New PDF release: A History of Roman Religion

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By Franz Altheim

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For these historians are reflecting, or transmitting, a particular version of the event, the story put about after the murder by those whose involvement rendered them targets for recrimination or revenge, in particular by the senators who, with some reason, later feared for their lives; this may be referred to as the 'official' version of events. For it turned out that in many areas of the empire, geographical or societal, Domitian was not nearly as unpopular as he had been among many of the senators and some of the staff at the palace.

In the immediate term, to seize power in Rome required either the co-operation of the emperor or his death; Domitian would scarcely co-operate in the loss of his power, so his death had to be accomplished. Domitian lived in his palace in the city or at one of his villas: in the Alban Hills, near Circeo, or near Orbetello. (,5 Wherever he went, he was guarded by the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard, the other organised military force in Rome. This force was the most concentrated, and militarily the most effective, of all the armed groups in the city, consisting as it did of nine cohorts, 3,500 men in total, stationed in the Castra Praetoria on the Viminal Hill, frowning down on the city.

He had been singled out for praise by Martial,r,8 who hoped for his patronage, which in turn implies that Norbanus was a man worth cultivating. The poem is dated to 94, when Norbanus had returned to Rome after, it seems, five or six years in Raetia. His route to the Praetorian command was, therefore, an unusual one by this time, and was marked by a spectacular display of loyalty to Domitian in the Saturninus crisis. r,9 These two men owed their careers to Domitian's promotion, but their differing career-routes suggest that they would show differing reactions to the crisis.

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A History of Roman Religion by Franz Altheim

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