Vespasian: A Simple Soldier




The Judean War



The Roman procurators of Judea contributed to a state of war in the province through their financial corruption and ferocity with which they put down any disturbances.  In the summer of 66, a band of Jewish freedom fighters succeeded in capturing the Roman garrison at Masada.  This event electrified Jerusalem where the rebels stopped the twice-daily sacrifice on behalf of Nero.  The Jewish king Agrippa II was traveling to Jerusalem, where his sister Queen Berenice was in residence at the palace. [1]  Knowing there was little chance for a revolt to succeed against Rome, Agrippa entered the city and tried to persuade his countrymen to keep the peace, but he was forced to leave Jerusalem and declared banished by the rebels (BJ 2.320 ff.).  The fortress Antonia was taken by the rebels and the Roman palace garrison surrendered on the guarantee their lives would be spared, but they were slaughtered.  The governor of Syria, Cestius Gallus, marched XII Fulminata and an additional 2,000 men drawn from his other legions to Judea in October and made a half-hearted attack on Jewish strongholds near Jerusalem.  Meeting greater resistance than he expected Gallus broke off his attack and retreated but his troops were ambushed with a loss of nearly six thousand men; the worst military disaster since the massacre of Varus’s soldiers in the Teutoburg forest (BJ 2.430-567).


Nero acted promptly recalling the Judean procurator, Gessius Florus, and giving the office to Vespasian, with temporary control of Syria until Mucianus arrived.  The new commander was probably chosen because he was an energetic soldier and his family’s reputation gave no concern (Vesp. 4.3; Hist. 2.5, 4.8).  The situation in Judea was also urgent, requiring someone from Nero’s entourage to be appointed.  Nero was not bothered that Vespasian would command three legions nor that his son Titus would be serving under his father as the commander of one of these legions, despite that this was a period when the emperor was suspicious of disloyalty.  It is also possible that Tiberius Julius Alexander, the recently appointed prefect of Egypt, and Agrippa II may have recommended Vespasian to Nero.


Vespasian crossed the Hellespont and reached Antioch by February 67 (BJ 3.8) where two legions, V Macedonica and X Fretensis (the latter commanded by M. Ulpius Traianius, father of the future emperor) were waiting.  Titus marched XV Apollinaris from Alexandria to the base camp at Ptolemiais (BJ 3.64-65) where his father arranged to meet him with his legions.  At Antioch Vespasian met with his military advisors, probably including Agrippa II, and planned his strategy for the war.  Vespasian’s plan was to gain control of Galilee, cut off Jerusalem and lay siege to the capitol, aware that the siege of the Holy City would be a difficult and painful affair. 


The first major Jewish stronghold laid siege during the Galilean campaign was Jotapata, commanded by the future historian Flavius Josephus.  The natural fortifications of the area had been enhanced with walls built by Josephus, making the Roman attack difficult and lengthened the siege to 47 days during which a heroic defense was waged.  Vespasian was wounded during the fighting when an arrow pierced the sole of his foot (BJ 3.236).  A surprise night attack on the walls (BJ 3.339 ff.) ended in the capture of the city.  Josephus was brought before Vespasian, while a mob of soldiers called for his death.  Titus, sensing the whim of fortune that had brought about the defeat of the Jews and impressed by the captive’s courage, felt pity and asked that his life be spared (BJ 3.392 ff.), which Vespasian granted.  In turn, Josephus related to Vespasian and Titus his prediction of the Flavian ascension to power (BJ 3.401; Vesp. 5.6; Dio 65(66).1.4).


Following the fall of Jotapata, Vespasian established a new base camp at Caesarea from which he extended Roman control down the coast meeting opposition only at Joppa; the city was captured by the end of July 67 and raised  (BJ 3.414 ff).  Vespasian rested his legions and was entertained by Agrippa II.  Learning that the cities Tarichaeae and Tiberias, in Agrippa II’s domain, were in open rebellion Vespasian sent his soldiers to take the cities to show his appreciation of Agrippa’s hospitality.  They were quickly subdued but Gamala, across from Tarichaeae proved to be difficult.  Gamala was virtually impregnable situated between deep ravines that made it difficult to approach with siege engines but after a siege of two months and many casualties the Romans took the city.  During the siege of Gamala (August/September 67), Titus went to Syria to welcome Mucianus to his command (BJ 4.32).  The new governor was friendly toward Titus and through the charm and diplomacy of his son Vespasian gain an invaluable supporter when the Flavian revolt was being planned (Hist. 2.5.2).  Mucianus made a telling comment on Titus’s ability to charm and persuade; while not unfriendly toward Vespasian, he was more attached to Titus (Hist. 2.74).


