Vespasian was Roman Emperor from AD 69 to AD 79. Vespasian founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire for twenty seven years. Vespasian was from an equestrian family that rose into the senatorial rank under the Julio–Claudian emperors.
In 66 AD, Vespasian was appointed to suppress the Jewish revolt underway in Judea. The fighting there had killed the previous governor and routed Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, when he tried to restore order. Two legions, with eight cavalry squadrons and ten auxiliary cohorts, were therefore dispatched under the command of Vespasian while his elder son, Titus, arrived from Alexandria with another.
During this time he became the patron of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish resistance leader captured at the Siege of Yodfat, who would later write his people's history in Greek. Ultimately, thousands of Jews were killed and the Romans destroyed many towns in re-establishing control over Judea; they also took Jerusalem in 70. Vespasian is remembered by Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, as a fair and humane official, in contrast with the notorious Herod Agrippa II whom Josephus goes to great lengths to demonize.
While under the emperor's patronage, Josephus wrote that after the Roman Legio X Fretensis, accompanied by Vespasian, destroyed Jericho on 21 June 68, Vespasian took a group of Jews who could not swim (possibly Essenes from Qumran), fettered them, and threw them into the Dead Sea to test the sea's legendary buoyancy. Indeed, the victims bobbed up to the surface after being thrown in the water from the boats.
Josephus (as well as Tacitus), reporting on the conclusion of the Jewish war, claimed that around the time when Jerusalem and the Temple would be taken, a man from their own nation, viz. the Messiah, would become governor of the habitable earth. Josephus, dismissing these things, said that the only governor of the habitable earth was Vespasian who conquered it.
After the death of Nero in 68, Rome saw a succession of short-lived emperors and a year of civil wars. Galba was murdered by Otho, who was defeated by Vitellius. Otho's supporters, looking for another candidate to support, settled on Vespasian.
According to Suetonius, a prophecy ubiquitous in the Eastern provinces claimed that from Judaea would come the future rulers of the world. Vespasian eventually believed that this prophecy applied to him, and found a number of omens, oracles, and portents that reinforced this belief.
He clearly financed historians to improve his reputation. The ancient historians who lived through the period such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny the Elder speak suspiciously well of Vespasian while condemning the emperors who came before him.
Abraham | John the Baptist | Jesus | Paul the Apostle | Plutarch | Polybius | Seneca |
Bastiat | Buddha | David Crocket | Herod | Melchizedek | Nimrod | Philo Judaeus | Wycliffe |
Ambrose | Constantine | Jerome | Augustine of Hippo | Augustine of Canterbury |
Alexis de Tocqueville | Thomas Sowell | Lady Godiva |