alpha lyman blob: I’m not sure that I’ll give you Domitian and Nerva. First, the Wikipedia entry for Domitian notes that his favorite deity was Minerva. Somehow, Minerva strikes me as among the least Trumpian of religious figures.

Second, Domitian is odd in that the Flavians (all three of them) were a family operation. He followed his father, Vespasian, and his older brother, Titus. In a sense, Domitian reflects the flaws of someone like Ted Kennedy, who lacked the self-discipline to succeed politically. (Kennedy’s position in the Senate was guaranteed.)

Further, I suspect that Domitian was a bit of a puritan, which was certainly unusual in imperial Rome, although Augustus himself had a puritan side. Like Augustus, Domitian was an “orthodox” follower or Roman religion. He may have had a whiff of Cato the Elder and his cabbages.

Again, pulling from Wikipedia, I note these two paragraphs. I’d say that Domitian just didn’t have the temperament. He seems to have been rigid and uncommunicative.

–Historian Brian Jones concludes in The Emperor Domitian that assessing the true nature of Domitian’s personality is inherently complicated by the bias of the surviving sources.[25] Common threads nonetheless emerge from the available evidence. He appears to have lacked the natural charisma of his brother and father. He was prone to suspicion, displayed an odd, sometimes self-deprecating sense of humour,[26][27] and often communicated in cryptic ways.
–This ambiguity of character was further exacerbated by his remoteness, and as he grew older, he increasingly displayed a preference for solitude, which may have stemmed from his isolated upbringing.[15] Indeed, by the age of eighteen nearly all of his closest relatives had died by war or disease. Having spent the greater part of his early life in the twilight of Nero’s reign, his formative years would have been strongly influenced by the political turmoil of the 60s, culminating with the civil war of 69, which brought his family to power.[28]

I am reminded of how the oh-so-wise Marcus Aurelius also was temperamentally unsuited to running the state and left us with Commodus, his son, as heir and failure. Contrariwise, I am reminded of Antoninus Pius, who was remarkably successful–and had a kind of charisma.

Nerva? I’ll have to think that one through. Biden seems like someone who has been passed over too many times, someone whose talents are middling, someone with fairly good timing: Oddly, someone like Tiberius.

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