All of Galilee had been reduced except for the strongholds of Mt. Tabor and Gischala, a farming community that lacked defenses; Titus drew the latter as his first sole command of the campaign.    The Jewish commander, John, son of Levi, realized that the town had no hope of withstanding a siege.  He responded to Titus’s call for surrender asking for the Romans to respect the Jewish Sabbath, explaining that war was not conducted nor peace negotiated on a holy day.  Titus agreed to the delay, and during the night John evacuated his force.  The next day, the people opened their gates to the Romans hailing them as benefactors.  When Titus learned the rebels had departed he pursued them, but they had made good their escape (BJ 4.99 ff.).  Mount Tabor was captured by Placidus leading 600 horsemen using a similar stratagem.  Placidus, finding the fortress impossible to attack pretended to make an offer of peace so the leaders of the town came down to meet him and were captured.  The Jews then joined the Romans in battle and Placidus pretended to retreat, then turned on his pursuers and defeated them (BJ 4.54 ff).


After the fall of Gamala, Vespasian learned that the defenders of Jerusalem were seriously divided and was advised to attack the city but he felt that there was more to gain by letting the defenders fight among themselves and decided to wait.  His decision proved to be wise as more and more Jewish defenders deserted each day (BJ 4.366-76).  To encircle Jerusalem Vespasian initiated attacks along the Judean border, and after capturing several villages and building fortifications the city was effectively cut off.  Vespasian returned to Caesarea around the middle of April where he learned of Vindex’s rebellion, possibly having received one of the letters Vindex sent to provincial governors seeking support.  If he received a letter there was little Vespasian could have done as Vindex’s forces were destroyed by Verginius Rufus, acting on Nero’s behalf.  Vespasian was preparing to march on Jerusalem when he leaned of Nero’s suicide and Galba’s accession in June; he decided to wait in Caesarea for a directive from the new emperor (BJ 4.493).


The death of Nero, following the unbroken succession of Julio-Claudian emperor, brought into play what Tacitus saw as the “well-hidden secret of the principate” (Hist. 1.4); it was possible for the army to make an emperor through force of arms.  Galba faced an immediate problem in that Verginius Rufus had been twice saluted emperor by the Rhine legions.  Although Rufus maintained his refusal to accept the will of his soldiers Galba was only grudgingly accepted as emperor by the German legions (Plut. Galba 10.3).  Rufus was also a novus homo, a more startling development that opened the principate to men of humble birth as well as aristocrats. The failure of the new emperor to defuse the situation was to prove a costly mistake.  Galba’s solution was to replace legion commanders whom he felt were disloyal with men who had no ambition, such as Aulus Vitellius.  Another unwise decision was to punish Gauls who had not joined Vindex and the slow rate of his march on Rome made Galba appear overly cautious.  He also executed without trial several of Nero’s supporters.  The Praetorian Prefect Nymphidius Sabinus hoped to gain Galba’s confidence in order to keep his job but when he failed launched a badly attempted coup that ended in his murder along with the execution of some prominent men (Plut. Galba 15-18; Suet. Galba 16).  Galba dismissed the praetorians whom he deemed untrustworthy which alienated the guards and failed to develop a good relationship with the Senate, preferring to seek the return of costly gifts bestowed by Nero.  In the end, Galba had sown the seeds of his own destruction and precipitated the civil war. With Galba’s growing unpopularity it became possible for Vespasian to seriously consider a revolt.



