Domitian°

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DOMITIAN°

DOMITIAN° (Titus Flavius Domitianus ), Roman emperor, 81–96 c.e. Son of *Vespasian and brother of *Titus, Domitian attempted to establish an absolute monarchy against the senate, and resumed an expansionist policy. A rabid opponent of Oriental cults, he combated Judaism and Christianity, the latter then being considered a Jewish sect by the Romans. The triumphal arch dedicated to Titus for his victory in Palestine was erected in his reign. In the year 85, coins were issued with the inscription Iudea Capta or Iudea Devicta. In 95 he had his cousin *Flavius Clemens sentenced to death and the latter's wife, Flavia Domitilla, exiled, after having ensured their conviction for atheism on account of their adherence to Judaism (or Christianity). He stringently enforced the prohibition against conversion to Judaism and is said to have ordered the execution of all persons claiming to be descendants of the House of David (Euseb., Hist. Eccl. 3:19; Dio Cass., Hist. 69:23, 2), but it seems that he prevented the execution of a number of descendants of David who had been brought to him (Euseb., ibid. 3:20; Tertullianus Apol. 5:5). Under Domitian the Fiscus Judaicus was very strictly collected (acerbissime actus est) by means of informers (Suetonius, Domit. 12). The fiscal tribunal considered the cases not only of those who lived in accordance with Jewish custom, but also those who tried to hide their origin. Suetonius (ibid.) himself relates that he was present when a 90-year-old man was subjected to an examination in public, in order to see if he was circumcised (cf. Martial 7:55; 7:82). It was perhaps at that time that R. *Gamaliel went to Rome, together with three other rabbis, in the hope of being able to avert further persecutions.

bibliography:

Schuerer, Hist, 289–300; A. Darmesteter, in: rej, 1 (1880), 36–41; Weynand, in: Pauly-Wissowa, 12 (1909), 2541–96; P.E. Arias, Domiziano (1945); E.M. Smallwood, in: Classical Philology, 51 (1956), 1ff.; Halevy, Dorot, 1 (1923), 339ff.; R. Syme, in: Journal of Roman Studies, 20 (1930), 55–70; Alon, Toledot, 1, index; Baron, Social2, index; H. Mantel, Studies in the History of the Sanhedrin (1962).

[Alfredo Mordechai Rabello]