What did Vespasian say?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Vespasian, the Roman Emperor, uttered the words, “Vae, puto deus fio” (“Oh dear, I think I’m becoming a god”) during his last illness. This statement reflects a moment of self-awareness and perhaps even a touch of humor from Vespasian, as he recognized the deification process that often followed the death of Roman emperors.

Vespasian’s remark is quite intriguing, as it reveals his understanding of the political and religious context of ancient Rome. In Roman society, emperors were often deified after their death, a practice that further solidified their legacy and ensured their continued influence even beyond the mortal realm. Vespasian’s comment suggests a certain level of self-awareness and acceptance of his impending deification.

It is worth noting that Vespasian’s prediction proved to be accurate, as he was indeed accorded deification immediately after his death. This was a common practice during the Roman Empire, where emperors were often elevated to the status of gods in the eyes of the people. This deification process served to legitimize their rule and secure their position as revered figures in Roman society.

In addition to his famous statement, Vespasian had a significant family. He was married to Flavia Domitilla, with whom he had three children: Titus, Domitian, and Flavia Domitilla. Titus succeeded Vespasian as emperor and is known for his involvement in the construction of the Colosseum in Rome. Domitian also became emperor after his brother’s death but is often remembered for his autocratic rule and tyrannical tendencies.

Vespasian’s daughter, Flavia Domitilla, later achieved deification herself. Her exact contributions and accomplishments are not as well-documented as those of her brothers, but her deification indicates that she held a certain level of importance and influence within the imperial family.

Vespasian’s statement and subsequent deification shed light on the complex nature of Roman society and the role of emperors within it. It demonstrates the intertwining of politics, religion, and divine symbolism in the Roman Empire. Vespasian’s recognition of his impending godhood and the deification of his daughter further highlight the significance of these practices in solidifying the power and legacy of the imperial family.