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According to Josephus, Jerusalem finally fell to the Romans in AD 70 on the 8th of Gorpaios. As I understand it, Gorpaios is the Macedonian equivalent of the Babylonian month of Elul, used as the last month in the Jewish calendar, and, according to an online calendar converter I found, in 2011 the 8th of Elul is, in the Gregorian reckoning, the 7th of September. So it seems that today is the anniversary of the completion of the sack of Jerusalem (though the Temple had been destroyed about a month earlier on Tisha B’av). Here is Josephus :
Ἑάλω μὲν οὕτως Ἱεροσόλυμα ἔτει δευτέρῳ τῆς Οὐεσπασιανοῦ ἡγεμονίας Γορπιαίου μηνὸς ὀγδόῃ, ἁλοῦσα δὲ καὶ πρότερον πεντάκις τοῦτο δεύτερον ἠρημώθη.
And in G.A. Williamson’s translation (revised by E.M. Smallwood) (Penguin, 1981):
So fell Jersualem in the second year of Vespasian’s reign, on the 8th of Gorpaios, captured five times before and now for the second time utterly laid waste. (The Jewish War 6.435)
The Romans had quite a long history of attacking Jerusalem. Tacitus summarizes it in Book 5 of his Histories:
Cneius Pompeius was the first of our countrymen to subdue the Jews. Availing himself of the right of conquest, he entered the temple. Thus it became commonly known that the place stood empty with no similitude of gods within, and that the shrine had nothing to reveal. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed, the temple was left standing. After these provinces had fallen, in the course of our civil wars, into the hands of Marcus Antonius, Pacorus, king of the Parthians, seized Judaea. He was slain by Publius Ventidius, and the Parthians were driven back over the Euphrates. Caius Sosius reduced the Jews to subjection. The royal power, which had been bestowed by Antony on Herod, was augmented by the victorious Augustus. On Herod’s death, one Simon, without waiting for the approbation of the Emperor, usurped the title of king. He was punished by Quintilius Varus then governor of Syria, and the nation, with its liberties curtailed, was divided into three provinces under the sons of Herod. Under Tiberius all was quiet. But when the Jews were ordered by Caligula to set up his statue in the temple, they preferred the alternative of war. The death of the Emperor put an end to the disturbance. The kings were either dead, or reduced to insignificance, when Claudius entrusted the province of Judaea to the Roman Knights or to his own freedmen, one of whom, Antonius Felix, indulging in every kind of barbarity and lust, exercised the power of a king in the spirit of a slave. He had married Drusilla, the granddaughter of Antony and Cleopatra, and so was the grandson-in-law, as Claudius was the grandson, of Antony.
Yet the endurance of the Jews lasted till Gessius Florus was procurator. In his time the war broke out. Cestius Gallus, legate of Syria, who attempted to crush it, had to fight several battles, generally with ill-success. Cestius dying, either in the course of nature, or from vexation, Vespasian was sent by Nero, and by help of his good fortune, his high reputation, and his excellent subordinates, succeeded within the space of two summers in occupying with his victorious army the whole of the level country and all the cities, except Jerusalem. The following year had been wholly taken up with civil strife, and had passed, as far as the Jews were concerned, in inaction. Peace having been established in Italy, foreign affairs were once more remembered. Our indignation was heightened by the circumstance that the Jews alone had not submitted. At the same time it was held to be more expedient, in reference to the possible results and contingencies of the new reign, that Titus should remain with the army.
Accordingly he pitched his camp, as I have related, before the walls of Jerusalem, and displayed his legions in order of battle.
The whole digression on the Jews is worth taking a look at.
The spoils of the sack were used to help to fund the construction of the Colosseum, and the victory is still memorialized on the Arch of Titus:
Arch of Titus (detail)
September 7th is also the anniversary of the death of the usurper Claudius Silvanus, who had claimed power against Constantius II. Ammianus Marcellinus tells the story in his History 15.5. Here’s a bit from the end (note especially the classical exempla at the very end):
31. Therefore, after we had secured our success by the address of some agents among the common soldiers, men by their very obscurity fitted for the accomplishment of such a task, and now excited by the expectation of reward, at sunrise, as soon as the east began to redden, a band of armed men suddenly sallied forth, and, as is common in critical moments, behaving with more than usual audacity. They slew the sentinels and penetrated into the palace, and so having dragged Silvanus out of a little chapel in which, in his terror, he had taken refuge on his way to a conventicle devoted to the ceremonies of the Christian worship, they slew him with repeated strokes of their swords.
32. In this way did a general of no slight merit perish, through fear of false accusations heaped on him in his absence by a faction of wicked men, and which drove him to the utmost extremities in order to preserve his safety.
33. For although he had acquired strong claims on the gratitude of Constantius by his seasonable sally with his troops before the battle of Mursa, and although he could boast the valorous exploits of his father Bonitus, a man of Frankish extraction, but who had espoused the party of Constantine, and often in the civil wrar had exhibited great prowess against the troops of Licinius, still he always feared him as a prince of wavering and fickle character.
34. Now before any of these events had taken place in Gaul, it happened that one day in the Circus Maximus at Rome, the populace cried out with a loud voice, “Silvanus is conquered.” Whether influenced by instinct or by some prophetic spirit, cannot be decided.
35. Silvanus having been slain, as I have narrated, at Agrippina, the emperor was seized with inconceivable joy when he heard the news, and gave way to exceeding insolence and arrogance, attributing this event also to the prosperous course of his good fortune; giving the reins to his habitual disposition which always led him to hate men of brave conduct, as Domitian in former times had done, |64 and desiring at all times to destroy them by every act of opposition.
36. And he was so far from praising even his act of diligence and fidelity, that he recorded in writing a charge that Ursicinus had embezzled a part of the Gallic treasures, which no one had ever touched. And he ordered strict inquiry to be made into the fact, by an examination of Remigius, who was at that time accountant-general to Ursicinus in his capacity of commander of the heavy troops. And long afterwards, in the time of Valentinian, this Remigius hanged himself on account of the trouble into which he fell in the matter of his appointment as legate in Tripolis.
37. And after this business was terminated, Constantius, thinking his prosperity had now raised him to an equality with the gods, and had bestowed on him entire sovereignty over human affairs, gave himself up to elation at the praises of his flatterers, whom he himself encouraged, despising and trampling under foot all who were unskilled in that kind of court. As we read that Croesus, when he was king, drove Solon headlong from his court because he would not fawn on him; and that Dionysius threatened the poet Philoxenus with death because, when the king recited his absurd and unrhythmical verses, he alone refused to fall into an ecstasy while all the rest of the courtiers praised them.
38. And this mischievous taste is the nurse of vices; for praise ought only to be acceptable in high places, where blame also is permitted when things are not sufficiently performed.