Roman Emperor Titus: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The Roman emperor Titus ruled for only two years, but achieved many successes in his time, including opening the Coliseum and helping the survivors of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Learn about this emperor's life and achievements in this lesson.

Time Is Short

Imagine that you get to be the most powerful person in your country, but you only get to be that way for a few years. If you could only give a few commands and everyone had to follow them, what would you want to do? Maybe you'd make the weekends twice as long, or make a delicious new type of ice cream. Sometimes even the most powerful rulers only get a limited amount of time. In ancient Rome, some emperors had supreme power but only for a short while. The Roman emperor Titus was one example: he reigned, or ruled, in Rome for just two years during the years 79 to 81. Even so, he's remembered for his achievements, instead of his short time as emperor.

Sculpture of Emperor Titus
Bust of Titus

Growing Up

How do you get to be the emperor of a powerful nation? The easiest way is to be born to the current emperor. That's how Titus did it: his father, Vespasian (pronounced ves-pay-see-an), was the emperor of Rome before him. This meant that much of Titus's life was spent in his father's service. For example, Vespasian raised an army in order to pacify, or make peace in, a region called Judea that is in modern-day Israel, and Titus came along to help win victory. However, Vespasian had to return to Rome, leaving Titus alone in Judea to fight the war. However, this wasn't a problem for Titus: he not only pacified Judea, but also destroyed the great Jewish temple in order to prevent another fight against Roman rule.

Image of Titus
Coin of Vespasian

As Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire, he made certain that his son would be ready one day to take the throne. Vespasian famously said that either his son Titus would be the next emperor, or no one would. Titus was promoted to a number of ranks in the Roman government, including joint consul with Vespasian, making Titus the second-most powerful man in the empire. This also made Titus unpopular, because he and Vespasian took out many of their enemies. When Vespasian died in the year 79, Titus became the new emperor.

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