Gessius  Florus  [ruled 64-66 CE]

It is difficult to get a balanced picture of the 13th Roman prefect of Judea, since Josephus focused blame for the Jewish revolt against Rome squarely on his misrule. A native of Asia Minor, Florus made a point of publicly displaying his contempt for Jewish principles & Jews of any rank. Like his predecessor (Lucceius Albinus) he gave freedom to bandits for a share of their spoils. He tolerated (or encouraged) insults of Jewish religion & used Roman cavalry & soldiers in displays of force against any group of Jews.  When Jews in Caesarea resorted to violence, Florus escalated the conflict. by rebuffing the pleas of leading Jews to ignore protesters' insults.  Rather, in retaliation he ordered his soldiers to plunder the Upper Market in Jerusalem.  Josephus claims that this led to the massacre of thousands of Jews including women & children. Those who were not slain by the soldiers' raid were brought to Florus, who had them tortured & crucified even if they were of noble status. Berenice, sister of king Agrippa II, sought to intercede by pleading for mercy for Jerusalem's Jews, but Florus did not show her any respect. Instead he called in Roman troops from Caesarea. Fearful that the Romans meant to seize the temple & the tower of Antonia, many Jews incited rebellion. Florus withdrew his forces.  But by then the damage had been done. Even Agrippa's plea to obey Florus until Nero could send a replacement could not slow the impetus to rebellion. Florus disappears from the historical stage in the ensuing political chaos. His fate went unrecorded.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 20.215, 252-257; 
                   _____, War
2.277-343, 402-407, 418-420, 457, 531, 558;
                  Tacitus, Histories 5.10.

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