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Mariamme

The royal Hasmonean family had ruled Judea for more than a century when the ambitious Herod, a commoner and administrator, came to power through his shrewdness and ruthlessness; but he attempted to legitimize himself by marriage to Mariamme (mar-i-AHM-mee), the last princess of the Hasmoneans, when she was quite young.

Herod would go on to murder Mariamme's relatives, the remaining Hasmoneans who could have challenged him for the throne. But he could not kill Mariamme herself, for he was deeply in love with her.

"She was," says Josephus, "in most respects sensible and faithful to him; yet in her nature she had something that was as feminine as it was cruel, for she treated him contemptuously, as befitting the enslavement he was under by his passion for her."

This was the key to their long love-hate relationship. In some respects, Herod was doing her a service: enlarging and strengthening Judea, while she waited for her chance to become sole ruler of Judea. And on his side, Herod was simply helplessly in love.

Mariamme had a "combative" nature, writes Josephus, and as a result made some powerful enemies. Yet Herod's unfailing love was there to protect her. At last, her enemies hit upon an incredibly ingenious method of employing Herod's love against her.

The following are all the extracts from Josephus that tell the story of Mariamme, the last of the Hasmoneans.

Mariamme Becomes Engaged to Herod the Great (42 BCE)
The Wedding of Herod and Mariamme (37 BCE)
The Five Children of Mariamme
Marc Antony is Enticed by The Beauty of Mariamme and Her Brother (36 BCE)
Mariamme Urges Herod to Appoint Her Brother High Priest
Herod Murders the Brother of Mariamme (35 BCE)
Mariamme Discovers His Passion and Cruelty as Herod Meets with Marc Antony (35/34 BCE)
         Herod's Secret Instructions Concerning Mariamme
        The Plans Uncovered
        A Plan for Mariamme's Beauty
        Mariamme Accused of Adultery
Herod Murders Mariamme's Grandfather, Hyrcanus II (31 BCE)
Mariamme's Anger Grows During Herod's Meeting with Caesar (30 BCE)
Herod Places Mariamme and Her Mother Under Guard While He Visits Caesar
        Mariamme's Suspicions
        Herod Returns Triumphantly
Herod's Passion for Mariamme, and Mariamme's Hatred of Herod
        Love Tortures Herod
        Animosity Intensified by the In-Laws
        The Character of their Relationship
The Last Plot Against Mariamme (29 BCE)
        The Love Potion
        The Death of Sohemus
        The Trial of Mariamme
        Josephus' Eulogy for Mariamme
        The Punishment of Herod
 Epilogue


 

Mariamme Becomes Engaged to Herod the Great (42 BCE)

War 1.12.3 240-241
When Herod had fought against these enemies in the passages to Judea he was conqueror in the battle, and drove away Antigonus. He returned to Jerusalem, beloved by every body for the glorious action he had done. Even those who did not before favor him were now won over by his marriage into the family of Hyrcanus. His first wife has been of his own country of no ignoble blood, named Doris, by whom he had a son, Antipater; but now he married [betrothed] Mariamme, the daughter of Alexander son of Aristobulus, and the granddaughter of Hyrcanus, and became thereby a relation of the king.
  Comment

Judea had been ruled by the Hasmonean family, whose members were all descendants of Mattathias, the hero of the Hanukah story that is told in the Book of Maccabees. In the 60's BCE two brothers of this family, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, were bitter rivals for the throne; but their children married, the former's daughter, Alexandra, wedding the latter's son, Alexander. Mariamme was the daughter of this union.

Mariamme's father had been killed by order of the Roman general Pompey in 49 BCE. Mariamme's uncle, her father's brother, was the last king of Judea of the Hasmonean dynasty. This king was Antigonus, who warred with Herod for control of the country. Thus Herod legitimized his claim to the Hasmonean legacy by becoming engaged to the niece of the king whom he defeated. She was a "young girl" when betrothed (War 1.13.7 264), perhaps as young as thirteen. The actual wedding would not take place for five more years.

