Domitianus

Suetonius ca. 69-ca. 122

Suetonius, ca. 69-ca. 122, creator; Thomson, Alexander, M.D, translator; Reed, J.E. (J. Eugene), editor

"The lot of princes," he remarked, "was very miserable, for no one-believed them when they discovered a conspiracy, until they were murdered." When he had leisure, he amused himself with dice, even on days that were not festivals, and in the morning. He went to the bath early, and made a plentiful dinner, insomuch that he seldom ate more at supper than a .Martian apple,[*](This favourite apple, mentioned by Columella and Pliny, took its name from C. Matius, a Roman knight, and friend of Augustus, who first introduced it. Pliny tells us that Matius was also the first who brought into vogue the practice of clipping groves.) to which he added a draught of wine, out of a small flask. He gave frequent and splendid entertainments, but they were soon over, for he never prolonged them after sunset, and indulged in no revel after. For, till bed-time, he did nothing else but walk by himself in private.

He was insatiable in his lusts, calling frequent commerce with women, as if it was a sort of exercise, κλινοπάλην, bed-wrestling, and it was reported that he swam about in company with the lowest prostitutes. His brother's daughter[*](Julia, the daughter of Titus. ) was offered him in marriage when she was a virgin; but being at that time enamoured of Domitia, he obstinately refused her. Yet not long afterwards, when she was given to another, he was ready enough to debauch her, and that even while Titus was living. But after she had lost both her father and her husband, he loved her most passionately, and without disguise; insomuch that he was the occasion of her death, by obliging her to procure a miscarriage when she was with child by him.

The people shewed little concern at his death, but the soldiers were roused by it to great indignation, and immediately endeavoured to have him ranked among the gods. They were also ready to avenge his loss, if there had been any to take the lead. However, they soon after effected it, by resolutely demanding the punishment of all those who had been concerned in his assassination. On the other hand, the senate was so overjoyed, that they met in all haste, and in a full assembly reviled his memory in the most bitter terms; ordering ladders to be brought in, and his shields and images to be pulled down before their eyes, and dashed in pieces upon the floor of the senate-house; passing at the same time a decree to obliterate his titles every where, and abolish all memory of him. A few months before he was slain, a raven on the Capitol uttered these words: "All will be well." Some person gave the following interpretation of this prodigy:

  1. Nuper Tarpeio, quae sedit culmine cornix.
  2. "Est bene," non potuit dicere; dixit, "Erit."
  1. Late croaked a raven from-Tarpeia's height,
  2. "All is not yet, but shortly will be, right."
They say likewise that Domitian dreamed that a golden hump grew out of the back of his neck, which he considered as a certain sign of happy days for the empire after him. Such an auspicious change indeed shortly afterwards took place, through the justice and moderation of the succeeding emperors.