Roman Empire Vespasian Denarius 69 - 79 AD

Obv: Laureated head right "IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG"

Rev: Fortune standing left "COS III"

. Metal: Silver 6.9 grams, 19 mm diameter. Condition: F

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History of Vespasian

Vespasian was born in 9 AD at Falacrinae in the Sabine hill country NE of Rome, however he was raised by his grandmother on her estate at Cosa on the west coast of Italy. His parents were middle class and he and his brother were the first members of their family to enter the Senate. Vespasian rose through the military ranks and commanded the Second Legion "augusta" in the conquest of Britain in 43 - 47 AD where he met the emperor Claudius and was soon rewarded with the consulship of 51 AD and later made governor of Africa. Under Nero "Vespasian" was an official "companion" of the emperor, but he displeased Nero by falling asleep at one of Nero's performances and was shipped off to deal with the Jewish revolt.

After Nero was over thown, Vespasian was declared emperor by his troops (one of several). He left his son Titus in charge and moved to Egypt probably to take control of the grain supply. Meanwhile, his troops under Mucianus (governor of Syria) invaded Italy and defeated Vitellius. Vespasian's son (Domitian) was in Rome and after the defeat of Vitellius he and Mucianus governed jointly in Vespasian's name. Vespasian wrote "I thank you, my son, for permitting me to hold office and that you have not yet dethroned me". Vespasian remained in Egypt until the fall of Jerusalem and returned to Rome in October 70 AD, where along with his son "Titus" they had a joint triumph in June 71 AD.

Vespasian's reign was generally peaceful and "Suetonius" has left us a description of Vespasian's daily routine he rose before dawn every day, and spent the first part of the day meeting friends and officials, and reading official reports. Then he would have a drive and a sleep, usually with one of his concubines. After his siesta he would go to the baths, and than have dinner.

Vespasian was noted for his justice, leniency, witticism (of a low and buffonish kind), but mostly for his avarice according to Suetonius "The only thing for which he can fairly be censured was his love of money". He imposed heavy tax burdens, but never had anyone executed in order to confiscate his wealth.

Vepasian died peacefully of an illness on 23 June 79 AD with the memorable last words "An emperor ought to die standing" he struggled to his feet but collapsed and died in the arms of his attendants.