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Vespasian
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Vespasianus01 pushkin edit.png
Bust of Vespasian
Reign 1 July AD 69 – 23 June AD 79
Full name Titus Flavius Vespasianus (from birth to accession);
Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (as emperor)
Born 17 November 9(9-11-17)
Birthplace Falacrina
Died 23 June 79 (aged 69)
Place of death Rome
Buried Rome
Predecessor Vitellius
Successor Titus
Wives Domitilla the Elder (died pre.AD 69 )
Caenis (mistress and de facto wife c. 65–AD 74 )
Offspring Titus
Domitian
Domitilla the Younger
Dynasty Flavian
Father Titus Flavius Sabinus I
Mother Vespasia Polla
Roman imperial dynasties
Flavian dynasty
Chronology
Vespasian 69 AD79 AD
Titus 79 AD81 AD
Domitian 81 AD96 AD
Family
Gens Flavia
Flavian tree
Category:Flavian Dynasty
Succession
Preceded by
Year of the Four Emperors
Followed by
Nervan-Antonian dynasty

Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known in English as Vespasian (17 November AD 9 – 23 June AD 79 ), was the ninth Roman Emperor, who reigned from AD 69 until his death in AD 79 . Vespasian was the founder of the short-lived Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between AD 69 and AD 96 . He was succeeded by his sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96).

Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians which rose into the senatorial rank under the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Although he attained the standard succession of public offices, holding the consulship in 51, Vespasian became more reputed as a successful military commander, partaking in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43, and subjugating the Judaea province during the Jewish rebellion of 66. While Vespasian was preparing to besiege the city of Jerusalem during the latter campaign, emperor Nero committed suicide, plunging the Roman Empire into a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho perished in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in mid 69. In response, the armies in Egypt and Judaea themselves declared Vespasian emperor on July 1. In his bid for imperial power, Vespasian joined forces with Gaius Licinius Mucianus, the governor of Syria, who led the Flavian forces against Vitellius, while Vespasian himself gained control over Egypt. On 20 December, Vitellius was defeated, and the following day, Vespasian was declared emperor by the Roman Senate.

Little factual information survives about Vespasian's government during the ten years he 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. Upon his death on 23 June 79, he was succeeded by his eldest son Titus.

Contents

Family

Vespasian was born in Falacrina, in the Sabine country near Reate.[1] 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 and fighting at Pharsalus in 48. Subsequently he became a debt collector. His son, Titus Flavius Sabinus, worked as a customs official in the province of Asia and became a money-lender on a small scale among the Helvetii. He gained a reputation as a scrupulous and honest "tax-farmer". Sabinus married up in status, to Vespasia Polla, who's father had risen to prefect of the camp and who's brother became a Senator. Sabinus and Vespasia had 3 children, the eldest of whom, a girl, died in infancy. The elder boy, Titus Flavius Sabinus entered public life and pursued the cursus honorum. He served in the army as a military tribune in Thrace in 36. The following year he was elected quaestor and served in Crete and Cyrene. He rose through the ranks of Roman public office, being elected aedile on his second attempt in 39 and praetor on his first attempt in 40, taking the opportunity to ingratiate himself with the Emperor Caligula.[2]

Vespasian seemed far less likely to be successful than his brother, initially not wishing to pursue high public office and only following in his brother's footsteps when driven to it by his mother's taunting. His early performance as aedile was so unsuccessful that Caligula reportedly stuffed handfuls of muck down his toga from the uncleaned streets of Rome which were his responsibility. He was more successful as the legate of a legion, earning a consulship in 51 after which he retired from public life, having incurred the emnity of Claudius' wife, Agrippina.[2]

During this period he married Flavia Domitilla, the daughter of Flavius Liberalis from Ferentium and mistress of Statilius Capella, a Roman knight.[3] They had two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (b. 41) and Titus Flavius Domitianus (b. 51), and a daughter, Domitilla (b. 39). His wife Domitilla and his daughter Domitilla both died before Vespasian became emperor. Thereafter his mistress, Antonia Caenis, was his wife in all but name until she died in 75.[2]

Military and political career

Upon the accession of Claudius as emperor in 41, Vespasian was appointed legate of Legio II Augusta, stationed in Germania, thanks to the influence of the Imperial freedman Narcissus.

