Tuesday, 3 May 2005
Vitellius the Glutton
The Roman Emperor Vitellius (69 A.D.) was best known for his gluttony. His reign was incredibly short-lived as it lasted for little over a year.
He was born Aulus Vitellius, in 15 A.D, to Lucius Vitellius, one of the most succesful public figures of the time, and Sestilia. According to Suetonius, his horoscope was omminus and this terrified his parents, who said they would do their best to keep their son away from public office. However, they did not succeed in their intent.
Young Vitellius spent his early youth in Capri, in the company of Tiberius's homosexual prostitutes and it is said that he got his father a big promotion by being very "nice" to the Emperor. Through flattery, cunning and manipulation, Vitellius managed to work his way up the Imperial ladder and held a variety of positions in public office.
His first wife was a woman called Petroniana, and he had a son with her, who was allegedly born blind in one eye. It is said that Vitellius killed the boy shortly after he was emancipated. Not suprisingly his marriage ended in divorce, pretty quickly.
Vitellius was an extraordinary glutton. He would eat anything in sight and even at altars he would not be able to resist consuming the offerings to the Gods, to the utter amazement of those around him. He once had a banquet in which thousands of birds of various kinds were served. One wonders if this man's stomach was a bottomless pit or not.
In little more than a year, Vitellius was overthrown by the popular general Vespasian. He was practically hunted down like an animal. Having nowhere to go he disguised himself in dirty clothes and hid in the rooms of the Imperial door-keeper. He naively put a matress and couch against the door so nobody could get in. Of course he was found and was dragged half-naked to the Forum, where he was tortured, killed and thrown into the river Tiber.
Posted by Anna at Tuesday, May 03, 2005