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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE FATE OF THE PEOPLE OF TARICHEĈ

VESPASIAN then advanced upon Taricheĉ, where not only the insurgents who had escaped from Tiberias had fled, but multitudes of the disaffected from all quarters, for they confided in its strength. It had been fortified by Josephus, and was situated on the lake called Gennesareth, upon which they could take refuge by means of their ships, should they be defeated on shore.

While the Romans were throwing up their intrenchments in the neighborhood of the town, Joshua and his band boldly sallied from the walls, and, dispersing the workmen, levelled the intrenchments and fell back before they had suffered [380] any loss. The Romans pursued and drove the Jews to their ships, in which they sailed out a little way, and, casting anchor, hurled their missiles at their enemies from the water.

News was brought to Vespasian that a great number of Galileans had assembled on the plain before the town, so he sent his son, Titus with six hundred picked cavalry to disperse them. Titus found the Jews in such large numbers that he sent back for reinforcements. But, remarking that many of his men were anxious to charge before and succor arrived, he exhorted them all not the be dismayed by numbers, but to secure the victory before their fellow-soldiers should come up to share their glory.

He inspired his men with such ardor that they were not pleased when Trajan, at the head of four hundred horse, made his appearance to assist them. Vespasian likewise despatched two thousand archers to occupy the side of a hill opposite the city, in order to keep the enemy on the ramparts in check and prevent them from giving any assistance.

Titus now led the charge against the enemy, who withstood for a short time the attack, but were soon dispersed and fled towards the city. The Romans pursued and killed a great number of them; the rest escaped into the town.

But here a fierce contention awaited them. For the citizens, anxious on account of their property, were inclined to peace, and wished to surrender, but this the insurgents, who were all strangers, violently opposed. The two parties were on the point of appealing to arms, when Titus, who heard the noise of dissension outside the walls, cried out,-

"Not is the time for an attack, while they are distracted by civil discord."

He leaped upon his horse, dashed into the lake, and, followed by his men, entered the city. Terror-struck at his daring, those on the ramparts abandoned them without waiting to fight. A number rushed towards the lake and were killed by advancing Romans. Great was the slaughter [381] in the city. The strangers who resisted, and many of the peaceful citizens, fell beneath the sword. At length, Titus, having punished the guilty, was touched with compassion for the inhabitants, and put an end to the slaughter. Those who had taken refuge on the lake, when they saw the city taken, withdrew as far as possible from danger.

Titus sent word of this signal victory to his father, who was exceedingly gratified at the intelligence. Repairing immediately to the city, he placed guards over it, that none might escape. Going down to the lake, he gave orders that rafts should be fitted out against the fugitives. And, as wood was plentiful, these were soon built.

Vespasian then embarked some of his troops, and ordered them to attack the fugitives. The poor Galileans in their light boats could not cope with the well-armed Romans on their heavy rafts. They sailed around them and flung stones at them from a distance, but without doing any damage. For if they came near enough to attack them, the Romans were so much better armed that they easily gained the advantage.

All the shores were lined with armed men, so that the fugitives had no means of escape, and they were pursued into every inlet and creek. The Romans boarded their vessels, or slew them from the rafts by means of their long lances; the boats of others were crushed or swamped, and the people drowned. If they attempted to swim, their heads were hit by an arrow or by the prow of a raft; if they clung to the side of a raft, their hands or their heads were hewn off. The few survivors were driven to the shore, where they met with no mercy. They were slain by the Romans, who lined the shores, so that not a man escaped.

The beautiful waters of the lake were tinged with blood; the shores were lined with the wrecks of boats and the carcasses of men. Such was the issue of this naval battle. The killed, including the number who had fallen in the city, amounted to over six thousand.

[382] After the battle, Vespasian took his seat on a tribunal in Taricheĉ, and sat in judgment over the strangers, whom he had separated from the inhabitants, consulting with his generals whether their lives also should be spared. The officers, however, were in favor of putting them all to death. For they said that the strangers were desperate men, who, if let loose, would stir up insurrection wherever they went. Vespasian then deliberated concerning the manner in which he should put them to death. Should he order the massacre to be performed in the streets of Taricheĉ, he feared lest such a sight would incite the inhabitants to insurrection, especially as he had pledged protection to the city. But the officers urged that every act was lawful against the Jews, and that right must give way to expediency.

Vespasian, in order therefore to get the insurgents out of the city, granted them an amnesty, but ordered them to leave the city by the road which led to Tiberias. Trusting to his word, the strangers fearlessly pursued their journey along the permitted route, while the Romans lined the road to the very gates of the city, in order to cut off all escape, and shut them up in the town.

Vespasian entered Tiberias soon afterwards, and, driving the insurgents in a body into the circus, ordered the old and feeble, to the number of twelve hundred, to be put to death. From the youth he selected six thousand of the most robust and sent them to Nero, to be employed as workmen. The rest, amounting to thirty thousand four hundred, he sold as slaves, with the exception of some who were subjects of Agrippa, and whom he allowed that king to sell. Thus was a terrible example given to the whole of Galilee.


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