Tacitus on Vespasian

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Tacitus On Vespasian

“The first move to convey imperial status to Vespasian took place at Alexandria. This was due to the eagerness of Tiberius Alexander, who caused his legions to swear allegiance to the new emperor on 1 July. The date was afterwards honoured as that of his accession though on 3 July the army of Judaea had taken the oath before Vespasian in person. Such was the enthusiasm that they acted without even waiting for the arrival of his son Titus, who was on his way back from Syria, where he had acted as the link between Mucianus and his father in their negotiations. The whole affair was carried through by a spontaneous move on the part of the troops, and there was no time to arrange a formal parade or concentrate the scattered legions.”” (Tacitus Histories II.79)

This narrative from Tacitus' Histories refers to the seemingly spontaneous proclamation of Vespasian as Emperor of Rome in AD69. This event ultimately lead to the end of the civil war that had seen three emperors proclaimed and killed in the space of a year in Rome. That the army had proclaimed Vespasian on July 1 is also backed up by Suetonius (Suet. Vesp.6) and by Dio (REF) However Josephus does not date the event, and states that the Judean legions were the first to proclaim Vespasian (BJ, 601)..

Despite the absence of detail within this passage, the acclamation of Vespasian by the troops was the culmination of a series of political manipulations which had been designed and carried out, by the three men mentioned, in the months leading up to July 1.

Tiberius Alexander was the prefect of Egypt. Both he and Mucianus had a long associate with Vespasian through their united effort against a common enemy in the Jewish war (Levick, 1999, p. 54). Additionally both men had served under Corbulo (Levick, 1999, pp. 56-57). Between the four of them they had control of over one third of…...

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