Archives for September 14th, 2011


On This Day (September 14)

The emperor Titus died on 13 September 81, and the next day his brother Domitian (Titus Flavius Domitianus) assumed the purple. Among his innovations as emperor were the following:

He did away with the distribution of food to the people25 and revived that of formal dinners.26 He added two factions of drivers in the Circus, with gold and purple as their colours, to the four former ones.27 He forbade the appearance of actors on the stage, but allowed the practice of their art in private houses. (Suetonius, Life 7).

Cassius Dio was critical of his character:

Domitian was not only bold and quick to anger but also treacherous and secretive; and so, deriving from these two characteristics impulsiveness on the one hand and craftiness on the other, he would often attack people with the sudden violence of a thunderbolt and again would often injure them as the result of careful deliberation….There was no human being for whom he felt any genuine affection, except a few women; but he always pretended to be fond of the person whom at the moment he most desired to slay. So faithless was he even towards those who showed his some favour or helped him in his most revolting crimes, that, whenever persons provided him with large sums of money or lodged false information against large numbers of people, he was sure to destroy them, being especially careful to do so in the case of slaves who had given information against their masters. 4 Accordingly, such persons, though they received money and honours and p319offices in which they were his colleagues, lived in no greater honour and security than other men.