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41 a Roman senator, was either the grandfather or uncle to the Domitii brothers.89 Silvinus is known by an inscription found in Baetica, which describes his cursus (AE 1962, 287). The adoption of Sextus Curvius’ sons by Domitius Afer points to his Nemausian origin, and when this fact is taken together with his name, Gnaeus Domitius, and his presence in Jerome’s Chronicles, there is no reason to doubt that Domitius Afer was from Nemausus. The origin of Sextus Curvius and his two sons can also be established as Nemausian on the basis of the origin of his parents discussed above.
5.1.2 Domitius Afer’s Cursus:
Domitius Afer’s was one of Rome’s great orators (Quint., Inst., 12.10.-12.11) and his offices and exploits in the courts are accounted for in different ancient texts; they begin with his praetorship in 25 (Tac., Ann., 4.52). From this date it is possible to estimate that Afer became a senator around A.D. 15 (a period at the end of the reign of Augustus and at the beginning of the reign of Tiberius). Before becoming a senator, Afer probably was an equestrian in Nemausus and undeniably completed the necessary offices and duties in order to be adlected into the senate.
Even though no evidence exists to support this claim, Afer did not become a senator or even become a renowned lawyer in Rome without having completed at the very least a local provincial career. His prosecutorial achievements were important to his rise in Nemausus as they gave him exposure and publicity so that he could complete the necessary local civic offices.
Following his praetorship Domitius Afer continued his legal career in 26 by prosecuting the great niece of Augustus, Claudia Pulchra, the former wife of Quinctilius Varus, who was 89 Géza Alföldy, Fasti Hispanienses: Senatorische Reichsbeamte und Offiziere in den Spanischen Provizen des Römischen Reiches von Augustu bis Diokletian, (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1969), p.183.
42 infamous because of the Teutoburg Forest massacre (PIR2 1116).90 He accused and indicted her for unchastity and adultery with Furnius as well as attempting to poison Tiberius; both she and Furnius were condemned (Tac. Ann., 4.52). In the following year, Domitius Afer tried to prosecute Claudia Pulchra’s son, Quinctilius Varus, but was unsuccessful, as the senate opted to wait for the return of Tiberius to hear the case. This never materialized as the emperor remained in Capri until his death in 37 (Tac., Ann., 4.66). Tacitus questions Domitius Afer’s character by stating that he was poor, had not managed his finances properly and therefore, in order to continue his lavish lifestyle, he had prosecuted a rich and illustrious Roman (Tac., Ann., 4.66).91 The next known major event in Domitius Afer’s career is his encounter with Caligula in
39. As he had formerly accused Claudia Pulchra, a friend of Caligula’s mother, the emperor wanted to confront him about this accusation. Caligula thought of himself as the best orator and knowing Domitius Afer’s reputation, the emperor would have condemned Domitius Afer if he had upstaged him in his defense (Dio Cass., LIX, 19). Instead, Afer refrained from responding to Caligula’s argument and instead praised the emperor’s oratorical skills. Caligula, instead of condemning Afer, rewarded him with a suffect consulship that year (Dio Cass., LIX, 19).
Domitius Afer thereupon became a Roman consul alongside the Emperor himself (Dio Cass., LIX, 20).
Ten years after that episode, Domitius Afer was appointed as the curator aquarum, a post that he held until his death in 59 (Frontin., Aq., 102). As the overseer of Rome’s water supply, an office considered as one of the highest that a senator could attain, Domitius Afer had to ensure that the fountains and baths within the city were operating smoothly, as well as safeguard against 90 Claudia Pulchra’s cousin was Agrippina the Elder who was the granddaughter of Augustus.
91 As will be made evident from Domitius Afer’s will and the accumulated wealth of his adopted sons, Tacitus’ statements appear misplaced.
43 any tampering with the aqueducts, for example, an individual diverting part of the water supply to accommodate his interests (Frontin., Aq., 103). It was during Domitius Afer’s time as curator aquarum that Claudius dedicated two new aqueducts to the city, most likely in 52, an important milestone in the Nemausian senator’s tenure (Frontin., Aq., 13). Afer served in his office until he died in the year A.D. 59. Although serving until death had been customary, after Afer died, this practice was changed.92 Besides being one of the foremost politicians and administrators, Domitius Afer was also recognized as one of Rome’s premier orators of the early Roman Empire (Tac., Ann., 14.19).
