Cestius Gallus

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Gaius Cestius Gallus (d. 67 AD) was a Roman senator and general who was active during the Principate. He was suffect consul for the second nundinium of the year 42 as the colleague of Gaius Caecina Largus.[1] Gallus was the son of Gaius Cestius Gallus, ordinary consul in 35.

Governor of Syria[edit]

Gallus was Legate of Syria from 63 or 65. He marched into Judea with a force of over 30,000 men in September 66 in an attempt to restore order at the outset of the Great Jewish Revolt. As assembled at Antioch, Gallus' army comprised legio XII Fulminata, detachments from the three other legions based in Syria, six cohorts of auxiliary infantry and four alae of cavalry. These regular troops were supported by 14,000 allies provided by Agrippa II and other client rulers.

Jewish Revolt[edit]

Gallus succeeded in conquering Beit She'arim in the Lower Galilee, seat of the Great Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme religious court) in later times. With his force reduced by detachments sent to occupy Galilee and the Judean coast, Gallus turned inland to subdue Jerusalem. After suffering losses amongst his baggage train and rearguard, Gallus reached Mount Scopus and penetrated the outer city, but was apparently unable to take The Temple Mount.[2] After a siege of nine days, Gallus decided to fall back to the coast. His decision appears to have been based on the loss of siege equipment by ambush and the threatened cutting of his supply lines as the October rains began.[3]

During Gallus's withdrawal his column was ambushed near Beth Horon, suffering very heavy losses. He was only able to reach Antipatris with the loss of about 6,000 men and a large amount of war material.[2] Judea was now almost entirely lost to Roman control.


Soon after his return to Syria, and before the spring of 67, Gallus died.[4] According to Titus Flavius Josephus the legate was broken by shame at a major and unexpected Roman defeat. Gallus was succeeded in the governorship of Syria by Licinius Mucianus.[4] Emperor Nero appointed the future Emperor Vespasian as commander of the Roman forces assembled in the province to crush the rebellion in Judea.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Gallivan, "The Fasti for the Reign of Claudius", Classical Quarterly, 28 (1978), pp. 407f, 424
  2. ^ a b Rome and Jerusalem; The Clash of Ancient Civilizations Martin Goodman p 14.
  3. ^ Sheppard, Si. The Jewish Revolt AD 66-74. pp. 10–17. ISBN 978 1 78096 183 5.
  4. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gallus, Gaius Cestius" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 426.
  • Tacitus, Hist. v. 10, 13
  • Suetonius, Vespasian, 4
  • Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 14-20
  • Emil Schürer, History of the Jewish People, 1st edn. div. i. vol. ii. p. 212 (Eng. tr., 1890); vol. 1, pp. 487f of Vermes and Millar's 1973 re-edition.
  • S. G. F. Brandon, 'The Defeat of Cestius Gallus', A.D. 66, History Today vol.xx. pp. 38-46 (1970)
Political offices
Preceded by
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
with Gaius Caecina Largus
Succeeded by
Cornelius Lupus
as Suffect consuls