Lucius Vitellius   [legate 36-39 CE]

Lucius Vitellius was a prominent Roman senator who served three times as consul of Rome (34, 43 & 47 CE). After his first consulship, he became Tiberius' imperial legate & governor of Syria (35 CE). No sooner had he assumed office than he had to remove Pontius Pilate as prefect of Palestine, for ordering a massacre of Samaritans. Without waiting for the aged emperor to name a replacement, Vitellius sent his colleague Marcellus to assume control of Judea & Samaria. While this may have been intended as only an interim arrangement, Tiberius' death turned it into a de facto appointment. In response to the magnificent welcome given Vitellius at Jerusalem he cancelled all taxes on that city's commerce in agricultural goods and allowed Judean priests custody of their own vestments. Tiberius had ordered him to negotiate a treaty with the Parthians but capture the Arab king Aretas IV whose forces had dealt a crushing defeat to Herod Antipas. News of Tiberius' death, however, led Vitellius to cancel this campaign. Recalled to Rome by Caligula, he became a trusted colleague of Claudius, with whom he served as censor with authority over membership in the Senate. Vitellius' son, Aulus, later became emperor for a few months (69 CE) in the political chaos that followed the suicide of Nero.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 18.88-90, 97-99, 104-105, 115-120, 125-126.
                   Cassius Dio, Roman History 59.26; 60.21. 
                    Tacitus, Histories 1.9.

Other resources on line:

 Perspective on the World of Jesus 

Copyright 1999-2008 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512

Reader  since May 1999 on Web Counter.