Exceptional Tyranny of Domitian.The happy period begun by Vespasian and Titus was interrupted by the exceptional tyranny of Domitian, the younger brother of Titus. Domitian seemed to take for his models Tiberius and Nero. He ignored the senate and the forms of the constitution. He revived the practice of delation, and was guilty of confiscations and extortions. He teased and irritated all classes, He persecuted the Jews and the Christians. Like Tiberius, he was suspicious, and lived in perpetual fear of assassination. His fears were realized; a conspiracy was organized against him, and he was murdered by a freedman of the palace.
Agricola in Britain.The chief event of importance in the reign of Domitian was the extension of the Roman power in Britain. Agricola had already been appointed governor of Britain by Vespasian; but it was not until this time that his arms were crowned with marked success. The limits of the province were now pushed to the north, and a new field was opened for the advance of civilization. Britain became dotted with Roman cities, united by great military roads. As in Gaul, the Roman law and customs found a home, although they did not obtain so enduring an influence as in the continental provinces.
The Silver Age of Roman Literature.The period of Roman literature which followed the age of Augustus is often called “the Silver Age.” The despotic rule of the Julian emperors had not been favorable to literature. Only two names of that period stand out with prominence, those of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, and Lucan, who wrote an epic poem describing the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. Under the Flavians occurred a revival of letters, which continued under the subsequent emperors. Among the most noted writers who flourished at this time were Juvenal, the satirist; Tacitus, the historian; Suetonius, the biographer of the “Twelve Caesars”; Martial, the epigrammatist; Quintilian, the rhetorician; and Pliny the Younger, the writer of epistles. Although the writings of the Silver Age do not equal those of the age of Augustus in grace of style, they show quite as much vigor and originality.
SELECTIONS FOR READING
Capes, Early Empire, Ch. 9, “Vespasian,” Ch. 10, “Titus,” “Domitian” (7).1
Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 60, “The Wars of Succession” (1).
Bury, Empire, Ch. 31, “Roman Life and Manners” (7).
Thomas, Ch. 1, “At Pompeii”; Ch. 8, “Country Life” (16).
Merivale, Empire, Vol. IV., Ch. 41, “Life in Rome” (7).
Inge, Ch. 9, “Amusements” (16).
Guhl and Koner, pp. 553-564, “Amphitheatrical Games” (16).
Preston and Dodge, II., “The House and Every Day Life” (16).
See also Appendix (16), “Life and Manners.”
THE ROMAN HOUSE.Inge, pp. 245-258 (16); Eschenburg, pp. 290-292 (8); Guhl and Koner, pp. 365-375, 437-460 (16); Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Domus” (8); Becker, Gallus, pp. 231-314 (16).
1 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.