Vespasian Family Tree & Early Life – Family Background and Childhood

Vespasian Family Tree

Titus Flavius Petro (Paternal Grandfather) – He was first in the family to distinguish him. He rose to the rank of centurion and fought at Pharsalus for Pompey in 48 BC. Later, he became a debt collector.

Vespasius Pollio (Maternal Grandfather) – He belonged to upper class equestrian family at Nursia. His brother was a Roman Senator. Later he became Prefect of the Roman army camp.

Titus Flavius Sabinus (Father)– He was a Roman moneylender, debt collector, and tax collector.

Vespasia Polla (Mother ) – She belonged to elite equestrian order in society.

Elder Sister – Died in infancy

Titus Flavius Sabinus (Elder Brother) – He entered political life and became Consul in 47AD.

Domitilla the Elder (Wife) – She was the daughter of Flavius Liberalis, a humble quaestor’s clerk from Ferentium (modern Ferento), a country town in Italy. She married Vespasian around AD 38. They had three known children, Domitilla the Younger and of the emperors Titus and Domitian. She died before Vespasian became emperor.

Titus Vespasianus (Son) – After death of his father he became Roman emperor from 79AD to 81AD.

Domitilla the Younger (Daughter) – She was younger than her brother Titus but older than her brother Domitian. At the age of fifteen, she was married to Quintus Petillius Cerialis. Together they had a daughter, the later Christian saint Flavia Domitilla. Domitilla died before Vespasian became emperor in 69AD.

Domitian (Son) – He was Roman emperor from 81AD to 96AD. He was the son of Vespasian and the younger brother of Titus.

Vespasian Family Tree
Vespasian Family Tree

Vespasian Early Life

Vespasian was born on 17 November 9 AD in a village north-east of Rome called Falacrinae. His family was relatively undistinguished and lacking in pedigree.

His parents had three children, the eldest of whom, a girl, died in infancy.

He was educated in the countryside, Ansedonia, under the guidance of his paternal grandmother.

He loved that palce so much that even after he became emperor, he often returned to the places of his childhood.

Early in his life, he was somewhat overshadowed by his older brother, Titus Flavius Sabinus. His brother entered public life early in the life and later became leader of urban cohort.

Vespasian on the other hand, seemed far less interested in pursuing high public office. However, constant barrage of taunt by his mother forced him to follow his brother’s footsteps.

He began his political life by obtaining a post in the vigintivirate, the minor magistracies where he was responsible for keeping street of Rome clean.

His performance was so unsatisfactory that Caligula (later became emperor) threw handfuls of mud down his toga to show him lack of cleanness on Roman streets. However, after completing his tenure he enlisting in army and at the age 28 years, he became military tribune in Thrace for the period of 3 years.

After completing his military duty he planned to become Quaestor (treasurer) lowest position in roman political life. However his family lacks political influence to become Quaestor of Rome. So, he planned to run as Quaestor of one of the province.

Soon he got elected as quaestor of Crete. He was responsible for maintaining state treasury and conducting financial audits.

Later he started his affair with freed-woman Antonia Caenis, confidential secretary to Antonia Minor (grandmother of Emperor Caligula). This helped him to become part of the inner circle of courtiers and servants around the Emperor Caligula.

This helped him to rise quickly through the ranks of Roman public office. In 39 AD, he was elected Aedile. As a Aedile, he was responsible for maintaining public buildings and regulating of public festivals.

Next year he was elected as Praetor, a highest judicial officer. This gave him an opportunity to become to close to Emperor Caligula.

Around this time, he married Domitilla the Elder. Together they had three children, two sons Titus Flavius Vespasianus (born 39) and Titus Flavius Domitianus (born 51), and a daughter, Domitilla (born c. 45).

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