The Wedding of Herod and Mariamme (37 BCE)

War 1.17.8 244
When the tempest abated, Herod advanced upon Jerusalem and marched his army up to the walls, it being now just three years since he had been proclaimed king in Rome. [] Leaving his most efficient lieutenants to superintend the siege-works, he went off himself to Samaria to fetch the daughter of Alexander son of Aristobulus, who, as we have said, was betrothed to him. Thus he made his wedding an interlude of the siege, for he had his enemies in great contempt already.
After his marriage he returned with a larger force to Jerusalem.
Comment

Herod subsequently captured Jerusalem and had Antigonus executed. The Roman Senate had three years before (40 BCE) appointed him King of the Jews, due to his friendship with Marc Antony; the defeat of Mariamme's uncle Antigonus now secured his position.


The Five Children of Mariamme

War 1.22.2 435

Herod had five children by Mariamme: two daughters and three sons. The youngest son died in the course of his training in Rome; to the two elder sons he gave a princely education, both on account of the nobility of their mother, and because they had been born after his accession to the throne.

Comment

Her living sons were Alexander and Aristobulus, which were the names of her father and paternal grandfather; her daughters were Salampsio and Cypros, the latter named after Herod's mother. (Antiquities 18.5.4 130-134)

Marc Antony is Enticed by The Beauty of Mariamme and Her Brother (36 BCE)

Antiquities 15.1.5-6 23-30

[At this time Herod has appointed an undistinguished person as High Priest, passing over the Hasmonean heir, Mariamme's brother.]

Alexandra, the daughter of Hyrcanus II and the wife of Alexander son of Aristobulus II, had two children by Alexander: an extraordinarily handsome son named Aristobulus, and Mariamme, the wife of Herod, who was famed for her beauty.

[...] Using the help of a certain singer to get the letter delivered, Alexandra wrote to Cleopatra, asking her to request Marc Antony to obtain the high priesthood for her son.

Antony paid rather scant attention to this request, but his friend Dellius came to Judaea on some business, and when he saw Aristobulus, he ws amazed at his charm and was filled with admiration of his height and beauty, and no less with the beauty of Mariamme, the king's wife. And he made it plain that he thought Alexandra was the mother of beautiful children. So in the course of conversation he persuaded Alexandra to have portraits of both of them painted and to send them to Antony in Egypt, saying that if he saw them, she would not be denied anything she might ask

Alexandra was elated with these words and sent the pictures to Antony. Then Dellius spoke to Antony in extravagant terms, saying that her children seemed to him to be the offspring of some god rather than of human beings -- for he was busy on his own account, trying to entice Antony into sexual pleasures. But Antony was embarrassed to send for the girl because she was married to Herod, and because he wished to avoid such an act becoming disclosed to Cleopatra. So in an outwardly respectful way he instructed Herod to send the lad, adding, "if this be no burden."

When this was reported to Herod, he decided that it would not be safe for him to send Aristobulus, who was then most handsome, being just sixteen, and of a distinguished family, to Antony, the mightiest Roman of his time; for Antony would use him for erotic purposes, as through his power he was able to openly procure such pleasures.

He therefore wrote in reply that if the youth were merely to leave the country the whole land would be filled with disorder and war, because the Jews had formed hopes of an overthrow of the government and the rule of another king.
 

Comment

At this time Marc Antony ruled the eastern portion of the Roman empire, while the west was governed by Octavian Caesar. Herod had made friends with Antony  and gained power in Judea with his help, perceiving, better than his Hasmonean opponent Antigonus, that Rome would be the dominant power in the region . Antony's love of sensual pleasures, as shown in this episode of Mariamme and her brother, would eventually be his undoing.

Mariamme Urges Herod to Appoint Her Brother High Priest

Antiquities 15.2.7 31
After putting off Antony with these excuses, Herod decided not to leave the boy and Alexandra entirely without honour, especially because his wife Mariamme pressed him urgently to restore the high priesthood to her brother, and also because he thought it to his own advantage that Aristobulus, once placed in office, would not in fact be able to leave the country.
When Herod had thus excused himself to Antony, he resolved that he would not entirely permit the child or Alexandra to be treated dishonorably; especially because his wife Mariamme pressed him vehemently to restore the high priesthood to her brother; and he judged it was for his advantage so to do, because once placed in office Aristobulus would not be able to go out of the country.
[] He said to Alexandra he would give the high priesthood to her son now, and that he had earlier appointed Ananelus only because Aristobulus was a mere boy. He spoke in these terms not thoughtlessly but with design and due deliberation, in order to deceive the women and the friends who had been called in for advice.

