Lucius Caesennius Paetus

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Lucius Junius Caesennius Paetus (c. 20 - 72?) was a Roman aristocrat, member of the gens Caesennian and Junian, who lived in the second half of the 1st century during the Roman Empire. He was Consul Ordinarius for the year 61, and enjoyed several high provincial commands in the East.

Early life[edit]

Paetus was the son of Publius Caesennius Paetus, born c. 5 BC, a Tarquinian Etruscan Italian; paternal grandson of Caesennius, born c. 40 BC; and great-grandson of Lucius Caesennius Lento.

Career under Nero[edit]

Paetus served as a Roman politician and general during the reigns of Roman Emperors Nero (54-68) and Vespasian (69-79). He served as a Consul Ordinarius in 61. After his consulship and in the same year, perhaps in June, Paetus was appointed Governor and Legatus Augusti pro praetore of Cappadocia. During his governorship, the General Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo was conducting Rome’s war with Parthia over Armenia. In successive campaigns, Corbulo had established Roman rule over the country, and Paetus was placed in charge of defending it from Parthian counterstrokes.

Paetus despised Corbulo’s talent as a general. In 62 however, Paetus, at the head of the legions XII Fulminata and IV Scythica suffered a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Rhandeia against the Parthian and Armenian forces of King Tiridates I of Armenia. Although relief forces headed by Corbulo were only 50 miles away, Paetus surrendered his fortified camp. He and his legions were shamed by passing under the yoke and were allowed to retreat from Armenia. After his defeat, Paetus' weak character and his incapability to command were revealed, and his military command was entrusted again to Corbulo. Charged with both incompetence and cowardice, Paetus was quickly pardoned by Nero, who dismissively commented that suspense would be harmful to someone of such timidity.[1]

Career under Vespasian[edit]

In 72 Paetus, then Governor of Syria since 70 had sent letters addressed to Vespasian accusing Greek King Antiochus IV of the client Kingdom of Commagene, together with his sons Gaius Julius Archelaus Antiochus Epiphanes and Callinicus, of planning to revolt against Rome and allying themselves with the King of Parthia. It is not known whether if these accusations were true or false. After reading the letters, Vespasian felt that he could no longer trust the family of Antiochus IV with the protection of the strategic crossings of the Euphrates River at Samosata. Vespasian thus resolved to directly annex Commagene.

Paetus invaded the Kingdom of Commagene as the head of Legio VI Ferrata. The client Kings Aristobulus of Chalcis and Sohaemus of Emesa also supplied troops to Paetus. The two armies encountered each other, and lay encamped opposite each other. No battle occurred however, as the Commagenians were loath to confront the Roman army. Antiochus Epiphanes, his family and Callinicus fled to Parthia, while their father Antiochus IV fled to Cilicia. There is however a possibility that Epiphanes and Callinicus made a short-lived attempt to resist invasion before fleeing to Parthia.

Antiochus IV and his family had never considered causing a war with Rome and they wanted to rebut these accusations. Antiochus Epiphanes with his family and Callinicus were brought back to Rome with a Roman honor guard, and lived out their lives in Rome.

Paetus' subsequent career and date of death are unknown.

Private life[edit]

Paetus married Flavia Sabina, born c. 30, the daughter of Titus Flavius Sabinus and Arrecina Clementina and paternal niece of Vespasian. Their children included two sons: the oldest was named Lucius Junius Caesennius Paetus, consul in 79; the younger Lucius Caesennius Sospes, consul in 114.[2]



  1. ^ Massie, Allan. The Caesars. p. 170. ISBN 0-7474-0179-9. 
  2. ^ Ronald Syme, "The Enigmatic Sospes", Journal of Roman Studies, 67 (1977), p. 45
Political offices
Preceded by
Nero IV,
and Cossus Cornelius Lentulus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Publius Petronius Turpilianus
Succeeded by
Publius Marius,
and Lucius Afinius Gallus