Vespasian (Titus Flavius Sabintts Vespasianus), a Roman emperor, born near Reate in the Sabine country, Nov. 17, A. D. 9, died there, June 24, 79. His father was a petty officer of the revenue, who died while the son was still young. Vespasian served in Thrace as military tribune, became qua3stor in Crete and Cyrene, and subsequently aedile and praetor. In the reign of Claudius he went to Germany as legatus legionis, and in 43 held the same command in Britain, where he served under Aulus Plautius and under the emperor himself, and reduced the isle of Wight. Triumphal honors were granted him, and during the last two months of 51 he was made consul sujfectus. Subsequently he governed Africa as proconsul. At the end of 66 he was sent by Nero to the East to take command of the army in the Jewish war. In two years he reduced all Judea except Jerusalem and some minor strongholds. His reputation now rose so high, that on the breaking out of the civil war between Otho and Vitellius after the death of Galba, the prefect of Egypt proclaimed Vespasian emperor at Alexandria, July 1, 69. The choice was immediately ratified by the legions of Judea, and not long afterward by the entire army of the East. His son Titus was left to put an end to the Jewish war, while one of his generals, Antonius Primus, marched at once into Italy, defeated the troops of Vitellius, and put Vitellius himself to death.
In the mean time Vespasian had gone to Alexandria to cut off the supply of grain from Rome, but his recognition by the senate made the step unnecessary. In the summer of 70 he arrived in Italy, where his coming was hailed with great joy. His accession worked a great change in the condition of the empire. He maintained firm discipline among the soldiers, removed many unworthy senators and knights, restored order to the finances, and repaired the devastations of the recent civil commotions. He rebuilt the capitol, erected a temple to Peace, and began the Flavian amphitheatre, which was afterward called the Colosseum. The foreign wars of his reign were successful. The rebellion of the Batavi under Claudius Civilis was put down; Titus completed the conquest of Judea; the governor of Syria took possession of Commagene; and a war was carried on in Britain with great success. In 71 the temple of Janus was closed, and in 74 the last census of Roman citizens ever made was taken. In 79 a conspiracy formed by Alienus Caecina and Marcellus was discovered, and the former was summarily put to death, while Marcellus committed suicide. In the summer of the same year Vespasian on account of failing health retired to his early home in the Sabine country.
He was one of the best and wisest of the Roman emperors, although his personal character was disfigured by certain mean traits, the most conspicuous of which was avarice. His simple style of living furnished a strong contrast to the luxury and debauchery of his immediate predecessors. The two succeeding emperors were his sons Titus and Domitian.