Quintilian called Domitius Afer the summus orator of that time (Quint., Inst., 12, 11, 3).93 Even though Quintilian did not witness Domitius Afer during the prime of his career, he still praised his ability: “Neque errant illa qualiacunque mala sed minora” (And yet whatever [his faults], he spoke not badly but less well) (Quint., Inst., 12, 11, 4). Quintilian does not question Domitius Afer’s character but rather discusses only his quality as an orator. Pliny, on the other hand, describes Domitius Afer as one of the last great orators and prosecutors, and elect not to discuss any possible negative characteristics (Plin., Ep., 2, 14).
Domitius Afer’s name and reputation were founded both in the forum and within the confines of a basilica, which allowed him to become an influential member in the Roman political arena, as witnessed by his consulship in 39. He was desperate to acquire fame and fortune in Rome, as witnessed by his prosecution of Claudia Pulchra and his attempted prosecution of 92 R.H. Rodgers, “Curatores Aquarum”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Department of Classics Harvard University, vol.86, (1982), p.176. The pattern that Frontinus established in his work is reiterated by Rodgers to illustrate how curatores aquarum had occupied the office until their death, except for Didius Gallus, up to and including Domitius Afer. Extended appointments to the office of curator aquarum were not the general rule following Domitius Afer: short one to two year periods became the norm.
93 Quintilian was born in 35 and Afer died in 59 therefore presenting a small window of opportunity for Quintilian to hear Afer in the courts.
44 Quinctilius Varus, but even if his character was questionable, his achievements speak for themselves, as he became a Roman senator and consul, which was not an easy task for a provincial senator. It was through continued dedication that Domitius Afer was able to achieve greatness and open the gates for future Nemausians in Rome becaus he placed Nemausus on the map during the early Roman Empire. Without Afer’s willingness to persevere within the tough political world in Rome, further integration of Gallia Narbonensis would not have occurred.
5.1.3 Gnaeus Domitius Lucanus and Gnaeus Domitius Tullus:
After Domitius Afer died in 59, his wealth was bequeathed to his two adoptive sons as is known by inscriptions connecting them to Afer’s belongings (CIL XV, 979-983).94 With their inheritance, the brothers continued to live their lavish lifestyles while completing their careers throughout the empire. I include these two as Nemausians because of their adoptive father’s
origin. Two inscriptions describe their careers that are similar to each other:
1. CN(AEO) DOMITIO SEX(TI) F(ILIO) V[O]L[T](INIA) AFRO TITIO MARCELLO CURVIO LUCANO CO(N)S(ULI) PROCO(N)S(ULI) PROVINCIAE AFRICAE
LEGATO EIUSDEM PROVINCIAE TU[LLI] FRATRIS SUI SEPTEMVIRO
EPULONUM [ITEM] PRAETORIO LEGATO PROVINCIAE AFR[I]C[AE]IMP(ERATORI) CAESAR(I) AUG(USTO) PRAEF(ECTO) AUXILIRUM OMNIUM
ADVERSUS GERMANOS DONATO AB IMP(ERATORIBUS) VESPASIANOAUG(USTO) ET T(ITO) CAESAR(IS) AUG(USTI) F(ILIO) CORONIS MURALI
VALLARI AURE[A] HASTIS PURIS III VEXILLIS III ADLECTO INTER
PATRICIOS PRAETORI TR(IBUNO) PL(EBIS) QUAEST(ORI) PRO PRAETOREPROVINCIAE AFRIC[AE TR(IBUNO)] MIL(ITUM) LEG(IONIS) V ALAUD(AE)
IIIIVIR(O) VIARUM CURANDAR(UM) PATRONO OPTIMO D(ECRETO)D(ECURIONUM) To Gnaeus Domitius Afer Titius Marcellus Curvius Lucanus, the son of Sextus, of the Voltinia tribe, consul, proconsul of the province of Africa, legate of the same province of his brother Tullus, a member of the board of seven in charge of feasts, also praetorian 94 Sir Ronald Syme, Tacitus, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958), vol.1, p.449.
45 legate of the province of Africa, Emperor Caesar Augustus, a prefect of all the auxiliaries against the Germanic tribes, having been awarded by the Emperors Vespasian Augustus and Titus, son of Caesar Augustus, the crown of the wall and to be the first soldier to scale the enemy wall with three golden headless spears and three standards, having been adlected into the patrician order as a praetor, plebeian tribune, quaestor pro praetor of the province of Africa, military tribune of the Legio V Alaudae, a quattuorvir of the city streets, for the best patron, by a decree of the decurions (CIL XI, 5210) [CN(AEO) DOMITIO SEX(TO) F(ILIO)….. CURVIO TULLO…..] FETIALI 2.
