This page is on Lucius Vitellius, the father of the emperor Vitellius. For his other son, the emperor's brother, see Lucius Vitellius the younger. Lucius Vitellius Veteris or the Elder (before 7 BC – 51) was the youngest of four sons of quaestor Publius Vitellius and the only one that did not die through politics.
Under Emperor Tiberius, he was Consul in 34 and Governor of Syria in 35. He deposed Pontius Pilate in 36 after complaints from the people in Samaria. He supported Emperor Caligula, and was a favorite of Emperor Claudius' wife Empress Valeria Messalina. During Claudius' reign, he was Consul again twice in 43 and 47, and governed Rome while the Roman Emperor was absent on his invasion of Britain. Around the time that Claudius married Agrippina the Younger in 47, 48 or 49, Vitellius served as a Censor.
He wielded great influence and was known for his outstanding character, though at one time, a Roman Senator accused him of treason. He died of paralysis in 51. Lucius received a state funeral and had a statue on the rostra ‘steadfast loyal to the Emperor’.
Lucius married a Roman woman named Sextilia, a reputable woman from a distinguished family. She gave birth to two sons named Aulus Vitellius Germanicus (who was the short lived Emperor in 69) and Lucius Vitellius.
Vitellius is a prominent character in Robert Graves's novel Claudius the God, an intimate friend of Claudius.