Lucius Vitellius (1) - a leading adviser to Emperor Claudius

Lucius was also the father, as well, of Emperor Vitellius. Lucius Vitellius was the younger of four brothers, all of whom attained considerable success in the early first century C.E. He became a friend of Claudius but was appointed governor of Syria by Tiberius in 35 C.E.

Although he had earned a bad reputation in Rome, as the legate of Syria he displayed skill in war and in diplomacy. Pontius Pilate was sent to him after massacring the Samaritans, and Tiridates was set up (briefly) on the Parthian throne, as a result of Vitellius’s actions.

After returning to the capital, his name was again dishonored because of his extreme flattery of Gaius Caligula. Vitellius initiated the tradition of treating the deranged ruler as a god. When Claudius came to the throne, the flattery continued, this time directed at the freedmen and wives of the emperor.

He kissed Messallina’s shoes and prodded the Senate into approving Claudius’s marriage to Agrippina The Younger. For his services he was made consul, censor, and chief counselor and was left in charge of Rome during Claudius’s campaign in Britain.

Although aged, he was attacked in 51 as being treasonous, but Agrippina came to his rescue. He died after this affair injured the political future of his family. Sextilia was his wife. Vitellius was given a public funeral and a statue, inscribed with the epitaph: "Steadfastly Loyal to the Emperor".

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