Eldest son of Herod the Great and of the Idumean Doris, who soon after Antipater's birth was discarded by her husband; born about 38
Antipater's life, from the day of his mother's return to favor and of his own recall to the palace of Jerusalem, was one continuous endeavor to supplant in the favor of his father all the other members of the Herodian family, and finally, when this object was well-nigh achieved, to gain possession, through parricide, of the throne of Judea. While at Rome, Antipater tried to influence Herod against Alexander and Aristobulus, who were apparently the favorites; insinuating that these sons of Mariamne were scheming to avenge their mother's death on the person of their father. He succeeded so well in his calumnies against them that Herod brought them to Rome, accused them before Augustus of plotting his overthrow, and begged of the emperor permission to punish them. Augustus probably saw through the plot, and temporarily reconciled Herod with his sons.
Herod returned with the three princes to Jerusalem; and there Antipater began his machinations afresh. Common ambition had united him with Pheroras and Salome; and a plot was concocted to poison Herod. Antipater had also succeeded in gaining the confidence of Alexander and Aristobulus, especially of the former, and could consequently pursue with ease his plan for their ruin. After casting suspicion upon the two princes by innuendos and secret accusations, he persuaded Herod to torture the servants of the palace into revealing what they knew of the alleged infidelity of his sons. Some of these confessed that the sons of Mariamne were plotting to assassinate the king; and Alexander and Aristobulus were consequently cast into prison. The former pretended to acknowledge his guilt, and implicated in his confession Pheroras, who was thereupon banished to his tetrarchy; but not a word did he breathe against Antipater, so well had the latter beguiled him. Augustus reluctantly granted Herod permission to banish or execute his two prisoners; and it was on the occasion of this peculiar request that Augustus is said to have exclaimed: "I would rather be of Herod's swine than of his sons" (Macrobius, "Saturnalium Conviviorum Libri Septem," ii. 4).Shares the Government of Judea.
Upon the execution of his sons in the year 7
But an incident occurred that upset all of Antipater's heinous plans, and brought him to his deserved fate. It was at an investigation into the death of Pheroras, whose wife had been accused of having poisoned him, that, in establishing her innocence, the villainy of Antipater was laid bare. In the meantime, correspondence between Acme and Antipater having been intercepted, Herod sent a letter to Rome in most affectionate terms, asking Antipater to return to Jerusalem, which he unsuspectingly did. On his way, while in Cilicia, he heard of Pheroras' death, of his mother's second banishment, and vague rumors of the accusations that awaited him. He nevertheless continued on his journey to Jerusalem; hoping, probably, to allay his father's suspicions. On his arrival Herod accused him before a tribunal headed by Quintilius Varus; but though Nicolas of Damascus laid bare the whole plot, and though the deadly poison itself was produced and tested in open court, Antipater's speech in answer to the accusers—which moved Varus and even Herod himself—must have had its effect, since a verdict was not pronounced. Antipater was provisionally cast into prison, and Herod sent letters to Augustus, with full information of his son's machi-nations, and with the request that he be authorized to punish him. The emperor's reply stated that Acme had been put to death, and that Herod was at liberty to deal with his son as he deemed best.
The execution of Antipater (4
- Josephus, Ant. xiv. 12, § 1; xvi. 3, § 3; xvi. 4, § 1; xvii. 5, § 1;
- idem, B. J. i. 24, § 1;
- Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, iii. 209, 246 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. i., 2d part, 1 et seq.;
- Farrar, The Herods, pp. 144 et seq.