a1 University College Dublin
For a homicidal tyrant Domitian was disconcertingly droll. A number of examples of is ‘sardonic wit’ survive. One of them was so good that Marcus Aurelius supposedly repeated it, and attributed it to Hadrian rather than Domitian on the grounds that good sayings had no moral force if they came from tyrants.3 Domitian also possessed a talent for writing. Suetonius (Dom.2.2, 20) and Tacitus (Hist.4.86.2) claim that his interest in literature was merely a pretence, but Domitian′s contemporaries claim for him genuine ability, and here for once they seem much closer to the mark, as Coleman argues.
1 Thanks are due to Stephen Heyworth, William Lavelle, Peter Heslin, Andrew Erskine, and CQs anonymous referee for their insightful criticism.