Document Type

Honors Project


In 70 C.E., the general Vespasian became the emperor of the Roman world. His accession marked the end of a year-long civil war and the beginning of the second imperial dynasty. The legitimacy of his rule depended on addressing the memory of his predecessors, the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This paper examines expressions of Vespasian’s relationship with the Julio-Claudians as evident in the emperor’s public buildings in Rome. The form, location, and symbolism of five structures that constituted Vespasian’s building program will be considered. These buildings utilized several modes for interacting with the past including: condemning some Julio-Claudian rulers, emulating other Julio-Claudian rulers, reviving pre-Julio-Claudian tradition, and asserting the ingenuity of Flavian power without precedent from the past. These statements defined Vespasian’s principate and the sources of his authority.



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