were mingled with something of fear. The
presence of this austere piety in this haunt of vicious
pleasure, was thought to augur ill for its prosperity.
Some of the priests were heard to murmur that one who
was the avowed enemy of the gods ought not to be
admitted. But they did not venture to deny to any one
sought them the privileges of sanctuary, while their
fears were not of a kind which they could make their
followers understand. They had, therefore, to
acquiesce, and hope that the unwelcome visitor would
him no ill-luck.
A little building, as remote as possible from the
central temple, had been secured for the residence of
On reaching the gardens he had to make his way to it
through two dense lines of eager spectators. The
the shrine of the oracle, the pavilions devoted to
pleasure, were for the nonce deserted. The drunkards
their wine-cup, and, stranger still, the dice-players
their gaming-tables, to gaze upon the holy man. As he
walked up the narrow avenue that had been left for his
passage, some of the women whose venal beauty was one
 the attractions of the place, threw themselves at his
feet. Unhappy creatures, they had been brought up from
childhood to this life of degradation, which indeed had
a certain hideous sanction of religious association
about it; but they had not altogether lost the womanly
veneration for goodness, and, like the Magdalen of a
later time, seemed to forget themselves in its
presence. The old man, unconscious of their character,
perhaps, with the Divine Guest of the Pharisee of
Capernaum, ignoring it, stretched out his hands with
gesture of blessing, and, though it was technically a
pollution to touch a heathen, he even laid them on some
children who were almost thrust into his arms. There
was hardly a heart that was not touched with this
kindness, and when the priest, as he entered his new
abode, turned and bade the multitude farewell, he was
answered with shouts of enthusiasm.
MenelaŘs and his accomplices were dismayed at the
escape of the victim. A witness who knew so much, and
word was so implicitly believed, must be silenced at
any cost. To take him by force from the sanctuary was
impossible. Any attempt of the kind would certainly end
in disaster. But it might be possible to draw him forth
by fraud. MenelaŘs knew enough of the old man's
character to be sure that he had gone reluctantly, and
gladly seize the opportunity of quitting a scene in
which he must have felt himself so much out of place.
 fraud it would not be difficult to contrive with the
help of Andronicus. Accordingly another of the sacred
vessels found its way to the dealer, and another purse
of gold into the pocket of the viceroy, and in a few
hours the plot was arranged. As Antiochus was on his
way back from the north, there was no time to be lost.
Two days after the arrival of Oniah at the gardens a
visitor to him was announced. It was the viceroy
"Venerable sir," he began, "it has grieved me beyond
measure to find that you were distrustful of my
honourable, and I may say friendly, intentions
concerning you. Whoever accused me of ill-will towards
wronged me most foully. And let me add that you also
have been wronged no less in that you have been
to come to a place so unworthy of your dignity. Your
safety should be ensured, not by a sanctuary in which
thieves and murderers find refuge, but by the
inviolable precincts of the royal palace itself. Let me
you, in the name of the King, the hospitality of his
abode. In the meanwhile I am willing to swear by any
that may suffice to satisfy you and your friends, that
you shall suffer no injury from my hands."
One or two of Oniah's friends strongly dissuaded him
from trusting himself to the viceroy. But their caution
was overborne by their companions and by the eagerness
of the priest to quit so uncongenial a
 place. Andronicus took every oath known to Greek or Jew
that he would treat the priest with all respect, and
Oniah gladly bade farewell to the Gardens. His
departure was made at the dead of night, and unknown to
the inhabitants of Daphne. Had they been aware of his
intention, it is probable, knowing as they did the
character of Andronicus, that they would have hindered
it by force.
Almost at the moment of Oniah's arrival at the palace a
runner reached it from the King announcing his intended
arrival on the next day.
Speedy action was necessary, and Andronicus, though not
without misgivings, determined to lose no time. A Court
of Justice, so called, was hastily held. A creature of
his own was called to preside over it. Witnesses whose
testimony had been carefully prepared, deposed to
preparations for rebellion to which Oniah had been
to which he had lent his aid. The accused was not
allowed to have an advocate, and scarcely even
speak. Two hours sufficed for this mockery of a legal
process, and two more for carrying into effect the
sentence of death which was of course pronounced.
Though the brutal Cilicians who formed the garrison of
palace were ready to carry out any order which their
officer might give, it was judged well to avoid
like a public execution. That very night Oniah was
poisoned in his
 prison, and before dawn the next day his body was
hastily consigned to the tomb.
The punishment for this atrocious act of treachery and
cruelty was not long delayed. One of the first acts of
Antiochus, after his return to his capital, was to
demand the presence of Oniah, and then the story had to
told. Andronicus did his best to put such a colour upon
it as would deceive his master. The attempt was vain.
The King saw in a moment through the idle charges which
had been brought against the dead man. "What!" he
cried, "Oniah rebel against me!" His vanity and
self-confidence made the accusation seem the very
"Of course," the King went on—"of course he did
not acknowledge the priesthood of Jason or MenelaŘs; he
told me so himself twenty times. He could not think
otherwise, and he was as honest as the day. I only wish
that he had left another as honest behind him. Zeus and
all the gods of heaven and hell confound me if I do not
avenge him to the uttermost. Tell me," he cried,
turning to the captain of the Cilicians, who stood by
at his master's rage—"tell me where you have
The captain described the place.
"I will see him once more, and these villains shall see
him too," he said, pointing to the trembling pair,
Andronicus and his creature the judge.
 He went on foot, his royal dress discarded for a
mourner's cloak. His courtiers followed him, and a
soldiers behind brought with them the guilty viceroy
"Open the grave," he said, when he reached the spot.
It was soon done, for the murderers had hurried their
victim into a shallow tomb. In a few minutes the body
the dead man was exposed to view. Decay had not
commenced, and death had given fresh depth and beauty
serenity which had been their habitual expression in
life. Antiochus gazed awhile at the face; then,
on his knees, covered his head with his mantle, and
burst into a passion of tears.
In a few minutes he rose to his feet. Grief had given
place to rage, and his eyes blazed with fury.
"Bind that wretch!" he cried, pointing to the wretched
He was bound, and stood waiting his doom.
"He is not worth the blow of an honest sword," cried
the King; "strangle him, as if he were a dog. But first
make him look at the man whom he has murdered."
Andronicus was forced to the edge of the grave and
compelled to look at the dead. A halter was thrown
neck, and the next moment he was a corpse. The judge
shared his fate. "And you, sir," said the King, turning
the captain who
 had administered the poison—"you, sir, though you
are a barbarian, and know no better, must learn that
cannot rob the world of one who was worth a thousand
such brutes as you. You are captain no more; that is
successor," and he pointed to an officer in his train.
"You can groom his horses, if you don't want to starve.
And think that you are lucky that you keep your head."
So the good Oniah was avenged.