Herod was a client king of the Roman provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Herod’s ascent to King of Israel (“King of the Jews”) came from a last-moment switch in support from Anthony to Octavian.
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The Roman civil wars (133 bce–31 bce) transformed Rome from an unstable republic into a monarchy, first ruled by Julius Caesar, who sought reforms to unify the empire and end the chaos that the republic had descended into.
Brutus and Cassius led a conspiracy of ~60 men that butchered Caesar on the Senate floor in 44 bce, the date of which became known as the Ides of March. They in turn were defeated by Anthony and Octavian 2 years later. The showdown between those two, at the Battle of Actium in 31 bce, resulted in Octavian’s unrivaled victory. Octavian became Emperor Augustus.
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Herod was a psychopathic madman, brutal and paranoid. He executed several family members, including his wife Mariamne.
Herod used the huge profits from trade and the crushing taxes he extracted from his subjects for magnificent building projects. In one incredible engineering feat, Herod built an artificial mountain, at Herodium, and then put a huge palace on top of it. That was Herod’s idea of a jobs program.