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“...but Jesus..can you walk on custard?”
“..I rated Salome's dance an 8. What about you Bruno ?”
Herod 'Pastry Face' Antipas (he: הורדוס אנטיפס), Tetris of Galilee and the fat bloke whose tongue hung out of his head when Salome did her dirty dancing routine to acquire the hairy noggin of John the Baptist, was actually a really funny guy. He is best known for his joke when meeting Jesus at a swimming pool party about whether the Christian celebrity could levitate over a hot tub full of pagan babes. Later on Herod acted as one of judges in the X Factorum final which saw Jesus lose out to Barrabas. Herod blamed Simon-Called-Bastard for that particular result.
Split Three Ways
Herod Antipas grew up in an unusual household where you didn't know if your father was going to provide you with love or instant death. Herod the Great was perhaps one of those people who wasn't really suited to be a dad. A homicidal monarch yes - a father no. Perhaps it isn't surprising that in his own later life Herod Antipas had no interest in starting his own family, perhaps he feared he would kill his own children or keep an ex-wife in jars of shredded marmalade. It was a wise choice.
When Herod the Great died in around 4 BC, the surviving members of the family were brought together for the reading of the will by their aunt Anticyclonia Salome When she opened the box, Salome was surprised to see Herod the Great had written about six different wills. Only this one seemed to make sense:-
- Herod Archelaus: My socks.
- Herod Antipas: My best socks.
- Herod Herod. High Priest Job and Keys to the Smallest Room at the Temple.
- Herod Philip. Ermmm...who was he again ?
- Herod Herod Herod Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera Look! I got bored my boys..
...and so on with an annex requesting the women clean the dishes once the wake was over. If there was no agreement in 40 days, Herod would leave his kingdom to the 'Home for Old Asses' in Samaria.
Not unexpectedly, there was fist fight and the throwing of expensive plates as the brothers tried to tear each others arms off. Salome eventually told everyone to calm down and suggested they all head to Rome for a second opinion regarding Herod's real intentions. Charging his usual fees (everyone's weight in gold) for his expert opinion , Emperor Augustus invited all the Herod clan round to dinner. In addition to the family members arriving from Judea, there were other Herodians living in Rome including the children of Herod's oldest son Antipater who had 'officially' choked on a sword a few months earlier before his father's demise. Antpater's brood were called Herod Agrippa, Herod of Chalkis and Herodias who had bumps on her chest and was therefore usually classified as a girl. All were to have important roles in Herod Antipas's life later on.
The shrewd Roman emperor soon figured out Herod Archelaus was a common psychopath, Herod Herod too confusing and Herod Philip a wuss (or worse, he had just declared his love for 11 year old Herodias). Herod Antipas seemed to fall in the middle in this range so Augustus gave him a certificate, a water clock and a cheque book to run Galilee as a 'Tetrarch', a bit of a nonsense title as it seemed to be everything or nothing. Herod Antipas decided to take it anyway - though with a proviso that he was under no obligation to host the Happy Holidays festival in December for the annual family gathering.
Not Wanted In Jerusalem
On his return to Galilee, Herod Antipas set up court in a new capital which he named Tiberias in honour of Tiberius (Herod was never good at his Latin spellings), the stepson of Augustus and the next Roman Emperor if things all worked out. It was a typical Roman style city: cheap pizza joints, coffee shops and tacky gladiator trinkets to attract the unwary (and unwashed) who may be visiting this otherwise undistinguished corner of Judea - let alone the Roman Empire. Herod naturally hoped to get hold of Jerusalem if his elder brother Herod Archelaus fell out with Rome. This indeed happened a few years later when Archelaus killed everyone at a party in Jerusalem who had forgotten to bring him a birthday card. He was deposed and booted out of the country. Once Herod Antipas heard the news, he applied for the job of Top (Secular) Jew in Judea but his application got mysteriously lost in the otherwise efficient Roman postal office.
Disappointed, Herod Antipas stayed on in Galilee and got progressively fatter and fruitier as the years wore on. His only distractions were arguing with his wife Miriam about her spending habits and sending offensive messages to his father-in-law King Aretas of Nabataea who ruled in the next door kingdom. As an official Friend of Rome, Herod expected imperial help if relations across the garden fence got anymore heated.
