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Legislating Morality

Contributed by David Verne

As part of his goal to return the Roman Empire to the greatness it enjoyed under Augustus, Domitian has decided that the next step would be reestablishing conservative Roman morality. His first act was to enforce the unspoken seating laws in amphitheaters and arenas, with the upper classes sitting closer to the performance. Domitian then executed Hermogenes, a historian whose history contained "indirect attacks" on the emperor. He then banned public acting and banished a Senator who liked to act on stage, which Domitian saw as worse than prostitution. In addition to all this, he also began a rigorous enforcement of sexual morality laws. The upper classes were already upset that Domitian never missed a chance to snub them and all classes liked him even less after he tried to regulate their bedrooms. For now no plots were hatched, but the first real trouble of Domitian's reign was on the horizon with a serious war brewing on the Dacian border. [1]

My Take by David Verne
In Ancient Rome, actors and musicians were on the same social status as prostitutes and beggars. Everyone loved them during the performance, but once that was over they lived in the worst slums of Rome. Some of this was changing around the time of Domitian, and he saw this, along with many other things, as a degeneration of Roman culture. Instead of focusing on policies that could be accomplished, he tried to pursue a public policy that alienated nearly the entire population and was nearly impossible to implement.

Dacian Raids and Another Triumph

Contributed by David Verne

The tribes in Dacia, modern day Romania, have never posed a serious threat to Rome and only engaged in small scale raiding. This year the Dacian king, Dura, abdicates in favor of his nephew, Decebalus. Decebalus quickly assembled a large army from the newly united tribes and crossed the Danube River in the Roman province of Moesia, taking the Roman garrisons completely by surprise. In the ensuing chaos, the local legion fell back and the provincial governor was killed. Domitian immediately led reinforcements from Italy, including units of the Praetorian Guard, but by the time he arrived, the Dacians had withdrawn across the Danube, laden down with loot and prisoners.

Domitian returned to Rome and left the Praetorian Prefect, Cornelius Fuscus, in command of the Roman army in Moesia. When Domitian arrived at Rome, he celebrated a Triumph for having successfully driving the Dacians out of Roman territory. The war was far from over though, and this Triumph would soon turn into a political wound that refused to heal, as Fuscus decided to lead the army into Dacia to destroy the raiding force. Fuscus didn't realize that the normally squabbling tribes had united, and Rome would soon suffer its worst military disaster since three legions were wiped out in the Teutoburg Forest. [2]

My Take by David Verne
The Dacians were much different than the disorganized Germanic tribes that the Romans were used to fighting. Their nobility was fluent in Latin and Greek; they were organized under one ruler, and they also controlled rich gold, silver, and iron mines. Their city planning was much more advanced than most barbarian tribes, and their capital had aqueducts and pipe systems copied from the Romans.

See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (November 22 2009). 75- The Forgotten Son.
  2. Dando-Collins, Stephen (2010). Legions of Rome. St. Martin's Press. 
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