Thursday, February 09, 2017
Proof that Nero won the "Jewish War" - David Hendin on Vitellius's Judea Capta coin
In his article on Page 142 in JUDEA AND ROME IN COINS, David Hendin shows the front and back of a coin of Vitellius (Fig. 26: Vitellius bronze - depicting the victory over the Jews). Hendin says that the Judea capta series of coins was Rome's victorious response to the Jewish war. He further implies that Vitellius took advantage of his months in office to use the war for his Roman propaganda. Hendin thinks that with Vespasian (supposedly) running the show, the Romans were bound to win, and that Vitellius anticipated the victory. This of course is rubbish. If Vitellius anticipated anything, it was that Vespasian intended to mount a raid on the temple. This would make a massive difference to Vitellius's chances of being made emperor. The original idea of destroying the temple for its wealth and issuing Judea capta coins was Vitellius's. He was expecting to claim the riches of the temple for himself, knowing what was in the temple because he had been governor of Syria. But Vespasian beat him to it.
Nero had already won the "war" four/five years previously, which was short, as described in this blog, and not the sort of war created in the writings attributed to Josephus (see my post on the 'Circumvallation' Wall). Vitellius was simply starting a propaganda which Vespasian later exploited with further issues of Judea Capta coins. As Vitellius was the last emperor in the 'year of the four emperors', one can safely say that the 'war' had been over four/five years before Vitellius came up with the idea of issuing Judea Capta coins. Vitellius was using Nero's victory over the priests for his own later propaganda of a victory over the Jews.
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