Quirinius  [ca. 51 BCE - 21 CE]

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was a career military officer whom Augustus put in charge of a string of troubled provinces. His victories over pirates as governor of Crete & Cyrene (14 BCE) earned him appointment as consul of Rome (12 BCE). Then as governor of Galatia (6-2 BCE), he led a successful campaign against rebellious mountaineers, for which he was given a triumphal procession in Rome (2 BCE). His trip to Syria (2 CE) as tutor of the emperor's grandson, Gaius [Caligula], led to his appointment as imperial legate for that region when Archelaus was deposed (6 CE). The gospel of Luke (2:1) mentions this assignment as the circumstance of Jesus' birth. As the first Roman governor to have direct responsibility for the administration of the provinces of Judea & Samaria, Quirinius conducted a census for purposes of taxation & conscription. This provoked a Jewish independence movement, led by Judah "the Galilean," which Josephus viewed as the source of Judea's revolt 60 years later. After 6 years in Syria, Quirinius returned to Rome (12 CE) where he became a close of associate of Tiberius, who---a decade later---honored him with a state funeral.

References: Tacitus, Annals 3.48.

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