Gaius Vettius Sabinianus Julius Hospes

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Gaius Vettius Sabinianus Julius Hospes (fl. 2nd century) was a Roman military officer and senator who was appointed consul around AD 175 or 176. He had a long and distinguished military and political career under the reigns of the emperors Antonius Pius, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.


Originally a member of the Equestrian order,[1] Gaius Vettius Sabinianus may have originated from Roman North Africa.[2] At some point he was adopted by the Vetti Sabini.[3] He began his military career as the Praefectus cohortis of the II Commagenorum unit, following which he was promoted to the rank of military tribune in the Legio I Italica. At this point Vettius Sabinianus returned to Rome to participate in the magistracies of the Cursus honorum.[1][4] In succession he was appointed quaestor, plebeian tribune and praetor before he was appointed legatus to the proconsular governor of Asia. Vettius Sabinianus’ next appointment was a special command, functioning as the imperial legate responsible for investigating the status of the Cyclades in relation to its administration by the Roman province of Asia.[5] Sometime during this period, he was adlected into the Senate by the command of the emperor.

The emperor Marcus Aurelius, whom Vettius Sabinianus loyally supported during the rebellion of Avidius Cassius.

At the beginning of the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, Vettius Sabinianus was the iuridicus per tractus of three of the Italian regions, Aemilia, Etruria and Liguria. In around AD 169, he was made the legatus legionis of Legio III Italica, followed by another special appointment, as Legatus Aug. Rationibus putandis trium Galliarum (or legate in control of the urban finances of the three provinces of Gaul under direct imperial rule).[6] This appointment may reflect a growing debt problem in the province, triggered by the demands of the Marcomannic Wars.[7] His next appointment was legatus legionis of another legion, XIV Gemina, as well as having military and civil jurisdiction over Pannonia Superior, following a Roman defeat in Pannonia Superior in around AD 170 and the death of the governor.[8]

After a brief time in Rome as praefect of the aerarium Saturni (or the state treasury), he was again posted to the frontiers, this time as Legatus Augusti pro praetore or imperial governor of Pannonia Superior, where he served from around AD 170 to 175. Here, he served in Marcus Aurelius’ First Marcomannic War, taking part in the battles against the Germanic tribes. For his services, Marcus Aurelius rewarded him with a large share of the booty from the campaign.[1]

During the usurpation of Avidius Cassius in AD 175, Vettius Sabinianus was sent by Marcus Aurelius to take charge of the vexillations in Illyricum, and defend Rome against the possible advance of Avidius Cassius.[9] Positioning himself in Rome, Sabinianus was also tasked with ensuring that the anti-German War party in the city headed by the family of Lucius Verus did not take advantage of the Cassius’ rebellion to undermine the emperor’s authority.[10] As a reward for his loyalty during the crisis, Vettius Sabinianus was appointed consul suffectus by the emperor around AD 176.[1] He was then appointed proconsular curator of Puteoli, followed by a tenure as curator aedium sacrarum (or curator of the temples). Next was his appointment as Imperial legate of Dalmatia in AD 177, with instructions to deal with the bandits which infested the areas around modern Albania or Montenegro, which the previous governor Didius Julianus had been unable to eradicate.[11]

From AD 179 through to 182, Vettius Sabinianus held the post of imperial governor of the three Dacias, during which time he subdued some 12,000 Dacian tribesmen on the border of the province and settled them within the imperial province.[12] He was probably the governor who fought in a victorious but brutal war against the Buri until 182, which saw the creation of a five mile wide security zone along the borders of the province.[13] This was followed by his posting as imperial legate of the province of Pannonia Superior. Finally, in around AD 191, Vettius Sabinianus was appointed as the proconsular governor of Africa Proconsularis.[1]

Vettius Sabinianus was decorated a number of times during his career, including being awarded the Civic Crown three times, and the Hasta pura and Vexilla twice each.[14] He was married to the daughter of Servius Cornelius Scipio Salvidienus Orfitus, proconsular governor of Africa in AD 163/164. His grandson was Gaius Vettius Gratus Sabinianus, who was consul in AD 221.[1]


  • Birley, Anthony, Marcus Aurelius (2000)
  • Kovács, Péter, Marcus Aurelius' Rain Miracle and the Marcomannic Wars (2009)
  • Mennen, Inge, Power and Status in the Roman Empire, AD 193-284 (2011)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mennen, pg. 129
  2. ^ Potter, David S., The Roman Empire at Bay: AD 180–395 (2004), pg. 74
  3. ^ Arnheim, Michael, The senatorial aristocracy in the later Roman empire (1972), pg. 62
  4. ^ Birley, A. R., Senators as Generals in Kaiser, Heer und Gesellschaft in der Römischen Kaiserzeit (ed. Eric Birley, Géza Alföldy, Brian Dobson, Werner Eck) (2000), pg. 115
  5. ^ Buraselis, Kostas, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. 90, pt. 4: Kos between Hellenism and Rome: Studies on the Political, Institutional and Social History of Kos from ca. the Middle Second Century B.C. until Late Antiquity (2000), pg. 145
  6. ^ Birley, pg. 160
  7. ^ Grant, Michael, The Antonines: The Roman Empire in Transition (1996), pg. 154
  8. ^ Kovács, pg. 196; Birley, pg. 176
  9. ^ Birley, pg. 187
  10. ^ McLynn, Frank, Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor (2011), pg. 370
  11. ^ Birley, pg. 198
  12. ^ Dumitrascu, Sever, "Research and Discovery in Northwest Rumania", Rumanian Studies: An International Annual of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol III 1973 – 1975 (1976), pg. 179
  13. ^ Kovács, pg. 260
  14. ^ Maxfield, Valerie, A., The Military Decorations of the Roman Army (1981), pg. 148
Political offices
Preceded by
Consul suffectus of the Roman Empire
around 176
Succeeded by