Thursday, December 18, 2008

Titus Flavius Vespasianus

Roman Emperor 69-79 AD noted for administrative and financial reforms that salvaged the empire from the critical state it was left in by Nero

Suetonius: 'Industrious, and the simplicity of his life was taken as model... He cultivated a bluff manner, characteristic of the humble origins he liked to recall. His initial appointments reflected his astuteness in building a powerful political party of which the core was his own family'

After the Year of the Four Emperors, the civil war, and the destruction of the capital by fire, the Roman republic was utterly baffled and beaten financially and psychically. Vespasian immediately supplied grain and granted pardon to those embroiled in Nero's excessive treason hunts. Brought sense along with grain. Said: 'I will not kill a dog that barks at me'

Vespasian headed massive public works projects to rehabilitate the republic, including the Colosseum and a Temple of Peace. Especially generous to men of letters and rhetoricians. Many authors speak suspiciously well of Vespasian. Reminds us that the key to history is endearment to its authors.

Last words were 'Væ, puto deus fio,' 'Shit, I think I'm becoming a god'

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