Meantime, Herod's new capital was going along well and provided a lot of work for stone cutters and the makers of wooden furniture (Herod got a good deal on chairs from local carpenter Joshua Ben-Yahweh and Brothers). However, for the more conservative minded Jews, Tiberias was an abomination in the eyes of God. Building straight roads,plumbing,bathing facilities and providing a theatre were to these people, all an example of imperial Roman pagan degeneracy and that any Jews found enjoying these facilities were to be cast out of the community. Herod Antipas allowed the grumbling to carry on but drew the line at anyone insulting him or the Roman Empire. This kept most of the beardy, fire & brimstone brigade away from casting slurs on Herod and his family except one holy man :The reformed ex-cage fighter of the Jordan Valley, John the Baptist.
John the Baptist
An ex-four wheeled chariot salesman in Nazareth, John the Baptist or Yohanan Ben-Zechariahm (or Yo! All-Bar-None 'Zakspunk') as he was known to his family had switched jobs to become a cage fighter under the name of John the Batshit. His wild man looks and disgusting hygiene made everyone physically sick if they got too close to him. It is also allowed Yohanan/John to become a bit of a local star as audiences flocked to see him bite off the bollocks of opponents like Seleucus the Syrian Strangler or squeeze out the eyes of Bone Crusher Creon from Crete. Retiring on his earnings, John had then moved to the River Jordan to open a chariot wash and wax service and would also throw in a free scrub for the driver too. He also decided to alter his name to John the Baptist and wore his old fighting costume to attract customers, throwing himself in the river and doing a very convincing charade of a man wrestling with invisible opponents. It worked so well that John now started to believe he was special after a very fruitful meeting with a woman called Gabriel. She told him that he was The One Before The One so John extended his offer to wash people without the need of any transport. Out went the soap and towels or the deluxe service where women wiped windscreen in wet tee shirts. John was now on God's business and promised to deliver 50 cleansed sinners a day
Local tourist guides would offer curious visitors a chance to see John - in exchange for a nice fat tip. Even Herod put up with John who he thought the preacher was about 'the most entertaining prophet crazy man around' and would visit the river to see him in action, dunking people in the river and claiming it was all God's work. Confident he had nothing to fear, Herod made John's baptismal centre a taxable tourist attraction and a scene of 'Outstanding Religious Lunacy'. He then went ahead and booked a solo ticket to Rome to sort a family real estate issue following the death of his brother Herod Philip. Herod Antipas was happy, he could leave the wife behind too.
Dance for Your New Daddy
In Rome, Herod had hoped to meet his old mentor Tiberius and show him paintings of the new city he had built in his honour. But Tiberius was on a full filthy, disgusting despot stage in his career and preferred to hang around on the island of Capri acting as Uncle Lecher. However, the emperor he had read the necessary correspondence and had decided to award Herod with all his late brother's lands, safe deposit boxes and numbered Helvetican bank accounts. Trying to dispute this arrangement was Herod Philip's wife Herodias and her spoilt daughter Salome. Herodias who had married various Herods in her lifetime, took a fancy to slobby Herod (and his inheritance) and learnt he was unhappily married. She suggested that with the backing of Roman Law, Tiberius's friendship and some handy legions, he would have no problem divorcing 'whatshername' and becoming perhaps King of Judea like his old dad. Herod swallowed this idea and got back to Galilee where he loaded all his wife's belongings and posted them all via a donkey to Nabataea. He also divorced Whatshername (Herod couldn't remember her name either now) and told her to sod off back to her parents. Then in a press release sent via a trashy Ancient World celebrity magazine Salve!, Herod posted up mosaics of him sitting happily with Herodias and his newly adopted daughter Salome 'snake lips'.
Most Galileans took the news lying down (it was a hot day) but by the River Jordan, John denounced the whole arrangement in withering scorn.
Galilee is under the rule of a mother-daughter prostitute tag team!. Harlotia and Slutty Moaner bismirch the name of Israel with their painted faces and perfumes, their Debauch Label, Roman clothing and thrusting, quivering breasts to make eunuchs of us all. Herod Antipas, shame on you and let your name be linked with these infamies. Listen to my word which comes from a higher authority. Unless you come to my river and wash away your sins. You have seven days and seven nights to comply.
Those who heard this denunciation first, also swore they heard another voice from above:-
My name is God and I approve of this message.
Herod Antipas received a report from a (dry) spy and ordered the arrest of the mad eyed prophet. He was in a bad fix as his ex-father-in-law had taken exception to the treatment given to his daughter and had invaded Galilee. Herod sent urgent messages to his Roman friends to help him and transferred John the Baptist to an en-suite dungeon underneath his palace.