Herod Murders the Brother of Mariamme (35 BCE)

Antiquities 15.3.3 50-57
And now, upon the approach of the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot, 35 BCE], which is a festival very much observed among us, he let pass those days while he and the rest of the people were rejoicing; but the envy which at this time arose in him provoked him to hasten to carry out his intentions. For when this youth Aristobulus, who was now in the seventeenth year of his age, went up to the altar to offer the sacrifices in accordance with the Law, wearing the ornamental vestments of his high priesthood, and when he performed the sacred offices, he appeared exceedingly handsome, and taller than most young men of his age, and to exhibit in his countenance a great deal of that high family he was sprung from. So a warm zeal and affection towards him arose among the people, and the memory of the actions of his grandfather Aristobulus came fresh to their minds. Their affections got so far the mastery of them that they revealed their feelings toward him. They at once rejoiced and were distressed, and mingled with good wishes the prayers which they made to him, until the affection of the multitude became too evident; They proclaimed the happiness they had received from his family, and this they did more rashly than was prudent under their present king.
As a result of all this, Herod resolved to complete what he had intended against the young man. When the festival was over and they were feasting at Jericho as the guest of Alexandra, he was then very pleasant with the young man, and encourages him to drink without fear [of poisoning], and at the same time played with him in a juvenile and humorous manner. Now by nature the place was very hot; so they went out in a group for a stroll; and stood beside the swimming pools, of which there were several large ones about the palace, they cooled themselves from the midday heat.
At first they were only spectators of some of Herod's servants and friends as they were swimming; but after a while, at Herod's urging, the young man was induced to join them. When darkness was coming on, some of the friends, who had been given orders to do so, kept pressing him down as he was swimming, and holding him under water as if in sport; and they not let up until he was entirely suffocated. And thus was Aristobulus murdered, having lived no more than eighteen years, and and having held the high priesthood for only a year.
When this sad accident was told the women, their suddenly gave way to lamentation at the sight of the dead body that lay before them, and their grief was uncontrollable. The city of Jerusalem also, upon the spreading of this news, was in very great grief, every family looking on this calamity as if one of themselves was slain.

Mariamme Discovers His Passion and Cruelty as Herod Meets with Marc Antony (35/34 BCE)

