Cultural depictions of Domitian

Domitian was Roman emperor from 81 to 96.


  • The Roman Actor (1626), a play by Philip Massinger that features Domitian as the main character.
  • Josephus and the Emperor (1942; earlier Der Tag wird kommen), historical novel by Lion Feuchtwanger, in which a cruel and hypocritical Domitian suggests the tyranny of Adolf Hitler.
  • The Ravishers (1980), a historical romance by Jeanne Duval, about a Gallic princess who is enslaved in Rome and survives the Year of the Four Emperors
  • The Marcus Didius Falco series of crime novels (1989— ) by Lindsey Davis, set during the reign of Vespasian. Domitian appears as a peripheral character, and is named as the primary suspect in the murder being investigated in the first novel, Silver Pigs.
    • The companion series, featuring Falco's adoptive daughter, Flavia Albia, takes place during the reign of Domitian.
    • Master and God (2012), a historical novel by Davis centers around the reign of Domitian.
  • The Light Bearer (1994), a historical novel by Donna Gillespie.
  • Domitia and Domitian (2000), a historical novel by David Corson based on the works of Brian Jones and Pat Southern, revolving around the title characters.
  • The Roman Mysteries series of young adult novels by Caroline Lawrence features Domitian as a peripheral character, in which he is depicted as indolent and cruel, and responsible for several plots to undermine his brother Titus's popularity;
  • Mistress of Rome (2010), a historical novel by Kate Quinn where Domitian's skills as an emperor are tarnished by his personal cruelty and suspicion towards those around him.
  • Roman Hell (2010), a historical novel by Mark Mellon, fictionalizes the rise and fall of Domitian and suggests he may have had a role in his brother's death.
  • Roman Games: A Plinius Secundus Mystery (2010), a crime novel by Bruce Macbain, featuring Pliny the Younger;
  • Blood of Caesar, a crime novel by Albert Bell, Junior, featuring Pliny as detective with the historian Tacitus as his sidekick, during Domitian's reign;
  • Empire (2010), an epic novel of imperial Rome by Steven Saylor depicting four generations of a Roman family and their relationships with every emperor from Augustus to Hadrian, with Domitian as a major character.
  • "Los Asesinos del Emperador" (2011), a novel (in Spanish) by Spanish writer Santiago Posteguillo.

Film and television

Dacii (film)

Dacii (The Dacians) is a 1967 historical drama film about the run up to Domitian's Dacian War, which was fought between the Roman empire and the Dacians in AD 87-88. The film mixes historical events with a fictional story about a Roman general who is the son of a Dacian spy.

The film was directed by Romanian director Sergiu Nicolaescu. It was released on 31 May 1967 in France. It was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival. In Romania the film was immensely successful, and it remains one of the most watched films of all time in the country.


Domitian (; Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus; 24 October 51 – 18 September AD 96) was Roman emperor from 81 to 96. He was the younger brother of Titus and the son of Vespasian, his two predecessors on the throne, and the last member of the Flavian dynasty. During his reign, the authoritarian nature of his rule put him at sharp odds with the senate, whose powers he drastically curtailed.

Domitian had a minor and largely ceremonial role during the reigns of his father and brother. After the death of his brother, Domitian was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard. His 15-year reign was the longest since that of Tiberius. As emperor, Domitian strengthened the economy by revaluing the Roman coinage, expanded the border defenses of the empire, and initiated a massive building program to restore the damaged city of Rome. Significant wars were fought in Britain, where his general Agricola attempted to conquer Caledonia (Scotland), and in Dacia, where Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory against king Decebalus. Domitian's government exhibited strong authoritarian characteristics; he saw himself as the new Augustus, an enlightened despot destined to guide the Roman Empire into a new era of brilliance. Religious, military, and cultural propaganda fostered a cult of personality, and by nominating himself perpetual censor, he sought to control public and private morals. As a consequence, Domitian was popular with the people and army, but considered a tyrant by members of the Roman Senate.

