Pontius Pilate Biography

Pontius Pilate
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Pontius Pilate
Quick Facts

Nationality: Ancient Roman

Famous: Ancient Roman Male

Born Country: Roman Empire

Born in: Roman Italy, Italy

Famous as: Roman official

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Claudia Procula

father: Pontius

Died on: 37

place of death: Roman Empire

Cause of Death: Execution

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Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, Samaria, and Idumæa. He was appointed in his position by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. We know about his life from the four canonical gospels, Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, a brief mention by Tacitus, and an inscription known as the Pilate Stone, which authenticates his existence and ascertains his title as prefect. It is also mentioned that he was the judge at the trial of Jesus, and the leading man who ordered his crucifixion. However, the gospels mention that he tried saving Jesus from the execution and pleaded for his innocence in front of prominent Jewish leaders and Roman authorities.  The gospels also say that he had no other option but to order Jesus’ execution as the crowd was getting unruly and things were getting out of his hands. In the mythological history, he is mentioned as a weak man who yielded to the Jewish establishment’s pressure in carrying out Jesus’ execution. Italian archeologist Dr. Antonio Frova, during a 1961 excavation in Caesarea Maritima, discovered a piece of limestone emblazoned with Pilate’s name in Latin, linking him to Emperor Tiberius’s reign, which validates his historical existence.

Childhood & Early Life

Not much is documented about Pilate’s birth and early life, but it is presumed that he was born in the small village of Bisenti, which is now in Central Italy. There are ruins of his house in the village. But there are also other assumptions as to where he was born, some of these assumed places are: Fortingall in Scotland, Tarragona in Spain, Forchheim in Germany, etc. But the most accurate suggestion is still considered to be Central Italy.

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Later Life & Career

In 26 A.D., Pilate was appointed as the prefect of the Roman provinces of Judaea, Samaria, and Idumæa. The usual term for a Roman prefect was one to three years but he held his post for 10 years.

He succeeded Valerius Gratus as the Roman prefect. His main tasks were military, but he was also accountable for collecting colonial taxes and had some restricted judicial role as well.

He had small auxiliary armed force of locally employed soldiers. These soldiers were stationed at all times in Caesarea and Jerusalem, and provisionally anywhere else that might need military. He had around 3000 soldiers at his disposal at all times.

Pilate mostly lived in Caesarea but often traveled to Jerusalem to perform his duties properly. During an important festival called the Passover, he was required to be in Jerusalem to maintain order and decorum.

Pilate’s most vital liability was that of maintaining law and order in his province. He had the power of a supreme judge, which gave him the sole power to preside over and order a criminal’s execution.

The canonical Christian Gospels state that Pilate supervised the trial of Jesus. Although, in his opinion, he found him not guilty of a crime worthy of a death sentence, he still sentenced him to be crucified after succumbing to external pressure.

Pilate was caught in between the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin Jewish council as Jesus had claimed that he was the king of the Jews. Pilate asked Jesus if he is the king of the Jews and he replied, ‘If you say so.’

This was considered an act of treason by the Roman government as Jesus’ action and claims came across as a challenge to Roman rule and to the Roman veneration of Caesar. It was claimed, by the Jewish leaders, as a political threat.

In some of the gospel versions of The Trial of Jesus, it is said that Pilate was unjust. The four canonical gospels portray him as a weak man who yielded to the Jewish establishment’s pressure.

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Matthew 27:19 explains Pilate’s innocence: “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves."”

After Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate ordered ‘INRI’ to be emblazoned on Jesus's crypt. In Latin, ‘INRI’ meant Jesus's name and his title ‘King of the Jews.’ It is said that it was meant to mock and ridicule Jesus’ supercilious claim.

Pilate’s sentencing of Jesus’ crucifixion is considered to be the most important event in his life. Besides being the prefect of the Roman provinces of Judaea, Samaria, and Idumæa, he is a critical character in the New Testament accounts of Jesus.

Personal Life & Legacy

It is known that Pilate died in 37 C.E, but it is not known for certain under what circumstances that he died. According to some myths, Roman Emperor Caligula ordered his death by execution or suicide.

He chose to go into exile and kill himself. These myths also state that after he committed suicide, his body was thrown into the Tiber River.

Trivia

Some myths state that towards the end of his life, Pilate got converted to Christianity and was later canonized.

He is considered a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Italian archeologist Dr. Antonio Frova, during a 1961 excavation in Caesarea Maritima, discovered a piece of limestone emblazoned with Pilate’s name in Latin, linking him to Emperor Tiberius’s reign.

There is a legend, according to which he died at Mount Pilatus in Switzerland.

Some say that he was exiled to Gaul and he committed suicide in Vienne.

See the events in life of Pontius Pilate in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Pontius Pilate Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
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URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/pontius-pilate-5073.php

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