The Flavian Revolt


When Vespasian decided to revolt he was only certain of support from the eight legions in the East.  Past civil wars that had begun in the East, those of Brutus, Cassius and Marc Antony, had ended in their defeat.  When Vespasian was selected as commander of the Jewish War he stepped into the place formerly held by Domitius Corbulo.  Corbulo had commanded the legions of Syria for twelve years maintaining a strong presence in the face of the Parthians.  The general had developed close ties with his legions and because his methods of campaigning stressed strategy rather than conquest there was no booty for his troops.  To compensate his soldiers, Corbulo promoted them through the ranks to the centuriate and on.  On his arrival in Syria, Vespasian first had to overcome being Nero’s representative with troops that had nothing but contempt for the emperor.  Vespasian, as a senior senator and general with a well-established reputation, was able to win the confidence of the Syrian legions and assumed Corbulo’s role as patron. When Nero reassigned III Gallica from Syria to Moesia in 68, Vespasian already had the respect of the soldiers that would benefit him when the Flavian revolt began.  The marriage between Domitian and Corbulo’s daughter Domitia Longia had less to do with seduction than forging an alliance between Flavians and the supporters of Corbulo.  The original source of friction between Vespasian and Mucianus was the formers willingness to assume Corbulo’s patronage and the subsequent creation of a pro-Flavian faction within the Syrian legions (Hist. 2.5.2). 


With Galba as emperor, the situation for Vespasian, who owed his command to Nero, became uncertain; he was not confirmed as governor by the new emperor and the dismissal of Sabinus as city prefect raised his concerns.  According to Suetonius, Galba had sent assassins from Spain to kill Vespasian (Galba 23).  In the winter of 68/69 Titus, with an entourage that included Agrippa II, set out for Rome, according to Flavian propaganda, so that Titus might be considered as a possible heir for Galba.  However, the true purpose of the embassy was to negotiate with Galba over Vespasian’s position in the East.  When Titus learned that Galba had been assassinated at Corinth in February there was no reason to continue the journey, and Titus appreciated the situation in terms of Flavian imperial aspirations (Hist 2.1).


Titus paused on his return journey at Cyprus to visit the oracle of Venus at Paphos (Hist. 2.2-4); where he was assured that the goddess was favorable to the Flavian cause.  By the time Titus rejoined his father news of Galba’s death had arrived and the armies had sworn allegiance to Otho (Hist. 2.61).  When it was learned that Otho and Vitellius were at war Vespasian’s troops feared that others would win the empire when they were just as deserving.  It was at this time that Vespasian and Mucianus agreed that their entry into the civil war was inevitable and took the first steps to organize a revolt: they only needed to wait and see if they would challenge, Otho or Vitellius. Ultimately, it would be the organization of the Flavians that would lead to their success when the time for revolt came (Hist. 2.6-7; Vesp. 5; Dio 66.5.8).


In March, Vespasian conducted a campaign in Judea to gain control of the roads leading into Jerusalem and returned to Caesarea in May where he learned of Otho’s defeat and suicide; emissaries from Vitellius were quickly sent to administer the oath of loyalty to Vespasian’s troops.  But the attitude of the emissaries angered the soldiers and they took the oath reluctantly.  From February until June, Titus conducted diplomatic negotiations with Mucianus in Syria, Tiberius Julius Alexander in Egypt and Queen Berenice in Caesarea Philippi.  His activities culminated in early June, when Vespasian and Mucianus met along with their senior officers and advisors from the client kings and Tiberius Alexander probably at Mount Carmel (Hist. 2.74 ff.).  The meetings went on for several days and the decision was made to proceed with the revolt; and a date was fixed to declare Vespasian emperor with Alexander received a letter informing him of the plans (BJ 4.628).  At the same time, the circulation of a letter purported to be written by Otho, which Suetonius thought could have been forged, urging Vespasian to come to the aid of his country helped convince the soldiers that their cause was justified (Vesp. 6.4). [2]  During the summer of 69, Vespasian went to sacrifice at the shrine to Baal at Mount Carmel, mulling over his chances for success.  The priest Basilides repeatedly examined the victim and finally told Vespasian that whatever he was planning, be it the building a house, acquiring more servants or adding to his estate, would be granted (Hist. 2.78 ).


Vitellius received word of Otho’s demise on April 20 at his Rhine headquarters and set out for Rome stopping at Lugdunum where he received his victorious generals Valens and Caecina and the defeated generals of Otho.  He continued on into Italy and visited the battlefield of Cremona on May 25 going on to Bononia where his entourage began to swell ranks with the arrival of Nero’s courtiers seeking to attach themselves to the new emperor.  Tacitus notes that corruption was widespread among the 60,000 soldiers of Vitellius’ army and discipline had sharply deteriorated (Hist. 2.71).  The new emperor was relieved to learn that the armies of Syria and Judea had sworn allegiance; he arrived in Rome around mid-July entering the capitol as if it were a captured city (Hist. 2.73, 87-89; Pliny Ep. 8.21).  Vitellius might have had other concerns had he been aware that Vespasian had been in revolt for two weeks.



