procurator of Judaea, was a brother of the freedman Pallas, and was himself a freedman of the emperor Claudius I. Suidas (s. v. Κλαύδιος
) calls him Claudius
Felix ; and it is probable that he was known by his patron's name as well as by that which marked his relation to the empress's mother, Antonia, by whom he may have been manumitted.
The date of his appointment by Claudius to the government of Judaea is uncertain.
It would seem from the account of Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 12.54
), that he and Ventidius Cumanus were for some time joint procurators, Galilee being held by Cumanus, and Samaria by Felix; that both of them connived at the acts of violence and robbery mutually committed by their respective subjects, and enriched themselves by the spoils which each party brought back from their incursions; that Quadratus, who commanded in Syria, was commissioned to take cognizance of these proceedings, and to try both the provincials and their governors; and that, while he condemned Cumanus, lie saved Felix by placing him openly among the judges and thus deterring his accusers.
But, if we follow Josephus, we must believe that Cumanus was sole procurator during the disturbances in question, and that, when he was condemned and deposed, Felix was sent from Rome as his successor, probably about A. D. 51, and with an authority extending over Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, and Petraea (J. AJ 20.5
, Bell. Jud.
2.12; Euseb. Hist. Eccl.
2.19; Vales. ad loc.
).In his private and his public character alike Felix was unscrupulous and profligate, nor is he unjustly described in the killing words of Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 5.9
), " per onmem saevitiam et libidinem jus regium servili ingenio exercuit." Having fallen in love with Drusilla, daughter of Agrippa I., and wife of Azizus, king of Emesa, he induced her to leave her husband; and she was still living with him in A. D. 60, when St. Paul preached before him " of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." (J. AJ 20.7.2
24.25.) Jonathan, the high priest, having become obnoxious to him by unpalatable advice, he procured his assassination. (J. AJ 20.8.5
, Bell. Jud.
2.13.3; Euseb. Hist. Eccl.
2.20.) His government, however, though cruel and oppressive, was strong. Disturbances were vigorously suppressed, the country was cleared of the robbers who infested it, and the seditious raised by the false prophets and other impostors, who availed themselves of the fanaticism of the people, were effectually quelled. (J. AJ 20.8
, Bell. Jud.
2.13; Euseb. Hist. Eccl.
2.21; comp. Acts,
He was recalled in A. D. 62, and succeeded by Porcius Festus ; and the chief Jews of Caesareia (the seat of his government) having lodged accusations against him at Rome, he was saved from conidign punishment only by the influence of his brother Pallas with Nero (J. AJ 20.8.9
; Euseb. Hist. Eccl.
24.27). For the account which Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 5.9
) gives of his marriage with one Drusilla, clearly a different person from the Jewess already mentioned, and a grand-daughter of Antony and Cleopatra, see Vol. I. p. 1075b, and comp. Casaub. ad Sueton. Claud.