|Born||17 November 9 AD, Falacrinum, Italy|
|Died||23 June 79 (aged 69), Aquae Cutiliae|
|Spouse||Domitilla the Elder (died before 69)|
Caenis (mistress and de facto wife c. 65–74)
|Father||Titus Flavius Sabinus|
Vespasian was one of the most remarkable emperors of ancient Rome. He rose from humble origins to become the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the empire for 27 years. He restored stability and prosperity to Rome after a period of civil war and turmoil. He also initiated a vast building program, including the construction of the famous Colosseum, which still stands today as a symbol of Roman power and culture.
Vespasian was born on November 17, 9 AD, in a small village called Falacrinae, in the Sabine region of Italy. His father, Titus Flavius Sabinus, was a tax collector and a member of the equestrian order, a social class below the senators. His mother, Vespasia Polla, also came from an equestrian family and had a brother who became a senator. Vespasian had an older brother, Sabinus, who also pursued a political career and became prefect of Rome under Nero.
Vespasian followed his brother into the Senate and began his military service in Thrace and Crete. He gained the favor of Emperor Caligula and later Emperor Claudius, who appointed him as commander of the Second Legion Augusta during the invasion of Britain in 43 AD. Vespasian distinguished himself in the campaign by conquering several tribes and towns in southern England, including the Isle of Wight. He received triumphal honors and two priesthoods for his achievements.
In 51 AD, Vespasian became consul, the highest office in the Roman Republic. However, after Claudius died in 54 AD, he fell out of favor with the new emperor, Nero, who disliked him for his blunt and witty remarks. Vespasian spent several years without any major appointment until 66 AD, when Nero sent him to Judaea to suppress a Jewish rebellion that had broken out there. Vespasian proved to be an effective and ruthless general, who crushed the resistance of the Jewish rebels with the help of his son Titus, who commanded another legion.
While Vespasian was besieging Jerusalem, Nero committed suicide in 68 AD, plunging Rome into a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho were killed in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in April 69 AD. However, he faced opposition from several provinces and legions that declared their loyalty to Vespasian as their new emperor. Vespasian joined forces with Mucianus, the governor of Syria, and Primus, a general in Pannonia, while leaving Titus to continue the siege of Jerusalem. Primus and Mucianus led their troops against Vitellius and defeated him in December 69 AD. The next day, Vespasian was officially recognized as emperor by the Senate.
Vespasian’s reign marked a new era of peace and prosperity for Rome after years of chaos and corruption. He reformed the financial system by increasing taxes, reducing expenses, and confiscating the wealth of Nero’s supporters. He used his revenues to fund public works and social welfare programs, such as building roads, aqueducts, temples, baths, theaters, and monuments. His most famous project was the Flavian Amphitheater, also known as the Colosseum, which he began in 72 AD on the site of Nero’s Golden House. The Colosseum was designed to host gladiatorial games and other spectacles for the entertainment of the Roman people.
Vespasian also expanded the empire by continuing his campaigns in Britain and Judaea. In 70 AD, Titus captured Jerusalem after a long and bloody siege that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple and the dispersal of the Jewish population. In Britain, Vespasian’s general Agricola advanced into Scotland and defeated the Caledonians at Mons Graupius in 84 AD. Vespasian also maintained good relations with his allies and neighbors, such as Parthia and Germany.
Vespasian was respected by his subjects for his simplicity, generosity, justice, and sense of humor. He was also devoted to his family and promoted his sons Titus and Domitian to high positions. He died on June 24, 79 AD, at Aquae Cutiliae, a spa town near his birthplace. He was succeeded by Titus, who became the first Roman emperor to inherit power from his natural father. Vespasian’s legacy was continued by his son Domitian and his grandsons N