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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Titus (Emperor)

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Titus, who was officially styled sometimes Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, sometimes Imperator Titus Vespasianus Caesar Augustus, was originally named Titus Flavius Vespasianus. He was the son of a man of the same name, the Emperor Vespasian (see under Vespasian), and of Domitilla, and was born at Rome on 30th December, a.d. 39. Titus was brought up and taught along with Britannicus, son of the Emperor Claudius (q.v. [Note: .v. quod vide, which see.] ), at the Court of the latter. He was early distinguished for bodily strength and manly beauty, and was accomplished not only in boxing and riding, but also in oratory; music, and verse composition. He gained his first military experience as tribunus militum (colonel) in Germany and Britain, and served with distinction. Afterwards he followed the usual career in the law courts, and at the same period married Arrecina Tertulla, daughter of the knight M. Arrecinus Clemens, who had been prefect of the praetorian cohorts under Caligula. After her death he married Marcia Furnilla, a lady of high birth, who bore him a daughter Julia and was later divorced by him. Titus was quaestor about the year 65, and in the beginning of 67 he was in command of a legion. From that time till the middle of 68 he assisted his father in the conduct of the Jewish War. He began the work by bringing the fifteenth legion (Apollinaris) from Alexandria to Judaea in a very short time, considering that it was winter, and successfully besieged Jaffa and Jotapata. Later he retired to Ptolemais, then to Caesarea on the coast, and afterwards to Caesarea Philippi, Scythopolis, and Tiberias. He gallantly besieged Tarichea, Gamala, and Gischala. In fact, all through the war his determined and skilled generalship was indispensable to his father. In quick succession Gadara, Peraea, western Judaea , Idumaea, and the neighbourhood of Jericho were besieged by the Romans. Afterwards the attack on Jerusalem was prepared. In the troublous period following the death of Nero, Titus played an important part. He has the chief credit of the reconciliation of Mucian, governor of the province Syria, and Vespasian. Titus was also adopted by the old king Agrippa, and both visited Achaia in the winter of 68-69. The attitude of these powerful men in the East towards the kaleidoscopic changes in the West was complicated by the long delay in the arrival of news. The news of the death of Galba (15th Jan. 69) and the arming of Vitellius led Titus to hope that he would succeed his father, and he returned by Asia Minor, Rhodes, and Cyprus to Syria. Already the attractions of the Jewish princess Berenice had begun to influence him. Meanwhile Vespasian and Mucian had got the Jewish and Syrian army to swear allegiance to Otho. However, on the news of Vitellius’ success against Otho, the soldiers forced Vespasian to undertake the Empire. There is no doubt that the popularity of Titus helped them to this decision, and later Titus accompanied Vespasian to Alexandria to strengthen his position there. In the year 70 Titus was commander-in-chief, in which year also he held his first consulship, along with Vespasian. The details of the final attack on Jerusalem and of the preliminaries to it are well known from the pages of Josephus, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) v and vi. This author had for some time been on friendly terms with Titus. The siege was one of the most stubborn in history, but the Jews were eventually defeated. Return home by sea was impossible during the winter, and Titus went from Caesarea Philippi to Caesarea Stratonis, then to Berytos. His visit to other Syrian cities was made all the more pleasant by the report of the splendid reception which his father had received in Italy. By Syrian Antioch he went to Zeugma on the Euphrates, where he received an embassy from the Parthian king. From Zeugma he returned, probably via Tarsus, to Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria (reached probably in May 71). After sending the fifth and fifteenth legions back to their former garrisons and selecting 700 captives for his triumph, he took the usual route by sea from Alexandria past Rhegium to Puteoli (see Roads and Travel), and thence to Rome. The joint triumph of Vespasian and Titus took place probably in June, the month of his arrival. Some of the most conspicuous objects in the triumphal procession are represented on the reliefs of the still existing Arch of Titus in the Forum at Rome (see article Rome).

There had been originally a question among the soldiers in the East whether Vespasian or Titus should be made Emperor. Their decision was for Vespasian, with the full understanding that Titus should succeed his father. Titus’ military success, with the plunder thence accruing, made him popular with the soldiers, but he remained on the best of terms with his father. Already in 69 both Titus and Domitian received Imperial titles from their father, and early in Vespasian’s reign, in 71, Titus was recognized as co-emperor. It is not necessary to follow here the details of his official career and the titles he held in the course of that part of it which lies within his father’s period as princeps. In 79 Titus crushed a conspiracy against his father by putting the ringleader Alienus, a friend of his own, to death. The Jewish queen Berenice had come to Rome with her brother Agrippa in 75. Titus’ fondness for her, though she was thirteen years his senior (see Berenice), was notorious; but the Romans had still much of the same strong feeling against close association between their rulers and foreign women that they had shown in the days of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, and Titus felt compelled to dismiss her.

