Titus Fla'vius Sabi'nus Vespasia'nus
Roman emperor, A. D. 79-81, commonly called by his praenomen Titus, was the son of the emperor Vespasianus and his wife Flavia Domitilla.
He was born on the 30th of December, A. D. 40, about the time when Caius Caligula was murdered, in a mean house and a small chamber, which were still shown in the time of Suetonius. From his childhood he manifested a good disposition.
He was well made, and had an agreeable countenance, but it was remarked that his belly was somewhat large. (Sueton. Titus, 3.
) Yet he was active, and very expert in all bodily exercises ; and he had a great aptitude for learning.
He was brought up in the imperial household with Britannicus, the son of Claudius, in the same way and with the same instructors.
It is said that he was a guest at Nero's table, when Britannicus was poisoned, and that he also tasted of the same deadly cup.
He afterwards erected a gilded statue to the memory of Britannicus, on the Palatium. Fitus was an accomplished musician, and a most expert shorthand writer, an art in which the Romans excelled.
When a young man he served as tribunus militum in Britain and in Germany, with great credit ; and he afterwards applied himself to the labours of the forum. His first wife was Arricidia, daughter of Tertullus, a Roman eques, and once praefectus praetorio; and, on her death, he married Marcia Furnilla, a woman of high rank, whom he divorced after having a daughter by her, who was called Julia Sabina.
After having been quaestor, he had the command of a legion, and served under his father in the Jewish wars.
He took the cities of Tarichaea, Gamala, and other places.
When Galba was proclaimed emperor, A. D. 68, Titus was sent by his father to pay his respects to the new emperor, and probably to ask for the promotion to which his merits entitled him; but hearing of the death of Galba at Corinth, he returned to his father in Palestine, who was already thinking of the higher destiny to which he was called. Titus managed to reconcile Mucianus the governor of Syria, and his father, and thus he contributed greatly to Vespasian's elevation. [MUCIANUS, LICINIUS.] Vespasian was proclaimed emperor on the 1st of July, A. D. 69, and Titus accompanied him to Alexandria in Egypt.
He returned to Palestine to prosecute the siege of Jerusalem, during which he showed the talents of a general with the daring of a soldier.
The siege of Jerusalem, one of the most memorable on record, was concluded by the capture of the place, on the 8th of September, A. D. 70, and Titus received from the acclamations of his soldiers the title of Imperator.
The most complete account of the siege and capture of Jerusalem is by Josephus.
He did not return to Italy for eight months after the capture of Jerusalem, during which time he had an interview with the Parthian ambassadors at Zeugma on the Euphrates, and he paid a visit to Egypt, and assisted at the consecration of the bull Apis at Memphis. (Sueton. Titus,
100.5.) On his journey to Italy he had an interview with Apollonius of Tyana, who gave him some very good advice for a youth in his elevated station.
Titus triumphed at Rome with his father.
He also received the title of Caesar, and became the associate of Vespasian in the government. They also acted together as Censors. Titus undertook the office of Praefectus Praetorio, which had hitherto only been discharged by Roman equites. His conduct at this time gave no good promise, and the people looked upon him as likely to be another Nero.
He was accused of being excessively addicted to the pleasures of the table, of indulging lustful passions in a scandalous way, and of putting suspected persons to death with very little ceremony. A. Caecina, a consular whom he had invited to supper, he ordered to be killed as he was leaving the room; but this was said to be a measure of necessary severity, for Titus had evidence of Caecina being engaged in a conspiracy. His attachment to Berenice also made him unpopular. Berenice was the sister of King Agrippa II., and the daughter of Herodes Agrippa, sometimes called the Great.
She was first married to Herodes, king of Chalcis, her uncle, and then to Polemon, king of Cilicia. Titus probably became acquainted with her when he was in Judaea, and after the capture of Jerusalem she followed him to Rome with her brother Agrippa, and both of them lodged in the emperor's residence.
It was said that Titus had promised to marry Berenice, but as this intended union gave the Romans great dissatisfaction, he sent her away from Rome after he became emperor, as Suetonius says, but in his father's lifetime according to Dion.
The scandalous story of Titus having poisoned his father at a feast (24th June, A. D. 79) is not believed even by Dion, who could believe any thing bad of a man.
