Domitian (Titus Flavins Domitianus Augustus), a Roman emperor, born Oct. 24, A. D. 51, killed Sept. 18, 96. He was the younger son of Vespasian, and narrowly escaped death at Rome by concealing himself when his father was proclaimed emperor by the legions of the East. On the fall of Vitellius he ruled the capital as Caesar till the return of his father. Having then exhibited a sanguinary and licentious temper, he was excluded both by Vespasian (69-79) and Titus (79-81) from all share in public affairs, and spent his time on an estate near Rome, in effeminate pleasures, as well as in writing and reciting poetical compositions. On the death of Titus, which was ascribed to him by the people, he was hailed emperor by the soldiers. At the beginning of his reign he concealed his vices, and even manifested some firmness in the regular management of affairs; but he soon began to display his vanity and jealousies. Almost every citizen of Rome who was noted for wealth or learning was either murdered or banished. In his wars he was personally unsuccessful against the Catti and other German tribes, as well as against the Dacians, whose king Decebalus compelled him to purchase peace on humiliating terms.
These reverses, however, did not prevent him from triumphing and decorating himself with the names of Germanicus and Dacicus. Government officials, says a historian, were busy in keeping the people of Rome from laughing on such occasions. Games were employed to amuse them. Agricola, the heroic commander in Britain, was recalled because of his victories, and the jealousy of his fame probably caused his subsequent death. War having been terminated by an ignominious peace with Decebalus in 89, Domitian satiated his thirst for blood at home, until, as Tacitus says, silent fear reigned at Rome. After many fruitless conspiracies, he was finally killed by three officers of his court who had been warned of their intended death by the. emperor's wife Domitia, whom he had also doomed.