Domitian (TITUS FLAVIUS DOMITIANUS), Roman emperor, younger son of Vespasian and Domitilla was born October 24, A.D. 52, and succeeded his brother Titus as emperor September 13, A.D. 81. In the beginning of his reign he affected great zeal for the reformation of public morals, but his true character showed itself later in almost unexampled cruelties. In A.D. 95 a persecution of the Christians is recorded in the history of the Church, but it appears to have been directed particularly against the Jews, with whom the Christians were then confounded by the Romans. Suetonius (In Dornsitian. chapter 12) ascribes the proscriptions of the Jews, or those who lived after the manner of the Jews, and whom he styles as "improfessi," to the rapacity of Domitian. Eusebius (3:17) says that Domitian "was the second that raised a persecution against us, and established himself as successor of Nero in his hatred and hostility to God." The same writer (3:19, 20), following Hegesippus, tells of a summons of the grandchildren of Jude the apostle to appear before Domitian. He questioned them as to their birth, claims, property, etc. and when they answered that the kingdom of Christ, for which they looked, was purely spiritual, he dismissed them. The tyrant was not so lenient with his own relatives, Flavius Clemens and Domitilla, who were charged with "Atheism and Jewish manners," charges often brought against the Christians. Flavius was executed and Domitilla banished, A.D. 95. Domitian himself was assassinated (A.D. 96). A tradition (not now believed) speaks of St. John as having been tried before Domitian, and that, having been condemned to be plunged into a caldron of boiling oil, he came forth unhurt. See Milman, History of Christianity, book 2, chapter 4; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chapter 16, and the article SEE PERSECUTION.

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