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Pity the Women and Children: Punishment by Siege in Josephus’s Jewish War

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Abstract This paper analyzes the neglected theme of suffering women and children in Josephus’s Jewish War. Women and children did suffer the effects of sieges in Greco-Roman antiquity, but historiographers also use the stories of their suffering to interpret warfare. Josephus participates in this tradition by using the imagery of suffering women and children to condemn the Jewish rebels, a presentation which is also influenced by Deut 28 and Lamentations. The warnings against rebellion in J.W. 2.237, 400, and 5.418 heighten the rhetorical power of this condemnation by offering the alternative of surrender for the sake of women and children.

Affiliations: 1: Religious Studies Department, Westmont College 955 La Paz Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 U.S.A.


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