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Ancient History Quote of the Day: "And so when he was one year short of his seventieth, he passed away mixing jokes with serious matters..." (Epitome de Caesaribus 9.17). #AHQOTD #Vespasian

Image: British Museum (1850,0304.35)
On this day - 23 June - in AD 79, Titus Flavius Vespanius, the first emperor of the Flavian Dynasty died.

He is my favourite emperor of Rome and his successful 'righting of the ship of state' following the Long Year of AD 69 makes for an exciting tale.
The man certainly seems to have been something of a workaholic, with Philostratos (Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.31.1) noting that he would rise around dawn to deal with correspondence...

Image: RIC 2.1 Vespasian 40
...while Pliny the Younger (Letters 3.5.9) tells us that - like his own uncle, Pliny the Elder - Vespasian "used his nights to work".

The Epitome de Caesaribus (9.15-16) speaks of his daily routine and his joy of seeing close friends during the day.
From Suetonius in particular we see two key traits that are emphasised above all others: his wit and his modesty:

"...Vespasian was nearly always just as good-natured, cracking frequent jokes; he was in fact a man of considerable wit...
"..., although it often took such a low and vulgar form that he even indulged in schoolboy humour" (Vespasian 22).

This wit is often exemplified by Suetonius in his account, with pithy quotations attributed to Vespasian himself that are usually sexual or, at the least, bawdy.
Even on his deathbed Suetonius has him cracking jokes:

"Nothing could stop this flow of humour, even the fear of imminent death...His deathbed joke was “Dear me! I must be turning into a god.”" (Vespasian 24).

Image: RIC 2.1 Vespasian 550 - with Temple of Vesta on the Reverse
However, I'm going to give the final word in this brief thread - which could never do Vespasian justice - to the Epitome de Caesaribus once again:

"Enthusiasm makes one say much about a good emperor, who was caught, as if by fate...
"...some fifty-six years after the death of Augustus, by the Roman state, exhausted by the savagery of tyrants, so that it should not be utterly ruined" (9.16). #AHQOTD #Vespasian

Image: 'Vespasian', Peter Paul Rubens
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