Book IV: Flavian
Book IV: Flavian
I. The Flavian family held ancient, albeit humble origins. They were a plebeian family, though one of the most ancient, dating far back to the period in times before the Latin War. The first ever recorded member of the family of legitimate record as Marcus Flavius, a Tribune of the Plebs during the days of the Early Republic in the year [327 BC]. Numerous members would also make their way through the history of the Republic, however in most certainly minor roles, simply being at the side of the numerous great men of the era.
The first recorded member of the Sabine branch of the Flavii, that which Flavian and his paternal relatives descend from, is Titus Flavius Petro, great-grandfather to the Emperor. Petro’s own origins are unclear, though from the location of his birth in Retae , his own name, and the name which he bestowed upon his son it is clear that he was of Sabine or Oscan stock. Nevertheless Petro was one of Pompey’s men, and had fought alongside his forces during the Civil War of Julius Caesar, being present at the battles of Dyrrhachium and Pharsalus. Petro in turn would have one son, Titus Flavius Sabinus the Elder, a tax collector and a banker in the province of Asia. Titus Sabinus would marry into the respectful Equestrian family of the Vespasia, and had two sons by his wife, Titus Flavius Sabinus the Younger and Titus Flavius Vespasianus.
The career of Vespasian has largely been mentioned through the previous book, and the only note that should be made of him is his marriage to his first wife Domitilla the Elder and their children, Titus Flavius Vespasian, better known to us contemporaries as Titus, and Titus Flavius Domitianus.
II. The Caesar Flavian was born in Tusculum as Titus Flavius Julianus, on the Nones of February  in the year [53 AD], as was in the style of the Flavii household. All children of that branch were born with the praenomen  of Titus, and instead being distinguished by their cognomen , derived mainly from the name of their mother’s household. Only 3 months after his birth he was formally and quite publicly adopted by his grandfather as his own son and heir, with his name formally being changed to Titus Julius Caesar Flavianus and him entering the house of the Julii. Despite the formal adoption Flavian still remained close with his biological family, being educated first by his father and later by his uncle Sabinus the Younger, alongside his brother Domitian. Tiberius himself was rather inattentive to his adoptive son, focusing more upon the affairs of state rather than rearing his heir. According to some Tiberius grew to dislike the boy after the plot to overthrow Tiberius was discovered, and sought to put the boy at the fringes of Imperial life and away from the plots and intrigues of senators.
His desire to remove the boy from the politics of Rome and himself is what, in my opinion, ensured that the young Flavian would grow into a fine young man. His education at the hands of competent men like Vespasian and Sabinus the Younger made it so he was competent at both affairs of state and of the military. By the time he gained his Toga of Manhood  the young man had proven himself to be a kind and competent man, so much so that men of the era praised him and were glad that the cruel and bitter Tiberius would be succeeded by a more amicable man. Of course Tiberius grew to fear how the young man might move against him, so he had Flavian recalled to the Imperial Palace and forbade him from entering the Cursus Honorum, attempting to distance him from both his family and any possible allies he hoped to make with the Senate or the people of Rome.
III. This was not an extremely wise move made by the Emperor, as only shortly thereafter he was suffocated to death, most likely by Flavian himself. The very day after his death Flavian was declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard and the Senate bestowed upon him the titles and symbols of the Emperor. While some did have hope for the young Flavian, many plotted behind his back and seeked to become Emperor themselves as he was only 19 years of age at the time of his acclimation. Despite the fears Flavian did attempt to raise himself up, being elected consul alongside his brother Titus and having the Amphitheater constructed by Tiberius finished, and renamed as the Flavian Amphitheater. There he held games for a hundred days, winning the admiration of the plebeians and equestrians alike. He allowed his brother and father a Triumph to celebrate their victory over the Jews, carrying their iconography throughout the streets of Rome. The young Caesar also showed mercy to the Senate as well, having an end brought to their constant harassment and allowing them their functions and powers back, even creating Dalmatia and Lusitania as Proconsular provinces to apologize for his predecessor’s actions unto the Senate.
Flavian’s restoration of Rome after the defilement Tiberius had given to it earned him the love and respect of his citizens, and throughout his reign he faced little true challenges from enemies both internal and external. Even in Germania he saw relative peace, as the tribes there were not only beaten down during the abolition of the client Kingdoms but also because they held hopes that this young benevolent Emperor would allow them a reprieve. And while Flavian was most certainly willing to hand them their client status once more, both the people around him and the Senate of Rome advised him to avoid it, as it would sully the image of the Roman state to bend over to the will of these barbarians.
