Acme (enslaved woman)

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Acme (Greek: Ἁκμή, romanizedAkmē, died 5 BCE) was a Jewish slave and personal maid in the service of the Empress Livia Drusilla, wife of Caesar Augustus.


Little is known about Acme's early life, other than she was a slave in the service of Empress Livia.[1] She comes to prominence later in life when she was embroiled in a family conflict between Herod the Great and his son Antipater, which took place during the final nine years of Herod's life.[1] Whilst Antipater was living in Rome, he recruited Acme to forge letters from Salome, his aunt and Herod's sister, to Empress Livia.[1]

Acme's part in the conspiracy was discovered when a letter between Antipater and Acme was intercepted. This letter described a plan to forge incriminating letters which would lead to the execution of Salome by Herod.[2] The purpose of the letters was to make Herod believe that Salome was conspiring against him by writing to important people in Rome.[1]

Herod denounced the events to Emperor Augustus and, as a result, Acme was executed in 5 BC.[3][1] Her death was reported to Herod by Caesar in a letter.[4] After her death, Augustus allowed Herod to decide on the fate of Antipater; on returning to Judea, he executed his son immediately, five days before his own death.[3]


The story of Acme's role in the Herod's family feud is related by Titus Flavius Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews and in The War of the Jews.[5] However there are discrepancies between how the story is related between the texts.[6] The execution of Acme is also used as evidence to date Herod's death more closely.[6]

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  1. ^ a b c d e "ACME -". Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  2. ^ Knoblet, Jerry (2005). Herod the Great. University Press of America. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-7618-3087-0.
  3. ^ a b Lardner, Nathaniel (1838). The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, D.D. with a Life by Dr. Kippis ... W. Ball. pp. 360–1.
  4. ^ Henten, Jan Willem Van (January 1, 2010). "Ruler Or God? The Demolition Of Herod's Eagle". The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: 251–280. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004143043.i-465.75. ISBN 9789047407140. S2CID 261693588.
  5. ^ "Perseus Under Philologic: Joseph. AJ 17.144". Retrieved February 7, 2021.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Kushnir-Stein, Alla. "Another Look at Josephus’ Evidence for the Date of Herod’s Death." Scripta Classica Israelica 14 (1995): 73-86.