The Die is Cast


Vespasian was reluctant to take the decisive and irrevocable step to declare himself emperor.  At sixty years old he had enjoyed a successful career and he hesitated before the decision that could destroy not only himself but his family (BJ 4.604; Vesp. 6.1; Dio 65.8.3a).  Clearly Vespasian had the ambition to challenge Vitellius but the possibility that his legions would not stay the course or that he might be assassinated by a disaffected soldier haunted him.  Also, Mucianus favored Titus more than himself which did not reassure Vespasian; it took a declaration of support from the governor before he was satisfied (Hist. 2.77.1).  Vespasian and Mucianus were opposites: the former was an experienced and respected soldier while the latter was a polished politician who had little military experience. [3]   But the pivotal figure in the Flavian rebellion was the Romanized Jew and Prefect of Egypt Tiberius Julius Alexander.  Alexander had been acquainted with emperors Tiberius, Gaius and Claudius and had served on Corbulo’s staff in Armenia. He had made his way through administrative and military ranks and served as procurator of Judea before being selected as prefect of Egypt.  He was a former brother-in-law to Agrippa II (his brother having married Queen Berenice) and his ties remained close.[4]  Tacitus makes it clear that Alexander was a Flavian supporter long before Vespasian became emperor (Hist. 2.74.1).  As Vespasian vacillated before taking the final step to declare himself for the principate the support of Alexander would have been crucial and the prefect was the first to act to declare Vespasian emperor.


On July 1, the legions of Alexandria took an oath of loyalty to Vespasian, followed two days later by the Judean legions and by mid-July the legions of Syria joined the revolt (Hist. 2.89-91;Vesp 6). [5]  A meeting was held at Berytus later in July to map out strategy.  Titus was given overall command of the Jewish War (with Alexander as his deputy) and Mucianus would march on Rome (Hist. 2.82.3, 3.48.3). [6]   Flavian strategy was based more upon blockades than battles, but Mucianus was hungry for military glory: Vespasian could not refuse his request to lead the expeditionary forces without placing his alliance in jeopardy.  It was to Vespasian’s advantage to stay out of the fighting so as to not be accusing of directly causing the death of Roman’s.  However, by staying out of the fighting Vespasian could also be categorized with Vitellius (who sent Valens and Caecina to lead his army) as being less than courageous. Letters were written by Vespasian to all army commanders informing them of the motives behind his decision and seeking their help; some of the messengers were arrested by the Vitellians (Hist. 2.82, 98).  An embassy was sent to Parthia and Armenia to safeguard the Euphrates frontier.  Vologaeses I responded in friendly terms that became more so when it was clear that the Flavian revolt would succeed


The Flavian expeditionary force left in early August and consisted of VI Ferrate with 13,000 soldiers picked from the remaining legions for a total force of 30,000.  The soldiers could expect a long and arduous journey but not a fast one since a spring campaign against the Vitellians was envisioned.  The Eastern legions had an advantage in their recent combat experience, their excellent training and that their morale was high.  By contrast, the German legions had not fought since the early years of Nero’s reign and were more isolated than the Syrian legions that had close contact.



Primus Steals the March


In late August, Vespasian’s letter announcing that he had been declared emperor reached the Pannonian legions.  The reaction among the officers was cautious except for Antonius Primus, commander of VII Galbiana. [7]   When the first battle of Cremona occurred Otho did not have time to send an order to Primus to join the fighting.  Now that Vespasian was making a bid for the throne Primus did not intend to let the opportunity to act slip by.  The letter requested that Primus block the Julian Alps and go no further than Aquileia where he was to await Mucianus.  Primus saw things differently.  He feared the Vitellians would, if given time to organize, offer a stiff defense and there was a danger that troops could be summoned from Germany and outnumber the Flavians.  He argued that it would be foolish not to seize the plains of northern Italy and seal off the alpine passes.  A council of war approved the immediate invasion of Italy with precautions taken to ensure that the Danubian frontier would remain secure.   Primus set off with an auxiliary force of infantry and cavalry and within a week had occupied Acqileia, where the soldiers were warmly welcomed.  He did not have a likeness of Vespasian to use as an emblem of the Flavian cause and was forced to use busts of Galba that had been put into storage.  For a time, the Flavian cause was one of vengeance for a slain emperor. [8]


