23 June 79 - 13 September 81



Titus, who had conquered Jerusalem with so much valor, was made emperor A. D. 79.

Titus began to reign with the practice of every virtue that became a sovereign and a man. During the life of his father, there had been many imputations against him, both for cruelty, lust, and prodigality; but upon his exaltation to the throne, he seemed entirely to abandon his former vices, and became an example of the greatest moderation, and humanity.

He had long loved Berenice, sister to Agrippa, king of Judea, a woman of the greatest beauty. But knowing that a connexion with her would be disagreeable to the people of Rome, he gained a victory over his affections, and sent her away, notwithstanding their mutual passion, and the many arts she used to induce him to change his resolution. Titus took particular care to punish all informers, false witnesses, and promoters of dissension.

His courtesy, and readiness to do good, have been celebrated, even by christian writers; his principal rule being, never to send away any petitioner dissatisfied. One night, recollecting he had done nothing beneficial to mankind the preceding day, he cried out, among his friends, I have lost a day !


Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79

Glyptothèque de Munich

In the reign of Titus, an eruption of Mount Vesuvius overwhelmed many towns, and threw ashes into countries more than a hundred miles distant. Upon this memorable occasion, Pliny, the naturalist, lost his life; for being impelled by too eager a curiosity to observe the eruption, he was suffocated in the flames. There happened also, at this time, a fire at Rome, which continued three days and nights; this was followed by a plague, in which 10000 men were buried in a day. The emperor did all in his power to repair the damage; and, with respect to the city, declared that he would take the whole loss of that upon himself.

These disasters were in some measure counterbalanced by the successes in Britain under Agricola. This excellent general, having been sent into that country in the latter part of Vespasian's reign, showed himself equally expert in quelling the refractory, and civilizing those who had for merly submitted to the Roman power. The Ordovices, or inhabitants of North Wales, were the first that were subdued.

He then made a descent upon Mona, or the island of Anglesea, which surrendered at discretion. Having thus rendered himself master of the whole country, he took every method to restore discipline to his own army, and introduce some share of politeness among those whom he had conquered. He exhorted them by advice and example, to build temples and stately houses. He caused the sons of their nobility to be instructed in the liberal arts; he had them taught the Latin language, and induced them to imitate the Roman modes of dress and living.

Thus by degrees this barbarous people began to assume the luxurious manner of their conquerors. On account of the success in Britain, Titus was saluted emperor the fifteenth time; but he did not long survive this honor. He expired shortly after, but not without suspicion of treachery from his brother Domitian, who had long wished to govern. He died in the fortyfirst year of his age, having reigned little more than two years.

Previous page                                                                         top of page                                                                                        Next page