Three times consul, father of the emperor Vitellius, was a friend of the emperor Claudius and the most successful politician of the age: he received a public funeral and a statue in the Forum commemorating ‘unswerving devotion to the princeps’: it was indeed to the source of patronage and power that he attached himself, linking the history of three reigns. He was a vigorous legate of Syria (ad 35–37), inducing the Parthian king to pay homage and conciliating the Jews: acc. to Tacitus, ‘he acted with the integrity of ancient times’. At Rome, however, he earned a different reputation—‘he is held by later generations to be an example of the ignominy that goes with sycophancy’. Claudius left him in charge of Rome during the invasion of Britain in 43 and chose him for colleague in the censorship (47). Adopting the cause of Iulia Agrippina, Vitellius acted as a mouthpiece of a loyal senate in advocating her marriage to Claudius.
Subjects: Classical Studies.