Roman Emperor Vespasian

Vespasian. © Trustees of the British Museum, produced by Natalia Bauer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Name: Titus Flavius Vespasianus

Parents: T. Flavius Sabinus and Vespasia Polla


  • Birth: A.D. 9
  • Death: A.D. 79
  • Reign: A.D. 69-79

Birthplace: Falacrina near Sabine Reate

Successor: Titus, son

The historical importance of Vespasian is the founder of the second imperial dynasty in Rome, the Flavian Dynasty. When this short-lived dynasty came to power, it put an end to the governmental turmoil that followed the end of the first imperial dynasty, the Julio-Claudians. He started major building projects, like to Colosseum, and raised revenue through taxation to finance them and other Rome improvement projects.

Vespasian was officially known as Imperator Titus Flavius Vespasianus Caesar.

Vespasian was born Nov. 17, 9 A.D., at Falacrinae (a village northeast of Rome), and died June 23, 79, of "diarrhea" at Aquae Cutiliae (location of baths, in central Italy).

In A.D. 66 Emperor Nero gave Vespasian military command to settle the revolt in Judaea. Vespasian acquired a military following and soon became Roman emperor (from July 1, 69-June 23, 79), coming to power after the Julio-Claudian Emperors and putting an end to the chaotic year of the four emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian).

Vespasian established a short (3-emperor) dynasty, known as the Flavian dynasty. Vespasian's sons and successors in the Flavian Dynasty were Titus and Domitian.

Vespasian's wife was Flavia Domitilla. In addition to producing the two sons, Flavia Domitilla was the mother of another Flavia Domitilla. She died before he became emperor. As emperor, he was influenced by his mistress, Caenis, who had been secretary to the mother of Emperor Claudius.

Reference: DIR Vespasian.

Examples: Suetonius writes the following about Vespasian's death:
XXIV. .... Here [in Reate], though his disorder much increased, and he injured his bowels by too free use of the cold waters, he nevertheless attended to the dispatch of business and even gave audience to ambassadors in bed. At last, being taken ill of diarrhea, to such a degree that he was ready to faint, he cried out, "An emperor ought to die standing upright."