1Why delayest thou, O tyrant? for we are readier to die than to transgress the injunctions of our fathers.
2And we should be disgracing our fathers if we did not obey the law, and take knowledge for our guide.
3O tyrant, counselor of lawbreaking, do not, hating us as thou dost, pity us more than we pity ourselves.
4For we account your pity of us on the terms of unlawful escape to be worse than death.
5And you think to scare us, by threatening us with death by tortures, as though thou hadst learned nothing by the death of Eleazar.
6But if aged men of the Hebrews have died in the cause of religion after enduring torture, more rightly should we younger men die, scorning your cruel tortures, which our aged instructor overcame.
7Make the attempt, then, O tyrant; and if thou puttest us to death for our religion, think not that thou harmest us by torturing us.
8For we through this ill-treatment and endurance shall bear off the rewards of virtue.
9But thou, for the wicked and despotic slaughter of us, shalt, from the Divine vengeance, endure eternal torture by fire.
10When they had thus spoken, the tyrant was not only exasperated against them as being refractory, but enraged with them as being ungrateful.
11So that, at his bidding, the torturers brought forth the eldest of them, and tearing through his tunic, bound his hands and arms on each side with thongs.
12And when they had labored hard without effect in scourging him, they hurled him upon the wheel.
13And the noble youth, extended upon this, became dislocated.
14And with every member disjointed, he exclaimed in expostulation,
15O most accursed tyrant, and enemy of heavenly justice, and cruelhearted, I am no murderer, nor sacrilegious man, whom thou thus ill-usest; but a defender of the Divine law.
16And when the spearmen said, Consent to eat, that you may be released from your tortures—
17he answered, Not so powerful, O accursed ministers, is your wheel, as to stifle my reasoning; cut my limbs, and burn my flesh, and twist my joints.
18For through all my torments I will convince you that the children of the Hebrews are alone unconquered in behalf of virtue.
19While he was saying this, they heaped up fuel, and setting fire to it, strained him upon the wheel still more.
20And the wheel was defiled all over with blood, and the hot ashes were quenched by the droppings of gore, and pieces of flesh were scattered about the axles of the machine.
21And although the framework of his bones was now destroyed, the high-minded and Abrahamic youth did not groan.
22But, as though transformed by fire into immortality, he nobly endured the rackings, saying,
23Imitate me, O brethren, nor ever desert your station, nor abjure my brotherhood in courage: fight the holy and honorable fight of religion;
24by which means our just and paternal Providence, becoming merciful to the nation, will punish the pestilent tyrant.
25And saying this, the revered youth abruptly closed his life.
26And when all admired his courageous soul, the spearmen brought forward him who was second in point of age, and having put on iron hands, bound him with pointed hooks to the catapult.
27And when, on inquiring whether he would eat before he was tortured, they heard his noble sentiment,
28after they with the iron hands had violently dragged all the flesh from the neck to the chin, the panther-like beasts tore off the very skin of his head: but he, bearing with firmness this misery, said,
29How sweet is every form of death for the religion of our fathers! and he said to the tyrant,
30Thinkest thou not, most cruel of all tyrants, that thou art now tortured more than I, finding thy overweening conception of tyranny conquered by our patience in behalf of our religion?
31For I lighten my suffering by the pleasures which are connected with virtue.
32But thou art tortured with threatenings for impiety; and thou shalt not escape, most corrupt tyrant, the vengeance of Divine wrath.