Chapter, 2023


In: The Tacitus Encyclopedia

Publisher: Wiley

DOI: 10.1002/9781119114567.ch21

Contributors (69)

Keegan, Peter [1] Rutledge, Steve [2] Rutledge, Steve [2] Gregoratti, Leonardo [3] Gregoratti, Leonardo [3] Antoniadis, Theodore [4] Pomeroy, Arthur J. [5] Berge, Bram L. H. ten [6] Neger, Margot [7] Welch, David [8] Low, Katie [9] Poulsen, Aske Damtoft [10] Patterson, Lee E. [11] de Lima, Danielle Chagas [12] Rutledge, Steve [2] Jones, Brandon [13] Pittà, Antonino [14] Dart, Christopher J. [15] Pittà, Antonino [14] Berge, Bram L. H. ten [6] Dench, Emma [16] Dart, Christopher J. [15] Takács, László [17] Rutledge, Steve [2] Joseph, Timothy [18] Gregoratti, Leonardo [3] Haynes, Holly [19] Becker, Trudy Harrington [20] Frantantuono, Lee [21] Haynes, Holly [19] Levick, B. M. [22] Gallia, Andrew B (0000-0003-1930-9940) [23] Neger, Margot [7] Çevik, C Cengiz [24] Frantantuono, Lee [21] Hope, Carl J. [25] Haynes, Holly [19] Dąbrowa, Edward [26] Rutledge, Steve [2] Rutledge, Steve [2] Frantantuono, Lee [21] Devillers, Olivier [27] Furtado, Rodrigo [28] Takács, László [17] Wen, Debbie [29] Berg, Christopher S Den [29] O'Neill, Joseph R. [30] de Lima, Danielle Chagas [12] Gregoratti, Leonardo [3] Rutledge, Steve [2] Takács, László [17] Benferhat, Yasmina [31] Nicols, John [32] Pagán, Victoria Emma [33] Pigoń, Jakub [34] Pigoń, Jakub [34] Jakub, Pigoń [34] Hope, Carl J. [25] Nicols, John [32] Santorelli, Biagio [35] Bartera, Salvador [36] Patterson, Lee E. [11] Pagán, Victoria Emma [33] Roessel, Arnoldus [37] Dąbrowa, Edward [26] Dąbrowa, Edward [26] Beltramini, Luca [38] Patterson, Lee E. [11] Santorelli, Biagio [35]


  1. [1] Macquarie University
  2. [NORA names: Australia; Oceania; OECD]
  3. [2] Linfield University
  4. [3] Durham University
  5. [NORA names: United Kingdom; Europe, Non-EU; OECD]
  6. [4] Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  7. [NORA names: Greece; Europe, EU; OECD]
  8. [5] Victoria University of Wellington
  9. [NORA names: New Zealand; Oceania; OECD]


Decimus Valerius Asiaticus (1) (c. 5 BCE –47 CE ) was a prominent Roman senator of provincial origin. Asiaticus was twice consul: in 35 CE as suffect consul with Aulus Gabinius Secundus as his colleague; and in 46 CE as ordinary consul with Marcus Iunius Silanus (2) . He was the first man from Gaul to be admitted into the Roman Senate and attain the consulship. By 47 CE , he was a well‐connected man of substantial wealth. In that year, the third wife of the emperor Claudius , Valeria Messalina , prompted capital charges to be brought against Asiaticus. Found guilty, he was condemned to death by Claudius and committed suicide. Asiaticus was survived by his wife and son, also Decimus Valerius Asiaticus (2) . Lucius Valerius Catullus Messalinus (c. mid 30s CE –before 97 CE ) was a prominent courtier under the Flavians, whose career was tainted by acting as a delator under Domitian . Although no specific cases can be attributed to him, Tacitus remarks on his role in Domitian's reign of terror starting in 93, while Tacitus' contemporary Pliny the Younger noted his particularly vicious nature. Valerius Fabianus (fl. under Nero ) was a young man whose career was cut short when he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit forgery. He attempted to tamper with the will of an elderly, wealthy, childless man named Domitius Balbus . Condemned for his crime, he brought down several others in his wake; his conviction may have led to certain reforms concerning forgery. Gaius Calpetanus Rantius Quirinalis Valerius Festus (d. 85–86 CE ) was a Roman military commander in the civil wars of 69 CE , consul in 71 CE , and provincial governor. Publius Valerius Marinus was a Roman senator during the civil wars of 69 CE . Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (1) (64 BCE –8 CE ), was a statesman, a commander, and a man of letters, who shared the consulship with Octavian ( Augustus ) in 31 BCE taking the place of Mark Antony . In the wake of the battle of Actium, he followed Octavian to the East receiving many rewards and titles for his services and his loyalty, before returning permanently to Rome, where he died at the age of seventy‐two. Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (2) shared the honor of being consul ordinarius with Nero in 58 CE. Perhaps even more memorably, he only maintained his senatorial status thanks to an annual imperial subsidy of 500,000 sesterces. Valerius Messalla Volesus (alive under Augustus ) was a proconsul of Asia (11 or 12 CE ) who was convicted of extortion and cruelty. Valerius Paulinus was procurator of Gallia Narbonensis in 69 CE and supporter of Vespasian during the civil war. Valerius Potitus was, along with his colleague Aemilius Mamercus , the first elected quaestor (447 BCE ) of the Roman Republic . Tacitus lists the Vangiones, Nemetes and Triboci as “undoubtedly Germanic tribes” dwelling on the (left) bank of the Rhine, in what was generally seen as the territory of Gaul —along with the Ubii , Batavi and Mattiaci ( G . 28.4–29.2; cf. Plin. HN 4.106). Vannius (first century CE ) was a nobleman and king of the Quadi. Expelled from his kingdom in 50 CE , he was granted refuge in the Roman province of Pannonia by Claudius . Vardanes was King of Kings of the Arsacid Empire in the early 40s CE , succeeding his father Artabanus II. His reign was especially troubled by a recurring civil war with his brother Gotarzes , the result of Arsacid kings supported by different contingents of the Parthian nobility. Publius Varius Ligur was involved in an adultery case with Aquilia under Tiberius and was prosecuted for this crime. Vatinius was a Neronian courtier and is depicted as among the worst of the worst in Nero 's imperial administration. Little is known about him, but he appears to have been a delator notorious for attacking his betters and whose power did not last beyond Nero's reign. Publius Vatinius (c. 95 BCE –c. 42 BCE ) was consul in 47 BCE. Devoted partisan of Iulius Caesar , he was prosecuted and defended with remarkable speeches by Calvus and Cicero . Legate of legion XIII Gemina, Vedius Aquila was defeated in the first battle of Bedriacum . On this occasion, he had to face an uprising of his soldiers. Later, he and his men joined Antonius Primus ' army. Publius Vedius Pollio (d. c. 15 BCE ) was descended from freedmen, possibly from a family of Beneventum (in Campania ) and was a wealthy amicus of Octavian ( Augustus ). Veleda was a German priestess and prophetess. She led the Batavian Revolt together with Iulius Civilis (69–70 CE ), then was captured by Rutilius Gallicus and sent to Rome as a prisoner. Domitian might have pardoned her. Publius Vellaeus (alive under Tiberius ) was a praetorian legate in Thrace . Velleius Paterculus was a senatorial contemporary of Augustus and Tiberius and writer of a miniature universal history that culminates in the principate of Tiberius. In its portrayals of the Augustan principate as a much‐desired return to traditional Roman values after civil war, and of Tiberius as an exemplary leader, the work is very different from Tacitus' analysis in Annals 1–6. Publius Ventidius Bassus (suffect consul43 BCE ) was a Roman general celebrated for his rise from a Roman captive to the first to celebrate a triumph over the Parthians. Venutius (Venusius) was the king of the Celtic tribe Brigantes and husband of Cartimandua , the queen of Brigantes. After his revolt against the Romans, Venutius was suppressed by Caesius Nasica. He is mentioned at A . 12.40 and H . 