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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Aulus Vitellius, son of Lucius Vitellius (consul a.d. 34) and Sextilia, was born either at Luceria or at Nuceria (in Italy) on 7th or 24th September a.d. 15. He spent his boyhood and early youth in the entourage of the Emperor Tiberius on the island of Capreae (modern Capri). His addiction to chariot-racing made him a friend of Gaius (Caligula), and his fondness for dice-playing brought him the favour of Claudius; nor was he less acceptable to Nero. He attained the consulship in a.d. 48 along with L. Vipstanus Poblicola, and was also elected into various priesthoods. He held the proconsulship of Africa, one of the very highest posts in the Empire, apparently in a.d. 60-61, and in the following year was legatus to his own brother, who succeeded him in the proconsulship. His government is highly praised. After having superintended various public works, he was sent by Galba to northern Germany as governor. He entered the province on 1st December 68, and on 3rd January 69 he was hailed by the legions in Germany as Emperor, receiving also the honorary surname Germanicus. On conquering Otho (see articleOtho), he was recognized as Emperor at Rome (19th April). He postponed the adoption of the title Augustus, and refused at first the name of Caesar. He entered Rome, apparently in May, and was henceforth known officially sometimes as Imperator Aulus Vitellius Caesar, sometimes as Aulus Vitellius Imperator Germanicus. He took over the office of chief pontiff on 18th July, and, after arranging the elections for ten years, he appointed himself perpetual consul. He was put to death at Rome about 20th December, after ruling eight months and some days.

His first wife was Petronia, daughter of Publius Petronius, consul suffectus of a.d. 19. She bore him a son, Petronianus. After divorcing Petronia, who became the wife of (Gnaeus Cornelius) Dolabella, he married Galeria Fundana, whose father had held the praetorship, and had a son Germanicus, who was put to death by Mucianus (see articleVespasian), and a daughter, who was betrothed to Valerius Asiaticus in a.d. 69 and befriended by Vespasian. It is reported that the pleasures of the table were Vitellius’ chief concern, and certain dishes were named after him.

Literature.-Ancient authorities are Suetonius, Vitellius  ; Tacitus, Histories , bks. i.-iii.; Dio Cassius (Xiphilinus’ epitome), bks. lxiv., lxv.; Plutarch, Galba  ; inscriptions, particularly those of the Arval Brothers. Modern authorities are A. v. Domaszewski, Geschichte der römischen Kaiser , ii. [Leipzig, 1909] 97-113; V. Duruy, History of Rome , Eng. translation, 6 vols., London, 1883-86; J. B. Bury, A History of the Roman Empire 2, do., 1896, pp. 337-349; E. Klebs, P. de Rohden, and H. Dessau, Prosopographia Imperii Romani , 3 vols., Berlin, 1897-98, iii. 449 f. (the facts succinctly stated by H. Dessau).

A. Souter.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

an African Donatist, flourished about A.D. 344. He wrote on the world's hatred to the servants of God, against the paganis, against the Catholics as traitors, and some other tracts. None of his works remain, See Gennadius, De Viris Illustribus, s.v.