Repost from the old site.
For this post I am going to post a bit from a delightful book I just came across called The Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar, a French novelist. It was translated from French to English in the 1950’s and 60’s by her lesbian live-in partner, Grace Frick. The English translation was published in 1963. Frick’s translation was widely praised.
This is a psychological and historical novel, not an actual memoir, and perhaps that is why it sounds so contemporary. This choice novel, a best seller in France 50 years ago, is just as contemporary as if it had been written yesterday. A film adaptation by John Boorman is due to start shooting in Italy in Spring 2006.
No matter how long ago they lived, the Romans were so much more like us than we ever want to believe. The fictional voice of Hadrian, the third of the five so-called “good Roman emperors”, so eloquent, learned and wise, could be that of a high-ranking military or political official in 2006.
I will intersperse this bit of treasure with my comments, which will be in bold. My comments will often try to relate this ancient events to contemporary events, to show how history lives within all of us, as we are all products of the past and molders of the future, and how thereby the past, present and future tend to merge via human agency, culture, genetics and tradition.
We are where we are and we do what we do in part because of history, whether we like it or not. And what we are and do now creates the future, whether we like that or not.
Hence, as Kurt Vonnegut notes in one of his books, referring to a obscure science fiction short story (I think, The Music of the Spheres by Stuart J. Byrne, but I may be wrong), the past, present and future are all simultaneously occurring right at this very moment.
But I digress…
This section refers to the Simon Bar Kokhba Rebellion (otherwise known as either the Second or Third Roman-Jewish War) amongst the Jews which took place in the Roman colonial province of Judaea (now Israel or Palestine) from 132-135 AD. There is also a passing reference to Jewish heroine Esther and the Jewish holiday of Purim, the celebration of which just passed us by.
Since this blog frequently discusses Israel, Jews, Palestine and the conflict in that region, and a recent post discussed Purim, I figure this excerpt has contemporary relevance, if only to replay the skipping record called “History repeats itself”.
Perhaps the word Judaean is more appropriate than the word Jewish in this context, since the Jewish religion at that time was quite different, in my opinion, despite what Zionist propaganda tells us, from modern rabbinical Judaism. Hence, I will use Judaean instead of Jew when describing this war. This is also a dig at Jewish primordialist volkisch Zionism, which I oppose).
Judaea was still majority-Judaean at this time, even after the failed First Judaean Revolt and the destruction of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem around 65 years prior that left around 950,000 Judaeans dead and many others sold into slavery.
Though this blog supports most anti-colonial rebellions as a general rule, it is interesting to see the Bar Kokhba Revolt through the eyes of a secular Roman. Hadrian felt the Judaeans were fanatics, and clearly they were.
Many Romans also felt that the Christians of that time were also fanatics, and in fact many of them were also. In the Romans’ eyes, all the Romans asked was for the Christians to swear allegiance to Rome and pay their Roman taxes, and the Christians refused to do either, especially the swearing allegiance part. Instead, they preferred to kill themselves.
The Romans thought these suicides were the acts of an insane religious fanatical death cult, in the same way that many of us nowadays feel that Muslim suicide bombers are part of a crazy fanatical religious death cult.
Many Romans were secular, believe it or not, especially the educated ones. They had their Roman gods, of course, but many Romans, especially the ruling classes, didn’t really believe in their own gods very much.
In 130, Hadrian visited the devastated city of Jerusalem, which had still not been rebuilt after the Romans laid it to ruins some 70 years prior. Hadrian felt sorry for the Judaeans and promised to rebuild the city.
But the Judaeans became angry when word got out that Hadrian was going to rebuild the city as a pagan metropolis instead of a Judaean holy city and that he was going to rebuild the Judaeans’ Second Temple as a pagan temple to the Roman god Jupiter. The new city was to be named Aelina Capitolina. The Judaeans regarded the excavation of the Temple to rebuild it as a pagan monument as a religious transgression.
In 131, Hadrian added insult to injury by banning circumcision, which the Judaeans practiced as an essential part of their religion. Hadrian viewed circumcision as primitive, barbaric, body mutilation.
The Jewish wise man Akiva convinced the Judaean religious leadership of the Sanhedrin to rebel against the Romans. A military hero named Simon Bar Kokhba was chosen to be the leader. The name means sun of a star in Aramaic. It is interesting that the Judaeans at that time were speaking Aramaic, not the Hebrew of primordialist Zionist fantasy.
