The Role of Prophecy in the Siege of Jerusalem and its Analogues
The alliterative Siege, as well as other medieval accounts of the destruction of Jerusalem, derives ultimately from the account of Josephus’ The Jewish Wars but structures the portents of the destruction according to its own principles. Focusing on the disposition of the portents, Millar shows how Hegesippus’ Latin adaption of Josephus, in tandem with Josephus, inspires Higden’s account in the Polychronicon and Jacob of Voragine’s in the Legenda Aurea, as it well as the alliterative Titus and Vespasian. Each of these writers saw themselves as collectors and interpreters of oracles; the Siege poet does not merely reinterpret the portents which foreshadow the fall of Jerusalem, but positions those portents so that they build toward the climax of the poem, which depicts the Jewish people as coerced by tyrannical leaders into a deadly course of action. A comparative theory of prophecy narratives is advanced and tested against this material.
YLS 13 (1999): 153-78.