3.45. Quintus Veranius (b. c. 15 BCE ) was one of the friends and avengers of Germanicus . After Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso 's prosecution, he seems to have continued to act as an avenger and protector of Germanicus and his family, and his descendants appear to have maintained close ties with the imperial administration. Vergil was a celebrated poet of the first century BCE whose writings had a profound influence on subsequent Latin authors. Interlocutors in Tacitus' D . explicitly address Vergil's lofty literary status, and Tacitus engages with Vergilian diction and themes in each of his works, most prominently in the H . and A . Gnaeus Vergilius Capito was prefect of Egypt 47–52 CE and was involved in the massacre of Tarracina during the civil wars of 69 CE . Lucius Verginius Rufus (d. 97 CE ) overcame the revolt of Iulius Vindex against Nero in April 68 CE. Commander of the Upper Rhine legions, he twice refused his troops' acclamation of him as princeps: after the revolt and again after the death of Otho in 69. He became an ambiguous political symbol for the relationship between executive power and the Senate. Passed over for honors by the Flavians, he enjoyed approval in Nerva 's reign and died in 97. Tacitus delivered his funeral oration. Verona (modern Verona, Italy) in the northern Italian plain was a strategic location in the civil wars of 69 CE . Lucius Verulanus Severus (suffect consul, 66 or 67 CE ) was a military legate of Domitius Corbulo in Armenia . Vescularius Flaccus was an eques and close friend of Tiberius . He is noteworthy in Tacitus for his role in denouncing the plot of Scribonius Libo Drusus in 16 CE. Titus Flavius Vespasianus (17 November 9–23 June 79 CE ) founded the second dynasty of Roman emperors, which derives its informal name of “Flavian” from his nomen. Vespasian ruled the Roman empire for nearly ten years and restored its political, financial, and economic stability after the so‐called Year of the Four Emperors. He was deified on his death and was highly regarded by ancient historians. Rome still shows striking monuments of his reign, notably the Colosseum. The six virgin priestesses of Vesta were official representatives of the state cult, and as such enjoyed honors and public prominence unmatched by other Roman women outside of the imperial household. In Tacitus, their public duties signal continuity and/or rupture with traditional norms. Titus Vestricius Spurinna (b. c. 25 CE ) was a Roman senator and twice consul (suffect consul II 98) who also appears as one of Pliny the Younger 's mentors and addressees. Vetera (modern Xanten), also called Vetera Castra, was founded by Drusus the Elder on the hill known as Fürstenberg now. It was a fortified station for the Roman legions, besieged by the Batavian leader Iulius Civilis . Marcus Vettius Bolanus was suffect consul in 66 CE ; he was appointed to replace the unpopular Marcus Trebellius Maximus as governor in Britannia by Vitellius in 69 (H. 2.65), and he was in command of the province when Tacitus' father‐in‐law Agricola arrived. Vibennius Rufinus, a Flavian supporter, was commander of a garrison at Atria who arrested the commander of the Ravenna fleet, Lucilius Bassus , once he lost his position after he led the fleet over to the Flavian side. Vibius Crispus (c. 10–92 CE ), consul in 61 (?), 74, 83 CE , and curator aquarum in 68–71, was a well‐known delator and amicus Caesaris under the regimes of both Nero and Domitian . Gaius Vibius Marsus was a Roman senator and suffect consul in 17 CE. During the rule of Tiberius and Claudius , he was one of the leading figures in Rome's political life. Vibius Serenus the Elder (c. 20 BCE –after 24 or 31 CE ) was one of the accusers of Marcus Scribonius Libo Drusus in 16 CE. He went on to become governor of Hispania Ulterior, but managed the province badly and was tried and exiled in 23. He was brought out of exile in 24 and accused of aiding rebellion in Gaul by his own son, Vibius Serenus the Younger ; found guilty, he was returned to exile, calls for his execution notwithstanding. Vibius Serenus the Younger (b. c. 1 BCE ) was known for his vicious prosecution of his father Vibius Serenus the Elder and a false charge against Gaius Fonteius Capito (father of Fonteius Capito ). Despite his dubious reputation he appears to have flourished as a delator under Tiberius . Vienna, the modern Vienne in France, was the capital of the Allobroges and a Latin (later Roman) colony town in Gallia Narbonensis. The town was embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Lugdunum (modern Lyon) during the bitter conflicts of the civil wars of 69 CE. After Galba had been proclaimed emperor, Titus Vinius accompanied him to Rome and Galba chose him to be his colleague as consul. Vipsania Agrippina (c. 33 BCE –20 CE ) was daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Caecilia Attica (Nep. Att . 19.4), the daughter of Titus Pomponius Atticus (cf. A . 2.43.6). She married Tiberius and Asinius Gallus and was the mother of Drusus the Younger . Vipstanus Apronianus was a Roman politician of senatorial rank, consul in 59 CE, and proconsul in Africa . Vipstanus Messalla (the variant Messala is less preferable) was a military tribune of legion VII Claudia, fighting along with the Flavian troops in 69 CE at the second battle of Cremona . He participated in the capture of Rome at the end of the year. Tacitus cites his account of Cremona in the Histories . In 70 CE , he won a reputation for piety and eloquence after defending his half‐brother Aquilius Regulus in the Senate. In the Dialogus de Oratoribus, he decries the loss of traditional education and training, including the tirocinium fori (“orator's apprenticeship”) and disparages the excesses of modern morals and oratory. Lucius Vipstanus Poplicola was consul in 48 CE and proposed that Claudius receive the honorific title pater senatus for having made several reforms to the order. Virtus was an important and dynamic concept in ancient Roman society. It primarily denotes the quality of being a man ( uir ) or manliness, a definition that glosses the term as a fundamental male feature, which was usually shown in military contexts. However, the meaning of virtus embraces a notion of moral excellence as well; thus, it is normally translated as “virtue.” Tacitus uses the term in the sense of both civic and military affairs, as well as human excellence, depending on the nature of the work or of the text passage. A specific vocabulary choice by Tacitus indicates how the historian glosses the notion of virtus in his works, thereby Tacitus presents it by representing different exempla uirtutis in service of the imperial res publica . Gaius Visellius Varro was suffect consul in 12 CE and governor of Lower Germania in 21 CE. Lucius Visellius Varro (c. 20 BCE –after 24 CE ) was consul ordinarius in 24 CE and the prosecutor of Gaius Silius [Aulus Caecina Largus] and his wife, Sosia Galla . He was a creature of Sejanus ' who was able to play on family enmity to persuade Varro to undertake the prosecution. Vistilia (fl. under Tiberius ) belonged to a family of praetorian rank; she was married to Titidius Labeo; her father was Sextus Vistilius . The Visurgis (modern Weser) is a river of north Germany which Tacitus mentions in the Annals . Despite all the generally negative depictions through the first three books of the Histories and despite the many salacious rumors reported by Suetonius, rumors that were surely familiar to Tacitus, the historian comes to a nuanced conclusion about Vitellius (22 September 15 CE –22 December 69 CE ). He may not have been the worst of emperors, and he may not have become a better person as emperor, but the Roman state was better off when he was defeated and Vespasian became emperor. Vitellius Germanicus, son of Aulus Vitellius (emperor 69) and Galeria Fundana, was put to death by Licinius Mucianus in 69 CE. Lucius Vitellius (1), d. shortly after 51 CE , three times consul ordinarius (34, 43, 47), censor (47–48), the father of the emperor Vitellius , was a senatorial politician active in the East in the last years of Tiberius and the first years of Caligula , and then in Rome under Claudius. He was Claudius' most loyal associate, and Tacitus emphasizes his shameful submissiveness but also notes his “ancient valor” as a provincial governor ( A . 