Governor of Judea after the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus (70). He had formerly been prefect of the fleet at Ravenna, and took the oath of allegiance to Vitellius; but, dissatisfied with not having been promoted to the dignity of prefect of the pretorium, he betrayed his master and delivered the fleet into the hands of Vespasian (compare Tacitus, iii. 12, 36, 40). Such a service could not remain unrewarded, and Vespasian appointed him governor of Judea and gave him the task of subjugating the fortresses that were still in arms, Herodium, Macherus, and Masada. Bassus displayed in this exploit more courage than strategical skill. Herodium surrendered at once without fighting. Macherus, however, offered a stubborn resistance, and Bassus would have been unable to conquer this place, but for the fact that the young commandant, Eleazar, was captured by the Romans. Bassus ordered him to be scourged before their eyes; and the besieged, desiring to save their chief, offered to give up the citadel if his life should be spared. Bassus agreed to this proposal and spared the garrison; but he inhumanly butchered the inhabitants, to the number of 1,700, and sold the women and children into slavery.
Bassus died at the siege of Masada; and the difficult task of subduing that fortress devolved upon his successor, Silva.
- Josephus, B. J. vii. 6;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 3d ed., iv. 548.