Suetonius has this to tell us in Chapter 9 of his biography of Titus:

When two men of patrician family were found guilty of aspiring to the throne, he satisfied himself with warning them to abandon their attempt, saying that imperial power was the gift of fate, and promising that if there was anything else they desired, he himself would bestow it. [Suetonius lists then at some length some conspicuous marks of favour Titus showed to these men] It is even said that inquiring into the horoscope of each of them, he declared that danger threatened them both, but at some future time and from another, as turned out to be the case.

I wonder - do we know who these men were? Can they be identified with known victims of later emperors?

2 Answers 2


There's a good chance that they can't be identified because they don't exist.

Suetonius paints a nice picture of Titus, who changed from a suspicious killer when he was acting as his father's enforcer to the best Emperor ever the second he took office. And maybe that's all so..he only lived a few years after that and was occupied with several disasters.

So he harmed no-one, nobody informed, wept when he had helped nobody in a day, forgave every transgression and even sent a note to the mother of the assassin he forgave over and over, and even handed the two a sword to use! This is larding it on a bit thick.

Why go so far in building up Titus?

Well, there is his brother Domitian - who was supposedly plotting to overthrow St. Titus even during this wonderful time, and who became the bogeyman Emperor of the Senatorial class who were writing these histories after his death and after the installation of the successor Emperors who had had Domitian killed -- with the connivance of the same Senators who write these histories.

It helps solidify the current regime to blacken the previous one, and better yet if they can point back to another 'good' emperor to justify the regime change that had just happened under Nerva and Trajan.


Suetonius mentions the two only anecdotally and they are never referred to elsewhere.

Roman emperors, like most dictators, faced literally a constant array of plots. If history recorded every plot and conspiracy, books would have nothing but conspiracies in them. When you read of something like "two patricians having ambitions on the throne" or whatever, that would be one out of a hundred similar incidents. That there is no other mention of the men is not surprising.

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