Antiquities 15.3.5-9 64-87
(See also War 1.22.2-3 436-440)
Herod's Secret Instructions Concerning Mariamme
Marc Antony, on setting out for Laodicea in Syria, wrote to Herod, ordering him to come there and clear himself of the charges relating to Aristobulus, for, he said, he had acted improperly if the plot had been formed by him. []
 So Herod left his brother-in-law Joseph in charge of the affairs of government, and gave him a secret instruction: if Herod were killed while he was with Antony, then Joseph should kill Mariamme immediately. For, he said, he had a great love for this his wife, and could not bear the thought that, after his death, she could be pursued for her beauty by some other man. But his intimation was simply this: that Antony had fallen in love with the woman long before when he had long before become aware of her beauty. So when Herod had given Joseph this charge, and had indeed no sure hopes of escaping with his life, he went away to Antony. 
The Plans Uncovered
Now as Joseph was administering the affairs of the kingdom he was very frequently meeting with Mariamme, both because his business required it and because of the respects he ought to pay to the queen; and in doing so he frequently entered into conversation about Herod's affection and great love for her.
And when, as women will, she and especially Alexandra pretended not to believe these words, Joseph was so overly zealous to demonstrate the kings' feelings, that he went so far as to mention the instructions he had received. "This proved that Herod was not able to live without her, for if he should come to any ill end, he could not endure a separation from her even after he was dead," said Joseph. But the women, as was natural, did not take this to be an instance of Herod's strong affection for them, but of his cruelty -- for not even his demise would prevent their destruction by a tyrannical death. They found in this statement the true depth of his cruelty.
A Plan for Mariamme's Beauty
At this time a report went about the city of Jerusalem, coming from those who hated Herod, that Antony had tortured Herod and put him to death. This report, as is natural, agitated all the people in the palace, most of all the women; upon which Alexandra endeavored to persuade Joseph to leave the palace and fly away with them to the standards of the Roman legion, which then lay encamped about the city to protect the king under the command of Julius. For that by this means, if any disturbance should happen about the palace, they should be in greater security for having the Romans friendly to them. Moreover, they hoped they could obtain everything they wanted if Antony were to but once gaze upon Mariamme -- for through him they could recover the kingdom and lack nothing that was appropriate for those of royal lineage.
But as they were in the midst of these deliberations, a letter was brought to them from Herod about affairs of state, contrary to the rumor and to their hopes. For when he had met with Antony he soon recovered favor with him by the presents which he had brought from Jerusalem, and thorough his camaraderie soon induced Antony not to be angry at him. []
When this letter was brought the women left off their plan of fleeing to the Romans, which they had formed under the assumption that Herod was dead. But their plan did not remain a secret, for when the king returned to Judea after conducting Antony on his way against the Parthians, both his sister Salome and his mother informed him of Alexandra's intentions.
Mariamme Accused of Adultery
Salome also spoke against her husband Joseph, accusing him of frequently having sex with Mariamme. She said this out of a long-standing hatred for Mariamme, since during arguments with one another Mariamme was haughty and reproached the rest of the family for the lowliness of their birth.
Herod, who had always had a burning passion for Mariamme, was violently disturbed at this, and could scarcely bear the torments of his jealousy. Yet he restrained himself from doing anything rash to her because of his love. But his vehement affection and jealousy made him ask Mariamme privately about this affair of Joseph. She denied everything upon her oath, and said all that an innocent woman could possibly say in her own defense, so that little by little the king was persuaded to drop the suspicions, and left off his anger at he. Overcome by his passion for his wife, he apologized to her for having seemed to believe what he had heard, and paid her a great many acknowledgments of the modesty of her behavior and the extraordinary affection and devotion he had for her. At last, as is usual between lovers, they both fell into tears, and earnestly embraced one another.
But as the king gave more and more assurances of his faith in her, and endeavored to draw her to have the same confidence in him, Mariamme said, "It was not the act of a lover to command that if any harm came to you from Antony, I should be put to death too, even though I am not guilty of anything."
When these words came out, the king was shocked, and at once released her from his arms, and cried out, and tore his hair with his own hands, and said that now he had clear proof that Joseph had sex with Mariamme, for he would never have disclosed to her what had been told in private unless there had been full confidence between them. And while he was in this passion he nearly would have killed his wife; but being still overcome by his love for her, he restrained the impulse, though not without a lasting grief and disquietness of mind.
However, he gave orders to execute Joseph, without even permitting him to come into his sight. And as for Alexandra, he put her in chains her and kept her under guard, as partly to blame for all these troubles.

Herod Murders Mariamme's Grandfather, Hyrcanus II (31 BCE)

Antiquities 15.6.3 174-6
Once Herod and Hyrcanus were at a banquet, and Herod, giving him no occasion to suspect anything, put this question to Hyrcanus, Whether he had received any letters from Malchus, the Arab king? and when he answered that he had received letters, but those of greetings only; and when he asked further, whether he had not received any presents from him? and when he had replied that he had received no more than four horses to ride on, which Malchus had sent him. Herod took this as evidence of bribery and treason, and ordered that he should be led away to be strangled.

 
Comment

This is one of three versions Josephus tells of the murder of Hyrcanus II by Herod. All of them present Hyrcanus as a gentle and elderly victim of those around him. He was at least seventy years old when he died (it is uncertain, as the chronologies given by Josephus conflict).