Invasion of Britannia

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. After participating in crucial early battles on the rivers Medway and Thames, he was sent to reduce the south west, penetrating through the modern counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall 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 (Chichester) to subdue the hostile Durotriges and Dumnonii tribes [4], captured twenty oppida (towns, or more probably hill forts, including Hod Hill and Maiden Castle in Dorset). He also invaded Vectis (the Isle of Wight), finally setting up a fortress and legionary headquarters at Isca Dumnoniorum (Exeter). These successes earned him triumphal regalia (ornamenta triumphalia) on his return to Rome.

Continued political career

Vespasian was elected consul for the last two months of 51, after which he withdrew from public life. He came out of retirement in 63 when he was sent as governor to Africa Province. According to Tacitus (ii.97), his rule was "infamous and odious" but according to Suetonius (Vesp. 4), he was "upright and, highly honourable". On one occasion he was pelted with turnips. 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 trade and gained the nickname mulio (mule-driver).

Returning from Africa, Vespasian toured Greece in Nero'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, and found himself in the political wilderness.

Great Jewish Revolt

Vespasian sestertius, struck in 71 to celebrate the victory in the Jewish Rebellion. The legend on the reverse says: IVDAEA CAPTA, "Judaea conquered".

However, in 66, Vespasian was appointed to conduct the war in Judea. A revolt there had killed the previous governor and routed Licinius Mucianus, the governor of Syria, when he tried to restore order. Two legions, with eight cavalry squadrons and 10 auxiliary cohorts, were therefore dispatched under the command of Vespasian to add to the one already there. His elder son, Titus, served on his staff. During this time he became the patron of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish resistance leader turned Roman agent 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 Jews as a fair and humane official, in contrast to the notorious Herod the Great.

Josephus wrote that after the Roman Legio X Fretensis accompanied by Vespasian destroyed Jericho on 21 June 68, he took a group of Jews who could not swim (possibly Essenes from Qumran), fettered them, and threw them into the Dead Sea to test its legendary buoyancy. Sure enough, the Jews shot back up after being thrown in from boats and floated calmly on top of the sea.

Year of Four Emperors

Map of the Roman Empire during the Year of the Four Emperors (69 AD). Blue areas indicate provinces loyal to Vespasian and Gaius Licinius Mucianus.

After the death of Nero in 68, Rome saw a succession of short-lived emperors and a year of civil wars. Galba was murdered by Otho, who was defeated by Vitellius. 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 omens, oracles, and portents that reinforced this belief [5].

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

Nevertheless, Vitellius, the occupant of the throne, had Rome's best troops on his side — the veteran legions of Gaul and the Rhineland. But the feeling in Vespasian's favour quickly gathered strength, and the armies of Moesia, Pannonia, and Illyricum 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. They defeated Vitellius's army (which had awaited him in Mevania) at Bedriacum (or Betriacum), sacked Cremona 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, 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. While in Egypt he visited the Temple of Serapis, where reportedly he experienced a vision. Later he was confronted by two labourers who were convinced that he possessed a divine power that could work miracles.

Emperor

Aftermath of the civil war

Bust of Vespasian, Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

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 who was aided by Vespasian's son, Domitian. 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.[6]

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 "Pecunia non olet" ("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, his trip was delayed due to bad weather.[7] Modern historians theorize that Vespasian had been and was continuing to consolidate support from the Egyptians before departing.[8] Stories of a divine Vespasian healing people circulated in Egypt.[9] 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.[6]

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, finally subdued the rebellion with the capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70. According to Eusebius, Vespasian then ordered all descendants of the royal line of David 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.[10]

In January of the same year, an uprising occurred in Gaul and Germany, known as the second Batavian Rebellion. This rebellion was headed by Gaius Julius Civilis and Julius Sabinus. Sabinus, claiming he was descended from Julius Caesar, 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, 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.[11] Soldiers loyal to Vitellius were dismissed or punished.[12] He also restructured the Senatorial and Equestrian orders, removing his enemies and adding his allies.[13] Regional autonomy of Greek provinces was repealed.[14] Additionally, he made significant attempts to control public perception of his rule.

