Josephus' Autobiography

Josephus' Autobiography: apologetic treatise about his behavior during the Jewish War (66-70).

Flavius Josephus?
Flavius Josephus?

Josephus' Autobiography appeared as an appendix to a second or third edition of the Jewish Antiquities. It is a reply to a libel by one Justus of Tiberias, who had portrayed Josephus' operations in Galilee as brutal and tyrannical. To Josephus, this was a dangerous publication, because people were reminded of the fact that he had once led an army against Rome and was responsible for the death of many Roman soldiers. Josephus had always been protected by the emperors of the house of Vespasian, but the behavior of the emperor Domitian was erratic, and Josephus was well advised to defend himself.

Josephus starts to tell about his aristocratic descent, devotes a few pages to his youth, and describes his activities as a general. It overlaps the story of the Jewish Wars, and comparison of the two narratives shows us that Josephus can simplify, exaggerate, invent, suppress, and distort his story as he likes.

This page was created in 1997; last modified on 15 June 2020.