“Jerusalem lacks night life..ok...any life now..”
“Did you just call me Tit Arse?..GUARDS!”
Titus (Latin: Tutti Frutti Titus Flavius; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81), was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor in an election where he was the only candidate. He got his name 'Titus' (or 'Titearseus' according to the 18th century historian Edward Gibbon) from his habit of walking around ancient Rome in a bum-clenching tunic.
Titus got the army habit young when his father Vespasian turned his son's baby buggy into a battering pram. The sight of baby Titus coshing Rome enemies with a spikey rattle and throwing his dirty diapers into a mob of blood lusty barbarians made his dad very proud. So Titus followed in his father's army boots and joined the legions.
The young Titus gained a reputation for being cruel but usually fair in battle. Later Christians said Titus became a friend of St.Paul and would help to collect the old man's groceries whilst he was awaiting trial in Rome. St.Paul (or just 'Plain Paul' before his martyrdom) wrote thank-you scrolls to Titus but other historians think this was actually a different Titus. It was a pretty shit-common name in this time period.
Siege of Jerusalem and New Food Dishes
Vespasian and Titus were in Palestine trying to deal with a Jewish revolt when they heard that Emperor Nero had died. With no obvious heir to the Roman Empire, Vespasian decided to apply for the job with an army as an iron insurance policy. However, he left Titus with enough soldiers to finish off Jerusalem but the Jews showed no inclination to surrender and submit themselves to 'Roman Mercy'. This obstinacy really, really irritated Titus. He wanted to get his fun in Rome when he got news that Vespasian had successfully become emperor. So to provoke the Jewish zealots and incite the religious fanatics into rash military tactics, Titus would prance around on the ramparts of the siege works in the tightest shorts, accompanied a band of naked eunuchs dancing behind him.
Titus was kept company in his army issue tent by the black eyed Jewish Princess Berenice. She was the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I who had died some years earlier in when his stomach exploded in a shower of maggots whilst dining out with friends. Berenice had then been sent to a boarding school in Rome where she was shaved, waxed and coiffured and then returned to Judea as a walking advertisement for Roman Civilization. Considering what else was on offer for the bored Titus, Berenice's attentions were very welcome. She steam pressed Titus's toga and spruced up his laurel leaves. 
Jerusalem finally fell and was given the 'Rome Special Punishment Regime Number 1' which was no laughing matter, though some tried and wished they hadn't. The revolt continued at Masada but by then Titus was in Rome. He left the recipe for Chicken Tikka Masada to best friend Gordian or Gordianus Ramases (see Emperor Gordian for more information).
When in Rome
Titus finally got to Rome and was rewarded with a full scale Triumph. The citizens of Rome cheered as the long procession of prisoners were led through the street. Some were taken away for execution after the party was over but the majority were to be sold to help pay for the recent conflict. There were also huge carts carrying the treasures of the destroyed Temple. The Romans were mystified by some of the trophies displayed. No statues of a rampant naked god or an enticing goddess on show, just a guilded box, some candle holders (one very big one) and an assortment of caps, shawls and books. It didn't look impressive to the cynical Romans but Titus was happy. Vespasian awarded his son with the honorary title Matzobolloxus and promised to build a new sporting arena to continue the glory of his family: The Colosseum.
Life for the next few years was good for Titus. He got all the best seats in restaurants, was allowed all the sex he could manage and would be listened in silence even if he hadn't a clue what he was talking about. Sensing his son was growing restless and with his own popularity dipping, Vespasian made a suggestion. 'You'll Need an Arch one day, son'. What Titus really wanted a blood-red coloured chariot but decided to follow his father's advice. The Arch of Titus was once decorated with all his triumphs and postcards from Palestine but sadly the ravages of time and postcard collectors have stripped the monument bare. Unfortunately the rest of the building that was supposed to go with the arch wasn't completed because Titus really was also a 'tight arse' when it came to parting with his loot. The rest of Titus's villa remains a pile of bricks, broken teacups and cigarette ends to this day.
Vespasian was now getting on a bit. He dribbled a lot into his porridge and would ramble on about his army career about how many people his legions had killed. Vespasian decided that Titus ought to share power as well but in the end the old boy pegged out, standing up as be believed only milksops died in bed.
Titus was now Emperor and decided to go out and 'paint the town purple'. He was later found in the Forum singing bawdy songs and blowing kisses at passing patricians. Eventually Titus's younger brother Domitian brought him back home to the imperial palace. Titus was promptly sick all over Domitian. It wasn't an auspicious start.
First Night at the Colosseum
The 'Tutti Frutti Flavian House of Bloody Fun and Games' (AKA The Colosseum) opened its doors in the reign of Titus. It soon became a favourite day out for the local Romans who would queue for hours to see their fun.