Simon Bar Kokhba was also designated the Judaean Messiah. This designation deeply offended many Christians (who were still mostly converted Jews at this time) since they felt that Christ was the real Messiah. Consequently the Christians would not support the rebellion.
In 132, the rebellion began, and the Judaeans had learned from the two previous rebellions and fought well. The Romans were routed, and for 2 1/2 years a Judaean state called The Era of the Redemption of Israel was formed. Bar Kokhba designated himself Nasi Israel, or ruler of Israel.
The crazy, endless procession of animal sacrifice at the Judaean Temple was restarted, which, in my opinion, is an example of one of the most primitive forms of ethnoreligious barbarism known to mankind (Sorry, Jewish readers!).
From morning to evening, the line of Judaeans with animals to sacrifice would snake away from the Temple and the blood of the slaughtered beasts ran red like a river away from the building!
The Romans gathered up a huge army and fought for three years. In 135, Bar Kokhba was driven to a redoubt at Betar. The fortress of Betar was then overwhelmed and the Judaeans were defeated. 580,000 Judaeans lay dead.
Much later, the name Betar was adopted in the 1920’s by a Jewish proto-fascist organization in the Jabotinskyist tradition. In my opinion, the recrudescence of the Betar decades later became the Kach or Kahane Movement, although the original Betar Movement apparently still exists at a much reduced level, since I visited their website not long ago.
However, just to demonstrate the proto-fascist roots of the Israeli Likud party, let us note that current and former Israeli Likud leaders such as former Prime Ministers Yitzak Shamir and Menachem Begin, current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and former Defense Minister Moshe Arens are all former members of Betar.
The fact that the US media fawned and fawns over such crypto-fascist characters is profoundly disturbing and makes one question the extent to which our media believes in democracy, if such folks are regarded as role models.
Hadrian tried to wipe out the Judaean religion, which he felt was the source of repeated rebellions. He banned the Judaean calendar and Torah Law and had many Judaean scholars executed. He built Roman statues on the ruins of the Temple and burned the Judaeans’ sacred scroll.
Jewish scholarship moved to Babylonia (Iraq) where the Babylonian Talmud was written hundred of years later, from 400-700, laying the foundation for modern rabbinical Judaism. Judaism started to reject radicalism and messianism and became more cautious and conservative. This can be seen in the Talmud’s reference to Bar Kokhba as Ben-Kusiba, which means false prophet.
As the final insult, he renamed Judaea to Syria Palaestina, after the Judaeans’ ancient, now-extinct enemies, the Philistines. This is one silly reason that Jewish Zionists find the geographical term Palestine so infuriating and illegitimate. Do Zionists really get livid about events 1,870 years ago? Zionists do.
It is interesting that hysterical, racist Jewish Zionist promoters of settler-colonialism in Palestine may be entirely wrong about the name Palestine coming from the Roman renaming of Jerusalem as Syria Palaestina, even if ultimately the dispute is just more Zionist verbal subterfuge and sophistry.
For instance, in the 1100’s BC, Egyptians refer to the inhabitants of Palestine as “Peleset” or “sea-people” because around this time, there was a lot of settlement going on in Palestine via Mediterranean seafaring trade merchants. The Akkadian language from the same period refers to the Southern Syrian region as Palashtu.
In fact, most Egyptian and Akkadian references to the region, even during the Judaean period, refer to it as Peleset (Egyptian also refers to it as Deyen, probably a reference to Danaos of myth) or Palashtu, and less commonly as Israel.
Judaeans only started showing up in Palestine en masse around 900 BC. But according to crazy Zionist ethnonationalist volkisch liars, only the Jews have always been there! Go figure!
Following Hadrian’s order, Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina, turned into a Roman pagan city, and Judaeans were forbidden from entering the city. Most modern Jews regard the uprising as a horrible tragedy, and certainly many Judaeans lost their lives.
But at the time, Bar Kokhba was widely regarded as a religious fanatic akin to the way many of us see Osama bin Laden or Pat Robertson, even by many of his own people. As you can see in the text, most Jews outside of Judaea were not much interested in the rebellion, which they tended to view as fanatical and not in their interests.
This text shows another side to the Bar Kokhba rebellion, cleansed of its Zionist primordialist whitewashing, exemplified by Jabotinsky’s proto-fascist Betar above and David Ben-Gurion (the father of Israel) taking his name from one of Bar Kokhba’s generals.
