Vespasian

Vespasian

Overview
Vespasian was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty
Flavian dynasty
The Flavian dynasty was a Roman Imperial Dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian , and his two sons Titus and Domitian . The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians
Equestrian (Roman)
The Roman equestrian order constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians , a hereditary caste that monopolised political power during the regal era and during the early Republic . A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques...

, who rose into the senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

. Although he attained the standard succession
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

 of public offices, holding the consulship
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 in 51 AD, Vespasian became more reputed as a successful military commander, participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43, and subjugating Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 during the Jewish rebellion
First Jewish-Roman War
The First Jewish–Roman War , sometimes called The Great Revolt , was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of Judaea Province , against the Roman Empire...

 of 66 AD.

While Vespasian was preparing to besiege the city of Jerusalem during the latter campaign, emperor Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 committed suicide, plunging the empire into a year of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 known as the Year of the Four Emperors
Year of the Four Emperors
The Year of the Four Emperors was a year in the history of the Roman Empire, AD 69, in which four emperors ruled in a remarkable succession. These four emperors were Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian....

.
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Timeline

69   Tiberius Julius Alexander orders his Roman legions in Alexandria to swear allegiance to Vespasian as Emperor.

69   Second Battle of Bedriacum, forces under Antonius Primus, the commander of the Danube armies, loyal to Vespasian, defeat the forces of Emperor Vitellius.

69   Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, enters Rome to claim the title of emperor.

69   The end of the Year of the four emperors: Following Galba, Otho and Vitellius, Vespasian becomes the fourth Emperor of Rome within a year.

70   Siege of Jerusalem: Titus, son of emperor Vespasian, surrounds the Jewish capital, with four Roman legions.

70   Siege of Jerusalem: Titus, son of emperor Vespasian, opens a full-scale assault on Jerusalem and attacks the city's Third Wall to the northwest.

70   First Jewish-Roman War: Siege of Jerusalem - Titus, son of emperor Vespasian, storms the Fortress of Antonia north of the Temple Mount. The Roman army is drawn into street fights with the Zealots.

79   Titus succeeds his father Vespasian as the tenth Roman Emperor.

 
Encyclopedia
Vespasian was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty
Flavian dynasty
The Flavian dynasty was a Roman Imperial Dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian , and his two sons Titus and Domitian . The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians
Equestrian (Roman)
The Roman equestrian order constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians , a hereditary caste that monopolised political power during the regal era and during the early Republic . A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques...

, who rose into the senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

. Although he attained the standard succession
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

 of public offices, holding the consulship
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 in 51 AD, Vespasian became more reputed as a successful military commander, participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43, and subjugating Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 during the Jewish rebellion
First Jewish-Roman War
The First Jewish–Roman War , sometimes called The Great Revolt , was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of Judaea Province , against the Roman Empire...

 of 66 AD.

While Vespasian was preparing to besiege the city of Jerusalem during the latter campaign, emperor Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 committed suicide, plunging the empire into a year of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 known as the Year of the Four Emperors
Year of the Four Emperors
The Year of the Four Emperors was a year in the history of the Roman Empire, AD 69, in which four emperors ruled in a remarkable succession. These four emperors were Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian....

. After the emperors Galba
Galba
Galba , was Roman Emperor for seven months from 68 to 69. Galba was the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, and made a bid for the throne during the rebellion of Julius Vindex...

 and Otho
Otho
Otho , was Roman Emperor for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the Year of the four emperors.- Birth and lineage :...

 perished in quick succession, Vitellius
Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

 became Emperor in April 69 AD. In response, the armies in Egypt and Judaea declared Vespasian emperor on July 1. In his bid for imperial power, Vespasian joined forces with Mucianus, the governor of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Primus
Marcus Antonius Primus
Marcus Antonius Primus was a Roman Empire general.Primus was born at Tolosa in Gaul. During the reign of Nero, he was resident in Rome and a member of the Senate, from which he was expelled for conspiring to forge a will with Valerius Fabianus, and was banished from the city...

, a general in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

. Primus and Mucianus led the Flavian forces against Vitellius, while Vespasian gained control of Egypt. On 20 December, Vitellius was defeated, and the following day Vespasian was declared Emperor by the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

.