Propaganda campaign

Roman aureus depicting Vespasian as Emperor. The reverse shows the goddess Fortuna.

Many modern historians note the increased amount of propaganda that appeared during Vespasian's reign.[15] Stories of a supernatural emperor who was destined to rule circulated in the empire.[16] Nearly one-third of all coins minted in Rome under Vespasian celebrated military victory or peace.[17] The word vindex was removed from coins so as not to remind the public of rebellious Vindex. Construction projects bore inscriptions praising Vespasian and condemning previous emperors.[18] A temple of peace was constructed in the forum as well.[19] Vespasian approved histories written under his reign, ensuring biases against him were removed.[20]

Vespasian also gave financial rewards to ancient writers.[21] The ancient historians who lived through the period such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny the Elder speak suspiciously well of Vespasian while condemning the emperors who came before him.[22] 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, Titus.[23]

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.[24] Helvidius Priscus, a pro-republic philosopher, was executed for his teachings.[25]

Construction and conspiracies

Construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum, was begun by Vespasian, and ultimately finished by his son Titus.

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.[26] In 75, he erected a colossal statue of Apollo, begun under Nero, and he dedicated a stage of the theater of Marcellus. He also began construction of the Colosseum.

Suetonius claims that Vespasian was met with "constant conspiracies" against him.[27] Only one conspiracy is known specifically, though. In 78 or 79, Eprius Marcellus and Aulus Caecina Alienus attempted to kill Vespasian. Why these men turned against Vespasian is not known.

Military pursuits and death

In 78, Agricola was sent to Britain, 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 and the country around Reate, where he spent every summer. However, his illness worsened and he developed severe diarrhea. 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 an intestinal inflammation which led to excessive diarrhea. His purported great wit can be glimpsed from his last words; Væ, puto deus fio, "Damn. I am already becoming a god!" [28].

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 is said to have been the first public teacher who enjoyed this imperial favor. Pliny the Elder'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, that provoked Vespasian into reviving the obsolete penal laws against this profession as a precautionary measure. Only one however, Helvidius Priscus, was put to death, and 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 notorious unchastity, presumed upon his services to treat Vespasian with scant respect, he never had the heart to criticize him except privately and then only to the extent of adding to a complaint made to a common friend, the significant words: "I at least, am a man."[29] 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.

In modern Romance languages, urinals are still named after him (for example, vespasiano in Italian, and vespasienne in French[30]) probably in reference to a tax he placed on urine collection (useful due to its ammoniac content; see Pay toilet).

In later literature

References

  1. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 2
  2. ^ a b c Morgan G (2006). 69 A.D. The Year of the Four Emperors. OUP. pp. 170–173. ISBN 978019512468. 
  3. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 3
  4. ^ A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 20
  5. ^ Cassius Dio Roman History 65.1
  6. ^ a b Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXVI.2
  7. ^ Tacitus, Histories IV
  8. ^ Sullivan, Phillip, "A Note on Flavian Accession", The Classical Journal, 1953, p. 67-70
  9. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.2
  10. ^ eg., Paul Barnett, Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity p. 31; 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, "JEWS".
  11. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History' LXVI.10
  12. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 8
  13. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 9
  14. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 8; Philostratus II, Life of Apollonius 5.41
  15. ^ M.P. Charleswroth, "Flaviana", Journal of Roman Studies 27 (1938) 54-62
  16. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 4-5
  17. ^ Jones, William "Some Thoughts on the Propaganda of Vespasian and Domitian", The Classical Journal, p. 251
  18. ^ Aqueduct and roads dedication speak of previous emperors' neglect, CIL vi, 1257(ILS 218) and 931
  19. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 9
  20. ^ Josephus, Against Apion 9
  21. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 18
  22. ^ "Otho, Vitellius, and the Propaganda of Vespasian", The Classical Journal (1965), p. 267-269
  23. ^ Tacitus, Histories I.1; Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus 72; Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories, preface.
  24. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.12
  25. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.13
  26. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 9
  27. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian 25
  28. ^ Cassius Dio Roman History 66.1
  29. ^ [See http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Vespasian*.html].
  30. ^ For example, in E. E. Cummings' autobiographical novel The Enormous Room.

