XLIV. It is worth while to make mention of what we both saw and heard, when we were sent for to encounter a contest on behalf of our national constitution; for the moment that we entered into the presence of the emperor we perceived, from his looks and from the state of agitation in which he was
, that we had come not before a judge but before an accuser, or rather I should say before the open enemy of those whom he looked upon as opposed to his will; for it would have been the part of a judge to sit with assessors selected because of their virtue and learning, when a question of the greatest importance was being investigated which had lain dormant for four hundred years, and which was now raised for the first time among many myriads of Alexandrian Jews; and it would have been proper for the contending parties with their advocates to stand on each side of him, and for him to listen to them both in turn; first to the accusation and then in turn to the defense, according to a period measured by water, and then retiring the judge should deliberate with his assessors as to what he ought publicly to deliver as his sentence on the justice of the case; but what was actually done resembled rather the conduct of an implacable tyrant, exhibiting uncontrolled authority and displeasure and pride.
For besides that he in no particular behaved in the manner which I have just been describing as proper
, having sent for the managers of two gardens, the Maecenatian and the Lamian garden, and they are near one another and close to the city, in which he had spent three or four days, for that was the place in which this theatrical spectacle, aimed at the happiness of a whole nation, was intended to be enacted in our presence, he commanded all the outer buildings to be opened for him, for that he wished to examine them all minutely; but we, as soon as we were introduced into his presence, the moment that we saw him, bent to the ground with all imaginable respect and adoration, and saluted him calling him the emperor Augustus; and he replied to us in such a gentle and courteous and humane manner that we not only despaired of attaining our object, but even of preserving our lives; for, said he, "You are haters of God, inasmuch as you do not think that I am a god, I who am already confessed to be a god by every other nation, but who am refused that appellation by you." And then, stretching up his hands to heaven, he uttered an ejaculation which it was impious to hear, much more would it be so to repeat it literally.
And immediately all the ambassadors of the opposite portion were filled with all imaginable joy, thinking that their embassy was already successful, on account of the first words uttered by Gaius, and so they clapped their hands and danced for joy, and called him by every title which is applicable to any one of the gods.
XLV. And while he was triumphing in these super-human appellations, the sycophant Isidorus, seeing the temper in which he was, said, "O master, you will hate with still juster vehemence these men whom you see before you and their fellow countrymen, if you are made acquainted with their disaffection and disloyalty towards yourself; for when all other men were offering up sacrifices of thanksgiving for your safety, these men alone refused to offer any sacrifice at all; and when I say, 'these men,' I comprehend all the rest of the Jews." And when we all cried out with one accord, "O Lord Gaius, we are falsely accused; for we did sacrifice, and we offered up entire hecatombs, the blood of which we poured in a libation upon the altar, and the flesh we did not carry to our homes to make a feast and banquet upon it, as it is the custom of some people to do, but we committed the victims entire to the sacred flame as a burnt offering: and we have done this three times already, and not once only; on the first occasion when you succeeded to the empire, and the second time when you recovered from that terrible disease with which all the habitable world was afflicted at the same time, and the third time we sacrificed in hope of your victory over the Germans."
"Grant," said he, "that all this is true, and that you did sacrifice; nevertheless you sacrificed to another god, and not for my sake; and then what good did you do me? Moreover you did not sacrifice to me."
Immediately a profound shuddering came upon us the first moment that we heard this expression, similar to that which overwhelmed us when we first came into his presence. And while he was saying this he entered into the outer buildings, examining the chambers of the men and the chambers of the women, and the rooms on the ground floor, and all the apartments in the upper story, and blaming some points of their preparation as defective, and planning alterations and suggesting designs, and giving orders himself to make them more costly and then we being driven about in this way followed him up and down through the whole place, being mocked and ridiculed by our adversaries like people at a play in the theater; for indeed the whole matter was a kind of farce:
the judge assumed the part of an accuser, and the accusers the part of an unjust judge, who look upon the defendants with an eye of hostility, and act in accordance with the nature of truth. And when a judge invested with such mighty power begins to reproach the person who is on his trial before him it is necessary to be silent; for it is possible even to defend one's self in silence, and especially for people who are able to make no reply on any of the subjects which he was now investigating and desiring to understand, inasmuch as our laws and our customs restrained our tongues, and shut and sewed up our mouths.
But when he had given some of his orders about the buildings, he then asked a very important and solemn question; "why is it that you abstain from eating pig's flesh?"
And then again at this question such a violent laughter was raised by our adversaries, partly because they were really delighted, and partly as they wished to court the emperor out of flattery, and therefore wished to make it appear that this question was dictated by wit and uttered with grace, that some of the servants who were following him were indignant at their appearing to treat the emperor with so little respect, since it was not safe for his most intimate friends to do so much as smile at his words. And when we made answer that, "different nations have different laws, and there are some things of which the use is forbidden both to us and to our adversaries;" and when some one said, "there are also many people who do not eat lamb's flesh which is the most tender of all meat," he laughed and said, "they are quite right, for it is not nice." Being joked with and trifled with and ridiculed in this manner, we were in great perplexity; and at last he said in a rapid and peremptory manner, "I desire to know what principles of justice you recognize with regard to your constitution."
And when we began to reply to him and to explain it, he, as soon as he had a taste of our pleading on the principles of justice, and as soon as he perceived that our arguments were not contemptible, before we could bring forward the more important things which we had to say, cut us short and ran forward and burst into the principal building, and as soon as he had entered he commanded the windows which were around it to be filled up with the transparent pebbles very much resembling white crystal which do not hinder the light, but which keep out the wind and the heat of the sun. Then proceeding on deliberately he asked in a more moderate tone, "What are you saying?"
And when we began to connect our reply with what we had said before, he again ran on and went into another house, in which he had commanded some ancient and admirable pictures to be placed
But when our pleadings on behalf of justice were thus broken up, and cut short, and interrupted, and crushed as one may almost say, we, being wearied and exhausted, and having no strength left in us, but being in continual expectation of nothing else than death, could no longer keep our hearts as they had been, but in our agony we took refuge in supplications to the one true God, praying him to check the wrath of this falsely called god. And he took compassion on us, and turned his mind to pity. And he becoming pacified merely said, "These men do not appear to me to be wicked so much as unfortunate and foolish, in not believing that I have been endowed with the nature of God;" and so he dismissed us, and commanded us to depart.