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Aulus Vitellius (7/12/15/24 September 15 – 22 December 69), later Aulus Vitellius Germanicus, commonly known as Vitellius, was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Vitellius was the first to add the honorific cognomen Germanicus to his name instead of Caesar upon his accession; the latter name had fallen into disrepute in many quarters because of the actions of Nero.

His claim to the throne was soon challenged by legions stationed in the eastern provinces, who proclaimed their commander Vespasian emperor instead. War ensued, leading to a crushing defeat for Vitellius at the Second Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy. Once he realised his support was wavering, Vitellius prepared to abdicate in favour of Vespasian, but was executed in Rome by Vespasian's soldiers on December 22 of 69.



He was the son of Lucius Vitellius Veteris and his wife Sextilia, and had one brother, Lucius Vitellius the Younger. Suetonius recorded two different accounts of the origins of the Vitellius (gens), one making them descendants of past rulers of Latium, the other describing them as of lowly origins; Suetonius makes the sensible remark that both accounts might have been made by either flatterers or enemies of Vitellius—except that both were in circulation before Vitellius became emperor.[1] Suetonius also recorded that when Vitellius was born his horoscope so horrified his parents that his father tried to prevent Aulus from becoming a consul.[2]

He married firstly before the year 40 Petronia, daughter of Publius or Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, by whom he had a son Aulus Vitellius Petronianus, the universal heir of his mother and grandfather.

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