Julius Sabinus

Julius Sabinus

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Julius Sabinus was an aristocratic Gaul
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 of the Lingones
Lingones were a Celtic tribe that originally lived in Gaul in the area of the headwaters of the Seine and Marne rivers. Some of the Lingones migrated across the Alps and settled near the mouth of the Po River in Cisalpine Gaul of northern Italy around 400 BCE. These Lingones were part of a wave of...

 at the time of the Batavian rebellion
Batavian rebellion
The Revolt of the Batavi took place in the Roman province of Germania Inferior between 69 and 70 AD. It was an uprising against Roman rule by the Batavians and other tribes in the province and in Gaul...

 of AD69. He attempted to take advantage of the turmoil in Rome after the death of Nero to set up an independent Gaulish state.

He was a Roman officer, naturalized, as indicated by his name. He claimed to be the great-grandson of Caesar on the grounds that his great-grandmother had been Caesar's lover during the Gallic war.


In AD69, benefiting from the period of disorders which shook the Roman Empire and the rebellion started on the Rhine by the Batavians
The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe, originally part of the Chatti, reported by Tacitus to have lived around the Rhine delta, in the area that is currently the Netherlands, "an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the...

, he started a revolt in Belgian Gaul
Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica was a Roman province located in what is now the southern part of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, northeastern France, and western Germany. The indigenous population of Gallia Belgica, the Belgae, consisted of a mixture of Celtic and Germanic tribes...

. However, his badly organised forces were easily defeated by the Sequani
Sequani, in ancient geography, were a Gallic people who occupied the upper river basin of the Arar , the valley of the Doubs and the Jura Mountains, their territory corresponding to Franche-Comté and part of Burgundy.-Etymology:...

 who were still faithful to Rome. Following his defeat, he faked his own death by telling his servants that he intended to kill himself. He then burned down the villa in which he was staying. He went into hiding in a nearby cellar, known only to his wife Epponina and a few faithful servants.

Following the failure of the revolt, the territory of Lingons was detached from Belgian Gaul, and was placed under the direct monitoring of the Roman army of the Rhine. It formed thus part of Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Germania Superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...


In hiding

Epponina then lived a double-life for many years as his widow, while also on one occasion even visiting Rome with Sabinus disguised as a slave. She even gave birth to two sons by her "deceased" husband.

Eventually, the deception became too obvious to continue unnoticed. In AD78 Sabinus and Epponina were arrested and taken to Rome to be questioned by the emperor Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

. Her pleas for her husband were ignored. She then berated Vespasian to such an extent that he ordered her execution along with her husband. Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 later wrote that "In the whole of his reign no darker deed than this, none more odious in the sight of heaven, was committed."

Their sons were separated, one sent to Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

 and the other to Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...