Domitian's attitude to his role and the power he wielded is generally seen as authoritarian, autocratic to the point of despotism, even ridiculous. His real powers rested on his tribunicia potestas, his consulships, his appointment as censor perpetuus and, naturally, his command of the armies and his imperium maiuswhich gave him supremacy over all military commanders and provincial governors. Augustus had been shrewdly capable of retaining all these attributes of power while still maintaining the fiction that his potestas was merely equal to that of any other senator. He relied on his auctoritas, authority without strictly coercive power, to preside over the Senate. Domitian did not subscribe to this fiction, and chose to emphasize, or at least not to disguise, his potestas. He underlined it in various significant ways, one of them highly controversial. He decided, perhaps in 86, upon the title dominus et deus. Dominus in itself was not so offensive; it probably meant nothing more than 'sir', without any connotation of autocratic mastery. Augustus had rejected the use of such a title, and though it seems that at first Domitian did so too, he was later accustomed to begin his letters in true autocratic style with the phrase, 'Our Master and God'. It cannot be known precisely what Domitian intended to convey by this means. As a written formula dominus et deus may have had less impact than it would have had as a spoken title, and it cannot be ascertained whether Domitian insisted on its use as a form of address. After the tyrant was murdered in 96, Pliny obviously found no incongruity in reviling Domitian for his use of the title, while at the same time addressing Trajan as domine; it is probable that had Trajan insisted upon it, no one would have found it difficult to address him as deus as well. The populace of Rome probably did not find it disagreeable to call Domitian and Domitia 'lord and lady': in the amphitheatre on feast days they shouted <Domino et dominae feliciter) without apparent coercion. It was the lengths to which Domitian went in insisting on respect and reverence that finally offended Roman dignity, or at least that ofthe upper classes. He demanded obeisance, if Pliny is to be believed, to remind people of their relative status. It is said that the Emperor Gaius Caligula had demanded the same obeisance - if true, this would have been an unfortunate precedent, given that by Domitian's reign the traditional opinion of Gaius was highly

unfavourable. There are those who deny that Domitian ever insisted upon either the title oflord and god or the bowing and perhaps oriental style foot-kissing that went with it. There is no way of knowing; only that after his death, men remembered their real or imagined subjection with distaste. l

Further reminders of the supreme authority vested in Domitian and of the gulf between him and his subjects came in the form of the decree that no statues of him should be erected except in gold, and the renaming of the months of September and October as Germanicus and Domitianus. The literary sources cannot agree about the inception of these new names. Suetonius says it took place after Domitian's two triumphs, but the triumphs themselves are not without chronological problems. Eusebius, Hieronymus and Dio place the events early in the reign, but Martial and Statius only refer to the new names towards the end, about 94 or 95. There were precedents for appropriating parts of the calendar, of course, in that July and August owe their names to Caesar and Augustus. These names, however, are still with us whereas those introduced by Domitian were dropped after his murder.2