Emperor Domitian: The 3 Reasons He Is Remembered Today

Born24th of October, 51 AD
Died18th of September, 96 AD
Known ForRevaluing the Roman currency, reducing power of the Roman Senate, embarking on a massive building program, several large scale wars, creating a Roman renaissance.
Region of WorldRome, Italy, end of 1st century AD
Further ReadingThe 5 Elements Which Defined The Early Roman Empire

After Emperor Titus passed away in 51 AD Emperor Domitian would ascend to the Roman Throne. Emperor Domitian’s reign was drastically different then his older brothers. While Titus favored peace and harmony with the Roman Senate Domitian wanted to control every aspect of the state. As such today we remember Emperor Domitian for 3 reasons.

There are 3 reasons that Emperor Domitian is remembered today. First, Domitian would revalue the Roman coin system to help the economy. Second, Emperor Domitian drastically reduced the power of the Roman Senate. Third, Domitian would embark on a series of large scale building projects.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons that Emperor Domitian is remembered today.

1.) Domitian Would Revalue The Roman Coin System To Help The Economy

Rasiel Suarez - [1], uploaded by Rasiel Suarez GFDL

One of the major reasons that Emperor Domitian is remembered today is because he was one of the first Roman emperors to attempt to combat inflation in the Roman economy.

When Emperor Domitian came to power the silver content of the average Roman denarius was around 90%. This was a huge devaluation in the currency and it started under the reign of Emperor Nero.

Emperor Domitian was a micromanager and took it upon himself to fix the inflation issue in the Roman Empire. Immediately Domitian decided to revalue the Roman currency and start issuing coins with a silver content of around 98%.

This means that there would be less Roman coins in circulation, which would increase the value of each individual coin. In order to fund this increase in the overall health of the economy Domitian would implement several taxes upon the Roman population.

These new coins and the overall health of the Roman economy resulted in an explosion in wealth for the Imperial household.

As such one of the main reasons that Dormition is remembered today is because he revalued Roman coins and helped set up the Roman Empire for several decades of economic growth.

2.) Emperor Domitian Drastically Reduced The Power Of The Roman Senate

The second thing that Emperor Domitian is remembered for today was that he drastically reduced the power of the Roman Senate.

Unlike his brother Titus, Emperor Domitian would put up no facade of returning to a more equal rule with the Republican Senate. Almost immediately upon becoming the ruler of Rome Domitian would set out to remove all decision making capabilities from the Roman Senate.

In turn all of these decision making abilities would be given to members of the Imperial household or the equestrian class. This was because Domitian believed that these people would be more loyal to him if he was the reason for their ascent to power.

Domitian hated the old aristocracy of Rome. This was more then likely due to fact that Emperor Domitian had been born into poverty. As such Domitian hated those who came from a privileged upbringing. Due to this Domitian would begin to remove all power from the Roman Senate.

This greatly upset the Roman Senate who under Emperor Titus had been given back considerable power over the state. We know that the Roman Senate hated Emperor Domitian because when he died all the Senators rushed into the Senate house to proclaim that the memory of Emperor Domitian would be removed from Roman history, thus destroying his name.

Further, Emperor Domitian brought back the old treason trials that were removed under his older brother’s reign. We know of this because something happened around 93 AD towards the end of Domitian’s reign. This event is lost to history but we know that a considerable portion of the Roman Senators and members of the Imperial family were condemned as traitors to the Empire.

As such, one of the major reasons that Emperor Domitian is remembered today is because he drastically reduced the power of the Roman Senate.

3.) Emperor Domitian Would Embark On A Series Of Large Scale Building Projects

The 3rd reason that Emperor Domitian is remembered today is because over the course of his reign he embarked on series of massive building projects.

Because Domitian restructured the Roman economy he would start to earn around 1.2 billion sestertii annually. With this massive income Domitian would start to rebuild Rome in his vision.

I say rebuild because ever since the birth of Domitian in 51 AD Rome would be destroyed by a series of natural disasters. Under Nero in 64 AD Rome would experience a massive fire which destroyed 35% of the city. The Year of the Four Emperors saw destruction of parts of the city when fighting broke out. Another fire under Titus would ravage the city in 80 BC. Finally, towards the end of Titus’s reign there was a great plague that also destroyed a portion of the city.

With all of this destruction and Emperor Domitian’s excess cash flow there would be a series of large scale public structures that would be built. In total around 50 massive structures would be created over Domitian’s reign.

The Odeon was created but no longer stands. The Flavian Palace was built next to the Augustan Palace. Emperor Domitian would rebuild the Temple of Jupiter with a gold Roof. Further, Domitian would create the Temple of Vespasian and Titus along with an entire arch dedicated to his brothers military campaigns.

Over the reign of Emperor Domitian Rome would experience an architectural renaissance. Today many of his buildings still stand and can be visited.

As such one of the main reasons that Emperor Domitian is remembered today is because of his large-scale public building campaign.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the 3 reasons why Emperor Domitian is remembered today.

Not much primary source evidence survives from the reign of Domitian. He was the last member of the Flavian Dynasty and after his death the Roman Senate decided to remove his name from history. Fortunately for us he survived through several literary authors and architectural pieces. From this historians have been able to piece together exactly what Domitian did.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Sincerely,

Nick