Berenice

(b. AD 28)
   Daughter of Agrippa I. The physical charms and the ambitions of the Judean princess Berenice produced a chequered career of loves and marriages.
   She was first married at the age of thirteen to Marcus Julius Alexander, whose father was head of the Alexandrian Jewish community. Two more marriages followed - to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis; and to Polemon, a minor ruler in Cilicia, Asia Minor. But she was most deeply attached to her brother, Agrippa II, and lived most of the time in his palace. The fact that the brother and sister were always together gave rise to rumours of incestuous relations between them.
   In the spring of 66, Berenice was with Agrippa II in Jerusalem, at a time of tension and street riots. Her palace was burnt down by the mob and she had to flee. Soon Judea was in open revolt. Agrippa and Berenice remained firmly loyal to their Roman masters, and joined the Roman general VESPASIAN, who arrived in the country in 67 with substantial forces to restore order. She became the mistress of Vespasian’s son TITUS, and was in his camp when his troops captured and sacked Jerusalem in 70. Berenice was then forty-two years old and Titus a dozen years her junior.
   Vespasian had meanwhile become emperor. Berenice accompanied Titus back to Rome and lived openly with him in his royal palace. But Roman society became so hostile to her that the emperor was obliged to insist on Titus’ sending her back to Judea. That was in 75. Four years later, when Vespasian died and Titus succeeded him as emperor, Berenice turned up again in Rome with her brother Agrippa, who had come to pledge his allegiance. Berenice may have hoped to revive her old relationship with Titus, but the new emperor was not prepared to risk his standing by resuming an unpopular liaison with his former Judean mistress, now a woman over fifty. Nothing further is known about Berenice.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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