Vespasian Personality

Vespasian was known for his wit and his amiable manner. He also had a commanding personality due to his military prowess.

Lack of Ambition

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.


In eastern provinces of Roman Empire, a people used to believe in a prophecy which claimed that future rulers of the world would come from Judaea.

Vespasian believed that this prophecy applied to him. He also met number of oracle and found a number of omens which strength this belief.

Patient with People

Vespasian was very patient with people. Even after he became emperor, his friends talk to him in very frank language.

He was very approachable and bore the sharp & sarcastic remark of pleaders and the impudence of the philosophers with the greatest patience.

Vespasian in Public
Vespasian in Public


During his governorship in North Africa, he found himself in financial difficulties. To raise some money he mortgages his estates to his brother. To repay his brother and get back his estate he turned to the mule trade and gained the nickname mulio (muleteer).

After becoming Emperor, he found royal treasury empty. So, he imposed tax upon use of toilet. Vespasian’s policy was not well received by his son. When he received in the first installment, and he asked his son if it stunk? His son replied “no”.

Since then, phrase “Money does not stink” has been used to whitewash money of dubious or illegal origin.

Good in making friends

In Roman Empire, ex-consuls were given governorships of the provinces. This gives them opportunities to extort huge amounts of money to regain the wealth they had spent on their previous political campaigns.

However in 63AD, Vespasian became governor to Africa Province. Instead of engaging in corruption, he made friend and spent on them lavishly. These friendships became far more valuable to Vespasian when he laid his claim on the throne.

Generous and Magnanimous

As an Emperor, he financial helped impoverished Senators and people of upper class.

He was especially generous to teachers and men of letters. He gave many of learned people  pensioned with salaries of 1,000 gold pieces a year.

He also helped in rebuilding cities and towns destroyed by natural calamity. He spent massive amount of money in restoration and beautification of Rome.

He was also benefactions of common people. For common people he built, many new public baths. For their entertainment he built the Colosseum.

Leave a Reply