They really like the gladiators - like Slam Dunk Druid , Hoganus Leperous and The Emasculator. Criminals were also there for the murderous entertainment (yours, not theirs) but stories that the Christians were a big draw were wrong. The audience got bored watching these 'long haired friends of Jesus' tamely letting wild beasts tearing chunks off them. It didn't seem fair, it just wasn't 'playing the game' in a pagan Roman's opinion. What next? Vegetarian lions would be the cry??
So Christians were left off the entertainment bill and more circus clowns were employed. Now the crimson-soaked arena echoed with cries of '..Whooah! who chopped off his funny red nose..' and '..look at the bear eat that man's feet..' A lot more fun and less dangerous to Roman civil order. Titus approved of the changes and audiences doubled.
Pompeii Decides to Bury Itself
All roads led to Rome but nothing much led to Pompeii. Once you negotiated your way round the conical green mountain that towered over it, the city was viewed as a second rate retirement home and less desirable then Naples to spend your dotage in. Mini corinthian columns marked out petty little plots of land and every day someone was washing his chariot in the drive. Dogs barked...the smell of Lark Tongue Pie wafted...then BANG! The mountain came to life! Vulcan was stirring deep below!!
Pompeiians sent messages to Rome urging everyone to come down and watch the spectacle (entry price 10 Denarii). Guided tours were heavily booked and even Titus expressed an interest (perhaps fear) to see what was going on. He instead sent one of his old school masters Pliny the Elder to have a look but the roads were so busy, Pliny asked his nephew Pliny the Younger to hire a galley and get their faster. The ship made its way across the Bay of Naples but just then Vesuvius, tired for not being taken seriously blew out vast amounts of ash and pumice and killed thousands of people to slow or stupid to get away. Pliny the Elder was so busy drawing the eruption that he stayed too long on deck and suffocated on a belly full of pumice. His nephew tried to bury his uncle at sea but thanks to his last involuntary meal, the old boy refused to sink and sailed alone towards Pompeii.
Titus was still in Rome when the news that Pompeii had 'disappeared'. He set up the Pompeii Relief Fund and promised to rebuild the city. Richer citizens were encouraged to donate surplus slaves to help in the reconstruction but after a flurry activity, the rescue was unoffocially abandoned and the money donated to Vulcan's temple. Perhaps the metal hammerer had to be appeased and why not Pompeii, who was going to miss such a dull backwater?
Back with Berenice
Though Titus was surrounded by every eligible woman , he missed his Jewish beauty. So he asked Berenice to come back to Rome. She agreed (Judea was less interesting now that a lot of the population were dead) but insisted in bringing along her funny little brother Herod Agrippa II and his best friend Josephus. The latter promised to write a gushy biography on the career of Titus and got a handsome advance.
It looked set fair and nights were lost in endless games of strip poker and dressing up again. Titus made plans to marry Berenice but he died suddenly and unexpectedly from deep vein thrombosis The emperor's death ended Berenice's dream of encouraging her lover to convert and 'go for the snip'. The new emperor Domitian encouraged Herod Agrippa II and Josephus to leave Rome on the end of a sharp pointed spear but Berenice disappears from the record. It was rumoured Domitian shut her up in a room where the old Jewish Temple treasures were held and that her body was only discovered centuries later when the Vandals asset stripped Rome in 455 AD.
Legacy of Titus
Titus was really lucky that everywhere he went, the people who knew him wrote everything down in concrete so that many years later we could all read about him. Tacitus says Titus could have been a great emperor but he died after barely a couple of years in the top job. But perhaps it is just as well that Titus went when he did. He was already planning to wear a new pair of bum hugging leather shorts to the next performance of The Emasculator at the Colosseum. Bloody close call!
- Titus's vanity led to many Romans adopt his clothing style to show their sympathies
- The Christians claimed this as their act of divine vengeance in revenge for Herod's execution of St.James the Bigger
- Titus's relationship with Berenice , Herod Agrippa Junior and Josephus was later turned into a now lost Roman farce by Brianus Rixus. The 5th century Christian writer Saint Augustine says watching this inspired him to write his first Confession comedy book: Confessions of a Hippo Cleaner.
- Also known as the mincemeat order.
- Originally designed for non-bloodthirsty games like athletics, football and ballet, popular pressure saw those abandoned in favour of gladitorial conflict and alfresco executions.
- Not to be confused with 'The Arse of Titus' about which ancient historians have also written a great deal for reasons referred to earlier in this article.
- The arch was originally crowned with a bronze statue of Titus shaving his legs.
- And every eligible man, but despite his taut buttocks, Titus didn't play that way.
- Was it the shorts that killed Titus? Roman writer Toderius (Todger) noted that an edict about wearing tight jockstraps were considerably loosened by later emperors. Others make the more plausible suggestion that it was poison as Titus was found dead with his head wedged firmly inside a slop bucket.