This text comes to me via a friend who got it from a mailing list he is on. He reports that a “cultured Arab” typed the text below out from the novel and sent it to the list. We thank this Arab, whoever he may be, for this bit of manna from heaven.
Now – On to the Romans and the Israelites!
Memoirs of Hadrian
By Marguerite Yourcenar
Translated from the French, New York,1954-1963
Excerpts from pages 233-249 for the years 132-135 AD:
…Jewish affairs were going from bad to worse. The work of construction was continuing in Jerusalem, in spite of the violent opposition of Zealot groups.
[RL: The construction referred to is Hadrian’s rebuilding Jerusalem as Aelina Capitolina, a Roman pagan city with a Roman pagan temple built in place of the destroyed Judaean temple. The violent opposition described is that of Judaeans who regarded the construction as a sin.]
A certain number of errors has been committed, not irreparable in themselves but immediately seized upon by fomenters of trouble for their own advantage.
The Tenth Legion Fretensis has a wild boar for its emblem; when its standard was placed at the city gates, as is the custom, the populace, unused to painted or sculptured images (deprived as they have been for centuries by superstition highly unfavorable to the progress of the arts),
[RL: Note that Hadrian regarded the Judaeans as uncivilized, backwards, fanatical barbarians, a view shared by many Romans.]
…mistook that symbol for a swine, the meat of which is forbidden them, and read into that insignificant affair an affront to the customs of Israel.
The festivals of the Jewish New Year, celebrated with a din of trumpets and ram’s horns, give rise every year to brawling and bloodshed; our authorities accordingly forbade the public reading of a certain legendary account devoted to the exploits of a Jewish heroine (Easther) who was said to have become, under an assumed name, the concubine of a king…
…of Persia (Iran), and to have instigated a savage massacre of the enemies of her despised and persecuted race. The rabbis managed to read at night what the governor Tineus Rufus forbade them to read by day; that barbarous story, wherein Persians and Jews rivaled each other in atrocities, roused the nationalistic fervor of the Zealots to frenzy (a feast of Purim).
[RL: Note the Roman view of Purim as a barbaric spectacle of bloodthirsty revenge, a view that, unfortunately, I share. Are the Jews to celebrate this blood-soaked festival, which promotes the notion that Jews and non-Jews are locked in eternal conflict until the end of time, forever? If so, what are the chances of reconciliation between Jews and non-Jews? Zero?]
Finally, this same Tineus Rufus, a man of good judgment in other respects and not uninterested in Israel’s traditions and fables, decided to extend to the Jewish practice of circumcision the same severe penalties of the law which I had recently promulgated against castration (and which was aimed especially at cruelties perpetrated upon young slaves for the sake of exorbitant gain or debauch).
[RL: Note that the Romans put circumcision on a par with castration! I certainly do not agree, being circumcised myself. I regard anti-circumcision activists as ill-advised kooks, and the whole movement has a wide streak of anti-Semitism running through it.
If you are interested in the subject, just search Google and discover all sorts of web pages devoted to the “horrors of circumcision”.]
He hoped thus to obliterate one of the marks whereby Israel claims to distinguish itself from the rest of human kind.
I took the less notice of the danger of that measure, when I received word of it, in that many wealthy and enlightened Jews whom one meets in Alexandria (Egypt) and in Rome have ceased to submit their children to a practice which makes them ridiculous in the public baths and gymnasiums and they even arrange to conceal the evidence on themselves.
I was unaware of the extent to which these banker collectors of myrrhine vases differed from the true Israel. As I said, nothing in all that was beyond repair, but the hatred, the mutual contempt, and the rancor were so.
In principle, Judaism has its place among the religions of the empire; in practice, Israel has refused for centuries to be one people among many others, with one god among the gods.
The most primitive Dacians (Bulgarians) know that their Zalmoxis is called Jupiter in Rome; the Phoenician Baal of Mount Casius has been readily identified with the Father who holds Victory in his hands, and whom Wisdom is born; the Egyptians, though so proud of their myths some thousands of years old, are willing to see in Osiris a Bacchus with funeral attributes; harsh Mithra admits himself brother of Apollo.