Bibliography

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
  • [1] (Austin Simmons, The Cipherment of the Franks Casket) Vespasian is depicted on the back side of the Franks Casket.
Vespasian
Born: November 17 9 AD Died: June 23 79 AD
Political offices
Preceded by
Flavian Dynasty
69–96
Succeeded by
Titus
Preceded by
Vitellius
Roman Emperor
69–79
Succeeded by
Titus
Preceded by
Vitellius
Year of Four Emperors
68–69
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Fabius Valens and Arrius Antoninus
Consul of the Roman Empire
70–72
Succeeded by
Domitian and Lucius Valerius Catullus Messallinus
Preceded by
Domitian and Lucius Valerius Catullus Messallinus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Titus
74–77
Succeeded by
Decimus Iunius Novius Priscus Rufus and Lucius Ceionius Commodus Verus
Preceded by
Decimus Iunius Novius Priscus Rufus and Lucius Ceionius Commodus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Titus
79
Succeeded by
Titus and Domitian

[[id:Vespasianus]


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VESPASIAN, in full Titus Flavius Vespasianus, Roman emperor A.D. 70-79, was born on the 18th of November, A.D. 9, in the Sabine country near Reate. His father was a taxcollector and money-lender on a small scale; his mother was the sister of a senator. After having served with the army in Thrace and been quaestor in Crete and Cyrene, Vespasian rose to be aedile and praetor, having meanwhile married Flavia Domitilla, the daughter of a Roman knight, by whom he had two sons, Titus and Domitian, afterwards emperors. Having already served in Germany, in the years 43 and 44, in the reign of Claudius, he distinguished himself in command of the 2nd legion in Britain under Aulus Plautius. He reduced Vectis (Isle of Wight) and penetrated to the borders of Somersetshire. In 51 he was for a brief space consul; in 63 he went as governor to Africa, where, according to Tacitus (ii. 97), his rule was "infamous and odious"; according to Suetonius (Vesp. 4), "upright and highly honourable." He went with Nero's suite to Greece, and in 66 was appointed to conduct the war in Judaea, which was threatening general commotion throughout the East, owing to a widely spread notion in those parts that from Judaea were to come the future rulers of the world. Vespasian, who had a strong vein of superstition, was made to believe that he was himself to fulfil this expectation, and all manner of omens and oracles and portents were applied to him. He also found encouragement in Mucianus, the governor of Syria; and although a strict disciplinarian and reformer of abuses, he had a soldiery thoroughly devoted to him. All eyes in the East were now upon him; Mucianus and the Syrian legions were eager to support him; and on the 1st of July 69, while he was at Caesarea, he was proclaimed emperor, first by the army in Egypt, and then by his troops in Judaea. The legions of the East at once took the customary oath of allegiance. Nevertheless, Vitellius, the occupant of the throne, had on his side the veteran legions of Gaul and Germany, Rome's best troops. But the feeling in Vespasian's favour quickly gathered strength, and the armies of Moesia, Pannonia and Illyricum soon declared for him, and made him in fact master of half of the Roman world. They entered Italy on the north-east under the leadership of Antonius Primus, defeated the army of Vitellius at Bedriacum (or Betriacum), sacked Cremona and advanced on Rome, which they entered after furious fighting and a frightful confusion, in which the Capitol was destroyed by fire. The new emperor received the tidings of his rival's defeat and death at Alexandria, whence he at once forwarded supplies of corn to Rome, which were urgently needed, 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. While in Egypt he became more and more imbued with superstition, consulting astrologers and allowing himself to be flattered into a belief that he possessed a divine power which could work miracles. Leaving the war in Judaea to his son Titus, he arrived at Rome in 70. He at once devoted his energies to repairing the evils caused by civil war. He restored discipline in the army, which under Vitellius had become utterly demoralized, and, with the co-operation of the senate, put the government and the finances on a sound footing. He renewed old taxes and instituted new, increased the tribute of the provinces, and kept a watchful eye upon the treasury officials. By his own example of simplicity of life, he put to shame the luxury and extravagance of the Roman nobles and initiated in many respects a marked improvement in the general tone of society. As censor he raised the character of the senate, removing unfit and unworthy members and promoting good and able men, among them the excellent Julius Agricola. At the same time he made it more dependent upon the emperor, by exercising an influence upon its composition. He altered the constitution of the praetorian guard, in which only Italians, formed into nine cohorts, were enrolled. In 70 a formidable rising in Gaul, headed by Claudius Civilis, was suppressed and the German frontier made secure; the Jewish War was brought to a close by Titus's capture of Jerusalem, and in the following year, after the joint triumph of Vespasian and Titus, memorable as the first occasion on which a father and his son were thus associated together, the temple of Janus was closed, and the Roman world had rest for the remaining nine years of Vespasian's reign. The peace of Vespasian passed into a proverb. In 78 Agricola went to Britain, and both extended and consolidated the Roman dominion in that province, pushing his arms into North Wales and the Isle of Anglesey. In the following year Vespasian died, on the 23rd of June.

