Roman Invasion of Galilee
Flavius Josephus

Return to www.BrainFly.Net

            Now the auxiliaries which were sent to assist the people of Sepphoris, being a thousand horsemen, and six thousand footmen, under Placidus the tribune, pitched their camp in two bodies in the great plain. The foot were put into the city to be a guard to it, but the horse lodged abroad in the camp. These last, by marching continually one way or other, and overrunning the parts of the adjoining country, were very troublesome to Josephus and his men who kept quiet; they also plundered all the places that were out the cities, and intercepted such as durst go abroad. On this account it was that Josephus marched against the city, as hoping to take it, albeit he had lately encompassed it with a strong wall, before it revolted from the rest of the Galileans, so strong that the Romans would have had much ado to take it: by which means he proved too weak, and failed of his hopes, both as to the forcing the place, and as to his prevailing with the people of Sepphoris to deliver it up to him. By this means he provoked the Romans to treat the country according to the law of war; nor did the Romans, out of the anger they bore at this attempt, leave off either by night or by day, ravaging the places in the plain, and stealing away the cattle that were in the country, and killing in each place those who appeared capable of fighting, and leading the weaker people as slaves into captivity; so that Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood; nor was it exempted from any kind of misery and calamity, for the only refuge they had was this, that when they were pursued, they could retire to the cities which had walls built them by Josephus.

            But as to Titus, he sailed over from Achaia to Alexandria, and that sooner than the winter season did usually permit; so he took with him those forces he was sent for, and marching with great expedition, he came suddenly to Ptolemais; and there finding his father, together with the two legions, the fifth and the tenth, which were the most eminent legions of all, he joined them to that fifteenth legion which was brought by him; eighteen cohorts followed these legions; there came also five cohorts from Caesarea, with one troop of horsemen, and five other troops of horsemen from Syria. Now these ten cohorts had severally a thousand footmen, but the other thirteen cohorts had no more than six hundred footmen a-piece, and an hundred and twenty horsemen. There were also a considerable number of auxiliaries got together, that came from the kings Antiochus and Agrippa, and Sohemus, each of them contributing two thousand footmen that were archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen as footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand, besides the servants, who, as they followed in vast numbers, so because they had been trained up in war with the rest, ought not to be distinguished from the fighting men; for as they were in their masters' service in times of peace, so did they undergo the like dangers with them in times of war, insomuch that they were inferior to none, either in skill or in strength, save only to their masters....

            And now Vespasian, with his son Titus, had tarried some time at Ptolemais, and had put his army in order. But when Placidus who had overrun all Galilee, and had besides slain a number of those whom he had caught, (which were only the weaker part of the Galileans, and such as were of timorous souls,) saw that the warriors ran always to those cities whose walls had been built by Josephus, he marched against Jotapata, which was of them all the strongest, as supposing he should easily take it by a sudden surprise, and that he should thereby obtain great honour to himself among the commanders, and bring a great advantage to them in their future campaign; because, if this strongest place of them all were once taken, the rest would be so affrighted as to surrender themselves- But he was mightily mistaken in his undertaking; for the men of Jotapata were apprised of his coming to attack them, and came out of the city, and expected him there. So they assailed the Romans briskly when they least expected it, being both many in number, and prepared for fighting, and of great alacrity, as esteeming their country, their wives, and their children, to be in danger, and easily put the Romans to flight, and wounded many of them, and slew but seven of them; because their retreat was not made in a disorderly manner, because strokes only touched the surface of their bodies, which were covered with armour in all parts, and because the Jews did rather throw their weapons upon them from a great distance, than venture to come hand to hand with them, having ony light armour on, while the others were completely armed. However three men of the Jews' side were slain, and a few wounded; so Placidus, finding himself unable to assault the city ran away.

            But as Vespasian had a great mind to fall upon Galilee, he marched out to Ptolemais, having put his army into that order, wherein the Romans use to march. He ordered those auxiliaries which were lightly armed, and the archers to march first, that they might prevent any sudden insults from the enemy, and might search out the woods that looked suspiciously, and were capable of ambuscades. Next to these followed that part of the Romans which were completely armed, both footmen and horsemen. Next to these followed ten out of every century, carrying along with them their baggage, and what was necessary to measure out a camp withal; and after them, such as were to make the road even, and straight, and if it were any where rough and hard to be passed over, to plain it, and to cut down the woods that hindered their march, that the army might not be in distress, or tired with their march. Behind these he set such baggage as belonged both to himself and to the other commanders, with a considerable number of horsemen for their security. After these he marched himself, having with him a select body of footmen and horsemen, and pikemen. After these came the peculiar cavalry of his own legion, for there were an hundred and twenty horsemen that peculiarly belonged to every legion. Next to these came the mules that carried the engines for sieges, and the other warlike machines of that nature. After these came the commanders of the cohorts and tribunes, having about them soldiers chosen out of the rest. Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march; these sacred ensigns are followed by the trumpeters. Then came the main army in their battalions, with six men in depth, which were followed at last by a centurion, who, according to custom, observed the order. As for the servants of every legion, they all followed the footmen, and led the baggage of the soldiers, which was borne by the mules and other beasts of burden. But behind all the legions came the whole multitude of the mercenaries; and those that brought up the rear came last of all for the security of the whole army, being both footmen, and those in their armour also, with a great number of horsemen.

            And thus did Vespasian march with his army, and came to the bounds of Galilee, where he pitched his camp and restrained his soldiers, who were eager for war; he also shewed his army to the enemy, in order to affright them, and to afford them a season for repentance, to see whether they would change their minds before it came to a battle, and at the same time he got things ready for besieging their strong holds. And indeed this sight of the general brought many to repent of their revolt, and put them all into a consternation; for those that were in Josephus's camp, which was by the city called Garis, not far from Sepphoris, when they heard that the war was come near them, and that the Romans would suddenly fight them hand to hand, dispersed themselves, and fled, not only before they came to a battle, but before the enemy ever came in sight, while Josephus and a few others were left behind; and as he saw that he had not an army sufficient to engage the enemy, that the spirits of the Jews were sunk, and that the greater part would willingly come to terms, if they might be credited, he already despaired of the success of the whole war, and determined to get as far as he possibly could get out of danger; so he took those that stayed along with him, and fled to Tiberias.

Source: The Works of Flavius Josephus. (London: 1906)

End of Etext Roman Invasion of Galilee by Flavius Josephus
  Return to www.BrainFly.Net