THE JEWS DESTROY THE ROMAN WORKS
IN the mean while, the Roman soldiers went on steadily building the mounds, although
they were greatly bothered by the insurgents upon the ramparts. Titus, in order to
frighten the Jews into surrender, laid parties of his men in ambush. These soldiers
captured all the poor stragglers, who, because they were very hungry, came out from
the city in the evening to look for food. These poor wretches the general crucified
 before the walls, that they might be a terrible warning to the people within.
But the insurgents dragged the people and the relations of the crucified ones to the
walls, and, pointing to the dead upon the crosses, said that this was the way the Romans
treated those who sought their protection. This was not true, because those whom the
Romans crucified had not sought their protection, but had been taken prisoners. Still,
the people for some time believed the insurgents, and a great many who wished to desert
remained in the city for fear of being crucified. Some, however, fled immediately,
because they thought they would rather run the chance of being put to death at once
than to die slowly and surely of starvation in the city.
Titus then ordered a number of those who had been taken captives to have their hands
cut off, and to be sent in this state to John and Simon, to tell them that they were
not deserters but captives and to exhort them to pause and not compel him to destroy
the city, but to surrender at once, and thus save their own lives and their city and
temple. At the same time he went around to each mound, urging on the workmen, to show
that he would quickly follow up his threats.
But the insurgents in reply to his messages only howled at him from the ramparts, and
called down curses upon himself and his father. They said that they preferred death to
slavery, and that as long as they breathed they would continue to fight against the Romans.
At this time the son of the king of Commagena, a young prince, called Antiochus Epiphanes,
arrived at the Roman camp. He came to help the Romans, and brought with him a number of
heavy-armed men, and a band of chosen youths, dressed and armed in the Macedonian fashion.
Antiochus, who was very brave and strong, expressed his surprise that the Romans should
delay attacking the ramparts. Titus hearing him, said, with a smile, "There is a fair
 everybody." Upon this Antiochus with his band immediately rushed to the wall. As he was
very skilful and strong, he managed to ward off all the missiles that the Jews hurled at
him, but all his comrades were either killed or wounded, so he was very soon compelled
to return to the camp, without having accomplished his object of taking the wall.
After seventeen days of hard toil, the Romans at length finished the mounds, four in
number, and the engines were brought up. But John had secretly undermined the mounds
opposite to him, and had put upright beams in the excavations that he had made, so
that they would support the mounds until the Romans should place their military engines
upon them. And so, when they brought up the engines, John set fire to the beams below
the mounds, and they soon fell in with a tremendous crash, and the engines and
embankments were either buried or burnt up. The Romans were greatly discouraged at
seeing the results of so many days' labor so quickly destroyed.
Two days after, Simon and his party made an effort to destroy the mounds near to him,
for the Romans had brought up their engines in that quarter also, and were already
shaking the wall. Three of his band rushed out with torches in their hands and set
fire to the military engines, though the Roman guards did their best to prevent them.
The flames spread, and the Romans rushed from their camp to the rescue, while the Jews
ran out to meet them, and attacked them with great fury.
The Romans tried to drag their rams away from the fire; but the Jews, heedless of the
flames, caught hold of them, and would not let go, although the iron upon the rams was
red-hot. From the engines the fire burned onwards to the mounds, and began to destroy
The Romans, surrounded on all sides by the flames, gave up all hopes of saving their
works, and retreated to their camp. The Jews, flushed with success, dashed forward,
 advancing to the very intrenchments, engaged in a hand-to-hand conflict with the
sentries. These men resisted bravely and held their ground, because Roman sentries
were punished with death if they quitted their posts. A good many of the Romans who
were running away returned to the battle when they saw their comrades standing firm.
But so fierce was the attack of the Jews that before long the Roman forces began to waver.
At this moment Titus, who had been searching for a site upon which to build new mounds
by the Antonia, arrived upon the spot, and, with a picked band of men, charged the enemy
in the flank. The Jews, though attacked in front as well, turned and bravely faced him.
The hostile forces became mixed up, and such a dust and noise arose that neither side
could any longer tell friend from foe. At length the Jews retreated into the city, but
not before the mounds had been completely destroyed.
The Romans were greatly cast down, because in one short hour they lost the fruits of
all their labors by the destruction of the mounds, and many were led to despair of
ever taking the city by ordinary means.