Unlike her flabby faced husband, Herodias demanded that the 'John the Weirdo' deserved death for the insults he had flung about. But when Herod Antipas dithered, Herodias told her daughter Salome to hire an orchestra and take to the floor to wriggle out of her clothes in a catchy number known as the Dance of the Seven Dwarfs. By the time the diminutive chorus got to their final 'Heigh-Ho', Salome removed her pubic wig and waggled it front of Herod's face making chopping gestures. Herod Antipas got the rude message and called out the local 24/7 Capital Execution Service to the next available 'head clipper' to finish of fiery preacher. Once John's head was successfully separated from the rest of his body, Herodias ordered the Baptist's bloodied cranium to be placed on a silver dish, on the dinner table next to the hummus and bread sticks.
Following the death of John the Baptist, Herod kept tabs on the local apocalypse forecasts to see any divine visitations were going to wreak havoc on him or Galilee. Nothing happened, so Herod concluded the Baptist must have been a fraud. More vexing to Herod were the now regular visits to his palace by Herodias's brothers Herod Agrippa and Herod of Chalkis. They were there most weekends, sleeping on the couches or bringing over even more disreputable company. Herod kept asking why there were there instead of Rome which was much more their 'degenerate scene' but they kept coming back.
After her dancing antics, Herod had hoped Salome would take up exotic dancing full time. Salome now called herself Salome Von Teese, the Palace Squeeze but as she started to fatten out (a family trait), Herod tried blind dating her with suitable local Jewish boys. None worked out and Salome began to blame her mother and step father. She now regretted her part in bringing about the death of John the Baptist (or 'Old Hairy Bum' as she called him) and would stay in her bedroom ,dyeing her hair black,painting her toenails red and listening to Thrash Metal musicians until the early hours. Then one day Salome just left and dropped a letter on the breakfast table. It read: I am leaving the pages of history. Don't follow me. Herodias seemed more relieved than worried by this and Herod just nodded. One less problem to worry about.
The River Jordan became a lot quieter after the death of John the Baptist. His old disciples moved closer to the Sea of Galilee and started up a new religious sect called 'The Nazarenes'. They claimed to follow John's teachings but declined to wear animal skins or live off wild honey. Their leader Joshua Ben-Jehovah tried to keep up a double life as a carpenter and religious leader under the name of Jesus and the Apostles. Herod had spies following them around but was happier to hear them stick the sandaled foot into the religious authorities rather than his regime. A very lax Jew, Herod showed all the signs of being bored by religion and only liked it when it meant free goodies for him.
Jesus Ruins My Jerusalem Holiday
As the official (Secular) Top Jew in Judea, Herod was expected to go to Jerusalem once a year for Passover. It was a strictly 'no wives' event and Herod would always go over there with his old drinking and torture addicted friends to play a spot of golf and share bawdy stories. However in this particular year, Herod was upset to hear the Nazarenes had arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey parade and claimed to be ready to 'mix it up a bit for the Romans and their collaborators'. Angry at having his fun disturbed, Herod was put out when he was told that as Jesus was one of his local religious loonies, it was his job to judge him. Herod's account of the meeting still survives...
It had been such a great day. Enoch and Ezra had been really funny - pushing each other into the swimming pool and chasing the Gentile maidservants around when an armed guard from the governor Pontius Pilate drag in one of the Nazarenes . A tag was attached around this man - Jesus I think he was called - and it said 'Oi you LARD ARSE. This beggar is one of yours. Love and Roman Kisses, Procurator P.Pilate XXX'. I knew about these guys and got a description - Beards, Sandals,Bad teeth, Bad breath - which just about fitted anyone in Galilee. I said to him 'Are you Jesus' and the cheeky bugger replies 'Some have called me that' in a distinctly Galilean twang, so I knew he was one of my Jews. However, when I discovered he had suggested that the Temple was a pile of crap and would be divinely demolished, I said 'too right. Horrible isn't it? My father never had any taste. He should have built in the modern Roman style..' but then I decided I didn't need all this and so wrote back Pilate saying this Jesus fellow was moaning about the Roman Empire and so therefore, 'your problem'... After that guy left, the servants washed the floor and I later passed out on the sofa...
