Titus Flavius Sabinus (consul AD 47)

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Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus (d. December 20, AD 69) was a Roman politician and soldier. A native of Reate, he was the elder son of Titus Flavius Sabinus and Vespasia Polla, and brother of the Emperor Vespasian.


Sabinus is first mentioned in the reign of Claudius, in AD 45, when he served as a legate under Aulus Plautius in Britain, along with his brother, Vespasian.[1] He afterwards governed Moesia for seven years. Sabinus was suffect consul with Gnaeus Hosidius Geta in AD 47,[2] and was praefectus urbi for the last eleven years of Nero's reign. Evidently removed from this position on the accession of Galba in AD 68, the historian Tacitus states that Sabinus was reinstated soon after Otho seized power in January 69.[3] He may have been part of the Pisonian conspiracy against Nero, but if so he was never arrested.[4]

Sabinus was an important supporter of his brother; when Vespasian found himself in financial difficulties while governor of Africa, Sabinus lent him the money to continue, and while Vespasian was governor of Judaea Sabinus was a vital source of information on events in Rome. After the death of Otho, Sabinus directed the urban cohorts to swear allegiance to Vitellius, evidently an attempt to preclude further bloodshed. At the same time, the consul Titus Flavius Sabinus, probably Sabinus' nephew, directed his troops in northern Italy to submit to the generals of Vitellius. Sabinus continued to retain the dignity of praefectus urbi under Vitellius.[5][6]

Soon afterward, the legions in the East declared for Vespasian, who then advanced toward Rome, supported by Marcus Antonius Primus. After Vitellius' troops were defeated, the emperor, despairing of success, offered to surrender the empire into the hands of Sabinus, until his brother arrived. However, Vitellius' German soldiers refused this arrangement, and Sabinus was besieged in the Capitol, together with his family. The capitol was burnt by Vitellius' forces, and in the confusion Sabinus' family made their escape, but Sabinus himself was captured and dragged before the emperor, who attempted in vain to save him from the fury of the soldiers. Sabinus was brutally murdered, and his remains thrown to a place where the corpses of malefactors were taken. When the generals of Vespasian obtained possession of the city, Sabinus was interred with the honour of a censor's funeral.[7][8][9][10][11]


Sabinus' wife is not named in any ancient sources. Settipani conjectures that she was a sister of Marcus Arrecinus Clemens.[12] Sabinus' children included Titus Flavius Sabinus, consul in AD 82, and Titus Flavius Clemens, consul in 95, as well as a daughter, Flavia, who married Lucius Caesennius Paetus.[13] He probably had an elder brother, who was the father of Titus Flavius Sabinus, consul suffectus ex Kal. Mai. in AD 69.


Tacitus describes Sabinus as being fair-minded and honest, though prone to be overly gregarious. His failure to hold the well fortified capitol during the final days of the civil war is attributed to his moderation, lack of enterprise and reluctance to take Roman lives.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History lx. 20.
  2. ^ Older authorities such as the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology and Attilio Degrassi state he held the fasces in 52. However, Giuseppe Camodeca has shown in his studies of wax tablets conserved at the Ufficio Scavi di Pompei that Sabinus actually was suffect consul July/August AD 47. ("Novità sui fasti consolari delle tavolette cerate della Campania", Epigrafia. Actes du colloque international d'épigraphie latine en mémoire de Attilio Degrassi pour le centenaire de sa naissance. Actes de colloque de Rome (27-28 mai 1988) [Rome: École Française de Rome, 1991], pp. 45-74)
  3. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae i. 46.
  4. ^ Maier, Paul (1981). The flames of Rome. Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States of America: Kregel Publication. pp. 393–414. ISBN 978-0-8254-4354-1. 
  5. ^ Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Otho 5.
  6. ^ Flavius Josephus, Bellum Judaicum iv. 10. § 3, iv. 11. § 4.
  7. ^ Tacitus, Historiae ii. 55, iii. 64-74, iv. 47.
  8. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History lxv. 17.
  9. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Vespasianus 1, Vitellius 15.
  10. ^ Eutropius, Breviarium historiae Romanae vii. 12.
  11. ^ Sextus Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus 8.
  12. ^ Christian Settipani, Continuité gentilice et continuité sénatoriale dans les familles sénatoriales romaines à l'époque impériale (2000).
  13. ^ CIL XIV, 2830 = ILS 995
  14. ^ Tacitus, Historiae iii 75