Lucius, father of the Roman emperor. He was a consummate
flatterer, and by his arts gained promotion. After being consul in A.D. 34, he had been
appointed governor of Syria, and had made favourable terms of peace with Artabanus. But all
this only excited Caligula's jealousy, so that he sent for Vitellius to put him to death. The
governor saved himself by his abject humiliation and the gross flattery which pleased and
softened the savage tyrant. He paid similar court to Claudius and
Messalina, and was rewarded by being twice consul with Claudius, and also censor (Dio Cass.
lix. 27; Tac. Ann. xi. 1
-3; xii. 42).
Lucius, son of the preceding, and brother of the emperor, was
consul in 48. He was put to death by the party of Vespasian on his brother's fall (
Hist. iv. 2
; Dio Cass. lxv. 22).
Aulus, Roman emperor from January 2 to December 22, A.D. 69. He
was the son of No. 1. He was consul during the first six months of 48, and his brother Lucius
during the following six. He had some knowledge of letters and some eloquence. His vices made
him a favourite of Tiberius, Gaius Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, who loaded him with
Vitellius. (Bust in Vienna.)
favours. It caused great surprise, however, when Galba chose such a man to command
the legions in Lower Germany, for he had little military talent. Both Upper and Lower Germany
had been attached to Virginius Rufus, and disliked the rule of Galba; the two legions at
Moguntiacum (Mayence) had not taken the oath of allegiance to him. Accordingly, they had
already been disposed to find a nominee of their own, and when the news of Galba's death
arrived, the legions of both Germanies combined to acknowledge Vitellius as Imperator, and he
was proclaimed at Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne) on the 2d of January, 69. His generals
Fabius Valens and Caecina marched into Italy, defeated Otho's troops at the decisive battle
of Betriacum, or Bedriacum, and thus secured for Vitellius the undisputed command of Italy.
The soldiers of Otho, after his death, took the oath of fidelity to Vitellius. (See Otho
.) Vitellius reached Rome in July. He disturbed no one
in the enjoyment of what had been given by Nero, Galba, and Otho, nor did he confiscate any
person's property; and though some of Otho's adherents were put to death, he let the next of
kin take their possessions. Yet though he showed moderation in this part of his conduct, he
showed none in his expenditure. He was a glutton and an epicure, and his chief amusement was
the table, on which he spent enormous sums of money. Meantime Vespasian, who had at first
taken the oath of allegiance to Vitellius, was proclaimed emperor at Alexandria on the 1st of
July. Vespasian was speedily recognized by all the East; and the legions of Illyricum under
Antonius Primus entered the north of Italy and declared for Vespasian. Vitellius
despatched Caecina with a powerful force to oppose Primus; but Caecina was not faithful to
his master. Primus defeated the Vitellians in two battles, and afterwards took and pillaged
the city of Cremona. Primus then marched upon Rome, and forced his way into the city, after
much fighting. Vitellius was seized in the palace, led through the streets with every
circumstance of ignominy, and dragged to the Gemoniae Scalae, where he was killed with
repeated blows. His head was carried about Rome, and his body was thrown into the Tiber; but
it was afterwards buried by his wife, Galeria Fundana. A few days before the death of
Vitellius, the Capitol had been burned in the assault made by his soldiers upon this
building, where Flavius Sabinus, the brother of the emperor Vespasian, had taken refuge
Hist. ii. Hist., iii.
Dio Cass. lxv.).