Little information survives about the government during the ten years Vespasian was emperor. His reign is best known for financial reforms following the demise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the successful campaign against Judaea, and several ambitious construction projects, such as the Colosseum
Colosseum
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre , is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire...

. Upon his death in 79, he was succeeded by his eldest son Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to be directly succeeded by his own son.

Family


Vespasian was born in Falacrina
Falacrina
Falacrine was a village of Ancient Rome that was the birthplace of the emperor Vespasian .-Location:The location of Falacrine has been the subject of debate. The village is described as lying just beyond Reate , in the Sabine hill country northeast of Rome...

, in the Sabine
Sabine
The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the central Appennines of ancient Italy, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the founding of Rome...

 country near Reate. His family was relatively undistinguished and lacking in pedigree. His paternal grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, was the first to distinguish himself, rising to the rank of centurion
Centurion
A centurion was a professional officer of the Roman army .Centurion may also refer to:-Military:* Centurion tank, British battle tank* HMS Centurion, name of several ships and a shore base of the British Royal Navy...

 and fighting at Pharsalus for Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 in 48 BC. Subsequently he became a debt collector. Petro's son, Titus Flavius Sabinus
Titus Flavius Sabinus (father of Vespasian)
See also Titus Flavius Sabinus for other men of this name.Titus Flavius Sabinus was the son of Titus Flavius Petro and wife ... Tertulla....

, worked as a customs official in the province of Asia and became a money-lender on a small scale among the Helvetii
Helvetii
The Helvetii were a Celtic tribe or tribal confederation occupying most of the Swiss plateau at the time of their contact with the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC...

. He gained a reputation as a scrupulous and honest "tax-farmer". Sabinus married up in status, to Vespasia Polla
Vespasia Polla
Vespasia Polla was the mother of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, grandmother to Emperors to Titus and Domitian. Polla came from a good equestrian family at Nursia. Suetonius states that her father was:She married a tax collector Titus Flavius Sabinus, and survived him...

, whose father had risen to prefect of the camp and whose brother became a Senator
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

. Sabinus and Vespasia had three children, the eldest of whom, a girl, died in infancy. The elder boy, Titus Flavius Sabinus
Titus Flavius Sabinus (consul 47)
Titus Flavius Sabinus was a Roman politician and soldier. He was the elder son of Titus Flavius Sabinus and Vespasia Polla and brother of the Emperor Vespasian.-Career:...

 entered public life and pursued the cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

. He served in the army as a military tribune
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 in 36. The following year he was elected quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

 and served in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

. He rose through the ranks of Roman public office, being elected aedile
Aedile
Aedile was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order. There were two pairs of aediles. Two aediles were from the ranks of plebeians and the other...

 on his second attempt in 39 and praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

 on his first attempt in 40, taking the opportunity to ingratiate himself with the Emperor Caligula
Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

.

The younger boy, Vespasian, seemed far less likely to be successful, initially not wishing to pursue high public office. He followed in his brother's footsteps when driven to it by his mother's taunting. During this period he married Flavia Domitilla
Domitilla the Elder
Flavia Domitilla Major Flavia Domitilla the Elder or Domitilla the Elder was the wife of the Roman Emperor Vespasian. She was a daughter of Flavius Liberalis, a humble quaestor’s clerk. Before her marriage, she was a formal mistress to an African knight. Vespasian married her around 38...

, the daughter of Flavius Liberalis from Ferentium and the mistress of Statilius Capella, a Roman knight. They had two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 (b. 41) and Titus Flavius Domitianus
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

 (b. 51), and a daughter, Domitilla
Domitilla the Younger
Flavia Domitilla the Younger or Flavia Domitilla Minor was the only daughter of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and Flavia Domitilla the Elder. Her elder brother was Titus, and her younger brother Domitian...

 (b. 39). His wife Domitilla and his daughter Domitilla both died before Vespasian became Emperor in 69. After the death of his wife, Vespasian 's longstanding mistress, Antonia Caenis
Caenis
Caenis, a former slave and secretary of Antonia Minor , was the mistress of the Roman emperor Vespasian. It is believed that she was born in Istria, now in Croatia. Suetonius says that after the death of Vespasian's wife Flavia Domitilla, Caenis was his wife in all but name until her death in AD 74...