Mucianus reached Viminacium in Moesia in early October.  The march had been uneventful when his army was called upon to repel an invasion by the Dacians  Mucianus acted promptly and dispatched VI Ferrata who defeated the tribe and prevented them from joining with the rebellious Sarmatians (Hist. 2.83, 3.46).   The Moesian legions had supported Otho in the Civil War, and the XIII and VII had probably reached the battlefield at Bedriacum.  The troops were nervous about reprisals from Vitellius.  Suetonius relates, naming his father (a tribune in legio XIII) as his source, that the soldiers were determined to select an emperor and at the recommendation of III Gallica inscribed Vespasian’s name on their standards as early as the end of April 69 (Otho 10, Vesp. 6).  The action of the soldiers was probably reported to Vespasian who was keeping close watch on events in the West.  In late August, III Gallica was the first legion of the Danube to salute Vespasian emperor but the governor of Moesia, Aponius Saturninus, reported the treason in a letter to Vitellius.  However, when VII Claudia and VIII Augusta also declared for Vespasian the governor joined the Flavian cause, as if afraid to be left behind (Vit. 15).  The only legion that had hesitated was XI Claudia and they did not acclaim Vespasian emperor until after the battle of Cremona. (Hist. 3.50).  Vespasian was busy arranging affairs in Syria, then he moved south through Judea to Egypt.  He had not arrived at Alexandria when he learned of the defeat of Vitellius’ forces at Cremona sometime in mid-November (Hist. 3.48).


In Rome, Vitellius was making an effort to reconcile differences with the Senate and make friends with the Plebs.  A major concern was the 60,000 soldiers camped around the city that the new emperor was unable to pay resulting in not only lawlessness but the outbreak of disease.  Discipline broke down and Valens and Caecina were hostile toward each other (Hist. 2.93-4).  Vitellius probably learned of Vespasian’s revolt by the end of July, but it apparently did not stir him into action until he received the sent by Aponius and learned the revolt had spread (Hist. 2.96), whereupon he summoned help from the legions of Spain, Germany and Britain.  Then, the emperor fell in during September and October probably from the illness spread among his troops (Hist. 3.38).  Valens also contracted the illness and was incapacitated during the same time.  Preparations for war fell to Alienus Caecina who was determined to betray Vitellius; his rivalry with Valens had become very bitter and he made contact with Flavius Sabinus, who had been restored to the position of urban prefect by Otho and was confirmed by Vitellius.  Sabinus had probably been kept informed of his brother’s plans and was anxious to avoid fighting.  If Caecina could swing the Vitellian legions to the Flavian cause the impending civil war might be resolved avoiding large scale bloodshed.  Around September 17, Caecina got the army marching north, after Vitellius gave him an effusive farewell, and set up camp at Hostillia.  The Ravenna fleet, consisting mainly of Otho’s supporters, revolted on October 16/17 and gave Caecina the impetus to make contact with the Flavians but he was discovered and put in chains to be later used as a bargaining chip (Hist. 3.12-13).


The Vitellians, their position threatened by the fleet, marched on to Cremona.  Primus learned of the maneuver and decided to join battle marching from Verona to Bedriacum in two days.  The subsequent battle was fought on October 24th and 25th and was a decisive Flavian victory.  Following the battle the city of Cremona was sacked by the victorious troops gone berserk; many of its citizens were killed and the city was burned to the ground.  In Rome, Valens had recovered enough to attempt to raise an army on the Rhine and had gotten as far as Narbonensis where he was recognized by the provincial procurator, Valerius Paulinus, a friend of Vespasian, who arrested Valens and sent him back to Italy where he was executed (Hist. 3.40-43).  Vitellius learned of the disaster at Cremona around November 1.  The emperor lost his nerve and did nothing for weeks before he gave the belated order to blockade the Apennine passes (Hist. 3.54-55).  Vitellius had a force of fourteen Praetorian cohorts and a legion of marines; he could have used them to defeat a small force of Flavians but the opportunity slipped away when the main army joined the expeditionary force.  The news for Vitellius only got worse.  The Misenum fleet went over to Vespasian which finally spurred Vitellius into action but he made a bad decision: he sent his brother Lucius with six Praetorian cohorts to recapture the Misenum fleet and in doing so reduced his forces by almost half, troops that he could have better used in Rome (Hist. 3.57).  The Flavian army continued its steady progress south and overcame a Vitellian force at Narnia (Hist. 3.60-63).  This news broke Vitellius’ spirit; he wanted to get out of the principate as best he could.  Primus and Mucianus sent letters to Vitellius urging him to abdicate offering him a pension and a place of retirement in Campania.  Vitellius had several meetings with Flavius Sabinus and on December 17 formalized his abdication with a document that was witnessed by Cluvius Rufus and the poet Silius Italicus. The following day the emperor addressed the Praetorians and his followers that he was laying down his office but the guards would not hear of it and forced Vitellius to take refuge in his house of the Aventine.  The Praetorians were determined to defend Vitellius whose destruction they feared would mean their own end (Hist. 3.68). 


