Josephus brings a hated slave before Titus to cure him of paralysis

Pocket Bard’s Notes: I think this is a wonderful bit of medieval “medicine.” Even Jacobus (the author) seems skeptical about the whole incident, and for a man whose stories often involve the resurrection of the dead, that’s saying something. I haven’t quite figured out how to perform this, and I’m not sure I ever will, but I still find the whole thing weirdly fascinating.

Side-note: This story is placed in a much larger story about Josephus and Vespasian, which is why it seems to start in the middle.

Josephus brings a hated slave before Titus to cure him of paralysis
The Golden Legend, Volume I, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.275

Shortly thereafter legates arrived in Rome, affirming that Vespasian had indeed been elevated to the imperial throne, and took [Josephus] off to Rome. Eusebius, too, states in his chronicle that Josephus prophesied to Vespasian both about the emperor’s death and about his own elevation.

Vespasian left his son Titus in charge of the siege of Jerusalem. We read in the same apocryphal history that Titus, hearing of his father’s accession to the empire, was so filled with joy and exultation that he caught a chill and suffered a contraction of nerves and muscles that left him painfully paralyzed in one leg. Josephus heard that Titus was paralyzed, and diligently sought information regarding the cause of the disease and the time it had struck. The cause was unknown, that nature of the illness also unknown, but the time was known: it happened to Titus when he learned of his father’s election. Josephus, quick and foresighted as he was, put two and two together, and, knowing the time, surmised both the nature of the ailment and its cure. He knew that Titus had been debilitated by an excess of joy and gladness, and, keeping in mind that opposites are cured by opposites, knowing also that what is brought on by love is often dispelled by dislike, he began to ask whether there was anyone who was particularly obnoxious to the prince. There was indeed a slave who annoyed Titus so much that the very sight of him, and even the sound of his name, upset him completely. So Josephus said to Titus: “If you want to be cured, guarantee the safety of any who come into my company.” Titus: “Whoever comes in your company will be kept secure and safe!”

Josephus quickly arranged a festive dinner, set his own table facing that of Titus, and seated the slave at his right side. When Titus saw the fellow, he growled with displeasure; and as he had been chilled by joy, he now was heated by his fit of fury: his sinews were loosened, and he was cured. Thereafter Titus granted his favor to the slave and took Josephus into his friendship. Whether this story is worth telling is left to the reader’s judgement.


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