Emperor Titus: The Man Who Destroyed the Temple
The oldest son of the Emperor Vespasian, Titus was the second to reign in the Flavian dynasty. But before he became emperor, Titus was an acclaimed war leader of Rome, who was charged by the reigning emperor with the task of ending the Jews’ rebellion against Roman rule. When Titus conquered and destroyed Jerusalem, he was putting an end to many decades of rebellion that had erupted long before his time.
Titus’ army broke through the walls of Jerusalem after a long siege, during which the food and water supplies to the city were cut off. According to Josephus, when Titus entered the city, his army killed 1,100,000 people within the city, most of whom were Jews; nearly 100,000 more were captured and enslaved, their image forever carved into the bas relief of Titus’ Arch.
There is controversy as to whether Titus intended to destroy the Temple. Josephus claims that the destruction of the Temple of was initiated when a Roman soldier threw a torch inside its walls, kindling a blaze. Other historical sources believe that Titus had intended all along to destroy the Temple.
Titus was crowned emperor of Rome in 79 A.D., less than a decade after his triumph in Jerusalem. Among his achievements as emperor was the completion of the famous Colosseum, which some historians believe was built by Jewish slaves.
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