Biographical Gospel of the Lord

- Chapter 50 -
The Prefect Of Jerusalem's Complicity

FTER BEING THUS addressed by Cyrenius, Maronius Pilla felt as if a stone had been lifted from his chest, his pulse began to beat more freely and he was soon able to answer Cyrenius.
When Cyrenius saw that Maronius Pilla had recovered, he asked him as follows:
'I tell you, give me the most conscientious answer to what I am going to ask you!
Tell me, do you know whose first-born Child is supposed to be the so-called new King of the Jews?'
Maronius Pilla answered, 'Yes, I know them personally according to the declaration of the Jewish priests! The father is named Joseph and is a carpenter of the best reputation in all of Judea and half of Palestine and resides close to Nazareth.
His honesty is known in the whole country as well as in all of Jerusalem. About eleven months ago he had to take a matured girl out of the Jewish temple into his care, by some manner of casting lots, I believe.
In the absence of this upright carpenter this girl probably paid homage to Venus a bit too early, became pregnant, for which reason according to my knowledge this man then had to withstand serious difficulties with the Jewish priesthood.
To that extent the matter is well known to me, but as concerns the giving birth by this girl - whom this man, to avoid the disgrace which he had to fear from his compatriots, is supposed to have taken to wife before she gave birth - extremely mystical tales have spread among the people, and one just does not know what one should believe.
On the occasion of the census-taking she delivered in Bethlehem, and that in a stable - this much I have ascertained.
Anything more than that is wholly unknown to me, and such I also told Herod.
But he was of the opinion that Cornelius wanted to hide the family of which the Persians made him suspicious somewhere among the people, so he might contest his right to the tenure of the throne, since Herod well knows that your brother is not his friend.
That is also why he took his refuge in this abnormal cruelty, so he primarily might thwart the plan of Cornelius rather than to actually seize this new King.
He therefore committed this infanticidal vengeance more to revenge himself on your brother than from fear of this new King. That is all I can tell you of this strange occurrence.'
And Cyrenius stated: 'Up to now I have realized from your words that you did indeed speak the truth, but I in no way failed to see that you in effect wanted to whitewash Herod before me.
Now I tell you: Herod's act, as I have written, is in no way excusable.
For I will tell you why Herod perpetrated this most inhuman cruelty.
Listen! Herod is himself the most tyrannical human being whom the earth ever nurtured.
If he could do it and to some extent had the power, he would even today do that with us Romans, Augustus not excepted, what he did with the most innocent children! Do you understand me?
He undertook this infanticide only because he was of the opinion that by doing us Romans a great, estimable service and by thus showing himself to be a genuine Roman patriot, the emperor would also bestow my office upon him in addition to his tetrarchy,
with which, as representative of the emperor just as I am, he could then make unrestricted use of one-third of the entire Roman might and thus also make himself wholly free and independent of Rome, so that he might hold sway as the only sovereign over Asia and Egypt.
Do you follow me? - See, that is the to me well-known plan of this old monster; and as I know him, so also does Augustus now know him.
And now I ask you with your head as forfeit of the truth, which you are to tell me as to whether you knew about this plan of Herod when he made you his most despicable instrument.
Speak, but remember that every untrue, evasive syllable will cost you your life! For I know every point in this matter in minute detail.'
Here Maronius Pilla again turned into a corpse and stuttered, 'Yes, you are right, I also knew what Herod had in mind.
But I feared his arch spirit of intrigue and therefore had to do his bidding, that by doing so the basis for a still greater intrigue might be destroyed for him.
But I did not know Herod as completely through and through as I now know him through you; for if I had, he would not be alive today!'
'Good,' responded Cyrenius, 'I am sparing your life in the name of the emperor - but I shall not restore you to your office until your soul recovers from a great illness! You will be cared for here at my side, and your duties will be looked after for the time being by my brother Cornelius, for I just do not trust you. So you will remain here until you get well.'