, became his wife in all but formal status, a relationship that survived until she died in 75.

Early career


In preparation for a quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

ship, Vespasian needed two periods of service in the minor magistracies
Executive Magistrates of the Roman Empire
The Executive Magistrates of the Roman Empire were elected individuals of the ancient Roman Empire. During the transition from monarchy to republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the executive to the Roman Senate. During the transition from republic to empire, the constitutional...

, one military and the other public. Vespasian served in the military in Thrace for about 3 years. On his return to Rome in about 30, he obtained a post in the vigintivirate
Vigintisexviri
The Vigintisexviri was a college of minor magistrates in the Roman Republic; the name literally means "Twenty-Six Men"...

, the minor magistracies, most probably in one of the posts in charge of street cleaning. His early performance was so unsuccessful that Caligula reportedly stuffed handfuls of muck down his toga to correct the uncleaned Roman streets, formally his responsibility. During the period of the ascendancy of Sejanus
Sejanus
Lucius Aelius Seianus , commonly known as Sejanus, was an ambitious soldier, friend and confidant of the Roman Emperor Tiberius...

, there is no record of Vespasian's significant activity in political events. After completion of a term in the vigintivirate, Vespasian was entitled to stand for election as quaestor; a senatorial office. But his lack of political or family influence meant that Vespasian served as quaestor in one of the provincial posts in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, rather than as assistant to important men in Rome.

Next he needed to gain a praetorship, carrying the Imperium
Imperium
Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium, referred to the sovereignty of the state over the individual...

, but non-patricians and the less well-connected had to serve in at least one intermediary post as an aedile
Aedile
Aedile was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order. There were two pairs of aediles. Two aediles were from the ranks of plebeians and the other...

or tribune
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

. Vespasian failed at his first attempt to gain an aedileship but was successful in his second attempt, becoming an aedile in 38. Despite his lack of significant family connections or success in office, he achieved praetorship in either 39 or 40, at the youngest age permitted (30), during a period of political upheaval in the organisation of elections. His longstanding relationship with freedwoman Antonia Caenis, confidential secretary to the Emperor's grandmother and part of the circle of courtiers and servants round the Emperor, may have contributed to his success.

Invasion of Britannia


Upon the accession of Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

 as emperor in 41, Vespasian was appointed legate
Legatus
A legatus was a general in the Roman army, equivalent to a modern general officer. Being of senatorial rank, his immediate superior was the dux, and he outranked all military tribunes...

 of Legio II Augusta
Legio II Augusta
Legio secunda Augusta , was a Roman legion, levied by Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus in 43 BC, and still operative in Britannia in the 4th century...

, stationed in Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, thanks to the influence of the Imperial freedman
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

 Narcissus
Tiberius Claudius Narcissus
Tiberius Claudius Narcissus was one of the freedmen who formed the core of the imperial court under the Roman emperor Claudius. He is described as praepositus ab epistulis ....

. In 43, Vespasian and the II Augusta participated in the Roman invasion of Britain, and he distinguished himself under the overall command of Aulus Plautius
Aulus Plautius
Aulus Plautius was a Roman politician and general of the mid-1st century. He began the Roman conquest of Britain in 43, and became the first governor of the new province, serving from 43 to 47.-Career:...

. After participating in crucial early battles on the rivers Medway
River Medway
The River Medway, which is almost entirely in Kent, England, flows for from just inside the West Sussex border to the point where it enters the Thames Estuary....

 and Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, he was sent to reduce the south west, penetrating through the modern counties of Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

, Somerset
Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 and Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 with the probable objectives of securing the south coast ports and harbours along with the tin mines of Cornwall and the silver and lead mines of Somerset.

Vespasian marched from Noviomagus Reginorum
Noviomagus Reginorum
Noviomagus Reginorum was the Roman town which is today called Chichester, situated in the modern English county of West Sussex. Alternative versions of the name include Noviomagus Regnorum, Regnentium and Regentium..-Development:...

 (Chichester
Chichester
Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, South-East England. It has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings...

