I have attempted to write a book for the general reader. It is not patronizing nor is it overly technical. However, only you, the reader will find out how well I have succeeded. At one level is the popular story, at another the Ph.D. thesis. I hope I have hit the target in the middle with some success and not fallen into the gap between these two extremes.
One important point is that the period, from the birth of Herod in 73 BC to his death in about 4 BC, was a turbulent one full of wars and tumults. This comparatively short period presents a confusing, sometimes frightening, often horrifying panorama. The leading characters, as we count leading characters in history, strut and posture on the stage of the world before going to their deserved ends. Julius Caesar was assassinated, his rival Pompey was also murdered. Cleopatra committed suicide and so did her paramour Mark Antony. Herod himself, misnamed the ‘Great’, died of horrible diseases, the smell of his gangrenous body disgusting his closest attendants. Only Octavian lived to a ripe old age and died in comparative peace.