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[218] Upon these new acquisitions, he grew more magnificent, and conducted Caesar as far as Antioch; but upon his return, as much as his prosperity was augmented by the foreign additions that had been made him, so much the greater were the distresses that came upon him in his own family, and chiefly in the affair of his wife, wherein he formerly appeared to have been most of all fortunate; for the affection he had for Mariamne was no way inferior to the affections of such as are on that account celebrated in history, and this very justly. As for her, she was in other respects a chaste woman, and faithful to him; yet had she somewhat of a woman rough by nature, and treated her husband imperiously enough, because she saw he was so fond of her as to be enslaved to her. She did not also consider seasonably with herself that she lived under a monarchy, and that she was at another's disposal, and accordingly would behave herself after a saucy manner to him, which yet he usually put off in a jesting way, and bore with moderation and good temper. She would also expose his mother and his sister openly, on account of the meanness of their birth, and would speak unkindly of them, insomuch that there was before this a disagreement and unpardonable hatred among the women, and it was now come to greater reproaches of one another than formerly, which suspicions increased, and lasted a whole year after Herod returned from Caesar. However, these misfortunes, which had been kept under some decency for a great while, burst out all at once upon such an occasion as was now offered; for as the king was one day about noon lain down on his bed to rest him, he called for Mariamne, out of the great affection he had always for her. She came in accordingly, but would not lie down by him; and when he was very desirous of her company, she showed her contempt of him; and added, by way of reproach, that he had caused her father and her brother to be slain. 1 And when he took this injury very unkindly, and was ready to use violence to her, in a precipitate manner, the king's sister Salome, observing that he was more than ordinarily disturbed, sent in to the king his cup-bearer, who had been prepared long beforehand for such a design, and bid him tell the king how Mariamne had persuaded him to give his assistance in preparing a love potion for him; and if he appeared to be greatly concerned, and to ask what that love potion was, to tell him that she had the potion, and that he was desired only to give it him; but that in case he did not appear to be much concerned at this potion, to let the thing drop; and that if he did so, no harm should thereby come to him. When she had given him these instructions, she sent him in at this time to make such a speech. So he went in, after a composed manner, to gain credit to what he should say, and yet somewhat hastily, and said that Mariamne had given him presents, and persuaded him to give him a love potion. And when this moved the king, he said that this love potion was a composition that she had given him, whose effects he did not know, which was the reason of his resolving to give him this information, as the safest course he could take, both for himself and for the king. When Herod heard what he said, and was in an ill disposition before, his indignation grew more violent; and he ordered that eunuch of Mariamne, who was most faithful to her, to be brought to torture about this potion, as well knowing it was not possible that any thing small or great could be done without him. And when the man was under the utmost agonies, he could say nothing concerning the thing he was tortured about, but so far he knew, that Mariamne's hatred against him was occasioned by somewhat that Sohemus had said to her. Now as he was saying this, Herod cried out aloud, and said that Sohemus, who had been at all other times most faithful to him, and to his government, would not have betrayed what injunctions he had given him, unless he had had a nearer conversation than ordinary with Mariamne. So he gave order that Sohemus should be seized on and slain immediately; but he allowed his wife to take her trial; and got together those that were most faithful to him, and laid an elaborate accusation against her for this love potion and composition, which had been charged upon her by way of calumny only. However, he kept no temper in what he said, and was in too great a passion for judging well about this matter. Accordingly, when the court was at length satisfied that he was so resolved, they passed the sentence of death upon her; but when the sentence was passed upon her, this temper was suggested by himself, and by some others of the court, that she should not be thus hastily put to death, but be laid in prison in one of the fortresses belonging to the kingdom: but Salome and her party labored hard to have the woman put to death; and they prevailed with the king to do so, and advised this out of caution, lest the multitude should be tumultuous if she were suffered to live; and thus was Mariamne led to execution.

1 Whereas Mariamne is here represented as reproaching: Herod with the murder of her father [Alexander], as well as her brother [Aristobulus], while it was her grandfather Hyrcanus, and not her father Alexander, whom he caused to be slain, (as Josephus himself informs us, ch. 6. sect. 2,) we must either take Zonaras's reading, which is here grandfather, rightly, or else we must, as before, ch. 1. sect. 1, allow a slip of Josephus's pen or memory in the place before us.

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