) to subdue the hostile Durotriges
Durotriges
The Durotriges were one of the Celtic tribes living in Britain prior to the Roman invasion. The tribe lived in modern Dorset, south Wiltshire and south Somerset...

 and Dumnonii
Dumnonii
The Dumnonii or Dumnones were a British Celtic tribe who inhabited Dumnonia, the area now known as Devon and Cornwall in the farther parts of the South West peninsula of Britain, from at least the Iron Age up to the early Saxon period...

 tribes, captured twenty oppida (towns, or more probably hill fort
Hill fort
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period...

s, including Hod Hill
Hod Hill
Hod Hill is a large hill fort in the Blackmore Vale, north-west of Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. The fort sits on a chalk hill that is detached from the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase. The hill fort at Hambledon Hill is just to the north.The fort is roughly rectangular , with an enclosed...

 and Maiden Castle
Maiden Castle, Dorset
Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. Hill forts were fortified hill-top settlements constructed across Britain during the Iron Age...

 in Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

). He also invaded Vectis (the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

), finally setting up a fortress and legionary headquarters at Isca Dumnoniorum
Isca Dumnoniorum
Isca Dumnoniorum was a town in the Roman province of Britannia and the capital of Dumnonia in the sub-Roman period. Today it is known as Exeter, located in the English county of Devon.-Fortress:...

 (Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

). During this time he injured himself and had not fully recovered until he went to Egypt. These successes earned him triumphal regalia (ornamenta triumphalia) on his return to Rome.

Later political career


His success as the legate of a legion, earned him a consulship in 51 after which he retired from public life, having incurred the enmity of Claudius' wife, Agrippina
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

. He came out of retirement in 63 when he was sent as governor to Africa Province
Africa Province
The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, and the small Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor...

. According to Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (ii.97), his rule was "infamous and odious" but according to Suetonius
Lives of the Twelve Caesars
De vita Caesarum commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius,...

 (Vesp. 4), he was "upright and, highly honourable". On one occasion he was pelted with turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

s. Vespasian used his time in North Africa wisely. Usually governorships were seen by ex-consuls as opportunities to extort huge amounts of money to regain their wealth that they had spent on their previous political campaigns. Corruption was so rife, that it was almost expected that a governor would come back from these appointments with his pockets full. However, Vespasian used his time in North Africa making friends instead of money; something that would be far more valuable in the years to come. During his time in North Africa, he found himself in financial difficulties and was forced to mortgage his estates to his brother. To revive his fortunes he turned to the mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

 trade and gained the nickname mulio (mule-driver).

Returning from Africa, Vespasian toured Greece in Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

's retinue, but lost Imperial favour after paying insufficient attention (some sources suggest he fell asleep) during one of the Emperor's recitals on the lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

, and found himself in the political wilderness.

Great Jewish Revolt


However, in 66, Vespasian was appointed to suppress the Great Jewish Revolt in Judaea. A revolt there had killed the previous governor and routed Cestius Gallus
Cestius Gallus
Gaius Cestius Gallus was the son of a consul in ancient Rome and himself a suffect consul in 42.He was legate of Syria from 63 or 65. He marched into Judea in 66 in an attempt to restore calm at the outset of the Great Jewish Revolt...

, the governor of Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

, when he tried to restore order. Two legions, with eight cavalry squadrons and ten auxiliary cohorts, were therefore dispatched under the command of Vespasian while his elder son, Titus, arrived from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 with another. During this time he became the patron of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish resistance leader captured at the Siege of Yodfat
Siege of Yodfat
The Siege of Yodfat was a 47 day siege by Roman forces of the Jewish town of Yodfat which took place in 67 CE, during the Great Revolt. Led by Roman General Vespasian and his son Titus, both future emperors, the siege ended with the sacking of the town, the deaths of most of its inhabitants and...

 who would go on to write his people's history in Greek. In the end, thousands of Jews were killed and many towns destroyed by the Romans who successfully re-established control over Judea. They took Jerusalem in 70. He is remembered by Josephus, in his "Antiquities of the Jews" as a fair and humane official, in contrast to the notorious Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 whom Josephus goes to great lengths to demonize.

Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, while under the patronage of the Roman Emperor, wrote that after the Roman Legio X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis was a Roman legion levied by Augustus Caesar in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic...

 accompanied by Vespasian destroyed Jericho on 21 June 68, he took a group of Jews who could not swim (possibly Essenes
Essenes
The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests...

 from Qumran
Qumran
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

), fettered them, and threw them into the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

 to test its legendary buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

. Sure enough, the Jews shot back up after being thrown in from boats and floated calmly on top of the sea.

Year of the Four Emperors


After the death of Nero in 68, Rome saw a succession of short-lived emperors and a year of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

s. Galba
Galba
Galba , was Roman Emperor for seven months from 68 to 69. Galba was the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, and made a bid for the throne during the rebellion of Julius Vindex...

 was murdered by Otho
Otho
Otho , was Roman Emperor for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the Year of the four emperors.- Birth and lineage :...

, who was defeated by Vitellius
Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

. Otho's supporters, looking for another candidate to support, settled on Vespasian.

According to Suetonius, a prophecy ubiquitous in the Eastern provinces claimed that from Judaea would come the future rulers of the world. Vespasian eventually believed that this prophecy applied to him, and found a number of omen
Omen
An omen is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change...

s, oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

s, and portents that reinforced this belief.

He also found encouragement in Mucianus, the governor of Syria; and, although Vespasian was a strict disciplinarian and reformer of abuses, Vespasian's soldiers were thoroughly devoted to him. All eyes in the East were now upon him. Mucianus and the Syrian legions were eager to support him. While he was at Caesarea, he was proclaimed emperor (1 July 69), first by the army in Egypt
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...

 under Tiberius Julius Alexander
Tiberius Julius Alexander
Tiberius Julius Alexander was an equestrian governor and general in the Roman Empire. Born into a wealthy Jewish family of Alexandria but abandoning or neglecting the Jewish religion, he rose to become procurator of Judea under Claudius...

, and then by his troops in Judaea (11 July according to Suetonius, 3 July according to Tacitus).

Nevertheless, Vitellius
Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

, the occupant of the throne, had Rome's best troops on his side — the veteran legions of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

. But the feeling in Vespasian's favour quickly gathered strength, and the armies of Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

, Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

, and Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

 soon declared for him, and made him the de facto master of half of the Roman world.

While Vespasian himself was in Egypt securing its grain supply, his troops entered Italy from the northeast under the leadership of M. Antonius Primus
Marcus Antonius Primus
Marcus Antonius Primus was a Roman Empire general.Primus was born at Tolosa in Gaul. During the reign of Nero, he was resident in Rome and a member of the Senate, from which he was expelled for conspiring to forge a will with Valerius Fabianus, and was banished from the city...

. They defeated Vitellius's army (which had awaited him in Mevania
Mevania
Mevania , an ancient Roman town and municipium of , in the Augustan Regio VI. It lay on the western branch of the Via Flaminia, 13 km WSW of Forum Flaminii where the branches rejoin....

) at Bedriacum
Battle of Bedriacum
The Battle of Bedriacum refers to two battles fought during the Year of the Four Emperors near the village of Bedriacum , about from the town of Cremona in northern Italy...

 (or Betriacum), sacked Cremona
Cremona
Cremona is a city and comune in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po River in the middle of the Pianura Padana . It is the capital of the province of Cremona and the seat of the local City and Province governments...

 and advanced on Rome. They entered Rome after furious fighting. In the resulting confusion, the Capitol was destroyed by fire and Vespasian's brother Sabinus was killed by a mob.

On receiving the tidings of his rival's defeat and death at Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, the new emperor at once forwarded supplies of urgently needed grain to Rome, along with an edict or a declaration of policy, in which he gave assurance of an entire reversal of the laws of Nero, especially those relating to treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. While in Egypt he visited the Temple of Serapis
Serapis
Serapis or Sarapis is a Graeco-Egyptian name of God. Serapis was devised during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. The god was depicted as Greek in appearance, but with Egyptian trappings, and combined iconography...

, where reportedly he experienced a vision
Vision (religion)
In spirituality, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations...

. Later he was confronted by two labourers who were convinced that he possessed a divine power that could work miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s.