The year A. D. 79 was the first year of the sole government of Titus, whose conduct proved an agreeable surprise to those who had anticipated a return of the times of Nero. His brother Domitian, it is said, was dissatisfied at Titus being sole emperor, and formed the design of stirring up the soldiers; but though he made no decided attempt to seize the supreme power, he is accused of having all along entertained designs against his brother. Instead of punishing him, Titus endeavoured to win Domitian's affection, and urged him not to attempt to gain by criminal means that power which he would one day have in a legitimate way. During his whole reign Titus displayed a sincere desire for the happiness of the people, and he did all that he could to relieve them in times of distress.
A story is told, that one evening, recollecting that he had given nothing during the day, he said, " My friends, I have lost a day."
He assumed the office of Pontifex Maximus after the death of his father, and with the purpose, as he declared, of keeping his hands free from blood ; a resolution which he kept. Two patricians who were convicted by the senate of a conspiracy against him, were pardoned and treated with kindness and confidence.
He checked all prosecutions for the crime of laesa majestas, which from the time of Tiberius had been a fruitful source of false accusations; and he severely punished all informers.
He also removed from about him many young men, whose acquaintance had damaged his reputation, and he associated only with persons of good repute.
At the close of this year Titus repaired one of the Roman aqueducts, and he assumed the title of Imperator on the occasion of the successes of Agricola in Britain.
This year is memorable for the great eruption of Vesuvius, which desolated a large part of the adjacent country, and buried with lava and ashes the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Plinius the elder lost his life in this terrible catastrophe ; the poet Caesius Bassus is said to have been burnt in his house by the lava, and Agrippa the son of Claudius Felix, once governor of Judaea, perished with his wife. Dio Cassius (66.21, &c.) has described the horrors of this terrible calamity ; and we have also the description of them in a letter addressed to Tacitus by the younger Plinius. [TACITUS.] Titus endeavoured to repair the ravages of this great eruption : he sent two consulars with money to restore the ruined towns, and he applied to this purpose the property of those who had been destroyed, and had left no next of kin.
He also went himself to see the ravages which had been caused by the eruption and the earthquakes. During his absence a fire was burning at Rome for three days and three nights A. D. 80 : it destroyed the Capitol, the library of Augustus, the theatre of Pompeius, and other public buildings, besides many houses.
The emperor declared that he should consider all the loss as his own, and he set about repairing it with great activity : he took even the decorations of the imperial residences, and sold them to raise money.
The eruption of Vesuvius was followed by a dreadful pestilence, which called for fresh exertions on the part of the benevolent emperor.
In this year he completed the great amphitheatre, called the Colosseum, which had been commenced by his father; and also the baths called the baths of Titus.
The dedication of these two edifices was celebrated by spectacles which lasted one hundred days; by a naval battle in the old naumachia, and fights of gladiators : on one day alone five thousand wild animals are said to have been exhibited, a number which we may reasonably suspect to be exaggerated.
He also repaired several aqueducts, and paved the road from Rome to Rimini (Ariminum).
In the year A. D. 81 Agricola was employed in securing his conquests in Scotland south of the Clyde and the Forth.
After presiding at some games, at the close of which he is said to have wept bitterly, though the cause of his sorrow is not stated, Titus went off to the country of the Sabines in very low spirits, owing to some bad omens.
He was seized with fever at the first resting-place, and being carried from thence to a villa, in which his father had died, he ended his life there on the 13th of September, after a reign of two years and two months, and twenty days.
He was in the forty-first year of his age.
There were suspicions that he was poisoned by Domitian. Plutarch says that his health was damaged by the frequent use of the bath.
There is a story that Domitian came before Titus was dead, and ordered him to be deserted by those about him : according to another story, he ordered him to be thrown into a vessel full of snow, under the pretext of cooling his fever.
It is reported that shortly before his death, Titus lamented that he was dying so soon, and said that he had never done but one thing of which he repented. Nobody knew what this one thing was; but there were various conjectures. Perhaps the difficulty may be best solved by supposing that he never uttered the words, or if he did, that he was in the delirium of his fever. Titus was succeeded by his brother Domitian. His daughter Julia Sabina was married to Flavius Sabinus, his cousin, the son of Flavius Sabinus, the brother of Vespasian.
Titus is said to have written Greek poems and tragedies : he was very familiar with Greek.
He also wrote many letters in his father's name during Vespasian's life, and drew up edicta. (Suetonius, Titus Flavius Vespasianus ;
Tacitus, Hist. ;
Dio Cassius, lxvi.; Tillemont, Histoire des Empereurs,