Herod the Great: Jewish King in a Roman World

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Herod the Great: Jewish King in a Roman World
A vivid account of the political triumphs and domestic tragedies of the Jewish king Herod the Great during the turmoil of the Roman revolution

Herod the Great (73-4 BCE) was a phenomenally energetic ruler who took advantage of the chaos of the Roman revolution to establish himself as a major figure in a changing Roman world and transform the landscape of Judaea. Both Jews and Christians developed myths about his cruelty and rashness: in Christian tradition he was cast as the tyrant who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents; in the Talmud, despite fond memories of his glorious Temple in Jerusalem, he was recalled as a persecutor of rabbis.

The life of Herod is better documented than that of any other Jew from antiquity, and Martin Goodman examines the extensive literary and archaeological evidence to provide a vivid portrait of Herod in his sociopolitical context: his Idumaean origins, his installation by Rome as king of Judaea and cultivation of leading Romans, his massive architectural projects, and his presentation of himself as a Jew, most strikingly through the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. Goodman argues that later stories depicting Herod as a monster derived from public interest in his execution of three of his sons after dramatic public trials foisted on him by a dynastic policy imposed by the Roman emperor.

Publication Date: 
March 12, 2024