Aftermath of the civil war



Vespasian was declared emperor by the Senate while he was in Egypt in December of 69 (the Egyptians had declared him emperor in June of 69). In the short-term, administration of the empire was given to Mucianus
Mucianus
Gaius Licinius Mucianus was a general, statesman and writer of ancient Rome.His name shows that he had passed by adoption from the gens Mucia to the gens Licinia. He was sent by Claudius to Armenia with Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Under Nero he is recorded as suffect consul ca...

 who was aided by Vespasian's son, Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

. Mucianus started off Vespasian's rule with tax reform that was to restore the empire's finances. After Vespasian arrived in Rome in mid-70, Mucianus continued to press Vespasian to collect as many taxes as possible.

Vespasian and Mucianus renewed old taxes and instituted new ones, increased the tribute of the provinces, and kept a watchful eye upon the treasury officials. The Latin proverb
Proverb
A proverb is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim...

 "Pecunia non olent" ("Money does not smell") may have been created when he had introduced a urine tax on public toilets. By his own example of simplicity of life — he caused something of a scandal when it was made known he took his own boots off — he initiated a marked improvement in the general tone of society in many respects.

In early 70, Vespasian was still in Egypt, the source of Rome's grain supply, and had not yet left for Rome. According to Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, his trip was delayed due to bad weather. Modern historians theorize that Vespasian had been and was continuing to consolidate support from the Egyptians before departing. Stories of a divine Vespasian healing people circulated in Egypt. During this period, protests erupted in Alexandria over his new tax policies and grain shipments were held up. Vespasian eventually restored order and grain shipments to Rome resumed.

In addition to the uprising in Egypt, unrest and civil war continued in the rest of the empire in 70. In Judea, rebellion had continued from 66. Vespasian's son, Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

, finally subdued the rebellion with the capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in 70. According to Eusebius, Vespasian then ordered all descendants of the royal line of David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 to be hunted down, causing the Jews to be persecuted from province to province. Several modern historians have suggested that Vespasian, already having been told by Josephus that he was prophesied to become emperor whilst in Judaea, was probably reacting to other widely known Messianic prophecies circulating at the time, to suppress any rival claimants arising from that dynasty.

In January of the same year, an uprising occurred in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and Germany, known as the second 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...

. This rebellion was headed by Gaius Julius Civilis
Gaius Julius Civilis
Gaius Julius Civilis was the leader of the Batavian rebellion against the Romans in 69. By his nomen, it can be told that he was made a Roman citizen by either Augustus or Caligula....

 and Julius Sabinus
Julius Sabinus
Julius Sabinus was an aristocratic Gaul of the Lingones at the time of the Batavian rebellion of AD69. He attempted to take advantage of the turmoil in Rome after the death of Nero to set up an independent Gaulish state....

. Sabinus, claiming he was descended from Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, declared himself Emperor of Gaul. The rebellion defeated and absorbed two Roman legions before it was suppressed by Vespasian's brother-in-law, Quintus Petillius Cerialis
Quintus Petillius Cerialis
Quintus Petilius Cerialis Caesius Rufus was a Roman general and administrator who served in Britain during Boudica's rebellion and who went on to participate in the civil wars after the death of Nero. He later defeated the rebellion of Julius Civilis and returned to Britain as its governor.His...

, by the end of 70.

Arrival in Rome and gathering support


In mid-70, Vespasian first came to Rome. Vespasian immediately embarked on a series of efforts to stay in power and prevent future revolts. He offered gifts to many in the military and much of the public. Soldiers loyal to Vitellius were dismissed or punished. He also restructured the Senatorial and Equestrian orders, removing his enemies and adding his allies. Regional autonomy of Greek provinces was repealed. Additionally, he made significant attempts to control public perception of his rule.

Propaganda campaign



Many modern historians note the increased amount of propaganda that appeared during Vespasian's reign. Stories of a supernatural emperor who was destined to rule circulated in the empire. Nearly one-third of all coins minted in Rome under Vespasian celebrated military victory or peace. The word vindex was removed from coins so as not to remind the public of rebellious Vindex
Vindex
Gaius Iulius Vindex, of a noble Gaulish family of Aquitania given senatorial status under Claudius, was a Roman governor in the province of Gallia Lugdunensis. In either late 67 or early 68, he rebelled against the tax policy of the Emperor Nero...