Mariamme's Anger Grows During Herod's Meeting with Caesar

(30 BCE)

 
Herod Places Mariamme and Her Mother Under Guard While He Visits Caesar
Antiquities 15.6.5 184
[At this time Octavian Caesar has just defeated Antony at Actium and had won the Empire.]
Now Herod, as soon as he had done away with Hyrcanus, made haste to journey to Caesar. Because he could not have any hopes of kindness from him, on account of the friendship he had for Antony, he had a suspicion that Alexandra would take this opportunity to bring the multitude to a revolt, and introduce a sedition into the affairs of the kingdom. So he committed the care of everything to his brother Pheroras, and placed his mother Cypros, and his sister [Salome], and the whole family at the fortress of Masada, and gave him a charge that if he should hear any sad news about him, he should take care of the government.
But as to Mariamme his wife, because of the misunderstanding between her and his sister and his sister's mother, which made it impossible for them to live together, Herod placed her at Alexandrium, with Alexandra her mother, and left his treasurer Joseph and Sohemus of Iturea to take care of that fortress. These two had been very faithful to him from the beginning, and were now left as a guard to the women. They also had it in charge, that if they should hear any mischief had befallen him, they should kill them both, and, as far as they were able, to preserve the kingdom for his sons, and for his brother Pheroras.
Mariamme's Suspicions
Antiquities 15.7.1 202-208
Now Mariamme and her mother Alexandra were very uneasy. For they supposed (what was easy to be supposed) that they were not put into the fortress of Alexandrium for the security of their persons, but as a garrison for their imprisonment; and as they had no power over anything, either of others or of their own affairs, they were very uneasy. Mariamme considered that the king's love to her was but false and hypocritical, a pretense advantageous to himself. She also was grieved that he would not allow her any hopes of surviving him if he should come to any harm himself. She also recollected what commands he had formerly given to Joseph, so that she now endeavored to court the favor of her guards, and especially of Sohemus, whom she knew to be in command.
Now at first Sohemus was faithful to Herod and neglected none of his instructions; but when the women, by kind words and liberal gifts, had gained his affections over to them, he was gradually began to give in, and at length revealed to them all the king's instructions, principally because he did not expect Herod would come back from Caesar with the same authority he had before. He thought he would both escape any danger from Herod and that his revelations would much gratify the women, who would not be overlooked in the formation of a new government; they would be able to reward him abundantly, since they would either reign themselves, or be very near to him that would reign.
He had a further ground of hope also, that even if Herod should have all the success he could wish for and return again, he would not prevent his wife obtaining whatever she desired, for he knew that the king's fondness for her was inexpressible. These were the motives that drew Sohemus to reveal the instructions he had been given.
So Mariamme was greatly displeased to hear that there was no end of the dangers she was under from Herod, and was greatly resentful at it, and she prayed that he would not obtain favorable treatment from Caesar, and considered it almost an intolerable task to live with him any longer. And this she afterward openly declared, without concealing her resentment.
Herod Returns Triumphantly
Antiquities 15.7.2 209-211
And now Herod sailed home with joy at his unexpected good success. First of all he went to his wife, as was proper. He told her and her alone the good news, before anyone else, on account of his fondness for her and the intimacy there was between them; and in doing so he embraced her.
But as he told her of his good success she was so far from rejoicing at it, that she rather was unhappy, and was unable to conceal her reaction. Out of her resentment and the nobility of her birth, when he embraced her, she gave out a groan, making it plain that she rather grieved than rejoiced at his success. That she was not merely suspicious, but obviously disliked him, left Herod greatly disturbed.
 

