Vespasian’s Cause of Death: How Did the Emperor Who Saved Rome Die?

Vespasian was the Roman emperor who founded the Flavian dynasty and restored stability to the empire after the chaotic reigns of his predecessors. He was also the builder of the famous Colosseum, one of the most iconic monuments of ancient Rome. But how did he die?

The Illness of Vespasian

According to historical sources, Vespasian fell ill with a fever while on a trip to Apulia, a region in southern Italy, in the year 79 CE. He decided to return to Rome, but he died on the way in the town of Aquae Cutiliae, where there were thermal baths

Some historians have speculated that Vespasian may have contracted malaria, typhoid, or some other infectious disease during his travels However, the exact nature of his illness is unknown.

The Last Words of Vespasian

Vespasian was aware of his impending death and reportedly joked about it with his friends and family. He is said to have uttered several witty remarks on his deathbed, such as:

  • “Oh dear, I think I’m becoming a god.” This was a reference to the Roman custom of deifying emperors after their death
  • “An emperor ought to die standing.” This was a sign of his dignity and courage
  • “I have done well, haven’t I? Then applaud me.” This was a request for approval and applause from his audience, as if he were a performer on stage. 

Vespasian died of natural causes on June 23, 79 CE, at the age of 69. He was succeeded by his eldest son Titus, who continued his father’s legacy and completed the construction of the Colosseum

The Legacy of Vespasian

Vespasian was one of the most successful and popular emperors in Roman history. He reformed the financial system, expanded the empire, initiated a vast building program, and promoted peace and prosperity. He was also known for his modesty, generosity, and sense of humor. He was respected and loved by the people, the army, and the Senate

Vespasian’s cause of death was not a tragic or violent one, but rather a natural and peaceful one. He died as he lived: with dignity, courage, and wit. He left behind a strong and stable empire that would last for another century under his descendants. He was truly the emperor who saved Rome

Doms Desk

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