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Roman Emperor from 69-79AD

His full name was Titus Flavius Vespasianus, his father was a tax collector, and Vespasian retained many of his common sensibilities during his reign as emperor. He was reputedly low-class in his accent and behavior, having worked for a brief period as a mule-driver in the army, but presided over a period of prosperity in the Roman empire. He supposedly wept for condemned criminals, and showed great leniency towards old soldiers. He managed to offend Nero by falling asleep during one of the emperor's performances, getting himself banished from court. Later Nero appointed him to put down a rebellion in Judea (this was a job no one in their right mind wanted). He emerged from the chaos of Nero's death with the emperorship, after his troops proclaimed him emperor during the reign of Vitellius, and he arrrived in Rome to find Vitellius already dead. His son, Titus ended the rebellion in Judea with the destruction of the temple.

Vespasian's only real fault seems to be that he was a bit greedy, and levied heavy taxes on the empire to pay for his building projects. The most famous of these works, the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) still stands today.

Vespasian was slow to accept the honors and titles of emperorship, and reputedly said on his death bed "Oh my, I fear I am about to become a god!" (the Romans would declare good emperors to be gods after they died). His prediction came true, and he was eventually deified. As was a common pattern in the empire, a good emperor like Vespasian died and left the empire in the hands of his worthless sons, Titus and Domitian.

See Roman Emperors