n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - : Domitian and the mechanics of predecessor denigration

Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The post-Domitianic literary record differs markedly from that of the emperor's reign. Although portrayed as a victorious general, defender of Roman morality and a great builder while alive, he is described, after his assassination and , as a vainglorious and immoral tyrant. While judgment will not be passed on the man himself, this article will attempt to show that the record of Domitian's reign and character was dictated not so much by reality as by the mechanics of predecessor denigration. What had been acceptable (and laudable) for other emperors was to become unacceptable (and worthy of condemnation) for Domitian. His virtues were made into vices and his successes were rendered as failures - all in order to accord with what was expected of a tyrant, a .

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