24 June 79 – 13 September 81
Born30 December 39, Rome, Italy
Died13 September 81 (aged 41), Rome, Italy
SpouseArrecina Tertulla (c.62 AD; her death)
Marcia Furnilla (c.63–65 AD; divorced);
Berenice (concubine, 79 AD separated)

Julia Flavia (by Arrecina)
Flavia (by Furnilla)


His Story

If you are interested in learning more about one of the most famous Roman emperors, you might want to read this blog post about the biography of emperor Titus. Titus was the second emperor of the Flavian dynasty, who ruled from 79 to 81 AD. He was also the conqueror of Jerusalem, the builder of the Colosseum, and a benevolent ruler who faced several disasters during his short reign.

Titus was born on December 30, 39 AD, in Rome, as the eldest son of Vespasian and Domitilla. He had a younger sister, Domitilla, and a younger brother, Domitian. His family belonged to the new Italian nobility that emerged after the civil wars of the first century BC. Titus received a good education and grew up in the company of Britannicus, the son of Emperor Claudius.

Titus began his military career under his father, who was a general in Germany and Britain. In 67 AD, he joined him in Judea, where they were sent to suppress a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule. Titus distinguished himself as a brave and skilled commander, leading a legion and participating in several battles and sieges. In 70 AD, he was entrusted with the final assault on Jerusalem, which he captured and destroyed after a fierce resistance. He also demolished the Second Temple, which was the holiest site for Jews. For this achievement, he was awarded a triumph in Rome, and an arch was erected in his honor near the Forum.

After Nero’s death in 68 AD, Vespasian became involved in a civil war for the imperial throne, known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Titus supported his father’s claim and helped him secure his position by winning over allies and enemies. In 69 AD, Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by his troops and the Senate, and Titus returned to Rome as his second-in-command. He was given several honors and responsibilities, such as tribunician power, consulship, censorship, and prefecture of the Praetorian Guard.

Titus also gained notoriety for his personal life, especially for his relationship with Berenice, the sister of Herod Agrippa II, the king of Judea. Berenice was a Jewish queen who had helped Vespasian during the civil war, and had followed Titus to Rome. They lived together in the palace and planned to marry, but their affair caused a scandal among the Romans, who disliked foreign queens and feared her influence. Titus reluctantly had to dismiss her twice, once before his father’s death and once after.

Titus succeeded his father as emperor on June 24, 79 AD. He was welcomed by the people and the army as a popular and capable ruler. He proved to be a generous and compassionate emperor, who cared for the welfare of his subjects. He completed many public works that his father had started or planned, such as the Colosseum, which he inaugurated with spectacular games that lasted for 100 days. He also built or restored temples, baths, aqueducts, roads, and bridges.

Titus faced two major disasters during his reign: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August 79 AD, which buried several cities in Campania under ash and lava; and a fire that broke out in Rome in July 80 AD, which lasted for three days and destroyed many buildings. Titus responded swiftly and generously to both calamities, providing relief and aid to the victims. He visited the affected areas personally and supervised the rescue efforts. He also used his own money and resources to help rebuild what was lost.

Titus died of a fever on September 13, 81 AD, after only two years and two months as emperor. He was mourned by his people as a good and beloved princeps. He was deified by the Senate and buried in the Flavian mausoleum that he had built with his father. He was succeeded by his brother Domitian, who had a very different reputation as a tyrant and a persecutor.

Titus was one of the few Roman emperors who left behind a positive legacy. He is remembered as a successful military leader, a magnificent builder, and a benevolent ruler who faced adversity with courage and compassion. His life story is an example of how one can rise from humble origins to greatness through merit and virtue.

(Statue of Titus, Rome 2023, Picture by Juan Carlos Oviedo)

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