The Life of Domitian, 2

Suetonius  translated by J. C. Rolfe

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2He began an expedition against Gaul and the Germanies, which was uncalled for and from which his father’s friends dissuaded him, merely that he might make himself equal to his brother in power and rank. For this he was reprimanded, and to give him a better realisation of his youth and position, he had to live with his father, and when they appeared in public he followed the emperor’s chair and that of his brother in a litter, while he also attended their triumph over Judaea riding on a white horse. Moreover, of his six consulships only one was a regular one, and he obtained that only because his brother gave place to him and recommended his appointment.

2He himself too made a remarkable pretence of modesty and especially of an interest in poetry, an art which had previously been as unfamiliar to him as it was later despised and rejected, and he even gave readings in public. Yet in spite of all this, when Vologaesus, king of the Parthians, had asked for auxiliaries against the Alani and for one of Vespasian’s sons as their leader, Domitian used every effort to have himself sent rather than Titus; and because the affair came to nothing, he tried by gifts and promises to induce other eastern kings to make the same request.

3On the death of his father he hesitated for some time whether to offer a double largess to the soldiers, and he never had any compunction about saying that he had been left a partner in the imperial power, but that the will had been tampered with. And from that time on he never ceased to plot against his brother secretly and openly, until Titus was seized with a dangerous illness, when Domitian ordered that he be left for dead, before he had actually drawn his last breath. And after his death he bestowed no honour upon him, save that of deification, and he often assailed his memory in ambiguous phrases, both in his speeches and in his edicts.

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