IV. Flavian himself led a dignified personal life, refusing many debauched customs and instead preferring to live humbly. At least as humbly as an Emperor can live. It has been frequently said that he popularized camping among the patrician classes as he would leave the city and retire to the Alban Hills on a regular basis, where he would live almost in the style of a soldier or drover. He also had a humble wife, Annia Bassia, the daughter of Lucius Annius Bassus, whom he married in [75 AD] and had three children by her. Gaius Caesar, often called Gaius Flavius to avoid confusion with the son of Marcus Agrippa, Lucius Caesar, also called Lucius Flavius to avoid confusion with the Emperor of the same name, and Julia Flavia.
Flavian was said to have had a dark complexion and had hair as brown as a mare’s fur. I have seen a source readily make the claim that his eyes were of a brown so dark they nearly blended with his pupils, and nothing I could find has refuted this claim so it should be noted and included for posterity’s sake, even if untrue. He also had a smooth face, even into his adulthood, and kept his face shaved in the style of the time unlike his predecessor. His own voice was extremely deep and never matched his own babyish appearance, as if his throat was rather a Horn than the average windpipe.
V. Flavian’s reign continued peacefully and it was at this point many writers began to use the term Pax Romana, no doubt encouraged not only by literary convention but by the Caesar’s gold as well. For 7 years Rome thrived under his rule, as the Emperor and the men around him all worked together to ensure national prosperity. But by [79 AD], these times would become more turbulent, as in that year Vespasian succumbed to an illness and swiftly died in the latter part of June, leaving his sons distraught. While he would be deified after his death in the pagan custom, his elder sons Titus and Domitian would come into direct conflict with one another over the policies of state immediately after. Due to his own personal biases, having been raised alongside Domitian, Flavian sided with Domitian and had Titus sent off to govern Hispania Tarraconensis.
However shortly afterwards in the month of September Flavian fell ill. Not ill enough that his life was threatened, but enough that he felt to leave the city for the Imperial Villas on Capraea to better his health. Some whispered of poisoning, either by bitter supporters of Titus or an overconfident Domitian. These whispers would soon quickly be dispelled as on the ides of October  the Vesuvian Mount erupted with great fury. Such was the devastation that when those fleeing from Misenium reached Rome, they told of how the Neapolitan Bay was completely blanketed in ash, with Capraea being invisible in the distance. No word had reached Rome about the Emperor’s well-being, and the Senate feared the worst. For five days the Curia raged in near constant debate over who should be appointed Emperor, and some in the Praetorian Guard attempted to advocate in favor of Domitian though he quickly refused. Thankfully for Rome, Flavian had managed to survive the horrid eruption of the Vesuvius, thankfully being far enough from the volcano as to have only dealt with minor ashfall. Even after his own close encounter with death, Flavian still attempted to support as many of the survivors as possible, and tried to rebuild upon the ruins of Pompeii, though the flow of ashes and lava had yet to properly clear and break.
VI. While the eruption of the Vesuvius and the ensuing harsh summer left grain production low, Flavian would continue to rule in a just and fair manner. Throughout his reign, even in times when Imperial funds were low, Flavian constantly liberated slaves of the Imperial Palace to such an extent that so many took the name Flavius it became as common as a praenomen. Even my ancestors partook in it, giving unto me the name, and it is one of if not the most common of the ancient praenomens.
The Caesar’s reign also came to a troubled point with the death of Titus in [81 AD]. The beloved general had died only aged 41, having fallen ill and died at a rapid pace. Many, and I rightfully presume, levelled the blame upon Domitian, as he held animosity with Titus and had attempted to secure power for himself as much as possible. So many people suspected him that he was forced to resign from his consulship and willingly exiled himself to the island of Salina in the Tyrrhenian to avoid the wrath of the populace of Rome. Some make the defense that he retired in fear that the mob might have torn him apart for a fear that he might have killed their beloved Titus, but I find this to be foolhardy, as only a man truly guilty flees from his accusations.
VII. Still despite all the good he attempted to do for Rome, Flavian would face more familial troubles, as in [86 AD], his son with Annia Bassia, Gaius, would die at only 10 years of age. While the young child was learning how to ride a horse, he slipped from the saddle and fell, breaking his neck over a stone in the pathway and dying immediately. The Emperor was grief stricken at the loss of his eldest son, and mourned for months over his son. The child was deified of course, but the loss of his family had reportedly left the joyful Flavian with a more sour personal disposition. He still cared for his younger children, Julia Flavia and Lucius Flavius, as well as his wife, but aside from them he remained coldly distant to people, though still keeping his kind policies.
