AULUS VITELLIUS, IMPERATOR (15 D.C. – 69 D.C.)
Aulus Vitellius Germanicus was emperor for eight months, from April 16 to December 22 of A.D. 69, he came to power after Galba and Otho in the year of the four emperors; He is remembered for his passion for food that was not the aristocratic refinement of Lucullus but pure and simple greediness.
His family was originally from Campania and equestrian rank, his grandfather had been prosecutor of Augustus and had left a considerable estate to his children; in Vitellia gens there was a seed of servility and hypocrisy that will be fatal to Aulus Vitellius as it was for his uncle Publius Vitellius that slandered Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso (with whom he had disagreements during the war in Syria) plotting the death of Germanicus and for this slander was sentenced to prison that escaped committing suicide. The same guile and hypocrisy instead will make the fortune of his father, Lucius Vitellius the Elder, son of Publius Vitellius Procurator of Augustus and father of the future emperor.
Was precisely his father Lucius Vitellius the Elder, who had been consul (34 AD) and governor of Syria (35 AD) with Tiberius and who later became a great friend of Claudius which was consul in 43 and 47 governing Rome when Claudius went with the army in Britain, towards making the family one of the most influential of Rome. His father was a wise and considered politician who, when he was governor of Syria, had the delicate task of composing the friction and suppress insurrections in Armenia; Lucius Vitellius decided to depose Herod as ruler of Judea interrupting even the anti-Jewish policy.
Lucius Vitellius married a Sextilia of patrician family and by her this had two children, Aulus Vitellius born in the 15 in Nuceria Alfaterna, and then Lucius Vitellius said the Younger; the family moved to Rome when his father began his career with Tiberius, who also followed when he moved to Capri.
Here Vitellius had Caligula as companion, with whom he competed in races of chariots and indeed also had an accident which forced him to limp for a lifetime; he was a teenager when Caligula became emperor and then at palace Claudius had as companions, with played dice, but also the young Nero.
In the turbulent life of the building, including conspiracies and assassinations, his jovial character and the ability to endear himself allowed him to overcome the most difficult moments and follow the cursus honorum becoming console for the first time in 48.
His was a successful military career and also very atypical, after the consulate in 57 became a priest Arvale and then in 60 was appointed proconsul of Africa; his military career took a turn with an unexpected nomination by Galba, to military commander of the Germania Inferior.
Until then it was most famous for his laziness and excessive passion for food; Suetonius says that he used to eat four times a day and to gulping down all that was being brought to the table came to procure vomiting to resume eating.
The love of food and the banquets had sent economic crisis and so when he was appointed legate to give sustenance to his family rented a beautiful home that he had left his father and sent his wife and children to live in a small house on the Aventine ...
by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 21/09/2016)