Herod's Passion for Mariamme, and

Mariamme's Hatred of Herod

Love Tortures Herod
Antiquities 15.7.2 212
 
This troubled him greatly, to see that this irrational hatred his wife had for him was not concealed, but open; and he agonized over this, but could not maintain his mood on account of the love he had for her; he was sometimes was angry at her, and sometimes reconciled himself to her; and so in swinging from one extreme of passion to another he remained in a state of bewilderment.
And thus he was caught between hatred and love; he was frequently disposed to punish her for her insolence, but being deeply in love with her in his soul, he was not able to get rid of this woman. In short, although he would gladly have punished her, he was afraid that by putting her to death he would thereby, through this loss, bring a heavier punishment upon himself than upon her.
Animosity Intensified by the In-Laws
Antiquities 15.7.3 213-216
When Herod's sister and mother saw that he was in this state with regard to Mariamme, they thought they had an excellent opportunity to satisfy their hatred against her; and so they provoked Herod by telling him many stories and slanders about her that were designed to excite his hatred and his jealousy.
Now, though he willingly enough heard their words, he did not have sufficient courage to do any thing to her even if he had believed them. But he became still more hostile toward her, and ill passions were increasingly inflamed between them, for she did not hide her feelings toward him, and he turned his love for her into anger.
But when he was just going to put this matter past all remedy, he heard the news that Caesar was the victor in the war, and had conquered Egypt, and that Antony and Cleopatra were both dead. Whereupon Herod hastened to meet Caesar and left the affairs of his family as they were.
But as he was setting out on his journey, Mariamme spoke of Sohemus to him and expressed her gratitude for the care he had taken of her, and asked that the king award him the government of a district; this was accordingly given him.
The Character of their Relationship
Antiquities 15.7.3 213-216
But upon his return, as successful as he had been in foreign affairs, so much the greater were the distresses in his own home, and chiefly in his marriage, where he formerly had seemed to be so fortunate. For the love he felt for Mariamme was no less intense than those celebrated in the great love affairs of history.
As for her, she was in most respects sensible and faithful to him; yet in her nature she had something that was as feminine as it was cruel, for she treated him contemptuously, as befitting the enslavement he was under by passion for he. She did not appropriately consider herself as living under a monarchy and that she was subject to a master, and accordingly would behave insolently toward him; on his part he pretended to ignore this and bore it steadfastly.
She would also openly mock his mother and sister because of their low birth, and would speak unkindly of them, so that while there had always been disagreement and unpardonable hatred among the women, now even more serious accusations were charged. Suspicions therefore increased, and they lasted for a whole year after Herod returned from Caesar. At last, however, what had been kept under strict regulation now burst out, beginning as follows.
 

Comment

Until now, the in-laws could find no way around Herod's unfailing love for his wife. At last, in what follows, Salome finds a diabolically clever method of using Herod's love itself as the ultimate weapon against her.

The Last Plot Against Mariamme (29 BCE)

Antiquities 15.7.4 222-231


The Love Potion
One day, about noon, the king lay down to rest and called for Mariamme, out of the great desire he always had for her. She came in, but would not lie down with him, and when he urged her, she expressed her contempt for him and bitterly reproached him for having had her grandfather and her brother killed.
 And when he took this impudence unkindly and was on the verge of doing something rash to her, the king's sister Salome, observing how greatly disturbed he was, sent in his principal servant, who had been prepared long beforehand for just such an opportunity.
For Salome had instructed him to tell the king that Mariamme had tried to persuade him to assist in preparing a love potion for the king. If, on being told this, the king appeared to be greatly concerned and asked further about the supposed love potion, the servant was to say that Mariamme prepared the potion and that he was only asked to give it to him; but if the king did not appear to be much concerned, the servant was to let the matter drop; so no harm should come to the servant in either case.
Salome had given him these instructions in advance, and now she took this opportunity to send him in to make his speech. So he went in, with assurance and urgency, and said that Mariamme had given him presents and tried to persuade him to give the king a love potion.
Herod became excited at this and asked what the "love potion" was, and the servant replied that it was a drug that Mariamme had given him whose effects he did not know, and for that reason he had resolved to inform Herod, as the safest course both for himself and for the king.
When he heard this Herod, who had already been in an ill disposition, grew more violent, and to learn more about the drug, he ordered that the eunuch who was the most faithful to Mariamme be tortured, knowing it was not possible that she could do anything great or small without him.

Comment

Herod's love could not be shaken, until Salome caused him to question its authenticity. She planted the thought that he was not really madly in love with his wife, but that his state was instead the artificial result of a love potion.   This temporarily removed the only restraint on Herod's anger.

