Vespasian, Titus Flavius°

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VESPASIAN, TITUS FLAVIUS ° (c. 9–79 c.e.), Roman emperor 69–79 c.e. After the defeat of *Cestius Gallus in Judea, Nero appointed Vespasian commander of the army with the duty of crushing the revolt in Judea. Vespasian conquered Galilee, the coast of Judea, and Transjordan in 67–68, and began making preparations for a decisive attack on Jerusalem. On learning of Nero's death he interrupted the war. When Servius Sulpicius Galba was proclaimed emperor, Vespasian sent his son *Titus to him to pay his respects, and subsequently also swore allegiance to Otto and to Vitellius Aulus, who were appointed emperors after Galba. The idea had apparently already entered his mind to gain the throne but only under the influence of the Syrian governor, Caius Licinus *Mucianus, did he resolve to implement it. Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by the governor of Egypt, *Tiberius Julius Alexander, on July 1, 69, which was subsequently officially recognized as the day he ascended the throne (Dies imperii). The legions in Judea followed in the wake of the Egyptian legions and also proclaimed him emperor. Vespasian decided to remain in Egypt for some time to prevent grain from being sent to Rome. Gradually, all the army commanders and their legions went over to Vespasian; the last opposition was in Rome. However, the Praetorian guard which fought on the side of Vitellius was subdued, Vitellius was killed, and Vespasian was recognized as emperor by the Senate.

In 69 he proceeded to Rome and began to bring order into the state which had been in a chaotic condition since the death of Nero. In 71 Vespasian arranged a magnificent triumph over conquered Judea and closed the doors of the temple to the god Janus as a sign that peace had returned to the state. The building of the temple of the god of peace, Pax, served the same purpose. For Vespasian's attitude to the rebels in Ereẓ Israel and to the Jews in the Roman Empire generally, see *Josephus, *Rome.


A. Shalit, in: Tarbiz (1936), 159–80; W. Weber, Josephus und Vespasian (1921); G.A. Stevenson, in: Cambridge Ancient History, 10 (1934); M.P. Charlesworth, ibid., 11 (1936); L. Homo, Vespasian (1950).

[Abraham Schalit]