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On this page: Domitia Gens – Domitianus


danger, she urged the conspirators on, and Domitian was murdered in A. d. 96. (Dion Cass. Ixvii. 3, Ixvi. 3, 15 ; Suet. Domit. 3, 22.) The coin annexed contains on the obverse the head of Do- niitia, with the legend domitia avgvsta imp. domit. [L. S.]

DOMITIA GENS, plebeian, the members of which towards the end of the republic were looked upon as belonging to one of the most illustrious pfentes. (Cic. Phil. ii. 29 ; Plin. H. N. vii. 57 ; Val. Max. vi. 2. § 8.) During the time of the republic, we meet with only two branches of this gens, the ahenobarbi and calvini, and, with the exception of a few unknown personages men­ tioned in isolated passages of Cicero, there is none without a cognomen. [L. S.]

DOMITIANUS, or with his full name T. fla-vius domitianus augctstus, was the younger of Vespasian's sons by his first wife Domitilla. He succeeded his elder brother Titus as emperor, and reigned from a. d. 81 to 96. He was born at Rome, on the 24th of October, A. d. 52, the year in which his father was consul designatus. Sue­tonius relates that Domitian in his youth led stach a wretched life, that he never used a silver vessel, and that he prostituted himself for money. The position which his father then occupied precludes the possibility of ascribing this mode of life to poverty, and if the account be true, we must attribute this conduct to his bad natural disposi­tion. When Vespasian was proclaimed emperor, Domitian, who was then eighteen years old, hap-' pened to be at Rome, where he and his friends were persecuted by Vitellius ; Sabiims, Vespasian's brother, was murdered, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that Domitian escaped from the burning temple of the capitol, and concealed him­self until the victory of his father's party was de­cided. After the fall of Vitellius, Domitian was proclaimed Caesar, and obtained the city praetor-ship with consular power. As his father was still absent in the east, Domitian and Mucianus under­took the administration of Italy until Vespasian returned. The power which was thus put into his hands was abused by the dissolute young man in a manner which shewed to the world, but too plainly, what was to be expected, if he should ever succeed to the imperial throne: he put several persons to death, merely to gratify his desire of taking vengeance on his personal enemies ; he se­duced many wives, and lived surrounded by a sort of harem, and arbitrarily deposed and appointed so many magistrates, both in the city and Italy, that his father with a bitter sarcasm wrote to him, " I wonder that you do not send some one to suc­ceed me." Being jealous of the military glory of his father and brother, he resolved upon marching against Civilis in Gaul, in spite of the advice of all his friends to remain at Rome ; but he did not ad­vance further than Lugdunum, for on his arrival there he received intelligence of Cerealis having already conquered the rebel.



When his father at length arrived at Rome, Domitian, who was conscious of his evil conduct, is said not to have ventured to meet him, and to have pretended not to be in the perfect possession of his mind. Vespasian, however, knew his dis­position, and throughout his reign kept him as much as possible away from public affairs ; but in order to display his" rank and station, Domitian always accompanied his father and brother when they appeared in public, and when they celebrated their triumph after the Jewish war, he followed them in the procession riding on a white war-steed. He lived partly in the same house with his father, and partly on an estate near the Mons Albanus, where he was surrounded by a number of courtezans. While he thus led a private life, he devoted a great part of his time to the composi­tion of poetry and the recitation of his productions. Vespasian, who died in A. d. 79, was succeeded by his elder son Titus, and Domitian used publicly to say, that he was deprived of his share in the go­vernment by a forgery in his father's will, for that it had been the wish of the latter that the two brothers should reign in common. But this was mere calumny : Domitian hated his brother, and made several attempts upon his life. Titus behaved with the utmost forbearance towards him, but followed the example of his father in not allowing Domitian to take any part in the admi­nistration of public affairs, although he was in­vested with the consulship seven times during the reigns of his father and brother. The early death of Titus, in a. d. 81, was in all probability the work of Domitian. Suetonius states that Domi­tian ordered the sick Titus to be left entirely alone, before he was quite dead; Dion Cassius says that he accelerated his death by ordering him while in a fever to be put into a vessel filled with snow; and other writers plainly assert, that Titus was poisoned or murdered by Domitian.

On the ides of September, a. d. 81, the day on which Titus died, Domitian was proclaimed em­peror by the soldiers. During the first years of his reign he continued, indeed, to indulge in strange passions, but Suetonius remarks that he manifested a pretty equal mixture of vices and virtues. Among the latter we must mention, that he kept a very strict superintendence over the go­vernors of provinces, so that in his reign they are said to have been juster than they ever were after­wards. He also enacted several useful laws: he forbade, for example, the castration of male children, and restricted the increasing cultiva­tion of the vine, whereby the growth of corn was neglected. He endeavoured to correct the fri­volous and licentious conduct of the higher classes, and shewed great liberality and moderation on many occasions. He further took an active part in the administration of justice; which conduct, praise­worthy as it then was, became disgusting after­wards, when, assisted by a large class of delatores, he openly made justice the slave of his cruelty and tyranny; for, during the latter years of his reign he acted as one of the most cruel tyrants that ever disgraced a throne, and as Suetonius re­marks, his very virtues were turned into vices. The cause of this change in his conduct appears, independent of his natural bias for what was bad, to have been his boundless ambition, injured vanity, jealous}^ of others, and cowardice, which were awakened and roused by the failure of his

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