Aulus Vitellius was declared emperor by his troops in 69 A.D. After defeating the forces of Otho, he took control of Rome, but then spent more time at the banquet table then in governance. General Vespasian was then declared emperor in Alexandria, and the legions stationed along the Danube frontier marched against Vitellius. His forces were defeated, the emperor slain and his body dragged through the streets of Rome and dumped in the Tiber.
LuciusVitellius, depicted on the reverse of this coin, was father of the emperor Vitellius, a Roman senator, three times consul, and governor of Syria from 35 to 39 A.D.
In 36 A.D. LuciusVitellius fired Pontius Pilate, the infamous prefect of Judaea. A Samaritan, claiming to be Moses reincarnate, gathered an armed following. Pilate dispersed the crowd by killing some and taking many prisoners. After he executed the ringleaders, the Samaritans appealed to Vitellius, complaining that Pilate's response was excessive. Vitellius, agreed, sent Pilate back to Italy and appointed Marcellus.
In support of Claudius and Agrippina, Vitellius invented arguments why the old rule that an uncle and his niece should not marry, did not apply to the emperor. The new empress returned the favor. When Vitellius was accused of high treason by the senator Junius Lupus, she made sure that Claudius exiled the accuser.
Vitellius died unexpectedly from a paralytic stroke and received a statue on the speaker's platform on the Roman Forum, with the inscription "Of unwavering loyalty to the emperor." His unwavering loyalty was later criticized by Tacitus:
"The man, I am aware, had a bad name at Rome, and many a foul story was told of him. But in the government of provinces he acted with the virtue of ancient times. He returned and then, through fear of Caligula and intimacy with Claudius, degenerated into a servility so base that he is regarded by an after-generation as the type of the most degrading adulation. The beginning of his career was forgotten in its end, and an old age of infamy effaced the virtues of youth." [Tacitus, Annals, 6.32; tr. A.J. Church and W.J. Brodribb]
SH37560. Gold aureus, RIC I 94, BMCRE I 23, F, weight 7.029 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVSGERMIMP AVG TR P, laureate head right; reverse L VITELLIVSCOS IIICENSOR, LuciusVitellius (emperor's father) togate, seated left on curule chair, extending right, in left eagle-tipped scepter, feet on stool; FORVM paid $6950!!!; very rare (RIC R2); $5950.00 (€4581.50)
A.D. 69 is known as "The Year of the Four Emperors," in which four emperors, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian, ruled in a remarkable succession.
SH63773. Orichalcumsestertius, RIC I 118, Cohen 67, SRCV I 2205, BMCRE I -, F, rough, smoothing, weight 21.782 g, maximum diameter 34.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jul - Sep 69 AD; obverse A VITELLIVSGERMANICVSIMP AVGP M TR P, laureate and draped bust right; reversePAX AVGVSTI S C, Pax standing left, branch in right, cornucopia in left; ex Spink (with 1980s round ticket); very rare; $550.00 (€423.50)
Struck in 69 A.D., the Year of the Four Emperors. Vitellius invoked Mars for support against Otho after, according to Tacitus, he was brought the sword of Julius Caesar taken from the temple Mars, signifying he had been elected emperor by the consent of both armies of Germany.
SH63437. Copper as, RIC I 40, BMCRE I 99 - 102, Cohen 25, F, weight 7.823 g, maximum diameter 28.0 mm, die axis 180o, Hispania, Tarraco? mint, Jan - Jun 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS IMP GERMAN, laureate head left, globe at point of bust; reverse CONSENSVS EXERCITVVM (with the consent of the Army), Mars advancing left, nude but for cloak, spear in right, aquila with vexillum in left, S - C across field; ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $350.00 (€269.50)