Rome and the Jews: Josephus on ‘Freedom’ and ‘Autonomy’


in Representations of Empire

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780197262764
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753947 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Rome and the Jews: Josephus on ‘Freedom’ and ‘Autonomy’

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In Ant. 14. 77, speaking of the Roman conquest and dismemberment of the Hasmonean state in 63 bce, Josephus complains that ‘we lost our freedom and became subject to the Romans’. That is, eleutheria and Roman rule are incompatible. Three books later, however, at Ant. 17. 227, referring to the deliberations concerning the status of Judaea following Herod's death, Josephus refers to Jews who ‘desired freedom and to be placed under a Roman governor’. That is, eleutheria goes along fine with Roman rule. It is evident that two contradictory notions of freedom are at work in these passages, and this chapter investigates how Josephus could have written them both.

Keywords: Roman conquest; Hasmonean state; freedom; eleutheria; Judaea; Roman rule; Josephus; Jews

Chapter.  9100 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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