Hero'des I. Agrippa or Agrippa the Great
), called by Josephus (J. AJ 17.2.2
), " Agrippa the Great," was the son of Aristobulus and Berenice, and grandson of Herod the Great. Shortly before the death of his grandfather, he came to Rome, where he was educated with the future emperor Claudius, and Drusus the son of Tiberius.
He squandered his property in giving sumptuous entertainments to gratify his princely friends, and in bestowing largesses on the freedmen of the emperor, and became so deeply involved in debt, that he was compelled to fly from Rome, and betook himself to a fortress at Malatha in Idumaea. Through the mediation of his wife Cypros, with his sister Herodias, the wife of Herodes Antipas, he was allowed to take up his abode at Tiberias, and received the rank of aedile in that city, with a small yearly income.
But having quarrelled with his brother-in-law, he fled to Flaccus, the proconsul of Syria. Soon afterwards he was convicted, through the information of his brother Aristobulus, of having received a bribe from the Damascenes, who wished to purchase his influence with the proconsul, and was again compelled to fly.
He was arrested as he was about to sail for Italy, for a sum of money which he owed to the treasury of Caesar, but made his escape, and reached Alexandria, where his wife succeeded in procuring a supply of money from Alexander the Alabarch.
He then set sail, and landed at Puteoli.
He was favourably received by Tiberius, who entrusted him with the education of his grandson Tiberius.
He also formed an intimacy with Caius Caligula. Having one day incautiously expressed a wish that the latter might soon succeed to the throne, his words were reported by his freedman Eutychus to Tiberius, who forthwith threw him into prison. Caligula, on his accession (A. D. 37), set him at liberty, and gave him the tetrarchies of Lysanias (Abilene) and Philippus (Batanaca, Trachonitis, and Auranitis).
He also presented him with a golden chain of equal weight with the iron one which he had worn in prison.
In the following year Agrippa took possession of his kingdom, and after the banishment of Herodes Antipas, the tetrarchy of the latter was added to his dominions.
On the death of Caligula, Agrippa, who was at the time in Rome, materially assisted Claudius in gaining possession of the empire.
As a reward for his services, Judaea and Samaria were annexed to his dominions, which were now even more extensive than those of Herod the Great.
He was also invested with the consular dignity, and a league was publicly made with him by Claudius in the forum.
At his request, the kingdom of Chalcis was given to his brother Herodes. (A. D. 41.) IIe then went to Jerusalem, where he offered sacrifices, and suspended in the treasury of the temple the golden chain which Caligula had given him. His government was mild and gentle, and he was exceedingly popular amongst the Jews.
In the city of Berytus he built a theatre and amphitheatre, baths, and porticoes.
The suspicions of Claudius prevented him from finishing the impregnable fortifications with which he had begun to surround Jerusalem. His friendship was courted by many of the neighbouring kings and rulers.
It was probably to increase his popularity with the Jews that he caused the apostle James, the brother of John, to be beheaded, and Peter to be cast into prison (A. D. 44. Acts,
It was not however merely by such acts that he strove to win their favour, as we see from the way in which, at the risk of his own life, or at least of his liberty, he interceded with Caligula on behalf of the Jews, when that emperor was attempting to set up his statue in the temple at Jerusalem.
The manner of his death, which took place at Caesarea in the same year, as he was exhibiting games in honour of the emperor, is related in Acts
xii., and is confirmed in all essential points by Josephus, who repeats Agrippa's words, in which he acknowledged the justice of the punishment thus inflicted on him.
After lingering five days, he expired, in the fifty-fourth year of his age.
By his wife Cypros he had a son named Agrippa, and three daughtters Berenice, who first married her uncle Herodes, king of Chalcis, afterwards lived with her brother Agrippa, and subsequently married Polamo, king of Cilicia; she is alluded to by Juvenal (Sat.
6.156); Mariamne, and Drusilla, who married Felix, the procurator of Judaea. (J. AJ 17.1.2
; Bell. Jud.
1.28.1, 2.9. 11; D. C. 9.8
; Euseb. Hist. Eccles.