No people but Israel has the arrogance to confine truth wholly within the narrow limits of a single conception of divine, thereby insulting the manifold nature of Deity, who contains all; no other god has inspired his worshipers with disdain and hatred for those who pray at different altars.
[RL: Here Hadrian hints at an age-old clue to the riddle of anti-Semitism – the chauvinism of the Jews. How did the Jews persevere as a minority for 2000 years amidst frequent oppression? It’s the racism, stupid!
How about by preaching racist hatred against all non-Jews, banning most contact with Gentiles other than for business, and even building ghettos for themselves to keep their people from mingling with Gentiles?
How about by saying prayers throughout the day, every day, cursing the Gentiles in every way and wishing for their destruction, and instituting vicious penalties for Jewish women who had sex with Gentile men (like having their noses chopped off)?
Note that as late as 1800, any observant European Jew would refuse to eat or even have tea with any Gentile as a matter of custom. While this sort of behavior is a smart ethnocentric way of ensuring continuity of your race as a minority, it didn’t exactly help the Jews to win friends and influence people, and to the extent it yet exists, it still doesn’t.
Jewish separation and chauvinism is and was one of the major contributors to anti-Semitism, despite dishonest denials by Jewish scholars who specialize in and propagandize the mystification of anti-Semitism.]
I was only the more anxious to make Jerusalem a city like others, where several races and several beliefs could live in peace; but I was wrong to forget that in any combat between fanaticism and common sense the latter has rarely the upper hand.
[RL: Note here that Hadrian comes across as some sort of a Second Century universalist and multiculturalist!]
The clergy of the ancient city were scandalized by the opening of schools where Greek literature was taught; the rabbi Joshua, a pleasant, learned man with whom I had frequently conversed in Athens…
…but who was trying to excuse himself to his people for his foreign culture and his relations with us, now ordered his disciples not to take up such profane studies unless they could find an hour which was neither day or night…
[RL: Note again the ferocious condemnation by the Judaeans of those Judaeans who had extensive contact with Gentiles and the refusal of the Judaeans to assimilate to larger society in the tiniest way by studying Greek, which they regarded as a sin.]
…since Jewish law must be studied night and day. Ismael, an important member of the Sanhedrin, who supposedly adhered to the side of Rome, let his nephew Ben-Dama die rather than accept the services the Greek surgeon sent to him by Tineus Rufus.
[RL: Wow! Talk about fanaticism! No wonder the Romans were appalled by the Judaeans. The guy let his Judaean son die rather than have a “contaminated” and “unclean” Gentile doctor profane him by operating on his body!]
While here in Tibur means were still being sought to conciliate differences without appearing to yield to demands of fanatics, affairs in the East took a turn for the worse; a Zealot revolt triumphed in Jerusalem. An adventurer born of the very dregs of the people, a fellow named Simon who entitled himself Bar-Kokhba, Son of the Star, played the part of firebrand or incendiary mirror in that revolt.
I could judge this Simon only by hearsay; I have seen him but once face-to-face, the day a centurion brought me his severed head. Yet I am disposed to grant him that degree of genius which must always be present in one who rises so fast and so high in human affairs; such ascendancy is not gained without at least some crude skill.
The Jews of the moderate party were the first to accuse this supposed Son of the Star of deceit and imposture; I believe rather that this untrained mind was of the type which was taken in by its own lies, and that guile in his case went hand with fanaticism.
He paraded as the hero whom the Jewish people had awaited for centuries in order to gratify their ambitions and their hate; this demagogue proclaimed himself Messiah and King of Israel.
The aged Akiba, in a foolish state of exaltation, led the adventurer through the streets of Jerusalem, holding his horse by the bridle; the high priest Eleazar rededicated the temple, said to be defiled from the time that uncircumcised visitors had crossed its threshold.
[RL: Note again the Judaean association of Gentiles with uncleanness, contamination and profaneness. Gypsies also have this view of non-Gypsies, and similarly, they have also played the role of European minority from the East locked into endless conflict with non-Gypsies, as the European Jews from the East were locked into endless conflict with Gentiles].
Stacks of arms hidden underground for nearly twenty years were distributed to the rebels by agents of the Son of the Star; they also had recourse to weapons formerly rejected for our ordnance as defective (and purposely constructed thus by Jewish workers in our arsenals over a period of years).
