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For about four years, Mariamne lived so far in peace, that no attack from the calumny of female hate, or from the violence of jealous passion, reached her individually. Her trials were from the sources to which we have already alluded. How fondly in this interim must her desolate heart have clung to her children, four of whom now called her mother. The very names given to her sons, reveal the love borne by her to her own race and family. All Herod's other children had names relative to his Idumæan descent, or in compliment to his Roman allies.
It was not likely that he would have chosen the name of Aristobulus for one of his sons, laden as it was with the recollection of his murdered victim; but we may well imagine the feelings with which Mariamne bestowed it on her first-born-how, clinging to the memory of a brother so beloved, she should seek to continue the name in her own family, and in the caresses of an infant Aristobulus, struggle for forgetfulness of the agony which still lingered round the memory of her brother. Her second son, she named Alexander, in respectful recollection of her father. Her daughters, born afterwards, Salampsio and Cypros, do not appear to possess the same dear associations, -she had had no female relation to call for them ; but we trace how her memory lingered with the dead, and how lonely she felt amid the living, in the simple fact of the names given to her sons.
The awakening intelligence, the infant caresses of her children, were Mariamne's only sources of joy. She probably looked to her boys, once more to raise the Asmonæan name, and renew the national glory of Judea; and had she lived to rear them from infancy to youth, to instil within them the nobility of race and faith, which she felt and manifested herself, Judea would have wept their deaths still more. As it is, though Aristobulus could have been little more than six when his mother died, we can trace in the after-history of both the young men, the lofty bearing and proud vir tues hereditary to their mother's race even though their Roman education must have deadened every infant impression of their peculiar religion and their holy land. Four years after Herod's injurious conduct towards herself, Mariamne was called upon to mourn the death of her last male relative, the harmless and aged Hyrcanus. Whether or not Alexandra's intrigues had really urged the old man to such measures, as gave Herod a pretence for ordering his execution, or whether the plot were Herod's own, only to get rid of one whose claims to the crown he still seemed to fear, cannot now be correctly ascertained. The indolent character of Hyrcanus gives some colour to the latter supposition; the intrigues and restless spirit of Alexandra, authorise the former.
From whatever cause, the loss to Mariamne was the same, and it widened the breach between her heart, and her husband. The freedom enjoyed by Hyrcanus, and the respect, at his first accession, proferred to him by Herod, who gave him
lodging at the palace, and board at the king's table, had probably given Mariamne many opportunities of enjoying the old man's society, and bound her to him still more closely than their consanguinity. She could not have believed the charges brought against him, nay, most probably, knew that they were false, and traced their contrivance to her ambitious and ever-scheming husband, beholding in them yet another proof of Herod's resolve to crush every remnant of her race. She had not, however, long to indulge in grief. Herod was at this period anxious to conciliate the youthful conqueror of Antony, Octavius Cæsar, who was then at Rhodes; and trembling, as usual, lest the popular love for the Asmonæans, should snatch the home government from his hands, and give it to Mariamne and her children, he resorted to the cruel expedient of separating his wife from her only treasures, placed them under the care of his own mother and sister, at Masada, and confined Mariamne and Alexandra in the fortress of Alexandrina, under charge of his treasurer Joseph, and Solumus of Itruria, giving to the latter exactly the same selfish and brutal command, as he had given to his uncle Joseph five years previously, that if his death were the consequence of his dangerous expedition, not only Mariamne, but her mother, should die with him, and the kingdom proceed to his brother Pheoras, regent for his (Herod’s) sons. This command at once proves that not love, but ambition and hatred of the Asmonæan race, were his real motives, not only at the second time, but at the first. There was now no Antony in such power, as to unite himself with the wife of his victim. Octavius Cæsar was no character for the terror of such an alternative. Besides, if it were only his love (50 called), which could not bear its object to survive him, why command the death of Alexandra also ? It is clear throughout this dark domestic history, that love for Mariamne individually, and hatred of her as an Asmonæan, whose claims to the throne of her people were continually endangering his own, were ever at such fierce internal war, that he could never define from which of these contending passions, the motives of his actions sprung; and the historians are therefore equally obtuse, giving often to love of the woman, what was in fact nothing but hatred of the race.
There is no proof more convincing of her right to the throne which Herod occupied, than his determination that she should never survive him to enjoy it; love held his hand, while he could revel in her exceeding loveliness, but when she could no longer be his, she was to share the fate of all her race.
Josephus is amusingly astonished, that Mariamne could feel no affection for her husband; and quite blames her for not dissembling her dislike. We should feel very grateful to any one who would bring forward a single instance in Mariamne's hapless life, where love for Herod on her part was even possible, or what single proof he ever gave of his exceeding love for her. We will not again refer to sufferings on which we have already dilated; but ask, if separation from the only beings she had loved on earth, and such imprisonment in a well-garrisoned fortress, as utterly prevented all exercise of power, and privileges of rank, which she had enjoyed, were any striking proof of conjugal regard? In Herod's previous absence, he had had at least the
grace to associate his wife with his uncle in the government. In this, Josephus expressly tells us, “that they had no power over anything, either of others, or of their own affairs ;” and this he need not have written, unless conscious that they both had the right and the will to execute authority.
To some characters, the injury of placing her children under any care but her own, would have swallowed up alì other emotions. But Mariamne was no ordinary
To her heart it was not only maternal suffering: the cruel deprivation of her privileges was in direct disregard of the customs and habits of her people, who in every stage of their eventful history, gave to mothers, and mothers only, the education of both sons and daughters. It was an insult as well as a source of personal suffering, aggravating not lessening the degradation of imprisonment. Had her children been still with her, she would not have regarded her residence at Alexandrina, as anything more than a measure of security. But when she felt herself deprived of a privilege granted to the meanest of her subjects, so watched and guarded that she had scarcely the liberty of careless speech; was it marvel, was it out of nature, that her proud Asmonæan blood deepened the injured feelings of the wife and mother, and that from that hour she made no further efforts to love her husband ?
Yet still, true to the beautiful dignity of her womanly character, Mariamne descended to neither intrigue nor revenge. Her winning beauty and graceful manner, so fascinated all who approached her, even her keepers, creatures strong in Herod's confidence and favour, that had she ever attempted to obtain her rights by an