The avarice with which both Tacitus and Suetonius stigmatize Vespasian seems really to have been an enlightened economy, which, in the disordered state of the Roman finances, was an absolute necessity. Vespasian could be liberal to impoverished senators and knights, to cities and towns desolated by natural calamity, and especially to men of letters and of the professor class, several of whom he pensioned with salaries of as much as £boo a year. Quintilian is said to have been the first public teacher who enjoyed this imperial favour. Pliny's great work, the Natural History, was written during Vespasian's reign, and dedicated to his son Titus. Some of the philosophers who talked idly of the good old times of the republic, and thus indirectly encouraged conspiracy, provoked him into reviving the obsolete penal laws against this class, but only one, Helvidius Priscus, was put to death, and he had affronted the emperor by studied insults. "I will not kill a dog that barks at me," were words honestly expressing the temper of Vespasian. Much money was spent on public works and the restoration and beautifying of Rome - a new forum, the splendid temple of Peace, the public baths and the vast Colosseum being begun under Vespasian. The roads and aqueducts were repaired, and the limits of the pomerium extended.

To the last Vespasian was a plain, blunt soldier, with decided strength of character and ability, and with a steady purpose to establish good order and secure the prosperity and welfare of his subjects. In his habits he was punctual and regular, transacting his business early in the morning, and enjoying his siesta after a drive. He had not quite the distinguished bearing looked for in an emperor. He was free in his conversation, and his humour, of which he had a good deal, was apt to take the form of rather coarse jokes. He could jest, it was said, even in his last moments. "Methinks I am becoming a god," he whispered to those around him. There is something very characteristic in the exclamation he is said to have uttered in his last illness, "An emperor ought to die standing." See Tacitus, Histories; Suetonius, Vespasian; Dio Cassius, lxvi.; Merivale, Hist. of the Romans under the Empire, chs. 57-60; H. Schiller, Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit, i. pt. 2; B. W. Henderson, Civil War and Rebellion in the Roman Empire A.D. 69-70 (1908).


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Etymology

From Latin Vespasianus, apparently from Vespasiae, a town near Nursia in Samnium

Proper noun

Singular
Vespasian

Plural
-

Vespasian

  1. Titus Flavius Vespasianus; The Roman emperor from AD 69 to 79, succeeded by his son Titus

Translations


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Emperor of Rome from 69 to 79; founder of the Flavian dynasty. The defeat of Cestius Gallus convinced Nero that the Jewish uprising was a serious matter, and he transferred the command of his army to the veteran Flavius Vespasianus, who had already fought courageously against the Britons. In the winter of 67 Vespasian made his preparations for war in Antioch, and in the following spring marched on Ptolemais. After joining his son Titus, who had advanced with an army from Alexandria, Vespasian found himself in command of a powerful force, consisting of the fifth, tenth, and fifteenth legions, twenty-three auxiliary cohorts, and six squadrons of horse, in addition to the troops of the native vassals, of the Jewish King Agrippa II., and of the kings of Commagene, Emesa, and Arabia (Josephus, "B. J." iii. 7, § 1). The entire Roman army must have mustered at least 60,000 men.

