Life And Writings Of Sulpitius Severus by Sulpitius Severus
Chapter XVI. When this became known to Judith a widow woman of great wealth√†
When this became known to Judith (a widow woman of great wealth, and remarkable for beauty, but still more distinguished for her virtue than her beauty), who was then in the camp, she thought that, in the distressed circumstances of her people, some bold effort ought to be made by her, even though it should lead to her own destruction. She therefore decks her head and beautifies her countenance, and then, attended by a single maidservant, she enters the camp of the enemy. She was immediately conducted to Holofernes, and tells him that the affairs of her countrymen were desperate, so that she had taken precautions for her life by flight. Then she begs of the general the right of a free egress from the camp during night, for the purpose of saying her prayers. That order was accordingly given to the sentinels and keepers of the gates. But when by the practice of three days she had established for herself the habit of going out and returning, and had also in this way inspired belief in her into the barbarians, the desire took possession of Holofernes of abusing the person of his captive; for, being of surpassing beauty, she had easily impressed the Persian. Accordingly, she was conducted to the tent of the general by Baguas, the eunuch; and, commencing a banquet, the barbarian stupefied himself with a great deal of wine. Then, when the servants withdrew, before he offered violence to the woman, he fell asleep. Judith, seizing the opportunity, cut off the head of the enemy and carried it away with her. Being regarded as simply going out of the camp according to her usual custom, she returned to her own people in safety. On the following day the Hebrews held forth for show the head of Holofernes from the heights; and, making a sally, marched upon the camp of the enemy. And then the barbarians assemble in crowds at the tent of their general, waiting for the signal of battle. When his mutilated body was discovered, they turned to flight under the influence of a disgraceful panic, and fled before the enemy. The Jews, for their part, pursued the fugitives, and after slaying many thousands, took possession of the camp and the booty within it. Judith was extolled with the loftiest praises, and is said to have lived one hundred and five years. If these things took place, as we believe, under king Ochus, in the twelfth year of his reign, then from the date of the restoration of Jerusalem up to that war there elapsed two and twenty years. Now Ochus reigned in all twenty-three years. And he was beyond all others cruel, and more than of a barbarous disposition. Baguas, the eunuch, took him off by poison on an occasion of his suffering from illness. After him, Arses his son held the government for three years, and Darius for four.