Zealot groups attacked isolated Roman garrisons and massacred our soldiers with refinements of cruelty that recalled the worst memories of the Jewish revolt under Trajan; Jerusalem finally fell wholly into the hands of the insurgents, and the new quarters of Aelia Capitolina were set burning like a torch.
The first detachments of the Twenty-Second Legion Deiotariana, sent from Egypt with utmost speed under the command of the legate of Syria, Publius Marcellus, were routed by bands ten times their number. The revolt had become war, and war to the bitter end.
Two legions, the Twelfth Fulminata and the Sixth Ferrata, came immediately to reinforce the troops already stationed in Judea; some months later, Julius Severus took charge of the military operations. He had formerly pacified the mountainous regions of Northern Britain…
[RL: This is a reference to the last holdouts of the Celtic Empire, (in this case, Scotland) which once stretched across Europe from one end to the other, already at this time largely destroyed and scattered by Roman conquest.
The most recalcitrant of the Celts were in the far western edges of Europe, in the least habitable and most difficult-to-pacify areas, where to this day, the last holdouts of the Celtic languages Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Breton, and Welsh fight for survival and the Cornish and Manx languages rise from the dead.]
…and brought with him some small contingents of British auxiliaries accustomed to fighting on difficult terrain.
Our heavily equipped troops and our officers trained to the square or the phalanx formation of pitched battles were hard put to it to adapt themselves to that war of skirmishes and surprise attacks which, even in open country, retained the techniques of street fighting.
Simon, a great man in his way, had divided his followers into hundreds of squadrons posted on mountain ridges or placed in ambush in caverns and abandoned quarries, or even hidden in houses of the teeming suburbs of the cities. Severus was quick to grasp that such an elusive enemy could be exterminated, but not conquered; he resigned himself to a war of attrition.
The peasants, fired by Simon’s enthusiasm, or terrorized by him, made common cause with the Zealots from the start; each rock became a bastion, each vineyard a trench; each tiny farm had to be starved out, or taken by assault. Jerusalem was not recaptured until the third year, when last efforts to negotiate proved futile; what little of the Jewish city had been spared by the destruction under Titus was now wiped out.
Severus closed his eyes for a long time, voluntarily, to the flagrant complicity of the other large cities (which) now become the last fortresses of the enemy; they were later attacked and reconquered in their turn, street by street and ruin by ruin. In those times of trial my place was with the army, and in Judea….
In the spring of the third year of campaign the army laid siege to the citadel of Bethar, an eagle’s nest where Simon and his partisans held out for nearly a year against the slow tortures of hunger, thirst, and despair, and where the Son of the Star saw his followers perish one by one but still would not surrender.
Our army suffered almost as much as the rebels, for the latter, on retiring, had burned the forests, laid waste the fields, slaughtered the cattle, and polluted the wells by throwing our dead therein; these methods from savage times were hideous in a land naturally arid and already consumed to the bone by centuries of folly and fury.
The summer was hot and unhealthy; fever and dysentery decimated our troops, but an admirable discipline continued to rule in those legions, forced to inaction and yet obliged to be constantly on the alert; though sick and harassed, they were sustained by a kind of silent rage in which I, too, began to share….
In my dispatches to the Senate I suppressed the formula that is regulation for the opening of official communications: THE EMPEROR AND THE ARMY ARE WELL. The emperor and the army were, on the contrary, dangerously weary.
[RL: The leaders of Roman military campaigns, by tradition, began their missives and return speeches to the Roman Senate with the phrase, “The army and I are well.” In this case, Hadrian left out this characteristic phrase. The fact that he did not say it is attested widely by historians, making it one of the most famous aspects of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.]
At night, after the last conversation with Severus, the last audience with fugitives from the enemy side, the last courier from Rome, the last message from Publius Marcellius or from Rufus, whose receptive tasks were to wipe up outside Jerusalem and to reorganize Gaza, Euphorion would measure my bath water sparingly into a tub of tarred canvas; I would lie down on my bed and try to think.
There is no denying it; that war in Judaea was one of my defeats. The crimes of Simon and the madness of Akiba were not of my making; but I reproached myself for having been blind in Jerusalem, heedless in Alexandria, impatient in Rome.
[RL: Hadrian traveled widely.]
I had not known how to find words that would have prevented, or at least retarded, this outburst of fury in a nation; I had not known in time how to be either supple enough or sufficiently firm.