Contents

Gadara and Jotapata Surrender.

The first aim was the conquest of Galilee, a wealthy and populous district of Palestine, which was defended by Josephus. Upon the approach of Vespasian, however, the protecting army fled in confusion, and the city of Gadara fell into the hands of the Romans. All its inhabitants were put to the sword by order of Vespasian, and Gadara and the neighboring towns and villages were burned (ib. iii. 7, § 1). These events were followed by the reduction of Jotapata in a siege which is described in detail by Josephus, who found himself compelled to surrender. Vespasian, like his son Titus, treated the captive as a friend. The operations were now interrupted by a brief truce, while the conqueror marched through Ptolemais to Cæsarea, where he rested his troops (ib. iii. 9, § 1). Vespasian himself went to Cæsarea Philippi, Agrippa's capital, where festivities in his honor were celebrated for twenty days. He then led his army against Tiberias, which willingly surrendered, and also against Taricheæ, which fell into his hands in the beginning of the month of Elul.

A terrible punishment awaited the conquered. Galilee was entirely depopulated; 6,000 youths were sent to Nero to work on the isthmus of Corinth; 1,200 old men were killed; and the remaining Jews, more than 30,400 in number, were sold as slaves, servitude being also the fate of those who were given to Agrippa (ib. iii. 10, § 10). There now remained only the fortress of Gamala, whose defenders repulsed the Romans so disastrously that Vespasian in person had to urge his soldiers on. The fortress was reduced at last, however, and the Romans massacred 4,000 Jews, the rest preferring death by their own hands. In the meantime the fort of Itabyrion at Tabor had surrendered, while the city of Giscala was reduced by Titus, so that Galilee was entirely subdued by Vespasian.

The simplest procedure would now have been an attack upon Jerusalem, as was desired by the Roman lieutenants, but Vespasian decided to leave the city to itself, knowing that Jewish factional strife would gradually weaken it (ib. iv. 6, §§ 2, 3). Notwithstanding the heavy rains, he advanced toward Perea, and occupied the Hellenistic city of Gadara, while Placidus, his second in command, was engaged in subduing the remainder of the district. Once more Vespasian marched from Cæsarea, and occupied in turn the cities of Antipatris, Lydda, Jamnia, and Emmaus, leaving the fifth legion in the last-named city, after which he scoured Edom, returning to Emmaus, and finally marching northward in the direction of Jerusalem through the district of Samaria. He met with little resistance in any of these places, even Jericho and Adida being easily taken by the Roman soldiers. Gerasa alone had to be conquered and destroyed by one of his generals (ib. iv. 9, § 1); this, however, can not have been the great Gerasa, which was a Hellenistic city.

Prolongs War for Political Reasons.

Vespasian doubtless desired to prolong the campaign in Judea, since this left him in command of a large army, which was desirable in view of the imperial succession. When he heard, however, that Simeon bar Giora had invaded and ravaged southern Palestine with his Jewish hordes, he determined to restore orderthere, and accordingly invaded and subdued the districts of Gophna and Acrobata in the month of Siwan, 69. He likewise captured the cities of Bethel and Ephraim, while Hebron was taken by his tribune Cerealis (ib. iv. 9, § 9). The Romans now had free access to Jerusalem from all sides, although some places, such as Emmaus, Herodium, Masada, and Machærus, still remained in the hands of the Jews.

