Marcus Antonius Felix
|4th Procurator of Iudaea|
|Preceded by||Ventidius Cumanus|
|Succeeded by||Porcius Festus|
|Born||c. 5 – 10|
Felix was the younger brother of the Greek freedman Marcus Antonius Pallas. Pallas served as a secretary of the treasury during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. Felix was a Greek freedman – either of Claudius, according to which theory Josephus (Antiq. xx. 7) calls him Claudius Felix, or of Claudius's mother, Antonia Minor, a daughter of Triumvir Mark Antony to Octavia Minor and niece of Emperor Augustus. According to Tacitus, Pallas and Felix descended from the Greek Kings of Arcadia.
Procurator of JudaeaEdit
Felix became the procurator by the petition of his brother. Felix's cruelty, coupled with his accessibility to bribes (see Book of Acts 24:26), led to a great increase of crime in Judaea. The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances, which he put down with severity.
In 58, Felix hired assassins to murder Jonathan, the High Priest, shortly after the latter took office. Jonathan had often criticized Felix about governing the Jewish affairs, and threatened to report to Caesar if Felix did not do well because Jonathan was the one who made recommendation to Caesar to send Felix to be the procurator of Judea. Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most trusted friends, Doras, a citizen of Jerusalem, to hire robbers to kill Jonathan by promising to give him a large sum of money. Doras arranged for some hired men to mingle with the worshippers in the Temple in Jerusalem, while they hid daggers under their garments. These assassins succeeded in killing Jonathan during a Jewish festival and were never caught.
After Paul the Apostle was arrested in Jerusalem and rescued from a plot against his life, the local Roman chiliarch Claudius Lysias transferred him to Caesarea, where he stood trial before Felix. On at least one further occasion Felix and his wife Drusilla heard Paul discourse, and later on frequently sent for Paul and talked with him. However, it appears that his actual desire was to receive a bribe from Paul, a request that the Apostle didn't give into (Acts 24:24–26). When Felix was succeeded as procurator, having already detained Paul for two years, he left him imprisoned as a favor to the Jews (Acts 24:27).
Upon returning to Rome, Felix was accused of using a dispute between the Jews and Syrians of Caesarea as a pretext to slay and plunder the inhabitants, but through the intercession of his brother, the freedman Pallas, who had great influence with the Emperor Nero, he escaped unpunished.
Marriages and issuesEdit
Felix married three times. His first wife was Drusilla of Mauretania the Younger, possibly the daughter of Ptolemy of Mauretania and Julia Urania. Felix's second wife was the Judean Drusilla of Judea, daughter of Herod Agrippa I and Cypros. Drusilla of Judea divorced Gaius Julius Azizus, King of Emesa to marry Felix. The couple had a son, Marcus Antonius Agrippa, who died, along with many of the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79, and a daughter, Antonia Clementiana.
Antonia Agrippina may have been a daughter from their son's marriage (this name was graffiti in a Royal Tomb in Egypt). Clementiana became a grandmother to a Lucius Anneius Domitius Proculus.
Two possible descendants from this marriage are Marcus Antonius Fronto Salvianus (a quaestor) and his son Marcus Antonius Felix Magnus, a high priest in 225. Felix married for a third time, but little is known about his third wife.
- Tacitus, Annals, xii. 54, Histories v. 9
- Suetonius, Claudius, 28
- Emil Schürer, History of the Jewish People (1890–1891)
- Robertson, A. (1899). "Felix, Antonius". In James Hastings (ed.). A Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. II. pp. 1–2.
- commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles
- Sir W. M. Ramsay, St Paul the Traveller
- Carl von Weizsacker, Apostolic Age (Eng. trans., 1894)
- Jewish Encyclopedia: FELIX (ANTONIUS FELIX)