August 5, 2010

Herodias, Queen of Galilee - 5

The same sea voyage that got John the Baptist arrested happened to get Herod Antipas more than a divorce. It also got him a mint. (See the recent post: Herod Antipas' Mint (or) Why Herodian coinage helps date John the Baptist's arrest.)

Since Antipas had already scheduled his voyage to Rome, before suddenly proposing to Herodias at the port city of Judea, it seems at least part of his intended business in Italy was to petition the Empire for the right to mint regional coins.

Now, did the advantage of Herodias' connections help Antipas win his petition in Rome? It would be intriguing to speculate, but this question may go beyond simple causality. Does the boss hire his daughter's fiancee to assist in their marriage, or does he only approve of the marriage because the young man now has a secure future? Sometimes it just all comes together.

For starters, the minting of Galilean coins wasn't merely a benefit to Antipas. If Rome helped develop the Tetrarch's financial system, it would surely result in an increase of annual tribute... eventually. That Herod had ruled Galilee for three decades without regional coinage, however, may suggest Rome had previously no reason for confidence in him.

Antipas' rise in favor had been slow, and was not yet very substantial. A marriage treaty added regional stability, but the Nabatean connection had brought nothing noteworthy since. A successful rebuilding of Sepphoris, and a more recent foundation at Tiberias - the latter of which had a local mint since perhaps AD 23; these must have helped. But would they have helped enough?

There's no way to say if winning the minting contract helped Antipas get Herodias, or if having Antonia's favor helped Antipas win the minting contract. All we can tell is that, for Antipas, the mint and the marriage were mutually complementary. This looks like one instance in which causality plays no discernible part.

But were these new arrangements mutually complementary, from Rome's perspective?

We know what Rome got from the mint. What else did Rome get from agreeing to sanction this marriage? We've already supposed Antonia herself might have influenced the decision, but it's too much to suppose that Antonia's favor alone is what won Herodias her "Queenship".  There had to be something more.

To be continued...


Read the Whole Series: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Conclusion

1 comment:

Cammie Novara said...

"Since Antipas had already scheduled his voyage to Rome, before suddenly proposing to Herodias at the port city of Judea, it seems at least part of his intended business in Italy was to petition the Empire for the right to mint regional coins." I am completely in agreement with that.

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