. Construction projects bore inscriptions praising Vespasian and condemning previous emperors. A temple of peace
was constructed in the forum as well. Vespasian approved histories written under his reign, ensuring biases against him were removed.

Vespasian also gave financial rewards to ancient writers. The ancient historians who lived through the period such as Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

, Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 and Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 speak suspiciously well of Vespasian while condemning the emperors who came before him. Tacitus admits that his status was elevated by Vespasian, Josephus identifies Vespasian as a patron and savior, and Pliny dedicated his Natural Histories to Vespasian's son, Titus.

Those who spoke against Vespasian were punished. A number of stoic philosophers were accused of corrupting students with inappropriate teachings and were expelled from Rome. Helvidius Priscus
Helvidius Priscus
Helvidius Priscus, Stoic philosopher and statesman, lived during the reigns of Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian.Like his father-in-law, Thrasea Paetus, he was distinguished for his ardent and courageous republicanism. Although he repeatedly offended his rulers, he held several high offices...

, a pro-republic philosopher, was executed for his teachings.

Construction and conspiracies


Between 71 and 79, much of Vespasian's reign is a mystery. Historians report that Vespasian ordered the construction of several buildings in Rome. Additionally, he survived several conspiracies against him.

Vespasian helped rebuild Rome after the civil war. He added the temple of Peace and the temple to the Deified Claudius. In 75, he erected a colossal statue of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, begun under Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

, and he dedicated a stage of the theater of Marcellus. He also began construction of the Colosseum
Colosseum
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre , is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire...

.

Suetonius claims that Vespasian was met with "constant conspiracies" against him. Only one conspiracy is known specifically, though. In 78 or 79, Eprius Marcellus and Aulus Caecina Alienus
Aulus Caecina Alienus
Aulus Caecina Alienus, Roman general, was born in Vicetia .He was quaestor of Hispania Baetica in AD 68. On the death of Nero, he attached himself to Galba, who appointed him to the command of Legio IV Macedonica at Mogontiacum in Germania Superior...

 attempted to kill Vespasian. Why these men turned against Vespasian is not known.

Military pursuits and death


In 78, Agricola
Gnaeus Julius Agricola
Gnaeus Julius Agricola was a Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. His biography, the De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, was the first published work of his son-in-law, the historian Tacitus, and is the source for most of what is known about him.Born to a noted...

 was sent to Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, and both extended and consolidated the Roman dominion in that province, pushing his way into what is now Scotland. In his ninth consulship Vespasian had a slight illness in Campania and, returning at once to Rome, he left for Aquae Cutiliae
Aquae Cutiliae
Aquae Cutiliae is a mineral spring in Italy, near the modern Cittaducale, 9 miles east of Rieti. The lake near it was supposed by classical writers to be the central point of Italy, and was renowned for its floating islands, which, as in other cases, were formed from the partial petrification of...

 and the country around Reate, where he spent every summer; however, his illness worsened and he developed severe diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

. On 23 June of 79, Vespasian was on his deathbed and expiring rapidly, he demanded that he be helped to stand as he believed "An emperor should die on his feet". He died of a fever. His purported great wit can be glimpsed from his last words; Væ, puto deus fio, "Oh! I think I'm becoming a god
Imperial cult (Ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

!".

Legacy


Vespasian was known for his wit and his amiable manner alongside his commanding personality and military prowess. He could be liberal to impoverished Senators and equestrians and to cities and towns desolated by natural calamity. He was especially generous to men of letters and rhetors, several of whom he pensioned with salaries of as much as 1,000 gold pieces a year. Quintilian
Quintilian
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing...

 is said to have been the first public teacher who enjoyed this imperial favor. Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

's work, the Natural History, was written during Vespasian's reign, and dedicated to Vespasian's son Titus.

Vespasian distrusted philosophers in general, viewing them as unmanly complainers who talked too much. It was the idle talk of philosophers, who liked to glorify the good times of the Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, that provoked Vespasian into reviving the obsolete penal laws against this profession as a precautionary measure. Only one, Helvidius Priscus
Helvidius Priscus
Helvidius Priscus, Stoic philosopher and statesman, lived during the reigns of Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian.Like his father-in-law, Thrasea Paetus, he was distinguished for his ardent and courageous republicanism. Although he repeatedly offended his rulers, he held several high offices...

