On Saturday I noted that Titus was seen as patient and moderate in his sacking of Jerusalem, a depiction which could very easily be contested (see “Interpreting the Destruction of Jerusalem”). Today I share the brief perspective of the historian Suetonius (c. 69 to c. 130 +). In his work The Twelve Caesars he writes of Titus (8.5),
“But observing that everything was once more in a state of turmoil, he turned back, and visiting the oracle of the Paphian Venus, to consult it about his voyage, he was also encouraged to hope for imperial power. Soon realising his hope and left behind to complete the conquest of Judaea, in the final attack on Jerusalem he slew twelve of the defenders with as many arrows; and he took the city on his daughter’s birthday, so delighting the soldiers and winning their devotion that they hailed him as Imperator and detained him from time to time, when he would leave the province, urging him with prayers and even with threats either to stay or to take them all with him.”
Titus was seen as a great hero by his soldiers. He had returned from other obligations to complete the victory over the Jews. When this happened he was so endeared to his followers that they declared his Emperor, and this almost put a rift in his relationship with his father, though he remained loyal to his father before eventually becoming emperor himself.