Vespasian (Roman Emperor)

VESPASIAN, Titus Flavius, Emperor of Rome, born in the Sabine town of Reate, Nov. 17, in the year 9 A. D.; died there June 24, 79. He was of common birth and was the first plebeian to attain the throne of Rome. After serving with the army in Thrace, he was made quaestor in Crete and Cyrene, and rapidly rose to the offices of aedile and praetor. Vespasian served in Germany from 43 to 44 and in the reign of Claudius had command of a legion in Britain. Soon after he was sent as governor to Africa, where his reign is described as honorable and upright.

In 07 he was appointed to conduct the war in Judaea, where he became highly distinguished by his military successes. While in Caesarea in 69 he was proclaimed emperor, first by an army in Egypt and later by his troops in Judaea. Vitellius claimed succession to the throne after the death of Emperor Nero and was supported by the Roman troops in Gaul and Germany, but the eastern army was unanimous in declaring for Vespasian and soon defeated Vitellius and captured Rome. Vespasian entered the capital in 70, where he was hailed by the people and recognized as emperor by the senate.

Vespasian had married the daughter of Flavia Domitilla, a Roman knight, by whom he had two sons, Titus and Domitian. Titus was placed in command of the army in Judaea and soon ended the Jewish War by capturing Jerusalem, thus restoring peace in the Roman world in the first year of Vespasian's reign. The succeeding nine years of his government are memorable for the peace that Rome enjoyed, the peace of Vespasian passing into history as a proverbial phrase. Once firmly established on the throne, he restored the capitol, which had been burned when Rome was taken by his army. He reorganized the army, reformed the civil service, constructed public baths and a new Forum, built the Temple of Peace, and began the Colosseum. No Roman sovereign ranks higher as a friend to the common people and a ruler mindful of justice and economy in the administration of government. He encouraged artists and men of letters, granting Quintilian and a number of others a handsome pension. It is said of him that he liked a joke, was simple in his mode of life, and was easily approached in conversation. He was succeeded as sovereign by his sons, Titus and Domitian.

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