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Observations placeholder

Emperor Domitian - Prophecies of his assasination



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Premonitions: A leap in to the future – Herbert Greenhouse [1971]

The emperor Domitian had much better cause than Cinna to believe he would be murdered. Domitian, leader of Rome in the latter part of the first century A.D., was a tyrant who made many enemies and was constantly in fear for his life. So mean was this emperor that he amused himself by catching flies and sticking pins in them.

When he was a young man astrologers had warned Domitian that he would die violently-even naming the date and the hour. He kept his equilibrium, however, until a soothsayer told him that in the fifth hour of September 18th , 96 A.D. he would be murdered.

As the fateful day approached, Domitian grew more and more anxious. To discourage any attempt on his life, he had his secretary, Epaphroditus, put to death and followed his execution with that of the emperor's cousin, Flavius.

Then he ordered the gallery where he exercised lined with highly polished moonstone, so that he could see in the reflecting surfaces the approach of any would-be killer.

On the night preceding September 18th , Domitian dreamed that the goddess Minerva told him she could no longer protect him and walked out of the chapel he had consecrated to her. So terrified was Domitian that in the middle of the night he leaped out of bed with a cry.

In the morning the emperor woke up in a cold sweat and refused to leave his closely-guarded bedchamber. He sat all morning on his bolster and thought about the sword underneath that he could pull out quickly in an emergency.

As he sat, he counted the minutes to the fifth hour.

Finally word came that the fifth hour had come and gone, and the prophecy would not be fulfilled. Relieved, Domitian left the bolster and went into the next room to bathe. He was stopped by Parthenius, his chamberlain, who persuaded him to stay in his room on the pretext that a visitor had news of a plot against his life. No longer fearful, Domitian agreed. Stephanus, a freedman, then entered the chamber and stabbed the emperor to death.

Was the prophecy fulfilled? Actually, it was still the fifth and not the sixth hour when Domitian rose from his bolster, for the conspirators had lied to him. The soothsayer's prediction was accurate. He saw only the murder at the appointed time and knew nothing of the conspirators' plans.

An interesting sidelight is that the seer Apollonius of Tyana was making a speech at Ephesus, several hundred miles from Rome, at the time of the slaying. He stopped short, glanced at the ground, and said, "Strike the tyrant, strike!" In his vision he saw Domitian killed. Then he said, "Take heart, gentlemen; the tyrant has been slain this day. This day? Why, by Athena, it was but now, just now, at the very moment of uttering the words at which I stopped."

The source of the experience

Emperor Domitian

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Overwhelming fear and terror


Dreaming and lucid dreaming