At the commencement of his reign anticipations were not pleasant. For he had shortly before shown signs of tyranny as well as of licentiousness. It is highly probable that disease had already begun its work on him. Vespasian having died on 24th June 79, Titus was thirty-nine years old when his sole rule as Emperor began. At once he named his brother Domitian his partner and successor; but this did not imply the double rule of two equals, as Domitian seemed to expect it would. He gave an unanticipated impression of mildness, and seems in every way to have realized his responsibility and reformed his previous manner of life. The great Stoic philosopher, Musonius Rufus, whose fragmentary writings (ed. O. Hense, Leipzig, 1905) preach the noblest ethics of classical antiquity, was recalled to Rome, though Vespasian had banished him. Agricola’s success in Britain continued (see under Vespasian). It was in this reign that the great eruption of Vesuvius took place, on 24th August 79. Herculaneum (better form Herculanum), Pompeii, and Stabiae were overwhelmed (see Herrlich, in Klio, iv. [1904] 209 ff.). Titus journeyed to Campania and remained there till next year, doing all that he could to help. His action provides an ancient counterpart to the services of King Victor Emmanuel on the occasions of the earthquakes of Messina and Avezzano. The great aqueduct, Aqua Marcia, which had fallen into ruins, was repaired, and the Roman supply of pure water thus notably increased (cf. Statius, Siluae, I. v. 26 ff.). Titus also superintended road-building in Italy, Dalmatia, and Numidia, as inscriptions prove. In the year 80, during the absence of Titus in Campania above referred to, a great part of Rome was destroyed by fire. A considerable number of the most splendid buildings were destroyed in the conflagration. Large sums were put at the disposal of the Emperor by private persons, princes, and towns, to enable him to restore them. He did not hesitate to furnish some of them from the Imperial palaces. A pestilence having broken out in Rome, the Emperor was as instant in help as he continued to be in face of the distress in Campania. Amidst great festivities the wonderful amphitheatre, which we know as the Colosseum (see article Rome), was dedicated, along with public hot baths. The combats of wild beasts and gladiators, the mimic naval battles, and the exhibition of gifts lasted one hundred days. To this year belong also various improvements to roads in Italy, Spain, Galatia, and Lycia. Agricola acquired additional territory for Rome in Britain. In the same year in the East a false Nero appeared, and obtained considerable support for a time. The impostor was in reality a certain Terentius Maximus, a native of the province Asia, who was like Nero in appearance. To this episode there may be a reference in Revelation 13:3. In the year 81 we learn of further repairs to aqueducts in Italy, and of new roads in Cyprus. The Emperor’s health had begun to fail seriously in the preceding year. The ancient authorities mention an attack of fever. Domitian, it was rumoured, had poisoned him, or at least had hindered his recovery from illness by neglecting the orders of the physician. Certainly Domitian left Titus’ bedside in the Sabine land for Rome before the end, which took place on 13th September in the forty-second year of his age, after a reign of two years, two months, and twenty days.

Literature.-The ancient authorities are: Josephus, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , bks. iii-vii.; Tacitus, Histories, bks. i.-v.; Xiphilinus’ epitome of Dio Cassius, bks. lxv. and lxvi.; Suetonius, Titus; Sextus Aurelius Victor, de Caesaribus Liber; numerous inscriptions collected to 1901 in H. C. Newton, The Epigraphical Evidence for the Reigns of Vespasian and Titus (Cornell Studies in Classical Philology, xvi. ‘Coins’), Ithaca, N.Y., 1901.

Modern works: K. Weynand, in Pauly-Wissowa [Note: auly-Wissowa Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyklopädie.] , vi. 2695 ff.; H. Dessau, in Prosopographia Imperii Romani, Berlin, 1897, ii. 79 (no. 264); M. Beule, Titus und seine Dynastie, ed. E. Doehler, Halle, 1875; also the relevant parts of the following histories: V. Duruy, History of Rome, Eng. translation , 6 vols., London, 1883-86; J. B. Bury, Student’s History of the Roman Empire, do., 1893; H. Schiller, Geschichte der römischen Kaiserzeit, i. [Gotha, 1883] 518 ff.; A. von Domaszewski, Geschichte der römischen Kaiser, ii. [Leipzig, 1909] 155 ff.

A. Souter.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Titus (Emperor)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/t/titus-emperor.html. 1906-1918.

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Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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