(2) ταύτην δὲ τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἐγκεχείρισμαι1 πραγματείαν νομίζων ἅπασι φανεῖσθαι τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἀξίαν σπουδῆς· μέλλει γὰρ περιέξειν ἅπασαν τὴν παρ᾿ ἡμῖν ἀρχαιολογίαν καὶ [τὴν]2 διάταξιν τοῦ πολιτεύματος ἐκ τῶν Ἑβραϊκῶν μεθηρμηνευμένην 6γραμμάτων. ἤδη μὲν οὖν καὶ πρότερον διενοήθη, ὅτε τὸν πόλεμον συνέγραφον, δηλῶσαι τίνες ὄντες ἐξ ἀρχῆς Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ τίσι χρησάμενοι τύχαις, ὑφ᾿ οἵῳ τε παιδευθέντες νομοθέτῃ τὰ πρὸς εὐσέβειαν καὶ τὴν ἄλλην ἄσκησιν ἀρετῆς, πόσους τε πολέμους ἐν μακροῖς πολεμήσαντες χρόνοις εἰς τὸν τελευταῖον ἄκοντες πρὸς Ῥωμαίους κατέστησαν. 7ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ μείζων ἦν ἡ τοῦδε τοῦ λόγου περιβολή, καθ᾿ αὑτὸν3 ἐκεῖνον χωρίσας ταῖς ἰδίαις ἀρχαῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ τέλει τὴν γραφὴν συνεμέτρησα· χρόνου δὲ προϊόντος, ὅπερ φιλεῖ τοῖς μεγάλων ἅπτεσθαι διανοουμένοις, ὄκνος μοι καὶ μέλλησις ἐγίνετο τηλικαύτην μετενεγκεῖν ὑπόθεσιν εἰς ἀλλοδαπὴν ἡμῖν καὶ ξένην διαλέκτου 8συνήθειαν. ἦσαν δέ τινες οἳ πόθῳ τῆς ἱστορίας ἐπ᾿ αὐτήν με προύτρεπον, καὶ μάλιστα δὴ πάντων Ἐπαφρόδιτος ἀνὴρ ἅπασαν μὲν ἰδέαν παιδείας ἠγαπηκώς, διαφερόντως δὲ χαίρων ἐμπειρίαις πραγμάτων, ἅτε δὴ μεγάλοις μὲν αὐτὸς ὁμιλήσας πράγμασι καὶ τύχαις πολυτρόποις, ἐν ἅπασι δὲ θαυμαστὴν φύσεως ἐπιδειξάμενος ἰσχὺν καὶ προαίρεσιν 9ἀρετῆς ἀμετακίνητον. τούτῳ δὴ πειθόμενος ὡς αἰεὶ4 τοῖς χρήσιμον ἢ καλόν τι πράττειν δυναμένοις
(2) And now I have undertaken this present work Origin of present work. in the belief that the whole Greek-speaking world will find it worthy of attention; for it will embrace our entire ancient history and political constitution, translated from the Hebrew records.a I had indeed ere now, when writing the history of the war, already contemplated describing the origin of the Jews, the fortunes that befell them, the great lawgiver under whom they were trained in piety and the exercise of the other virtues, and all those wars waged by them through long ages before this last in which they were involuntarily engaged against the Romans. However, since the compass of such a theme was excessive, I made the War into a separate volume, with its own beginning and end, thus duly proportioning my work. Nevertheless, as time went on, as is wont to happen to those who design to attack large tasks, there was hesitation and delay on my part in rendering so vast a subject into a foreign and unfamiliar tongue. However, The historian’s patron. there were certain persons curious about the history who urged me to pursue it, and above all Epaphroditus,b a man devoted to every form of learning, but specially interested in the experiences of history, conversant as he himself has been with large affairs and varying turns of fortune, through all which he has displayed a wonderful force of character and an attachment to virtue that nothing could deflect. Yielding, then, to the persuasions of one who is ever
- aJosephus bases the first part of his narrative on the Biblical story; but his rôle as “translator” is limited. For the later historical books (1 Samuel to 1 Maccabees), and to a less extent for the Pentateuch, he is largely dependent on the Alexandrian Greek Bible, which he merely paraphrases.
- bSee Introduction. The historian’s later works, the Antiquities, its appendix the Life (§ 430), and the Contra Apionem, are all dedicated to this patron.