Domitian's reign came to an end in 96 when he was assassinated by court officials. He was succeeded the same day by his advisor Nerva. After his death, Domitian's memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate, while senatorial authors such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Suetonius propagated the view of Domitian as a cruel and paranoid tyrant. Modern revisionists instead have characterized Domitian as a ruthless but efficient autocrat whose cultural, economic, and political programs provided the foundation of the peaceful second century.

List of cultural references in the Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is a long allegorical poem in three parts (or canticas): the Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise), and 100 cantos, with the Inferno having 34, Purgatorio having 33, and Paradiso having 33 cantos. Set at Easter 1300, the poem describes the living poet's journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise.

Throughout the poem, Dante refers to people and events from Classical and Biblical history and mythology, the history of Christianity, and the Europe of the Medieval period up to and including his own day. A knowledge of at least the most important of these references can aid in understanding the poem fully.

For ease of reference, the cantica names are abbreviated to Inf., Purg., and Par. Roman numerals are used to identify cantos and Arabic numerals to identify lines. This means that Inf. X, 123 refers to line 123 in Canto X (or 10) of the Inferno and Par. XXV, 27 refers to line 27 in Canto XXV (or 25) of the Paradiso. The line numbers refer to the original Italian text.

Boldface links indicate that the word or phrase has an entry in the list. Following that link will present that entry.

Master and God

Master and God is a historical novel by British writer Lindsey Davis, the author of the Falco series. It was first published in the UK on 15 March 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton and in the United States on 5 June 2012 by St Martin's Press.

It is set in ancient Rome in the time of the emperor Domitian and the story features a paranoid emperor, a hairdresser's love-life, the burial alive of the Chief of the Vestal Virgins, conspiracy and death.

Revolt of the Praetorians

La Rivolta dei Pretoriani (AKA: Revolt of the Praetorians) is a 1964 sword and sandal film about the conspiracy to assassinate the emperor Domitian in the year AD 96, though the historical facts have been heavily fictionized. This film was written by Gian Paolo Callegari, directed by Alfonso Brescia and starred Richard Harrison.

The Apocalypse (2000 film)

Apocalypse or The Apocalypse (known in Australia as Revelation, the original title is San Giovanni – L'apocalisse) is a 2000 telefilm starring Richard Harris and Bruce Payne.

The Assassins of Rome

The Assassins of Rome is a children's historical novel by Caroline Lawrence published on 17 October 2002 by Orion Books. It is the fourth book of The Roman Mysteries series.

Introducing the assassins of Rome

The novel is set in Ostia and Rome in September AD 79. Jonathan is the primary character in this novel, as he seeks out the mother he believed long dead and learns the tragic secrets of his family history.

The Light Bearer

The Light Bearer is a 1994 historical novel by Donna Gillespie set in first century Rome, during the reigns of the Emperors Nero and Domitian. The novel centers upon three historical events: the Emperor Domitian’s war with the Germanic Chattian tribe in 83 A.D.; the inauguration of the Colosseum, or Amphitheatrum Flavium; and the assassination of Domitian. In dramatizing the assassination, the author follows the details given by first-century Roman historian Suetonius.

The Roman Actor

The Roman Actor is a Caroline era stage play, a tragedy written by Philip Massinger. It was first performed in 1626, and first published in 1629. A number of critics have agreed with its author, and judged it one of Massinger's best plays.

The Roman Mysteries

The Roman Mysteries is a series of historical novels for children by Caroline Lawrence. The first book, The Thieves of Ostia, was published in 2001, finishing with The Man from Pomegranate Street, published in 2009, and 17 more novels were planned, plus a number of "mini-mysteries" and companion titles.

The books take place in the ancient Roman Empire during the reign of the Emperor Titus. They detail the adventures of four children who solve mysteries and have adventures in Ostia Antica, Rome, Greece, and beyond: Flavia, a Roman girl who lives in Ostia; Nubia, a slave girl from Africa; Jonathan, a Jewish boy; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.