According to the Gospel of St.Andrew Lloyd Weber , Herod Antipas stayed for the death of Jesus and took part in the crucifixion special an episode of 'X-Factorum' that acted as judge,jury and executioner. However that is not certain as the same gospel writer also said Jesus had a conjoined twin brother and that his favourite food was sushi. In any event, Herod returned home in a bad mood. He was upset with Jesus and the Nazarenes for ruining his weekend break away and was going cancel a planned shopping trip to Alexandria with Herodias. But when Herod got home he met with a far worse sight: his sponging brothers-in-law had come back and were helping themselves to the fridge.
Herod Agrippa, Bastard!
Herod Antipas found Herod Agrippa and Herod Chalkis drunkenly dancing around in his underwear, mocking him as 'Uncle Fatty' and adding some clipped pubic hair to a portrait bust of Antipas, a special gift from Tiberius. Herodias was appalled at her brothers' coarse jokes but reminded her husband that this all had happened when Antipas had disappeared off to Jerusalem with the lads for their passover jollies. So the sum of it was 'all your own fault'.
A quick check of the near empty wine racks revealed the worse. Herod Antipas lost his temper and threatened to have Agrippa and Chalkis sent to the Salt'N'Pepa mine of Sicily. They laughed and said they were 'pushin' real good' and were 'better connected' in Rome than Herod Antipas. The brothers showed Herod drawings of themselves posing with their best mate Caligula. In his drunken abuse, Agrippa also added that Emperor Tiberius 'was is a pile of old Roman cock' and that when Caligula was in power, they would return to claim all this for themselves.
Agrippa's boasting was overheard by a Roman spy at Herod's court, this time working for the nearby imperial governor in Syria. Agrippa was arrested and sent to Rome where Herod Antipas hoped it would mean the last time he had too see his nephew's face (alive at least). Herod Antipas celebrated with a party, only to see the fun ended when it was announced that Tiberius was dead and Caligula now emperor.
Hastily packing only a few suitcases and a few essential slaves, Herod and Herodias travelled to Rome to see if they could persuade Caligula that Herod Agrippa was scoundrel and no one would could trust him running a whelk store, let alone Judea. However Caligula didn't like anyone who had been a friend of Tiberius so he handed Antipas and his wife a pair of pink slips and matching dressing gowns. They had been fired and as they left the imperial palace, Herod Agrippa mocked them by waving them goodbye.
Angry and upset, Herodias wanted to make it an issue but her husband was tired and now fancied a rest from Judea and 'all the holy nuts' he had experienced during his years there. Caligula had left them with a choice of Banishment Destinations and so Herod Antipas and Herodias chose the luxury villa on the coast of Gaul. It looked good and was also - according to the brochure - religious looney free.
Exiled on the Costa Del Gaul
A new life on the Gaulish Riviera suited Herod a lot more than Herodias. Their villa had a nice view of the local blood letting arena and the couple could enjoy all the Roman luxuries without fearing to upset the local religious authorities. Herod got even fatter whilst Herodias ran through a lot of servants, though her old habit of ordering executions for misplaced seat settings and the wrong colour lampshades died slowly. Eventually she found the perfect servant, a young Jewish woman from Judea called Mary Magdalene. She also had a young son called Joshua Ben-Messiah who helped cleaning out the fish tank and running errands to the local shops.
When exactly Herod Antipas and Herodias died is not known. Perhaps they lived long enough to read about Caligula's fatal stabbing or Herod Agrippa exploding in a mass of nasty gut eating worms a few years later. If Mary Magdalene was left the house and gardens then she fully deserved this. It helped the pain of losing her boyfriend and lover (he broke her heart twice by dying, coming back from the dead and then zooming up into the sky) As for her son Joshua Ben-Messiah, one writer says he returned to Judea where he was last seen walking with a tent maker from Tarsus near Jerusalem. They were seen entering a cave together but only the old man returned that night. When asked what had happened to his young companion, the old man said he would tell the full story in 'a letter he was going to write to the Jerusalem Potholing and Spelunking Society'. If it was sent, the correspondence was never found and perhaps got lost in the various bills left unpaid when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. Only Herod Antipas would have seen the funny side to this unlikely story.
- ↑ Anyone can as has been scientifically proved in the tv series Braniac.
- ↑ Officially 'Tetrarch' but Herod Antipas liked to play games so this name stuck.
- ↑ Herod Antipas had backed Jesus to 'go all the way' to heaven -or hell.
- ↑ The non-dancing one.
- ↑ Unofficially executed.
- Simon the Unreliable, chronicler based in Carthage.
- Gospel According to St.Lyre
- Gospel According to a Bloke I Once Knew who went to a party where Jesus said..
- Jerusalem Police Records
- Jerusalem Daily Wail.