Herod the Great

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Herod the Great


Born circa 73 B.C.; died 4 B.C. King of Judea from 40 (actually 37) B.C.

In 47 B.C., Herod became ruler of Galilee, where he made himself notorious by cruel suppression of popular movements. Proclaimed king of Judea and “friend of Rome” by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C., he took Jerusalem in 37 with the help of Roman troops after a five-month siege and overthrew the last ruler of the Hasmonean dynasty. By the year 23, as a result of Herod’s successful military campaigns and diplomatic activity, the territory of that part of Judea subservient to Rome had been enlarged almost to the boundaries of the ancient kingdom of David. Voicing obedience to Rome and backing it in his foreign policy, Herod skillfully averted direct Roman intervention in the internal affairs of Judea. Under his rule plenary power was concentrated in the hands of the king and his private council, on which an important place was held by Greeks. The hereditary high priesthood was abolished and the role of high priest relegated to a formality; the Sanhedrin performed merely religious functions. Any discontent in the country was cruelly suppressed by an army of mercenaries.

Herod won renown for his extensive building efforts. Mistrustful and power-loving, he mercilessly annihilated all in whom he saw rivals, including members of his own family. Christian mythology ascribes to him the command, when he learned of the birth of Christ, to destroy all infants (“slaughter of the innocents”). This has made the name of Herod a common expression for a villain.


Livshits, G. M. Klassovaia bor’ba v ludee i vosstaniia protiv Rima. Chapter 7. Minsk, 1957.
Jones, A. H. M. The Herods of Judaea. Oxford, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
12) One illuminating recent account of Herod is Theresa Colettfs "Re-Reading the Story of Herod," in Retelling Tales: Essays in Honor of Russell Peck, ed.
The technique of invective with negative characterisation of Herod is continued in strophe 13 directed at Herod in the form of exclamatio.
Having failed to kill the Christ child, Herod is pictured as one who could find only an unripe bunch of grapes on the vine, because it was out of season.
Herod is represented by California personal injury law firm Bisnar Chase and is seeking unspecified wrongful death damages.
King" Herod is portrayed as serving up the head of John the Baptist like a bizarre offering of meat on a silver platter (Mark 6:8).
When that year's payment of 3s 4d to the actor who played Herod is factored into the costs of production, the extent of the Smiths' investment in the character becomes clear: they spent a total of 20s 8d in preparing Herod for the Corpus Christi entertainments in 1489--an enormous sum of money, especially during a period of catastrophic economic decline that decimated the wealth of the Coventry craft guilds and severely compromised their ability to produce the annual play.
Cary has condensed events of the years 37-35 BC, recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus, into one day in which the death of Herod is rumoured, to the delight of all but his corrupt sister Salome.
It is evident that Herod is perplexed because his evil plan was not as foolproof as he had intended it to be.
King Herod is stricken bya guilty conscience and thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead.