The Descent of Emperor Vespasian from King Herod


Emperor Vespasian is presented by Roman historians as a military man who had "risen" to become Emperor, but that appears not to be true. Presenting Emperor Vespasian as a commoner would give ordinary soldiers the hope that they too could, perhaps, one day become emperor, the reality, however, was that Vespasian was already a royal, as this genealogy shows. Vespasian was related to the Herodians; who were also the leadership or hierarchy of the sect known as the Sadducees. They left all of the Sadducean believers and all other Jews in Judea, while the Herodians were evacuated to Rome, just before Vespasian's siege upon Jerusalem and the Temple in Judea.

The respected classics professor, the late Gavin Townend, who was an expert in Latin, Latin history, and Latin historians, and taught at Durham University did valuable research regarding the Flavian family. He stated in his paper 'Some Flavian Connections' (The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 51, Parts 1 and 2 (1961), pp. 54-62) - 'Before the accession of Vespasian it is rare to find anyone outside the imperial (royal) family holding the consulate more than once.' But Vespasian was a royal, only the connection showing this was hidden by name changes. He was related to Herod the Great through his grandfather, Herod Pollio, later known as Herod of Chalcis.

The genealogy of the man known to us as ‘Flavius Josephus’ links to the royal genealogy of Vespasian. When researching Flavius Josephus’ genealogy, and data concerning the Herodians and Flavians, including the New Testament statement “Greet Herodian, my kinsman”, the scholar who discovered this information, who goes by the name of ‘Roman Piso’ (although it appears much of his research was destroyed) found that certain individuals kept reemerging because of various dates, places, and other items linked to the connections he was investigating. One important name that re-emerged with certain individuals was the name ‘Pollio’, those individuals being Vespasius Pollio (I) and Herod Pollio (grandson of Herod the Great and Mariamne - Pollio is also recorded as Herod II/III/V and ‘Herod King of Chalcis’; he also had the titular rank of praetor (a Roman magistrate). (supporting reference-Sir Anthony Richard Wagner, ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’, page 174; Professor of Jewish History, Richard A. Freund, 'Digging Through The Bible', Chapter 4, page 612-615.)


Both had the ‘Pollio’ name and a connection to the Herodians and the Flavians; In 44 CE, at the age of 16, Julia Berenice (born 28 CE), sister of King Agrippa II and granddaughter of Aristobulus IV, became the second wife of Herod Pollio, her uncle, but he died when she was 20, and both Berenice and Agrippa publicly supported the Flavians during the Jewish revolt. Herod Pollio’s first wife was a woman called Mariamne, daughter of Joseph ben Joseph, Herod the Great’s nephew, and Olympias the Herodian, daughter of Herod the Great. This marriage produced a son called Aristobulus (31 BCE-7 BCE), who later became Aristobulus of Chalcis.


‘Pollio’ is a common extra personal name given to ancient Roman citizens, which the family of Herod the Great became. However, when the dates and family trees for the above individuals are compared, using the gathering of scattered data, they are alike, only with different names having been used, essentially indicating they were the same person. Herod Pollio (died 48-49 CE), son of Aristobulus IV and brother of Herod Agrippa I and Herodias, was granted the kingdom of Chalcis in 41 CE by Emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Vespasius Pollio, whose wife is unnamed in history, is recorded as an equestrian from Nursia (Italy), equestrians being above ordinary citizens. He became a Tribunus Militum (‘tribune of the soldiers’) three times; those of equestrian rank who served as military tribunes often became senators. He is also recorded as becoming a praefectus castrorum no earlier than the time of Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE - reigned 27 BCE-14 CE) (ref - Suetonius, Life of Vespasian - see also Epigraphische Notizen aus Italien III. Inschriften aus Nursia, by G. Alfoldy - source: Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 77 (1989) pp. 155-180.)


Vespasius is recorded as having a son and daughter, the daughter’s name is recorded as Vespasia Polla/Pollia (her birth date is thought to be approximately 15 BCE); we can logically conclude the son would be given the name Vespasius Pollio (II) (ref - James Anderson D.D. ‘Royal Genealogies’, page 362). Suetonius records that this son ‘became a senator with the rank of praetor’, a praetor of which exercised extensive authority in the government.


When investigating the historical documentation further, we can find that a King Julius Tigranes VI of Armenia (born before 25 CE), an apostate to Judaism, and a Herodian Prince who served as a Roman Client King of Armenia in the first century (first reign 58-61 CE - second reign 66/7 CE) married a noblewoman of Phrygia (near Chalcis) called ‘Opgalli’ ΟΠΓΑΛΛΥ, her existence known only through numismatic evidence of Tigranes’ second kingship; in a paper called ‘Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions’, found on page 347 in the American Journal of Numismatics Vol. 2, Frank L. Kovacs suggests her inclusion on the coinage of Tigranes’ second-reign suggests a recent marriage or at least an enhanced importance. (further ref - Classical Numistic Group, Inc., Kings of Armenia. Tigranes VI.)


Tigranes’ father was Alexander (Gaius Julius Alexander), the second-born son of Alexander and Glaphyra, making Tigranes’ grandfather Alexander, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne I, Tigranes grandfather, therefore, is the brother of Aristobulus IV:


Alexander had a son of the same name with his brother Tigranes, and was sent to take possession of the kingdom of Armenia by Nero” (Josephus, Ant, 18.140)

Tigranes, who was raised in Rome (ref - Tacitus, Annals 14.26), is recorded as having a daughter called Julia, who married a man called M. Plancius Varus of Perge, the governor of Bithynia-Pontus. (ref - Tacitus, Histories 2.63; George W. Houston, M. Plancius Varus and the Events of A.D. 69-70, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 103.) Julia’s paternal great-great-grandparents were Herod the Great and Mariamne, and, of course, as well as Julia being the feminine form of her father’s name, Julius, it is also the same name as Herod Pollio’s wife, Julia Berenice, also spelled Berenike.


If we now look again at the name of Tigranes’ wife, ‘Opgalli’, important points must be noted. 1) 'Op' looks to be 'Ops' or 'Opis', a fertility deity and earth goddess of Sabine origin. Roman tradition states the cult of Opis was instituted by Titus Tatius, a Sabine king of Rome. 2) ‘Galli’ can be ‘galla’, just as Mariamme can be Miriam, and ‘galla’ means the same as ‘polla’, the feminine form of Pollio (Cock, Chicken, Rooster), i.e. the same as Herod Pollio. If Tigranes’ wife was the daughter of Herod Pollio, then the great-great-grandparents of Tigranes’ daughter would be Herod and Mariamne on both her father and mother’s side; interestingly, Julia’s brother, C. Julius Alexander, King in Cilicia, named his son C. Julius Alexander Berenicianus. (ref - Seth Schwartz, ‘Josephus and Judean politics’. Columbia studies in the classical tradition.) Scholar Edmund Groag, also suggested in ‘Pauly-Wissowa’ (Stuttgart, 1917), 19:157-158), that Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus, presented on inscriptions of Ephesus and Laodicea, a three-hour walk from Phrygia and near Chalcis, was a descendant of the Herodian house of Chalcis, i.e., the family of Queen Berenice.

In the Acts of the Apostles 12.20, we read:

And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.


Acts is stating that the people of these cities asked the king for peace because they received food supplies from his country. So Acts is informing us of special relations between King Herod Pollio of Chalcis and the population of two Lebanese cities, Tyre and Sidon; Chalcis was situated exactly ‘under Mount Libanus’ (modern Mount Lebanon):


But Ptolemy, the son of Menneus, who was the ruler of Chalcis, under Mount Libanus, took his brethren to him; and sent his son Philippion to Askelon, to Aristobulus’s wife...” (Josephus, Ant 14.7.4).


Here then we appear to have identified a son and daughter for both Vespasius Pollio and Herod Pollio, all of which were active within elite circles in the same time period.


If Vespasius Pollio was Herod Pollio, then some blanks in the historical data would be filled in, for example, it would provide details about the children of Vespasius Pollio and give the name/s of his wife or wives. It would also show his brother to have been King Agrippa I, and that would explain why both King Agrippa II and Emperor Vespasian (born 9 CE) would have a physical family resemblance, as seen on the royal coinage, because of the sharing of the same common ancestry, which is their descent from King Herod the Great; King Agrippa II would be Vespasian’s first cousin, once removed, and great uncle on Vespasian’s mother’s side.


Emperor Vespasian and King Agrippa II

It is necessary to note that public genealogies of ancient royals usually began at a certain point, with a certain person, making the genealogy virtually impossible to be traced back any further via superficial readings of the histories that were left to us. Also, important dates and details are often omitted, adding frustration for a historian. But the reason critical information was not given seems to be because revealing those genealogies would reveal the connection to other royals (i.e., their royal lineage), but why would they want to hide their lineage? We must understand that the nobility was in control of everything, including the writing of religious literature, histories, stories, and who would rule. If the common people, who vastly outnumbered the royals, had discovered what was happening, in terms of manipulation, and being lied to, royalty would have been killed and their whole system overturned through a mass revolution, which is what was happening in Judea.


The people were given the hope that anyone could advance in life and perhaps even become emperor, as the illusion of different royal family dynasties had been created. In reality, that was not the case, as it appears the same royal family circles kept their rule by only providing certain information to the public. To maintain their very comfortable lifestyle and keep control, royalty had to hide the fact that they were the only ones creating published writing, as they were the only ones educated to a standard high enough to create the kind of prose seen in the histories and religious text that were produced. Essentially, the majority of the people of the Roman Empire only knew what the aristocracy allowed them to know.

Exposing ‘Vespasius Pollio’ as a pseudonym of Herod Pollio would show ‘Vespasius’ as a King, and therefore, his and his descendant’s right to rule.


If the name ‘Vespasius’ was a pseudonym, understanding a possible reason as to why it was chosen is a good idea. It is known that ancient royals used titles as part of names, for example, ‘Ptolemy Soter’, a title bestowed upon many monarchs, is a Greek form of the Egyptian God-title, ‘Ptah-Mes Soter’, meaning ‘son of God the Saviour’, ‘Mes’ meaning ‘son of’, and ‘Soter’ meaning ‘Saviour’.


‘Vespasian’, from the information found, also looks to be a created title. The origin of this name has confused some, but it appears to have been created using two components: ‘Vas’ becomes ‘Bas’ (V and B are interchangeable) and ‘Pasius’ becomes ‘Pacius’ (C and S are interchangeable). ‘Vas/Bas’ ΒΑΣ is the royal abbreviation or shortening for the Greek word ‘Basilius’ βασιλεύς (‘King’), just as ‘Imp’ is short for Imperatori (Emperor) or ‘Caes’ short for Caesari (Caesar), and ‘Pasius’ (‘Pacius’) = Peace. Therefore, this “peace” word used in the name Ves-pasius can logically mean ‘King-Peace’, or “Roman Peace”, because in the minds of the aristocracy, “peace” was guaranteed by destroying the opposition; Vespasian’s reign is recorded as a time of peace and he even had a ‘Forum of Peace’ constructed to celebrate the pacification of the east.

For the nobility, war was necessary to obtain a measure of peace, at least for them, even if that peace was only temporary. It must be remembered that the Herodians were schooled in Rome, in the Roman ways. For example, Aristobulus IV, the eldest son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, was sent to Rome at the age of 12, along with his brother Alexander, to be schooled in the household of Augustus (20-28 BCE), staying in the household of Gaius Asinius Pollio, a politician, literary critic, Roman soldier, and historian; Aristobulus and Alexander were later executed by Herod in 7 BCE. Agrippa II was raised and educated at the imperial court in Rome, and, according to Josephus, Herod Antipas the Tetrarch, his full brother Archelaus and his half-brother Philip were also raised and educated in Rome (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 17)


Regarding Herod Pollio as ‘Vespasius Pollio’, we have learned he must have had a son and daughter, recorded as Vespasia Polla and Vespasius Pollio II in the writings of Suetonius. Vespasia Polla/Opgalli/Julia Polla/Julia Berenice/Julia of Chalcis married T. Flavius Sabinus I, recorded as a tax collector in Asia Minor (which includes Chalcis) who had two sons, T. Flavius Sabinus II, and the future Emperor Vespasian. ‘Vespasia Polla’ being the daughter of Herod Pollio means Emperor Vespasianan would be of royal blood and anyone descended from either Vespasian or his brother could then trace their ancestry back to King Herod the Great, and then also to his ancestry and/or that of his wives, including Mariamne I. This also means the Roman historians presenting Vespasian as a military man of very humble origins, who had “risen” to become Emperor, is also an illusion; Suetonius writes that he was a young legionary commander who took part in the conquest of Britain under Emperor Claudius (‘The Twelve Ceasars’, Life of Vespasian).


The illusion, based on what is written and what we have discovered so far, was that presenting Vespasian as a commoner would give the ordinary soldiers the hope that they too could perhaps one day become emperor, leading to their supporting of his bid for the throne. The reality, however, behind the scenes, was that Vespasian was a royal.

More information regarding this geneaology can be found in Creating Christianity - A Weapon of Ancient Rome, available on Amazon UK US