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Drusilla

Daughter of Herod Agrippa I

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa I, was six years of age at the time of her father's death at Caesarea, A.D. 44. She had already been betrothed to Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus, King of Commagene. Herod had stipulated that Epiphanes should embrace the Jewish religion. The prince finally refused to abide by his promise to do so, and the brother of Drusilla, Herod Agrippa II, gave her in marriage to Azizus, King of Emesa, who, in order to obtain her hand, consented to be circumcised. It was shortly after this marriage, it would appear, that Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea, met the beautiful young queen. This meeting very likely took place at the court of Herod Agrippa II, for we can gather from Josephus that Berenice, the elder sister, whose jealousy the Jewish historian mentions as an explanation of Drusilla's conduct, lived with her brother at this time. Felix was struck by the great beauty of Drusilla, and determined to make her his wife. In order to persuade a Jewess, who had shown attachment to her religion, to be divorced from her husband and marry a pagan, the unscrupulous governor had recourse to the arts of a Jewish magician from Cyprus whose name, according to some MSS. of Josephus, was Atomos, according to others, Simon. The ill-advised Drusilla was persuaded to accede to the solicitations of Felix. She was about twenty-two years of age when she appeared at the side of the latter, during St. Paul's captivity at Caesarea (Acts, xxiv, 24-25). Like her husband, she must have listened with terror as the Apostle "treated of justice, and chastity and of the judgment to come". It is said that during the reign of Titus a son of Felix and Drusilla perished together with his wife in the eruption of Vesuvius. But there is no information about the life of Drusilla herself after the scene described in Acts.

W. S. REILLY


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