Sabinus, the elder son of the preceding, and the brother of the emperor Vespasian.
He is first mentioned in the reign of Claudius, A. D. 45, when he served under Plautius in Britain, along with his brother Vespasian (D. C. 9.20
He afterwards governed Moesia for seven years, and held the important office of praefectus urbis during the last eleven years of Nero's reign.
He was removed from this office by Galba, but was replaced in it on the accession of Otho, who was anxious to conciliate Vespasian, who commanded the Roman legions in the East.
He continued to retain the dignity under Vitellius, and made the soldiers in the city swear allegiance to the new emperor.
But when Vespasian was proclaimed general by the legions in the East, and Antonius Primus and his other generals in the West, after the defeat of the troops of Vitellius, were marching upon Rome, Vitellius, despairing of success, offered to surrender the empire, and to place the supreme power in the hands of Sabinus till the arrival of his brother. The German soldiers of Vitellius, however, refused submission to this arrangement, and resolved to support their sovereign by arms. Sabinus had now gone too far to retreat; and, as he had not sufficient forces to oppose the troops of Vitellius, he took refuge in the Capitol.
In the following night he caused his own children and Domitian, his brother's son, to be brought into the Capitol, and despatched a messenger to Vespasian's generals, begging for immediate assistance. On the following day the soldiers of Vitellius advanced to attack the Capitol.
In the assault the houses next the Capitol were set on fire, whether by the besiegers or the besieged, is uncertain.
The flames spread to the Capitol, which was eventually burnt to the ground (December, A. D. 69). Sabinus, who was worn out by old age, and who had lost his presence of mind in the danger, was taken prisoner, and dragged before Vitellius, who in vain endeavoured to save him from the fury of the soldiers. While Vitellius was standing before the steps of the palace, they stabbed Sabinus, mangled his body, cut off his lead, and dragged his remains to the place where the corpses of malefactors were thrown (in Gemonias
). His children and his nephew Domitian made their escape. When the generals of Vespasian obtained possession of the city, the remains of Sabinus were interred with the honour of a censor's funeral. Sabinus was a man of distinguished reputation, and of unspotted character.
He had been engaged in military service for thirty-five years, and was equally illustrious in peace and in war. During the seven years that he had governed Moesia, and the twelve years he had held the praefecture of the city, the only charge ever brought against him was a too great copiousness of speech.
It was universally agreed, that before Vespasian became emperor, the dignity of the family centred in Sabinus.
He left two sons, Flavius Sabinus [No. 4], and Flavius Clemens [CLEMENS.] (Plut. Oth
. 5; Tac. Hist.
i 46, 2.55, 3.64-74, 4.47; D. C. 15.17
; Suet. Vesp.
15; Joseph. B. J.
4.10.3, 4.11.4; Eutrop. 7.12
; Aurel. Vict. Caes.