6.32.4). Lucius Vitellius (2), 15–69 CE , suffect consul (48), was a younger son of Lucius Vitellius (1) and Sextilia; his brother was the emperor Aulus Vitellius . Lucius played a part in the civil wars of 69 CE and survived his brother only by a few days. In his final assessment, Tacitus describes him as “his brother's equal in vice and, under the other's reign, in watchfulness his better” ( par vitiis fratris, in principatu eius vigilantior , H . 4.2.3, cf. 3.77.4). Publius Vitellius, d. 31 or 32 CE , praetor (c. 13 CE ), a paternal uncle of the emperor Vitellius , was a Roman senator and military commander under Augustus and Tiberius , a companion of Germanicus and one of the prosecutors of his alleged murderer, Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso . He was one of four sons of an Augustan procurator of the same name and was a brother of Lucius Vitellius (the emperor's father). Quintus Vitellius, along with Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sulla, Marius Nepos, and Vibidius Varro , was either expelled from the Senate or allowed to resign by the emperor Tiberius in 17 CE for losing his fortune through excessive living or disgrace. This entry provides a mostly chronological survey of the actions of Vitellius and his supporters from the fall of Nero (June 68 CE ) until the collapse of the Vitellian forces in late 69. Volcacius Moschus was exiled in Massilia and died there around 25 CE ; he was probably an orator and teacher of rhetoric. Along with fellow senator Calpurnius Fabatus and the equestrian Cornelius Marcellus , Volcacius Tullinus was accused in the same episode as Gaius Cassius Longinus (2) , Lucius Iunius Silanus Torquatus (2) , and Iunia Lepida in 65 CE ( A . 16.8.3). The three men, however, escaped condemnation. Vologaeses was Great King of the Arsacid Empire (r. 51–79 CE ) who brought new stability to the Parthian domain after a period of dynastic chaos. To bring Armenia into the Arsacid orbit, he installed his brother Tiridates as king, which precipitated a war with Rome. To conduct this war Nero sent his general Domitius Corbulo , who eventually worked out a settlement with Vologaeses, known as the Treaty of Rhandeia, that allowed Tiridates to remain king of Armenia as long as he acknowledged his vassalage to Rome. Gaius Volusius (otherwise unknown) was a soldier of legion III Gallica in 69 CE. ( H . 3.29). Volusius Proculus (fl. first century CE ) was a squadron captain (navarch) in the fleet of Misenum in 65 CE ( A . 15.51.2). He played an unknown role in the assassination of Agrippina the Younger in 59 CE. He was first to inform Nero of the Pisonian Conspiracy in 65 CE when invited to the plot by Epicharis . Lucius Volusius Saturninus (1) was a Roman senator and suffect consul in 12 BCE who was politically active during Augustus' reign. Lucius Volusius Saturninus (2) (c. 38 BCE –56 CE ), consul in 3 CE , was a Roman senator politically active from the time of Augustus until the first years of Nero 's rule, known for his longevity (Plin. HN 7.156; 11.223) and wealth. Quintus Volusius Saturninus (25 CE –after 75 CE ?) was consul in 56 CE. Vonones I was King of Kings of the Arsacid empire briefly in the 8–11 CE period and then ruled Armenia until around 15. He had been one of the sons surrendered by Phraates IV to Augustus . The resulting Romanization alienated Vonones from both his Parthian and Armenian subjects, and he ultimately returned to Roman territory, where he was placed under guard. He was eventually murdered trying to escape Roman custody. Votienus Montanus was an orator of the early imperial age, famous for his talent. He was condemned under the law of maiestas and died in exile.


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