In the meantime the imperial throne of Rome had been filled successively by Galba, Otho, and Vitellius; and the Oriental legions, following the example of the army of the Rhine, gave an emperor to Rome in the person of Vespasian. This event, which was to prove important for the history of the world, was doubtless planned in Palestine, where, according to Josephus, the proclamation was issued, although Tacitus and Suetonius assert that the Egyptian legions were the first to hail Vespasian emperor, on July 1, 69. Two personages of Jewish descent were particularly active in connection with this event—Berenice, the mistress of Titus, and Tiberius Julius Alexander, governor of Egypt. Josephus boasts that he foretold Vespasian's election to Vespasian himself and received his freedom as well as permission to accompany the emperor to Alexandria as a reward for his prophecy. According to Talmudic sources, however, Johanan ben Zakkai was the first to predict Vespasian's elevation to the imperial throne. The statement that he was unable to draw on one of his shoes for joy (Giṭ. 56b) may be explained by the fact that the phrase "calceos mutare" (to change the shoes) was used also to denote promotion to a higher rank ("Monatsschrift," 1904, p. 277). The fact that the proclamation of Vespasian was issued from Judea led Josephus, followed herein by Tacitus ("Hist." v. 13) and Suetonius ("Vespasianus," § 4), to interpret an ancient oracle foretelling that a ruler from Judea should acquire dominion over the entire world as an allusion to Vespasian (Josephus, l.c. vi. 5, § 4). The new emperor left his son Titus in command of the army, while he himself hurried to Rome to take possession of the throne.

The Judean Triumph and Medals.

In the eyes of the Roman people Vespasian and Titus shared in the glory of the subjugation of Palestine, yet neither of them assumed the title "Judaicus," probably because this term referred to the religion as well as to the nationality of the Jews. In addition to the honors bestowed on Titus by the Senate, and the memorials erected to his praise, several decrees and monuments refer to Vespasian. The coins bearing the legend "victoria navalis" probably commemorate his pursuit of the Jews at Tarichæa on rafts, and the same circumstance doubtless explains why Titus brought a large number of ships with him when he entered Rome in triumph (ib. vii. 5, § 5). Together with his sons Titus and Domitian, Vespasian celebrated his own triumph in the year 71 (ib. vii. 5, § 7; Dio Cassius, lxvi. 7). In addition to the triumphal arch erected in honor of Titus, which still stands near the Roman Forum, another arch of Titus existed, until the fifteenth century, in the Circus Maximus, which bore an inscription expressly stating that Titus had conquered the Jewish people at the command and counsel of his father, and under his auspices ("C. I. L." vi., No. 944; "R. E. J." i. 35). All three Flavian emperors struck coins with such legends as Ἰουδαίας ἐαδωκυίας "Iudæa devicta," or "Iudæa capta" (Madden, "Coins of the Jews," pp. 207-229), and numerous inscriptions furnish material for an exact determination of the names of the legions and officers that took part in the war; such lists have been compiled by Arsène Darmesteter and Joseph Offord.

The sacred vessels from the Temple at Jerusalem were deposited in the Temple of the Goddess of Peace, erected by Vespasian in commemoration of his victory, but destroyed by fire in 191; and other trophies were preserved in the imperial palace (Josephus, l.c. vii. 5, § 7; Jerome, "Comm. on Isaiah," xxix. 1). The Circus Maximus still exists, stained with the blood of Jewish martyrs. Vespasian instituted also the Fiscus Judaicus, and did not hesitate to claim all Judea as his property (Josephus, l.c. vi. 6, § 6). A papyrus from the Egyptian province of Arsinoe, preserved partly in London and partly in Vienna, gives detailed information concerning a special impost levied on the Jews in addition to the customary poll-tax. This papyrus is dated in the fifth year of Vespasian's reign, and shows that the tax was payable by every Jew and Jewess over three years of age. The annual amount of the special Jewish assessment was 8 drachmæ 2 oboles per individual, and to this was added an extra income tax of 1 drachma. The poll-tax itself amounted to 40 drachmæ, so that the Jews were heavily burdened, at least throughout Egypt. Christian sources further state that Vespasian caused all Jews of the house of David to be executed, and thus instigated a great persecution (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." iii. 12, based on Hegesippus). He also closed the Temple of Onias, in 73, and enlarged the pomerium of the city of Rome, which might be done only by an imperator who had increased the territories of the empire.

Talmudic References.

