The conduct of Vitellius in Cassius Dio's Roman History

Caillan Davenport*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article offers an explanation as to why Cassius Dio praises aspects of Vitellius' conduct as emperor in his Roman History (65.6–7). Although Dio preserves much of the standard invective against the emperor, he also acknowledges Vitellius' clemency towards his predecessors' supporters, his restrictions on aristocratic participation in gladiatorial combats, and his even-handed treatment of his fellow senators. It is argued that Dio chose to highlight this behaviour because it contrasted positively with the negative examples of emperors during his own lifetime. This conclusion enhances our understanding of Dio's historical methodology, demonstrating that he was able to discriminate between an emperor's character de ficiencies and the good aspects of his rule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-116
Number of pages21
JournalHistoria - Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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