The remaining years of his life would be fraught with conflict, as in the same year of his son’s death, the Dacian war broke out. The Dacians, under their King Decebalus, often made raids into the territories of Moesia, but in the year of [86 AD] they handily defeated the Governor of Moesia, killing him and taking the Eagle Standard of the V Alaude Legion. Flavian would not let this stand, and so invaded the province. By 87 the armies of Decebalus had been decisively defeated and Flavian able to push his men on towards Sarmizegetusa. There Flavian was halted, not only by the walls of the city but also due to rebellion in the West.
The Governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, had chosen to revolt against the Emperor in [88 AD], for reasons not entirely known for us men in this day and age. Some claim that he did so due to Flavian’s own tolerance to the Germanic tribes, others say that it was due to his own greed and desire for power, and I have even seen a handful proclaim that he wished to restore the ancient days of the Republic and abolish the Caesars. Whatever the case, Flavian waited for a good amount of time on whether to make peace with Decebalus and to return home, or to continue his war on Dacia. He chose to continue fighting, sending the Legate Marcus Ulpius Traianus to deal with the revolt of Saturninus, which was done with the utmost ease by him. Flavian continued his siege of Sarmizegetusa, so threatening Decebalus’ position that he sued for peace, and was obliged. The Dacian was forced to accept Roman sovereignty and become a Client King, paying Rome tribute and leaving with his life and his lands intact.
VIII. After this Flavian chose not to celebrate a Triumph, as many of his generals wished him to, claiming that he had conquered nothing, and therefore no Triumph would be true. Instead he chose, as a humble man would, to dole out the gold and spoils gained among the citizens of Rome, as well as throwing fanciful games in celebration. For another 5 years the Dacian frontier remained secure, until Decebalus was found to be constructing fortifications along the border with Rome. Once more in [93 AD] the Legions marched, however Flavian was set on a grand campaign, one to finally subdue the Dacian threat. He brought 10 Legions from across the Empire to Dacia, as well as competent commanders such as Traianus and Lucius Quietus, preparing to finally smash the forces of Dacia into submission.
This victory came with ease at Tapae, where the armies of Decebalus were so thoroughly routed by the competency of the Emperor’s Generals that Decebalus begged Flavian for peace. His attempts were refused, as Flavian had set his sights on a complete Dacian conquest by that point. The siege at Sarmizegetusa only cemented this fact, as the city fell after only 4 months, and with it the entire Dacian treasury. Decebalus attempted to flee to the lands of the Carpi, but he was caught by Lucius Quietus and taken prisoner.
IX. With the conquest of Dacia, Flavian had completed a master stroke. The finances of the Empire were to remain secure with the overflowing Dacian gold mines granting them profit, and the Danubian frontier finally secure from major threats. The Caesar even saw reason to give himself a triumph, celebrating a grand display throughout the streets of Rome and having Decebalus publicly killed and his body tossed down the Gemonian stairs. He held 123 days of celebration in the city, further preserving his memory as that of a gratuitous and competent sovereign.
Dacia would still be reorganized and many of the legions once brought together sent home, but still the province would become one of Rome’s most important, and the bridge he ordered constructed by Apollodorus of Damascus was one of the finest ever seen in the world. The conquest of Dacia would not be the last under the guidance of Flavian, as he later had the client king of the Nabateans, Rabbel Soter, removed and his lands annexed into Rome. The armies faced no resistance and the nation itself fel quickly, further increasing the taxes meant to be received by the state.
X. Alas, all good things come to an end, and the reign of Flavian is no exception. Despite being at the prime age of 45, Flavian would still die. His death was a slow one, as he suffered from brutal diarrhoea for 3 months on end at his estate in Capua. He died on the first day from the Ides of July  in Capua in [98 AD], leaving only his 22 year old son Lucius Flavius behind. By that point the boy had only been made as Praetor, though he had been trained for military conflicts, and while some feared many had faith in the system, as Flavian was but a young man and managed to rule wisely and effectively. In his will the Emperor left nearly all to his son and his daughter, with only portions being doled out to the other members of the Imperial family such as the descendants of Germanicus or Claudius Britannicus.
A bust of Flavian
A bust of Flavian
 OTL Rieti, Italy.
 5th of February, 53 AD.
 A Roman first name, like the Gaius in Gaius Julius Caesar.
 A Roman last name, such as the Caesar in Gaius Julius Caesar.
 Also known by the Latin Toga Virilis, gained by every man after they reach the age of 15.
 13th of October, 79 AD
 12th of July, 98 AD