Vespasian is frequently mentioned in rabbinical literature, the war, with which certain mourning customs were associated, being called "polemos shel Aspasyanos" (Soṭah ix. 14), and "Vespasian and his comrades" (i.e., his sons) being accused of enriching themselves from the treasures of Israel (Midr. Teh. xvii. 2). When Vespasian came to Jerusalem he encamped outside the wall and made propositions of peace to the Jews which were rejected. According to Ab. R. N., Recension B, § 6, certain Jews in the city communicated treacherously with Vespasian by means of arrows; but this statement confuses Vespasian with Titus, while other passages confound him with Hadrian, or even with Nebuchadnezzar. "One of these will destroy the holy Temple, and that one is the miscreant Vespasian" (Midrash ha-Gadol on Gen 25:23, ed. Schechter; in Gen. R. lxvii. the name of Hadrian is substituted). The passage "I have not despised them" was interpreted as meaning, "I have not despised them in the days of Vespasian" (Sifra, xxvi. 44; Esth. R., beginning); and it is clear from a statement of Jerome on Joel iii. 3 that several haggadicpassages were likewise regarded as allusions to Vespasian. Various legends concerning this emperor appear in rabbinical literature, the first one being told by Josephus ("Ant." viii. 2, § 5), who relates how a Jewish exorcist displayed his skill to Vespasian. The shiploads of captive Jews are generally, and correctly, associated with the name of Titus; but according to a later legend (Buxtorf, "Synagoga Judaica," ix. 231; "J. Q. R." xv. 664), which apparently sought to attribute to Vespasian all the evils that befell the Jews, the future emperor guided three vessels filled with Hebrew prisoners to Lavanda, Arlada, and Bardeli.

Vespasian collected his memoirs of the Jewish war; and these were mentioned, and probably also used, by Josephus ("Vita," § 65; comp. "Contra Ap." i., § 10).

Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 494 et seq.; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 610 et seq. (where further sources are given); Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 23; Mommsen, Römische Gesch. vol. v.; Darmesteter, in R. E. J. i. 44-56; Offord, in Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch. 1902, xxiv. 325; Newton, The Epigraphal Evidence for the Reign of Vespasian and Titus, Ithaca, New York, 1901; Wessely, Die Epikrisis und das Ἰομδαίων τέδεσμα Unter Vespasian, in Studien zur Paleographie und Papyruskunde, Leipsic, 1901.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
This article needs to be merged with Vespasian (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Simple English

Vespasian
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust of Vespasian
Reign 1 July 69 – 23 June 79
Full name Titus Flavius Vespasianus (from birth to accession);
Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (as emperor)
Born 17 November 9(9-11-17)
Birthplace Falacrina
Died 23 June 79 (aged 69)
Place of death Rome
Buried Rome
Predecessor Vitellius
Successor Titus
Wives Domitilla the Elder (died before 69)
Caenis (mistress and de facto wife c. 65– 74)
Offspring Titus
Domitian
Domitilla the Younger
Dynasty Flavian
Father Titus Flavius Sabinus I
Mother Vespasia Polla

Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus, 17 November 9 AD – 23 June 79),[1] was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79.

Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty which ruled the empire for a quarter century. Although he held the consulship in 51 AD, Vespasian became more highly regarded as a successful military commander. He took part in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD,[1]p16 and the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD.[1]p29–38

While Vespasian was preparing to besiege Jerusalem during the latter campaign, emperor Nero committed suicide, plunging the empire into a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After the emperors Galba and Otho perished in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in April 69 AD.

In response, the armies in Egypt and Judaea declared Vespasian emperor on July 1.[1]p43 In his bid for imperial power, Vespasian joined forces with Mucianus, the governor of Syria, and Primus, a general in Pannonia. 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.

Little factual information survives about Vespasian's government during the ten years he was emperor. His reign is best known for financial reforms, the successful campaign against Judaea, and several ambitious construction projects such as the Colosseum. Upon his death in 79, he was succeeded by his eldest son Titus.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Barbara Levick 1999. Vespasian. Roman Imperial Biographies, Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16618-7 (hbk). ISBN 0-415-33866-2 (pbk 2005)








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