The Death of Sohemus
And when the man was under the utmost agonies he could say nothing concerning the thing he was tortured about, but so far as he knew, Mariamme's hatred against the king was provoked by something that Sohemus had said to her.
And as soon as he said this, Herod cried out aloud and said that Sohemus, who had been at all other times most faithful to him and to his kingdom, would not have revealed his instructions unless he had had a greater intimacy than ordinary with Mariamme. So he gave orders that Sohemus should be seized and put to death at once.
The Trial of Mariamme
But he allowed his wife to stand trial. Gathering together those most faithful to him, Herod brought an elaborate accusation against Mariamme concerning the love potions and drugs she had been alleged, slanderously, to have prepared.
He lost his temper while speaking and was in too great a passion to judge, and so the jury, perceiving this, finally condemned her to death.
But after the sentence had been passed it occurred to him and some of those in the court that she should not be so hastily put to death, but instead imprisoned in one of the fortresses of the kingdom. But Salome and her party labored hard to have the woman put to death; and they persuaded the king by advising him of the danger of demonstrations by the populace were she allowed to live. And thus was Mariamme led out to her execution.
When Alexandra observed this and saw there was little hope that she herself should escape Herod, she reversed her behavior from her former boldness, and in a very indecent manner; for out of her desire to show how entirely ignorant she was of the things charged against Mariamme, she leaped up and reproached her daughter in the hearing of all the people, crying out that she had been wicked and ungrateful to her husband, and that her punishment came justly upon her for her insolent behavior, for she had not given what was due the benefactor of them all.
And when she had for some time acted in this hypocritical manner, being so outrageous as to even seize Mariamme by the hair, she was greatly despised by the rest for her indecent exhibition. This was made clear by the condemned woman herself. She gave not a word nor lost her composure as she watched her mother's performance, but out of a greatness of soul showed her concern for her mother's offense in exposing herself in so disgraceful a manner.
Mariamme herself went to her death with a calm demeanor and without a change in the color of her face, and so, even in the last moments of her life, made clear to those looking on the nobility of her lineage.
Josephus' Eulogy for Mariamme
Antiquities 15.7.6 237-239
And thus died Mariamme, a woman of an excellent character, both in chastity and in greatness of soul; but she lacked moderation, and had too much of combativeness in her nature. Yet she had more than can be said in the beauty of her body and in the dignity of her bearing in the presence of others. And this was the the principal source of her failure to please the king and to live with him harmoniously. For she was pampered by the king out of his love for her, and under the expectation that he could never be harsh to her, she took too much liberty with her speech.
She was most afflicted by what had been done to her relatives, and she freely spoke of all they had suffered by him, thus provoking both the king's mother and sister till they became her enemies, and even, at last, did Herod himself also, the only one from whom, mistakenly, she expected never to suffer any harm.
The Punishment of Herod
Antiquities 15.7.7 240-245
But once she was dead the king's desire for her burned even more strongly than before, that feeling we described earlier; for his love for her was not passionless, nor had been reduced to familiarity, but from its beginning had been full of excitement, and even the freedom of living together could not constrain it from becoming ever greater.
But now his love for Mariamme seemed to seize him even more as if by some Divine vengeance upon him for the taking away of her life. He would frequently call out for her, and frequently lament for her in a most indecent manner. He tried to think of everything he could to divert his mind from thinking of her, and arranged feasts and parties for that purpose, but nothing would help.
He therefore neglected the administration of his kingdom. And he was so far overcome by his passion that he would order his servants to call for Mariamme, as if she were still alive and could still hear them. And while he was in this state there arose a pestilential disease that carried off the greatest part of the populace and also his best and most esteemed friends; and this caused all to suspect that their misery was brought upon them by the anger of God, for the injustice that had been done to Mariamme.
This affected the king even worse, until at length he went off into the desert, and there, under the pretext of going hunting, gave way to his anguish. But not many days passed before he fell into a dangerous illness himself. There was an inflammation, and pain in the back of his head, joined with madness. And none of the remedies that were used did him any good at all; instead, they had the opposite effect and finally brought him to hopelessness.

Epilogue

Herod was shaken out of his illness when he was alerted of a coup attempt in Jerusalem on the part of Mariamme's mother Alexandra. This roused his strength sufficiently to put back the revolt and have Alexandra slain. He then killed four of his closest friends on suspicion of treason.

This seemed to make him feel better. Slowly he recovered from the loss of Mariamme. He would live twenty-five more years without her.

Five years after her death, Herod remarried. His new wife was the beautiful daughter of a priest. Her name was Mariamme. (Antiquities 15.9.3 319, 18.5.4 136).

