Anno ab urbe condita DCCCXXX Domitianus Titi frater, ab Augusto nonus, fratri successit in regnum. qui per annos XV ad hoc paulatim per omnes scelerum gradus crevit, ut confirmatissimam toto orbe Christi Ecclesiam datis ubique crudelissimae persecutionis edictis convellere auderet. is in tantam superbiam prolapsus fuit, ut dominum sese ac deum vocari scribi colique iusserit. nobilissimos e senatu invidiae simul ac praedae causa alios palam interfecit, alios in exilium trusit ibique trucidari imperavit. libidinis intemperantia quidquid cogitari potest, fecit. plurimas urbis aedes destructis populi Romani rebus extruxit. bellum adversum Germanos et Dacos per legatos gessit pari reipublicae pernicie, cum et in urbe ipse senatum populumque laniaret et foris male circumactum exercitum adsidua hostes caede conficerent. nam quanta fuerint Diurpanei Dacorum regis cum Fusco duce proelia quantaeque Romanorum clades, longo textu evolverem, nisi Cornelius Tacitus, qui hanc historiam diligentissime contexuit, de reticendo interfectorum numero et Sallustium Crispum et alios auctores quamplurimos sanxisse et se ipsum idem potissimum elegisse dixisset. Domitianus tamen pravissima elatus iactantia, sub nomine superatorum hostium de extinctis legionibus triumphavit. idemque efferatus superbia, qua se deum coli vellet, persecutionem in Christianos agi secundus a Nerone imperavit. quo tempore etiam beatissimus Iohannes apostolus in Patmum insulam relegatus fuit. inter Iudaeos quoque acerbitate tormentorum et cruentissimae quaestionis exquiri genus David atque interfici praeceptum est, dum prophetis sanctis et invidetur et creditur, quasi adhuc futurus esset ex semine David, qui regnum possit adipisci. continuo tamen Domitianus crudeliter in Palatio a suis interfectus est: cuius cadaver populari sandapila per vespillones exportatum atque ignominiosissime sepultum est.
(Orosius, Hist. adv. Pag. 7.10)
830 years after the foundation of the City, Titus’s brother, Domitian, succeeded his brother as the eighth ruler of the kingdom after Augustus. For fifteen years his cruelty, which gradually scaled every level of crime, finally reached the stage where he dared to uproot the Christian church, which was now firmly established throughout the world, issuing edicts everywhere that enjoined the cruellest persecution. He fell into such a state of pride that he commanded that he be called, be described, and be worshipped as men’s master and their god. He killed the noblest in the Senate out of both envy and at the same time greed. Some he murdered openly, others he thrust into exile, giving commands that they be cut down there. His intemperate lust drove him to perpetrate whatever acts he had been able to imagine. He built many public buildings in the City, funding them from his destruction of the Roman people’s wealth. The war he waged through his lieutenants against the Germans and Dacians was equally damaging to the state. For while he ripped apart the Senate and people in the City, abroad his enemies continually slaughtered his badly led armies. I would have described at great length the great battles fought by the Dacians’ king, Diurpanus, against the Roman commander Fuscus and the extent of the disasters that befell Rome, had not Cornelius Tacitus, who recorded these events with the uttermost care, stated that Sallustius Crispus and a vast number of other writers had decided not to speak about the numbers killed and that he himself had decided that this was the best policy. Domitian, however, full of the most disgusting conceit, held a triumph for killing his own legionaries, on the pretext that it was for defeating his enemies. Driven wild by the pride that made him wish to be worshipped as a god, he was the first emperor after Nero to command that Christians be persecuted. At this time too the blessed apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos. It was also decreed that among the Jews the race of David be sought out by harsh torture and bloody inquisitions, and killed. He did this because he hated, but believed the holy prophets, thinking that someone who would be able to take his kingdom might still come from the seed of David. However, straight after this, Domitian was cruelly murdered by his servants in the Palace. His body was carried out in a pauper’s coffin by the public pall‑bearers and given an ignominious burial. (tr. Andrew T. Fear)