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Titus Reign


AD 79 - 81 (born AD 39 - died 79)

Following up on the success of Vespasian would be no easy task, and while ancient accounts of Titus are somewhat mixed, he for the most part was remembered with the highest praise. Perhaps his short yet continuing stable reign after his father, followed by the terrifying reign of Domitian, left people with a certain feeling of regret and nostalgia for the 'better' son.

Titus Flavius Vespasianus, the same namesake as his father, was born December 30, AD 39 in Rome under relatively modest circumstances. His mother, Domitilla was of moderate station, the daughter of a treasury clerk, while Vespasian's star was soon to be on the rise under the administration of Claudius. While Vespasian became entrenched with Claudius, Titus too helped nurture the relationship. He developed a close friendship with Claudius' son Britannicus that would last until the prince's death/murder in AD 55.

The rise of Nero would force the Vespasianus family to distance themselves from the Claudian faction but Britannicus memory was preserved through Titus years later in statues erected in his honor. Ironic that had Britannicus lived and ascended to the 'throne' rather than Nero, Vespasian and Titus themselves may never have done so. However, they certainly would've continued on a prominent path in the Roman political and social order.

The early stages of the future emperor's career are rather murky, but he did serve in the early 60's AD in both Germania and Britannia (2 provinces in which Vespasian had also served.) Dio Cassius tells us of Titus' valor in saving Vespasian's life while in Britain, but this seems an unlikely bit of propaganda. It does, however, help to illustrate the general level of fondness that both historian and citizenry seemingly held for Titus. By the mid 60's AD, Titus was back in Rome, certainly advancing his career in the typical methods for a young Roman politician.

After a brief marriage to Arrecina Tertulla (she died shortly after), Titus married a noblewomen of prestigious lineage, Marcia Furnilla. Once again this marriage would be short-lived (her family's disfavor with Nero forced an early divorce), and Titus would never remarry. In fact, tales of his debauchery would later feed fears of a second Neronian type reign, but whatever his failings in that department, such escapades did not seem to persist once he rose to highest prominence.

AD 66 introduced the stroke of fate that would eventually launch the Flavians to full imperial authority. Despite some personal animosity between Nero and Vespasian, Nero recognized Vespasian's pure military ability and appointed him to Judaea, where the Jews had been rioting in Cesarea and Jersusalem. Accompanied by Titus (while the younger son Domitian remained in Rome), Vespasian performed as suspected, systematically reducing Jewish resistance. Titus was given command of Legio XV Appolinaris and performed with competence. Josephus, the Jewish historian who provides the greatest account of the wars, would later become a member of Vespasian's court and was decidedly pro-Flavian in his works. His praise of both father and son must be taken with 'a grain of salt' but does not alter the history of events or final results.

continue to Jewish Wars

Did you know?

The Baths of Titus, built between AD 79 and 81 (and completed at roughly the same time as the Colosseum) were relatively small, but important in that they were built on the site of Nero's Golden Palace, helping to eradicate his memory.


Titus - Related Topic: Roman Emperors


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