Antonius Felix - Encyclopedia




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ANTONIUS FELIX, Roman procurator of Judaea (A.D. 52-60), in succession to Ventidius Cumanus. He was a freedman either of the emperor Claudius - according to which theory Josephus (Antiq. xx. 7) calls him Claudius Felix - or more probably of the empress Antonia. On entering his province he induced Drusilla, wife of Azizus of Horns (Emesa), to leave her husband and live with him as his wife. His cruelty and licentiousness, coupled with his accessibility to bribes, led to a great increase of crime in Judaea. To put down the Zealots he favoured an even more violent sect, the Sicarii ("Dagger-men"), by whose aid he contrived the murder of the high-priest Jonathan. The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances, which he put down with severity. The apostle Paul, after being apprehended in Jerusalem, was sent to be judged before Felix at Caesarea, and kept in custody for two years (Acts xxiv.). On returning to Rome, Felix was accused of having taken advantage of a dispute between the Jews and Syrians of Caesarea to slay and plunder the inhabitants, but through the intercession of his brother, the freedman Pallas, who had great influence with the emperor Nero, he escaped unpunished.

See Tacitus, Annals, xx. 54, Hist. v. 9; Suetonius, Claudius, 28; E. Schurer, History of the Jewish People (1890-1891); article in Hastings' Dict. of the Bible (A. Robertson); commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles; Sir W. M. Ramsay, St Paul the Traveller; Carl v. Weizsacker, Apostolic Age (Eng. trans., 1894); art. Jews.

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