Vespasian: The Mule Breeder


This article will focus on the Roman Emperor Vespasian, including Vespasian’s early life, military career, reign as Emperor, personal life, and death.

Vespasian’s Early Life

Vespasian was born in the Roman countryside in the year 9 CE. At his birth, he was given the name Titus Flavius Vespasianus. His family’s background wasn’t overly impressive compared to the average future senator. The father of Vespasian was most likely a peasant, but he worked in the Roman money lending and tax/debt collecting system to make a decent living.

His mother had a higher standing since she was considered a member of the equestrian order. His family’s background wasn’t the lowest of the Romans, but Vespasian had a long road ahead. Throughout his later life, he would continually return to his childhood Villa. Whenever he could, he would use it as a place to get away and relax throughout his career. It’s noted that he never updated this Villa’s appearance.


Vespasian’s Military Career

Much of Vespasian’s prominent parts of his military career would be spent in Judea. In 66 CE, he was sent to Judea to suppress the highly successful Jewish revolt. Before he had arrived, the Jewish fighters had managed to kill the Roman governor of Syria. During Vespasian’s time in Judea, Emperor Nero committed suicide by stabbing himself in the throat. Vespasian sent his son Titus to meet the new emperor Galba in Rome.

Halfway there, Galba was assassinated, followed by a quick succession of assassinations of Otho and then Vitellius. Vespasian would eventually end up taking control of Rome by going to Egypt. He did this to take control of the grain supplies while simultaneously sending his army to Rome. This intelligent move would make Vespasian the 4th emperor in “The year of 4 Emperors.”


Roman Emperor Vespasian

Rome was in a state of collapse from the choices of Nero. Vespasian was what the empire needed. He was seen as a realist and a man who couldn’t be more opposite to Nero. The Roman Senate declared Vespasian Emperor in December 69 CE.

He’s considered the first Roman emperor from the equestrian part of society. A lot of his rule from 71 to 79 CE is unknown. We do know that he survived multiple assassination attempts. Vespasian would go on to be the founder of the Flavian Dynasty. They would rule Rome from 69 CE till the year 96 CE.


An Emperor With Common Sense

He was a solid man, steady, reliable, and Roman. Because of where he was raised, he was taught what was considered at the time older Roman values.

Vespasian was very hard-working and organized. This can be seen through his long climb through various government jobs. His common sense and direct decision-making led him to bring the empire back from the brink.

Much of the wealth stolen during the conquest of Judea and the Siege of Jerusalem was used to stabilize Rome and much of it paying for the construction of the Colosseum at the center of the Roman Empire we know today.

Roman Emperor Vespasian early life, death, military career
Roman bust of Roman Emperor Vespasian

Vespasian’s Personal Life

His appearance has been described as short and thick-set, bald but with some hair left, shrew eyes, hook nose, and a receding mouth. Regarding character, he placed duty above all else and was seen as financially scrupulous. Unlike others at the time, he never took advantage of his political positions.

At one point, Vespasian had to become a mule breeder again to raise money and make himself financially stable. During his life, he married Flavia Domitilla. They would have two sons together. Both of whom we know as Roman Emperor Titus and Roman Emperor Domitian. The two would also have a daughter born after Titus but before Domitian.


Vespasian’s Downfall and Death

In 79 CE, Vespasian started feeling ill. His illness ended up progressing. He eventually started having diarrhea. Vespasian felt that his death was close and that he lived a life of duty, honor, and purpose. A life any Roman would have been proud of. On his death bed, it is believed he said in Latin, “Vae, puto deus fio.”

This translates into “Dear me, I think I’m becoming a god.” He was the first emperor to have a peaceful death since Augustus 65 years earlier. Much of Vespasian’s fame came from his accomplishments during his military career. While being a capable ruler, he didn’t innovate or improve the Empire. He was simply the right man for the time, the man the Empire needed.


Roman Denarius

Each coin has a unique history attached to it. Coin collectors love the Roman Denarius. We carry Roman Denarius from various periods in the Roman Republic/Empire. Click the link below to see if a Roman Emperor Vespasian’s denarius is currently in stock.

The portrait of Roman Emperor Vespasian on a Roman denarius.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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