Procurator of Judea about 60-62 C.E., after Felix (Josephus, "Ant." xx. 8, § 9; "B. J." ii. 14, § 1). Although he was more just than his predecessor, he could not allay the intense bitterness of feeling among the Jews, caused chiefly by their being slighted in the affair of Cæsarea. Felix left him also the suit with Paul (Acts xxiv.-xxvi.), whom he sent to Rome (ib. xxvii.), Paul having appealed to the emperor as a Roman citizen. Festus proceeded with rigor against the Sicarii, pursuing them with infantry and cavalry. He also took severe measures against a certain "magician," as Josephus calls him, but who was probably one of the numerous prophets who enticed the people into the desert, promising them salvation (compare "Ant." l.c.; "B. J." l.c.). When King Agrippa II., in order to be able to oversee the court of the Temple, erected a high wall in the former Hasmonean castle, the Jews in turn erected a higher wall to cut off his view. Festus, however, for military reasons would not allow this latter wall to stand; but he was just enough to permit the Jews to send an embassy to appeal against his decision to Nero, who decided in their favor ("Ant." xx. 8, § 11). Festus died after a short term of office, and was succeeded by Albinus.
Bibliography:G. S. Kr.
- Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 441;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 580;
- Büchler, Das Synhedrion, p. 66, Vienna, 1902.