Meanwhile supreme power had, in effect, passed to Sabinus who gathered his supporters at his home and planned to administer the oath of loyalty to all military personnel.  The news that Vitellius failed to convince the Praetorians sparked a clash between the Flavians and Vitellians resulting in Sabinus taking refuge on the Capitol until the Danubian army, celebrating Saturnalia, could be notified of his plight (Hist. 3.69).  The next day, December 19, the Vitellians stormed the Capitol and during the fighting a fire was started that destroyed the temple of Jupiter.  Sabinus was captured, brought before the hapless Vitellius and was hacked to death; his body was exposed on the Gemonian Stairs like a criminal (Hist. 3.74-5). [9] The Danubian troops learned of Sabinus’ danger too late and watched the fire that consumed the Capitoline Hill from a distance.  On the morning of December 20, Flavian forces entered Rome and systematically reduced all resistance.  Vitellius was captured and, hands bound behind his back with the rope looped around his neck, was dragged to the Gemonian Stairs where Sabinus had lain and was beaten to death, his body was dragged to the Tiber on an iron hook and thrown in the river.  Lucius Vitellius with his six cohorts was twenty miles from Rome and on the news of his brother’s death surrendered and was later executed.



[1] Agrippa II and his sister and co-ruler, Berenice, were faithful client rulers to Rome, but were willing to defend the interests of their subjects.  Agrippa was born Marcus Julius Agrippa, the eldest son of Agrippa I.  The king was educated in Rome, as most of the Herods were and bore a Roman name; like his father, he was a friend of the emperor Claudius.  In fact, he spent all but 17 years of his life in Rome.  He was 16 when his father died, too young to become king, and the kingdom of Agrippa I, as large as the domain of his grandfather, King Herod, was divided.  On the death of his uncle, Herod of Chalcis in 48, Claudius allowed Agrippa to inherit his kingdom: Chalcis, Abilene, Trachonefis and Ituraea.  Later Nero allowed him Peraea and part of Galilee.  Agrippa also had the right to appoint the high priest of the Temple and to occupy the Hasmonaean Palace in Jerusalem, but Agrippa had no authority in Judea.

[2] It is interesting to speculate that the letter was the work of Titus, the master forger (Titus 3.2).

[3] M. G. Morgan Vespasian’s Fear of Assassination”, Philologus 138(1994), p. 125.

[4] See Turner, E.A., “Tiberius Julius Alexander”, Journal of Roman Studies 44, 1954, pp. 59-61.

[5] Josephus, following Flavian propaganda, has the Judean legions saluting Vespasian first in contradiction to Tacitus and Suetonius (BJ 4.601).

[6] M.G. Morgan,op. cit.,p. 125.

[7] Primus was born at Toulouse about 20 CE, and his appearance was recorded in a poem by Martial (10.23).  In 61, he was ejected from the Senate by Nero accused of forging a will and sent into exile at Marseille.  In 68, he joined Galba’s cause and was given command of Galba’s new legion.  After Nero’s death, the legion escorted the new emperor to Rome and were immediately posted to Pannonia. 

[8] J. Wellesley, The Year of the Four Emperors,(Routledge, 2000),p.134.

[9] The Scalae Gemoniae was a flight of steps located on the Capitoline Hill that extended down to the forum and was used as a place to expose criminals before their bodies were taken to the Tiber to be disposed of.

© David A. Wend 2006