Vitellia (daughter of emperor Vitellius)

Vitellia was a Roman noblewoman, who was the daughter of the emperor Aulus Vitellius and was married to the Roman senator Decimus Valerius Asiaticus. A fictionalised Vitellia is a central character in the opera La clemenza di Tito by Mozart.

Aulus vitellius, vitellia and vitellius germanicus.jpg
Coin depicting Vitellia, her father and brother.
Known fordaughter of the Roman emperor Vitellius
Spouse(s)Decimus Valerius Asiaticus
ChildrenMarcus Lollius Paulinus Decimus Valerius Asiaticus Saturninus


Vitellia was the daughter of the emperor Aulus Vitellius, born from his second marriage to Galeria Fundana.[1] Vitellia had a brother, Vitellius Germanicus and a half-brother Vitellius Petronianus, who was the son of Vitellius' first wife, Petronia.[2] In AD 69, Vitellius began to struggle for power, and at this time Vitellia was in Rome with her mother. Whilst her father was away at war, she and the rest of her family came under the protection of the emperor Otho.[3] After the first Battle of Bedriacum, where Vitellius defeated Otho, his wife and children joined him in Lugdunum.[3]

According to Tacitus, Vitellius chose the legate of the Belgian province Decimus Valerius Asiaticus as a husband for Vitellia.[4] Vitellia's father was assassinated in AD69 and in AD 70 Asiaticus died, leaving her with a son, Marcus Lollius Paulinus Decimus Valerius Asiaticus Saturninus.[5] Later in AD 70, the new emperor Vespasian took Vitellia under his wing, provided her with a dowry, a house and an unnamed husband.[6]

Fictional portrayalEdit

Sextus kneels before Emperor Titus. Behind them, Vitellia falls into Tullia's arms. Before the people Titus shows his mild character and gives the two freedom after their betrayal.

Vitellia is a central character in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, where a dramatic account of her life has her attempt to assassinate Titus, after he declares his love for the Jewish princess Berenice.[7] The opera is set in AD 79.[8]


  1. ^ Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Vitellius. 6.
  2. ^ Gwyn Morgan, 69 AD: The Year of Four Emperors (Oxford: University Press, 2005), p. 149.
  3. ^ a b Tacitus, History, I. 75; Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Othon, 5, 16.
  4. ^ Tacitus , Historiae , I, 59.
  5. ^ Bowman, The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 10, p. 217
  6. ^ Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Vespasian, 14.
  7. ^ Boyden, Matthew; Kimberley, Nick (2002). The Rough Guide to Opera. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-85828-749-2.
  8. ^ A companion to the Flavian age of imperial Rome. Andrew Zissos. Chichester, UK. 2016. p. 501. ISBN 978-1-118-87817-0. OCLC 922799539.CS1 maint: others (link)

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