Revisiting Domitian: Epideictic Portraits of a Controversial Emperor

Leni Ribeiro Leite, Natan Henrique Taveira Baptista

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The Roman emperors of the Flavian Dynasty, especially the last one, Domitian (81-96), have their traditional images formed from contemporary or immediately posterior prose works – such as the ones by Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny the Younger – taken as informative or transparent. This image has a markedly negative nature; however, in poetic works, contemporary to the emperor, rarely considered in their political views, Statius and Martial unveil a more positive facet of this character, taking us to oppose this portrait to the one proposed by the historiographical tradition. Thus, the intent of this chapter is to analyze the representation of Domitian, contrasting the traditional image surviving in the contemporaneity with the one presented by other authors of the
period, observing the rhetorical instruments used to build the imperial persona.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSources et modèles des historiens anciens, 2
EditorsOlivier Devillers, Breno Sebastiani
Place of PublicationBordeaux
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameScripta Antiqua
ISSN (Print)1298-1990


  • Domitian
  • Roman Empire
  • Principate
  • Roman Rhetoric
  • Rhetoric
  • Virtues


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