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DOMITIAN (Titus Flavius Domitianus):

Roman emperor 81-96; born in 51; assassinated in 96. In 69, when his father Vespasian was proclaimed emperor, Domitian was the center of the Flavian party in Rome. Succeeding his brother Titus in the government, he provoked the vigorous resistance of the aristocracy by his despotic measures, which aimed at the complete supersession of the powers of the Senate. His mistrust and financial embarrassment drove him, after a short period of moderation and good administration, to sanguinary measures. He maintained the pagan faith against the various dissenting sects; and twice (89 and 95) expelled the philosophers from Rome. He dealt most severely with converts to either Judaism or Christianity, the penalty being either death or confiscation of property. Even his cousin, the consul Flavius Clemens, was put to death for embracing the Jewish faith; while the latter's wife Domitilla was exiled to the isle of Pandataria (95). The severe measures projected at this time against the Jews, which occasioned the journey to Rome of R. Gamaliel and his colleagues, were frustrated probably by Domitian's assassination. During his reign the Jew-tax was collected in a most cruel manner. Characteristic of his distrust of Judaism and Christianity is the fact that he summoned the descendants of David to appear before him, and released them only after he had satisfied himself of their harmlessness.

Bibliography:
  • Keim, Rom und das Christenthum, pp. 206 et seq.;
  • Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 259 et seq.;
  • Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, i. 104 et seq.;
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 106 et seq.:
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 660 et seq.,iii. 75;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 26 et seq.
G. H. V.
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