Surely we had no reason to be unduly disturbed, and still less need to despair, the blunder and the reversal had occurred only in our relations with Israel; everywhere else at this critical hour we were reaping the reward of sixteen years of generosity in the Orient.
Simon had supposed that he could count on a revolt in the Arab world similar to the uprising that had darkened the last years of Trajan’s reign; even more, he had ventured to bank on Parthian (Persian) aid.
He was mistaken, and that error in calculation was causing him slow death in the besieged citadel of Bethar: the Arab tribes were drawing apart from the Jewish communities; the Parthians remained faithful to the treaties.
The synagogues of the great Syrian cities proved undecided or lukewarm, the most ardent among them contenting themselves with sending money in secret to the Zealots; the Jewish population in Alexandria, though naturally so turbulent, remained calm; the abscess in Jewish affairs remained local, confined within the arid region which extends from Jordan to the sea; this ailing finger could safely be cauterized, or amputated.
And nevertheless, in a sense, the evil days which had immediately preceded my reign seemed to begin over again….The evening courier had just informed me that we had reestablished ourselves on the heap of tumbled stones which I called Aelia Capitolina and which the Jews still called Jerusalem; we had burned the Ascalon, and had been forced to mass executions of rebels in Gaza.
[RL: The Ascalon was the Judaeans’ sacred scroll.]
If sixteen years of rule by a prince so pacifically inclined were to culminate in the Palestine campaign, then the chances for peace in the world looked dim ahead. I raised myself on my elbow, uneasy on the narrow camp bed.
To be sure, there were some Jews who had escaped the Zealot contagion: even in Jerusalem the Pharisees spat on the ground before Akiba, treating that fanatic like an old fool who threw to the wind the solid advantages of the Roman peace, and shouting to him that grass would grow from his mouth before Israel’s victory would be seen on this earth.
But I preferred even false prophets to those lovers of order at all cost who, though despising us, counted on us to protect them from Simon’s demands upon their gold (placed for safety with Syrian bankers), and upon their farms in Galilee.
I thought of the deserters from his camp who, a few hours back, had been sitting in my tent, humble, conciliatory, servile, but always managing to turn their back to the image of my Genius.
Our best agent, Elias Ben-Abayad, who played the role of informer and spy for Rome, was justly despised by both camps; he was nevertheless the most intelligent man in the group, a liberal mind but a man sick at heart, torn between love for his people and his liking for us and for our culture; he too, however, thought essentially only of Israel.
Joshua Ben-Kisma, who preached appeasement, was but more timid, or more hypocritical (than) Akiba. Even in the rabbi Joshua, who had long been my counselor in Jewish affairs, I had felt irreconcilable differences under that compliance and desire to please, a point where two opposite kinds of thinking meet only to engage in combat.
[RL: We see here the ancient complaint against the Jews of “dual loyalty”, which obviously is and was often based on verifiable fact (much more so in the past than today).
The Jews have been ferociously ethnocentric for centuries, to the point of seeing non-Jews as agents of contagion and contamination, and even banning Jews from the tiniest non-business relations with Gentiles.
That this mindset would make most Jews (at least until around 1800 or so, and in some places and/or during certain times afterwards) more loyal to the tribe than to whatever despised state they were minority residents in at the time seems as clear as air.]
Our territories extended over hundreds of leagues and thousands of stadia beyond that dry, hilly horizon, but the rock of Bethar was our frontier; we could level to dust the massive walls of that citadel where Simon in his frenzy was consummating his suicide, but we could not prevent that race from answering us…
I raised my head and moved slightly in order to limber myself. From the top of Simon’s citadel, vague gleams reddened the sky, unexplained manifestations of the nocturnal life of the enemy. The wind was blowing from Egypt; a whirl of dust passed like a specter; the flattened rims of the hills reminded me of the Arabic range of moonlight.
I went slowly back, drawing a fold of my cloak over my mouth, provoked with myself for having devoted to hollow meditations upon the future a night which I could have employed to prepare the work of the next day, or to sleep.
The collapse of Rome, if it were to come about, will concern my successors; in that eight hundred and forty-seventh year of the Roman era my task consisted of stifling the revolt in Judea and bringing back from the Orient, without too great loss, an ailing army. In crossing the (camp’s) esplanade I slipped at times on the blood of some rebels executed the evening before.
I lay down on my bed without undressing, to be awakened two hours later by the trumpets at dawn.
End of the excerpt.