Who was Emperor Domitian?

Domitian was the Roman Emperor during year 81 to 96 CE. He was known for being one of the worst Roman emperors in history. With his narcissism and suspicion controlling his thoughts and decisions, making his actions cruel and unjust.

Becoming Emperor

Domitian was the son of Titus Flavius Vespasianus, commonly known as the general who restored stability and normality to the public after the chaos of Nero’s fall. After Vespasian’s death, Domitian’s older brother, also known as Vespasian, became ruler, being the first emperor to get the throne after their biological father. Unfortunately, Domitian did not have his father’s charm or his brother’s court education, although he was considered quite bright. Vespasian suffered an untimely death due to natural causes, with Domitian quickly proclaiming to be the new emperor. Rumours soon began that Domitian had a hand in his brother’s death, most likely using poison to kill him. As Vespasian’s last words; “I have made but one mistake,” caused speculation that the mistake was referring to Domitian.

His Accomplishments

During Domitian’s early reign, the Roman capital was in decay, due to numerous fires and crumbling ruins to some public buildings. Domitian built a new temple to Jupiter the Guardian and a new stadium and concert hall. His best-known accomplishment was building the Imperial Palace on Palatine Hill. During his early years, Domitian was known as a generous leader, and fair when dispensing justice.

The Decline of Domitian

Domitian suffered great paranoia throughout his reign, with cruelty and ostentation becoming his typical traits as Emperor further into his reign. He had a deep suspicion to those around him, resulting in executing a large number of senates and leading citizens for supposedly conspiring against him. He was extremely vain, demanding he was to be treated and called a god, and being very self- conscious of being bald. He sent many of Roman’s philosophers into exile, as well as recalling or executing other leaders who were seen as more popular than himself.

The Death of Domitian

They soon brought Domitian down by a scheme arranged by his wife, Domitia, as she feared for her life. Stephanus, a member of Domitian’s imperial staff, was to fake an arm injury, using an arm wrapping to be used to store a knife. Stephanus then stabbed Domitian in the groin, with other conspirators hacking the emperor to death after the first initial stab. His murder overjoyed the senates, with the city celebrating Domitian’s death by tearing down his statues and arches.

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