This is something I weighed including in the first Colossus novel. I think it will appear in the third, outside of the text. It's an historical note to set the scene for the whole arc of the series. I wrote it at the urging of my agent, who saw it as necessary back when this was all one enormous novel (I still plan, someday, to piece it all together, if only to see how utterly unwieldy it is). As I was working on the next Colossus novel today, I was looking at this and realizing how valuable it is on its own. So, without any further fanfare, the preface to Colossus:
Three thousand years ago, the Hebrew king David captured a small town on the ridge separating the Mediterranean from the Dead Sea. Renaming it Jerusalem, he made it the capitol of his new kingdom, Israel. His son Solomon built a magnificent Temple there for the worship of the Hebrew god.
After four hundred years the city was conquered, the Temple destroyed. It took another sixty years for the Hebrew people to return, building a Second Temple on the site of the first.
Conquered again by Alexander, Israel passed from hand to hand until a leader called Makkabi led a fight for independence. For a hundred years Jerusalem was its own master once more, until it was captured by the Roman general Pompey. In 37 BC, Mark Antony gave the land around Jerusalem to one of Rome’s client-kings, Herod the Great, with a new name – Judea. For the next hundred years unrest simmered between Romans and Jews.
Rome itself was changing drastically. Founded two hundred fifty years after David created Jerusalem, the humble City of the Seven Hills had grown to encompass far-flung peoples, gods, and customs. Unable to cope with such sprawling growth, the Republic gave way to single rule, a family dynasty called Caesar.
The Caesars maintained order by providing free sustenance and spectacle – bread and circuses. Roman appetites for both swiftly grew, forcing the Caesars to create larger and more elaborate entertainments, on a colossal scale.
To fuel its new empire, Rome required the profit that came from conflict. Lands were conquered – or reconquered – to fill Caesar’s purse. There is nothing so profitable as war.
Under client kings and pampered priests, all genuinely fearful of what war with Rome would bring, Judea resisted the impulse to throw off its yoke. Frustration gave birth to many off-shoot sects of the main religion, a religion despised and feared by the Romans as one they could not absorb. The Hebrew god was exclusive, owning a private relationship with his Chosen People who awaited the promised coming of the Messiah, a divinely appointed leader who would guide them back to independence and freedom.
The wise among both Romans and Jews feared the promised change, for they understood that before anything new could be built – from amphitheatres to religions – all that had gone before must be destroyed.