(died circa AD 36) Roman prefect of Judaea (AD 26–36) who presided at the trial of Jesus and gave the order for his crucifixion. The New Testament represents Pilate as a weak and vacillating man who found no fault with Jesus but ordered his execution to please the mob calling for his death. Known for his severity toward the Jews, he was eventually ordered back to Rome to stand trial for cruelty and oppression. A tradition of uncertain accuracy holds that he killed himself on orders from Caligula in AD 39; another legend relates that both Pilate and his wife converted to Christianity.
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