CHAPTER XXXIX. THE FLAVIAN EMPERORS.
The East now made a claim for the Emperor, and on July 1, 69, the soldiers who were engaged in war against the revolted Jews in Judaea proclaimed as Emperor their commander, TITUS FLAVIUS VESPASIÁNUS. He left the conduct of the war in charge of his son Titus, and arrived at Rome in 70. Here he overthrew and put to death Vitellius. In the course of this struggle the Capitol was burned. This he restored, rebuilding also a large part of the city.
In his own life Vespasian was simple, putting to shame the luxury and extravagance of the nobles, and causing a marked improvement in the general tone of society. He removed from the Senate many improper members, replacing them by able men, among whom was AGRICOLA. In 70 he put down a formidable rebellion in Gaul; and when his son Titus returned from the capture of Jerusalem, [Footnote: Jerusalem was taken in 70, after a siege of several months, the horrors of which have been graphically detailed by the Jewish historian Joséphus, who was present in the army of Titus. The city was destroyed, and the inhabitants sold into slavery.] they enjoyed a joint triumph. The Temple of Janus was closed, and peace prevailed during the remainder of his reign.
Much money was spent on public works, and in beautifying the city. A new Forum was built, a Temple of Peace, public baths, and the famous COLOSSÉUM was begun, receiving its name from the Colossus, a statue of Nero, which had stood near by.
On the whole, Vespasian was active and prudent in public affairs, frugal and virtuous in private life. The decade of his reign was marked by peace and general prosperity.
One of the ablest men of this age was AGRICOLA (37-93). Born at Forum Julii in Gaul, he was made Governor of Aquitania by Vespasian in 73. Four years later he was Consul, and the next year was sent to Britain, which he conquered, and governed with marked ability and moderation, increasing the prosperity of the people and advancing their civilization. He remained in Britain until 85, when he was recalled. His life was written by his son-in-law, the historian Tacitus.
Vespasian was succeeded by his son TITUS, who emulated the virtues of his father. He finished the Colosséum, begun by Vespasian, and built a triumphal arch to commemorate his victories over the Jews. This arch, called the ARCH OF TITUS, was built on the highest part of the Via Sacra, and on its walls was carved a representation of the sacred candlestick of the Jewish temple, which can still be seen.
It was during this reign that HERCULANEUM and POMPEII were destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius. In this eruption perished PLINY THE ELDER, the most noted writer of his day. His work onNatural History, the only one of his writings that is preserved, shows that he was a true student. His passion for investigation led him to approach too near the volcano, and caused his death.
DOMITIAN was the opposite of his brother Titus, - cruel, passionate, and extravagant. He was murdered after a reign of fifteen years, during which he earned the hatred and contempt of his subjects by his crimes and inconsistencies.
In his foreign policy Domitian showed considerable ability. He added to the Empire that part of Germany which corresponds to modern Baden and Wirtemberg, and built a line of fortifications from Mentz on the Rhine to Ratisbon on the Danube.
With him ended the line of the FLAVIAN EMPERORS, and he was also the last of the so called TWELVE CAESARS, a name given them by the historian Suetonius.