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Ancient History Quote of the Day: "When Domitian... was lashing the world half to death while Rome cringed before this bald-headed Nero, by chance... a turbot of wondrous proportions fell right into a fisherman's net" (Juvenal, Satire 4.37-41 [with omissions]). #AHQOTD #Domitian
One of my favourite sources, a scathing critique of the consilium of Domitian and its members, the Emperor's 'privy council' and the most overt sign of the autocracy Domitian brought to the role of emperor.

Image: Bust of Domitian (Uffizi)
Far from discussing the enormities of state, Domitian gathers his consilium to discuss what to do with the fish of gargantuan proportions. Juvenal describes the the gathering of the consilium, a group he assesses as "noblemen all, and all of them hated" (4.73).
"They come, faces pallid and drawn with fear of his dangerous friendship" (4.73-4), highlighting that being close to Domitian was - in some ways - more risky than being a political non-entity.
However, we could see such a process of the creation of a key group of advisers as the inevitable conclusion of the principate system. Tradition had given way to a greater centralisation of power in the hands of the emperor and those individuals whom he felt that he could trust.
Whereas other emperors might have sought to ‘sugar the pill’, although an official secretariat of freedmen certainly acquired prominence under Claudius, Domitian showed no qualms whatsoever. In that at least, he was utterly lacking in hypocrisy.
Moreover, we must constantly acknowledge the issue of the provenance of our sources:

"If our only evidence for the regime of Domitian were the poems written during it, we should see the imperial court as a benign centre of patronage, literary as well as official..."
"..., and the scene of a civilised existence carried on against a background of elegant houses and suburban estates" (Millar, F., 1977, The Emperor in the Roman World, London: Duckworth: 79).

#AHQOTD #Domitian
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