Governor of Egypt; enemy and persecutor of the Jews of Alexandria, for which reason Philo, in 42 C. E., directed a special work ("In Flaccum") against him. Philo only once (§ 1) gives the full name, φλάκκος 'A ουιλλιος. This is copied by Eusebius ("Chron." ed. Schoene, ii. 150) and Syncellus (ed. Dindorf, i. 626; in i. 615 the name is corrupted to φλάκκος 'A ουιλλιος). The full name, "Aulus Avilius Flaccus," is found on an inscription from Tentyra in Egypt ("C. I. G." No. 4716); it is found also on a papyrus fragment containing a decree of Flaccus, though some scholars read "Lucius" instead of "Aulus." Flaccus grew up with the sons of Augustus' daughter, and was in later years a friend of Tiberius, under whom he was for five years prefect of Egypt. Philo himself says (§ 3) that he filled his office peacefully and uprightly, surpassing all his predecessors. He remained in office under Caligula not for one year, as Philo says, but for one and a half years. Tiberius died in 37; but Macro, whom Caligula forced to commit suicide, died in 38 (Philo, "Legatio ad Caium," §§ 6-8; Dion Cassius, lix. 10; Suetonius, "Caligula," § 26); while the massacre of the Jews took place in the fall of 38. It was only after this event that Flaccus was suddenly recalled.
Regarding the persecutions see Alexandria. It may be noted here that Flaccus had previously shown his ill will toward the Jews by keeping back the deed of homage which they had addressed to Caligula ("In Flaccum," § 12). His animus against them was manifest also during the persecutions that took place at the time of mourning for Drusilla. Flaccus was recalled and banished to the island of Andros, where he was soon after executed, in 39 C.E. (ib. §§ 12-21).
Bibliography:G. S. Kr.
- Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii.331;
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 17;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 496;
- Nicole, Avilius Flaccus, Préfet d'Egypte, et Philon d'Alexandrie, in Revue de Philologie, xxii. 18-27;
- Prosopographia Imperii Romani, i. 190.