Mariamme's children married and had many children (Antiquities 18.5.4 130ff). Her daughter Salampsio married her cousin, Herod's nephew, and had five children and five grandchildren. Her daughter Cypros married Salome's son and had one daughter and one granddaughter. Aristobulus also married a cousin, Bernice, the daughter of Herod's sister Salome, and had five children and at least three grandchildren (one of whom was the Salome of the John the Baptist story); Aristobulus' son Agrippa I and grandson Agrippa II were the most important kings of Judean territories in the following century. Alexander married the daughter of the king of Cappadocia and had two children; his grandson and great-grandson became kings of other lands.

Herod was told that Mariamme's sons "had their mother's name perpetually on their lips, cursing him while they bemoaned her, and that when he distributed, as he often did, some of Mariamme's clothing to his more recent wives, they would threaten that they would before long strip them of these royal robes and clothe them in rags." (W.1.24.3 480.) In 6 BCE, Herod accused her sons of plotting against him and executed them.

The versions in The Jewish War

Earlier Josephus had written about Mariamme in far less detail. Here are excerpts from his previous work. There are some discrepancies with the Antiquities version.
 
 

Herod Murders Mariamme's Grandfather

Earlier Version: War 1.22.1 431-434
 
 

HOWEVER, in revenge for his public prosperity, fortune visited Herod with trouble in the home; and he began to have wild disorders in his family on account of his wife, to whom he was passionately attached. For, on ascending to the throne, he sent away the woman he had before married when he was a private person, a native of Jerusalem named Doris, and married Mariamme, the daughter of Alexander son of Aristobulus. It was on her account disturbances arose in his family, and that very soon, but chiefly after his return from Rome.

For, first of all, he expelled Antipater, the son he had by Doris, from the capital, for the sake of his sons by Mariamme, and permitted him to return at no other times than at the festivals.

After this, on the suspicion of plotting against him, he put to death Mariamme's grandfather, Hyrcanus, when he had come back from Parthia. [] The marriage of his granddaughter lured him to his death. For as he relied upon that, and had an ardent longing for his own country, he came back to it, and roused Herod's resentment, not through any attempt to regain the kingdom, but because it already rightfully belonged to Hyrcanus.
 
 

Herod Murders Mariamme's Brother (35 BCE)

Earlier Version: War 1.22.2 437

Herod had not spared Mariamme's brother, Aristobulus [Jonathan], though he were but a child; for when he had given him the high priesthood at the age of seventeen, he killed him immediately after he had conferred that dignity upon him. For when Aristobulus had put on the holy vestments, and had approached to the altar at a festival, the multitude, in great crowds, fell into tears; whereupon the child was sent by night to Jericho, and was there plunged into a pool by the Gauls, at Herod's command, till he was drowned.
 
 
 
 

Herod's Passion for Mariamme

Earlier Version: War 1.22.2-3 436-8

But then what was stronger than all this was the love that he bore to Mariamme, and which inflamed him every day to a greater degree, and so far conspired with the other motives, that he felt none of the troubles that arose on account of her he loved so entirely. For Mariamme's hatred of him was as great as his love for her. She had indeed but too just a cause for indignation from what he had done, and gaining boldness from his affection for he, she openly reproached him with what he had done to her grandfather Hyrcanus and her brother Aristobulus.
 
 

Mariamme Is Accused of Adultery

Earlier Version: War 1.22.3 4380440

It was on these grounds that Mariamme upbraided Herod, and then proceeded violently to reproach his mother and sister. He was silenced by his affection for her; but the women had great indignation at her, and slandered her with the thing they thought most likely to touch Herod the closest: a charge of adultery. Among much else which they invented to persuade him, they accused Mariamme of having sent her picture to Antony in Egypt, and that her lust was so extravagant, as to have thus exhibited herself, though absent, to a man that ran mad after women, and to a man that was powerful enough to employ violence.

This charge fell like a thunderbolt upon Herod. His love caused him to be greatly jealous; then he reflected on the shrewdness of Cleopatra which had destroyed both King Lysanias and Malchus the Arabia, and he calculated he was in danger not only of the dissolving of his marriage, but also of dying.