Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Ray LaVoie

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Titus Flavius (more properly Vespasian, but that name is often reserved for his uncle) is the 34-year old Commander of the XI Legio Sabini (the Sabine Legion) and the Conqueror of Britannia. He is a scion of the Flavii, an old patrician family from the Sabine Hills, a rural region northeast of Rome. Early supporters of Julius Caesar, their fortunes have risen with the rise of the principate. When his father Gaius Flavius Pulcher (no relation to the Tullius Pulchers) married Vespasiana (sister of Valerius Vespasianus), the family was catapulted into the highest levels of Roman society.

The Sabine Legion was originally raised by Titus Flavius' grandfather to fight with Augustus against Antony, and acquitted itself well in the east. It has remained under Flavian command since. As a young man Titus served as an aide to his father in campaigns on the Dacian frontier. He was elected to the aedileship (a group of Roman magistrates) and the Senate at the youngest possible age for each office. As an aedile he oversaw investigations into corruption of the city's water administration, for which he won much praise.

In 55, when his father retired from public duty, Titus Flavius took command of the Sabine Legion and was sent to Palestine to quell rebellions in the area. He dealt with the rebels with ruthless efficiency, confiscating the lands and goods of anyone even consorting with the rebels. This made him extremely unpopular with the locals, though he was looked on favorably by his own troops, who were paid well from the proceeds, and officials back home, who approved of his stern and successful measures (and the reduced demand on the imperial treasury).

Following his successes in Palestine, Titus Flavius was granted command of the imperial forces in Britannia, taking over from the Emperor Domitius himself. With only the Sabine Legion and some garrison forces left behind by Domitius, Titus Flavius spent the next six years pacifying the island. Though it took longer than originally anticipated, Titus's conquests have proven solid. He and his legion have just returned from the north and are expected to receive some form of ovation. In the next few days the Senate and the emperor are expected to formally declare Britannia as Rome's new province. The Senate is also debating whether or not to formally grant General Vespasianus the title "Britannicus".

The Flavii family's wealth is based primarily on the vineyards and farms of the Sabine Hills. Though Flavian vintages do not match up to those of Sicilia or Iberia, their wines fill in the low end of the spectrum and can be found in cheap bars throughout the city. The Flavii are also deeply involved in Rome's water administration, having built two major aqueducts from the hills into the city (appropriately named the Aqueduct Flavia Maior and the Aqueduct Flavia Minor). Most of the Sabines, many of whom have settled in the region of Rome, look to the Flavii as their patrons. Many of those Sabines are also military veterans.

Sabines also form a significant faction within the praetorian guard, a testament from Quintus Flavius Piper, Titus Flavius's uncle, who served as Prefect of the Praetorians until 54 when he died while quelling bread riots when the Egyptian grain fleet was delayed by storms.

Though unmarried, Titus Flavius has had a long and stable relationship with an imperial freedwoman, Julia Djadeh. His unwillingness to put her aside for a proper Roman wife has been a continuing embarrassment.

While the conquest of Britannia did not bring back much in the way of loot (and was actually a significant drain on the treasury), the legions did return with numerous Celtic slaves. Titus Flavius has brought one of them, a dancing girl, to entertain at tonight's festivities.

Page updated 7/15/99, Scott Martin