, was put to death after he had repeatedly affronted the Emperor by studied insults which Vespasian had initially tried to ignore, "I will not kill a dog that barks at me," were his words on discovering Priscus's public slander.

Vespasian was indeed noted for mildness when dealing with political opposition. According to Suetonius, he bore the frank language of his friends, the quips of pleaders, and the impudence of the philosophers with the greatest patience. Though Licinius Mucianus, a man of disputable reputation as being the receiver in homosexual sex, treated the Emperor with scant respect, Vespasian never criticised him publicly but privately uttered the words: "I, at least, am a man." He was also noted for his benefactions to the people, much money was spent on public works and the restoration and beautification of Rome: a new forum, the Temple of Peace, the public baths and the great show piece, the Colosseum
Colosseum
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre , is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire...

.

Vespasian debased the denarius
Denarius
In the Roman currency system, the denarius was a small silver coin first minted in 211 BC. It was the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased until its replacement by the antoninianus...

 during his reign, reducing the silver purity from 93.5% to 90% — the silver weight dropping from 2.97 grams to 2.87 grams.

In modern Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

, urinals are still named after him (for example, vespasiano in Italian, and vespasienne in French) probably in reference to a tax he placed on urine collection (useful due to its ammoniac content; see Pay toilet
Pay toilet
A pay toilet is a public toilet that requires money payment of any individual to use. It may be street furniture or be inside a building, e.g. a mall, department store, railway station, restaurant, etc. The reason for charging money for using toilets usually is for the maintenance of the...

).

In later literature

  • Marcus Didius Falco
    Marcus Didius Falco
    Marcus Didius Falco is the central character and narrator in a series of novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the concepts of modern detective stories , Davis portrays the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian...

     novels
  • The Course of Honour, a novel by Lindsey Davis
    Lindsey Davis
    Lindsey Davis is an English historical novelist, best known as the author of the Falco series of crime stories set in ancient Rome and its empire.-Biography:...

  • Edward Rutherfurd
    Edward Rutherfurd
    Edward Rutherfurd is a pen name for Francis Edward Wintle known primarily as a writer of epic historical novels...

    's historical fiction
    Historical fiction
    Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional...

     novel Sarum contains an account of one of the protagonists' (a Celtic chief) meeting Vespasian during his campaign through southern Britannia.
  • Vespasian, as legate under Aulus Plautius
    Aulus Plautius
    Aulus Plautius was a Roman politician and general of the mid-1st century. He began the Roman conquest of Britain in 43, and became the first governor of the new province, serving from 43 to 47.-Career:...

    , is a regular secondary character in Simon Scarrow
    Simon Scarrow
    Simon Scarrow is a UK-based author, born in Nigeria and now based in Norfolk. He completed a master's degree at the University of East Anglia after working at the Inland Revenue, and then went into teaching as a lecturer, firstly at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, then at City College Norwich.He...

    's Eagle series.
  • Mentioned in Robert Browning
    Robert Browning
    Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...

    's Poem "Cleon".
  • As the main character in Robert Fabbri's novel Vespasian: Tribune of Rome.

Primary sources


Secondary material

  • Ivar Lissner, "Power and Folly: The Story of the Caesars". Jonathan Cape Ltd., London, 1958
  • Barbara Levick, Vespasian (Roman Imperial Biographies), Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-16618-7 (hbk). ISBN 0-415-33866-2 (pbk, 2005)
  • Biography on De Imperatoribus Romanis.
  • Vespasian entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
  • A private collection of Vespasian denarii
  • http://homeros.godsong.org/FRANKS_CASKET.pdf (Austin Simmons, The Cipherment of the Franks Casket) Vespasian is depicted on the back side of the Franks Casket
    Franks Casket
    The Franks Casket is a small Anglo-Saxon whalebone chest from the seventh century, now in the British Museum. The casket is densely decorated with knife-cut narrative scenes in flat two-dimensional low-relief and with inscriptions mostly in Anglo-Saxon runes...

    .