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A Conspiracy

Contributed by David Verne

A conspiracy has been hatched by Domitian's court officials. It is difficult to determine how many people were in on the plot, but the three known conspirators are Domitian's chamberlain, Parthenius, Parthenius' freedman Maximus, and a steward to Domitian's niece named Stephanus. Maximus was going to be the inside man by making sure the right doors were locked and unlocked and to remove the sword Domitian kept under his bed. Stephanus was going to be the actual assassin, and in preparation he fakes an arm injury so the Praetorians get used to him wearing a sling, in which he hides a dagger.

An astrologer had once told Domitian that he would die at midday, so he would constantly ask what time it was, and after noon had passed he would feel confident that he would live at least one more day. On September 18th, when Domitian asked this question, a servant who was in on the plot told him that it was well past noon when it was actually before noon. Feeling at ease, Domitian went to sign some paperwork. Stephanus then arrived and demanded an audience with the emperor, saying that he had uncovered a plot. Since Stephanus was a servant of the Imperial family, he was sent to see Domitian, and as soon as he came into the Emperor's chambers, Stephanus stabbed him in the groin. The wounded Domitian managed to hold Stephanus off for several minutes, but four more conspirators rushed into the chambers and finished the Emperor off. Domitian was 44 years old, and he was unceremoniously cremated, with his ashes deposited in the Flavian temple.

The Senate reacted swiftly, strongly suggesting that many of them were in on the plot, and were determined to make themselves relevant again. They all saw the need to appoint an emperor quickly to avoid civil war, so they chose Nerva, the senator who had so far only gained power in the shadows. Nerva was the perfect stopgap emperor because he was a Senator, and he was old and childless, meaning that the Senate would have time to debate who he would adopt as heir. Nerva didn't want to become emperor, but not wanting a civil war either, the 66 year old Senator became emperor. The assassins were let off without any punishment, much to the anger of the rank and file Praetorians, who loved Domitian and screamed for the heads of his murderers. [1]

My Take by David Verne
The Senate immediately damned Domitian's memory and tried to act like he never existed. His name was erased from public monuments, and statues of him were carved to look like Nerva. It was hard enough trying to keep everyone on the same revisionist page in Rome, but in the provinces it was impossible, and in the army it was dangerous. Nerva was now finding his obscurity working against him because most of the population didn't know who he was or why he should be emperor. The next year will be a very trying one for Nerva.

Arch of Titus

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year the Arch of Titus, a honorific arch constructed by Domitian, was completed, after being commissioned in 82. The arch was to commemorate Titus's military victories, including the 70 Siege of Jerusalem. Ironically there are many theories around Titus's death including many suggesting that Domitian himself had him poisoned with a sea hare.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
When one sees a picture of this arch, it is remarkably familiar looking. This is because it served as the model for many 16th century arches arected around Europe, most famouslt among these is likely the Arc de Triompe in Paris, France.


See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (December 13, 2009). 77- What Time is It?.

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