PRAEF(ECTO) AU[XILIOR(UM) OMNIUM] ADVERSUS GERMANOS- QUI CUM
ESSET CANDIDATUS CAESAR(IS) PR(AETOR) DESIG(NATUS) MISSUS EST AB
IMP(ERATORE) VESPASIANO AUG(USTO) LEGATUS PRO PRAETORE AD
EXERCITUM QUI EST IN AFRICA ET APSENS INTER PRAETORIOS RELATUSDONATO AB [IM]P(ERATORIBUS) VESPASIANO AUGUSTO ET TITO CAESARE
AUG(USTI) F(ILIO) CORONIS MURALI VALLARI AURE[A] HASTIS PURIS III
VEXILLIS III ADLECTO INTER PATRICIOS TR(IBUNO) PL(EBIS) QUAEST(ORI)CAESAR(IS) AUG(USTI) [T]R(IBUNO) MIL(ITUM) LEG(IONIS) V ALAUD(AE)
XVIR(O) STLITIB(US) IUDICANDIS PATRONO OPTIMO D(ECRETO)D(ECURIONUM) To Gnaeus Domitius Curvius Tullus, the son of Sextus, fetial, a prefect of all the auxiliaries against the Germanic tribes who, when he was the candidate of Caesar, was sent as a praetor designate by Emperor Vespasian Augustus, propraetorian legate to the army which is in Africa and having been assigned in absence among the praetorians, having been awarded by the Emperor Vespasian Augustus and Titus, the son of Caesar Augustus the crown of the wall and to be the first soldier to scale the enemy wall with three golden headless spears and three standards, having been adlected into the patrician order, plebeian tribune, quaestor of Caesar Augustus, military tribune of the Legio V Alaudae, a member of ten of the civil courts, for the best patron, by a decree of the decurions (CIL XI, 5211) Both inscriptions were found at Fulginiae, modern Foligno, in Umbria, which is the neighbouring region to the north of Rome. Their proximity to Rome could be an indication of the brothers’ déracinement from Nemausus, preferring a villa in the outskirts of Rome in order to be in touch with the political situation in Rome. All senators were required to own property in Italy, and the brothers’ villa near Rome fulfilled that requirement, while at the same time contributed to their
curandarum, the supervisor of the city streets, and Domitius Tullus a decimvir stlitibus iudicandis, a member of a band of ten for the civil court, both minor offices at the beginning of a senatorial cursus.95 Both brothers then became military tribunes for the Legio V Alaudae, whose title translates as ‘the Larks’, stationed on the Rhine before either being disbanded by Vespasian in 70 or succumbing to defeat in 85/86 on the Danube.96 The legion was originally raised by Julius Caesar in Transalpine Gaul and provides another clue as to the brothers’ provincial origin.97 Their rise continued with quaestorships followed by the plebeian tribuneship and finally adlection among the patricians in 73/74, when Vespasian and Titus were censors. Their careers continue to be linked to one another as they received dona militaria, military honours, as a result of their roles as praefecti auxiliorum omnium, prefects of all the auxiliary units, in the war against the Germans around 74 (PIR2 D 152, PIR2 C 1341). They received three crowns, three golden spear shafts and three standards, the expected number of decorations for a legate following a military campaign.98 “Officers however were not normally rewarded for their courage, but for merely taking part in a campaign; even a civil war could bring them decorations in certain circumstances”. 99 Even with the honorary nature of the dona militaria, the brothers Domitii distinguished themselves during the campaign.
As to the year of their first consulship, Jones and Syme propose that both brothers were consul suffects in c. A.D. 79 because, according to Jones: “With the usual interval of about 95 Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, n.54, vol.4, p.647. Bengt E. Thomasson, Fasti Africani: Senatorische und ritterliche Amtsträger in den römischen Provinzen Nordafrikas von Augustus bis Diokletian, (Stockholm: Skrifter Utgivna Av Svenska Institutet I Rom, 1996), p.126.
96 Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, n.54, vol.7, p.365.
97 Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, n.54, vol.7, p.365.
98 Yann Le Bohec, The Imperial Roman Army, (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1994), p.62.
99 Le Bohec, n.98.
47 thirteen ears, their consulates are better put to ca.79”.100 Groag and Stein, authors of the Prosopographia Imperii Romani (PIR2), argue for a consulship during the reign of Domitian.
Both arguments are possible as the brothers, who were friends of the Flavians, could have been consuls in A.D. 76/77, but they could have also been consuls during the reign of Domitian that dictates a shorter time period in between their consulship and proconsulship.