« Prev Note D. Next »

(1) M. Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens, Prefect of the Praetorian Guard in 41 A.D. (Josephus, ‘Ant.' xix. 1. 6, 7, and Tac. ‘Hist.' iv. 68.) It is from Josephus that we learn that Clemens was privy to the conspiracy of Chaerea and others against Caligula and connived at his assassination. It appears from Josephus that Herod Agrippa came to the Praetorian camp, where troops had acknowledged Claudius as emperor, and successfully acted as mediator between them and that portion of the army that obeyed the Senate (Josephus, ‘Ant.' xix. 3. 1, 3; 4. 1, 2, ff.). This information exclusively reported by Josephus may be taken to imply that Clemens had some connexion, possibly as a ‘God-fearer,' with the Jewish community at Rome, and that he was a friend of Herod Agrippa.

From Tac. ‘Hist.' iv. 68 it appears that this Prefect was so much beloved by his troops that his son's appointment as Prefect in 70 A.D. was hailed with joy in the camp, because the father's memory after so long an interval of time was still held in regard. Suetonius (‘Titus' 4) tells us that his name was Tertullus, that he belonged to the Equestrian order, and that his daughter Arrecina Tertulla was the first wife of the Emperor Titus. An inscription ‘CIL.' vi. 12355 gives his praenomen as Marcus.

(2) Plautia. The name of the wife of (1) is actually unknown. The reasons for assigning to him, as his wife, a sister of Aulus Plautius, the conqueror of Britain, are stated in Lecture VIII. Plautia would be the sister-in-law of Julia Pomponia Graecina, and a relative of Plautia Urgulanilla, the second wife of Claudius.

(3) M. Arrecinus Clemens, son of (1), described by Tacitus ‘Hist.' iv. 68 as ‘domui Vespasiani per adfinitatem innexum et gratissimum Domitiano, Praetorianis [Domitianus] praeposuit, patrem eius, sub Caio Caesare, egregie functum ea cura, dictitans, laetum militibus idem nomen.' The relationship 252with the Imperial Flavian House may be traced back to (8) Tertulla, the grandmother of Vespasian, by whom from childhood he was brought up. Tertullus Clemens (1) the Prefect was probably Vespasian's cousin and the companion of his boyhood. Arrecina Tertulla (5), daughter of (1) and sister of (3), married Titus (19). She died while Titus was quite young.

M. Arrecinus Clemens (3) was Consul Suffectus in 73 A.D. (‘CIL.' vi. 2016 and xiv. 2242) and a second time with L. Baebius Honoratus (‘CIL.' xii. 3637). This second consulship appears to have been most probably in 94 A.D. The Fasti Consulares are admittedly imperfect with regard to the names of the consuls suffect. But the names of both the ordinary Consuls Collega and Priscus and of the three suffects for 93 A.D. have been preserved. In 94 A.D. Asprenas and Lateranus were ordinary consuls.503503The most complete Fasti Consulares for the Flavian Period are found in a contribution by Asbach in Jahrbücher des Vereins von Altertumsfreunden im Rheinlande [Bonn] vol. 79, p. 6o ff. Asbach has only discovered the name of one Suffectus in 94 A.D., but he quotes Prosper as making Clement the colleague of Asprenas. It is almost certain that in a year when the Emperor did not assume the consulship there would be several Suffecti. In Muratori, Nov. Thes. Vet. Inscr. tom. i. p. cccxlv, the full list for 93 A.D. is preserved. Consules 93. Pompeius Collega, Cornelius Priscus, quibus suffecti fuerunt. M. Lollius Paullinus, Valerius Asiaticus Saturninus. Horum uni suffectus erat, C. Antistius Iulius Quadratus. So in 94 A.D. M. Arrecinus Clemens and L. Baebius Honoratus were suffecti to Asprenas and Lateranus. The suffect mentioned by Asbach—Silius Italicus—may have taken the place of Clemens in the last months of 94 A.D. In some lists Arrecinus Clemens appears, however, as the colleague of Asprenas (see Dion Cassius, ed. Lipsiae, 1829, iv. p. 84). The ‘Chronicon Paschale' (extract given in Lightfoot, ‘Clement of Rome,' i. p. 110) has the following entries: 93 A.D. Domitian Augustus XIII and Flavius Clemens, 94 A.D. Asprenatus [Asprenas] and Lateranus, 95 A.D. Domitian Augustus XIV and Flavius Clemens II. This is an instance of that confusion of Arrecinus Clemens with Flavius Clemens which has been the fruitful source of difficulties. Flavius Clemens was consul only once and in 95 A.D., Arrecinus Clemens for the second time in 94 A.D. He was a member of the Imperial Council from 82 A.D. and also Curator Aquarum. His name appears ‘CIL.' vi. 199 xi. 428 and xv. 7278. He was put to death by Domitian 94 A.D. or 95 A.D. (Suet. ‘Domitian,' 11.)

(4) Plautilla. The ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles' represent these martyrs as at first servants of Plautilla, the sister of Clement the Consul, and afterwards of her daughter Domitilla the virgin. The ‘Acts of Petronilla,' which are incorporated 253with those of Nereus and Achilles, state that these three saints were all buried in the crypt of Domitilla. That they were real historical persons has been proved in recent years by the discovery by De Rossi504504De Rossi, Bull. di Arch. Crist. 1874, pp. 5 ff., 68 ff., 122 ff. &c. Roma Sotterranea, tom. i. pp. 130 ff. See also Lipsius, Apokryphen Apost. Geschicht. II. i. p. 205. of their memorials in the cemetery of Domitilla. It is at least possible, therefore, that Plautilla is likewise an historical person, and the presumption is increased by the fact that she is definitely in these Acts represented as the sister of Clement the Consul. De Rossi himself believed in her real existence, and many others have followed him in the assumption, which I have adopted, as also his suggestion that her mother's name was Plautia. I differ, however, in my interpretation of the words ‘sister of Clement the Consul' in making her the sister not of Flavius but of Arrecinus Clemens. If the historicity of the statement of the ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles‘ about Plautilla be accepted, it should be accepted as a whole. Now stress is laid on the fact that the Plautilla of these Acts died in the same year as St. Peter suffered martyrdom. The words are explicit: ‘eodem anno dominus Petrus apostolus ad coronam martyrii properavit ad Christum et Plautilla corpus terrenum deseruit.' Plautilla therefore could not well be the sister of Flavius Clemens, the younger of the two sons of Flavius Sabinus, as these sons are described as children at the time of their father's murder in December 69 A.D. The hypothesis that she was the daughter of M. Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens the Praetorian Prefect of 41 A.D., and therefore sister of M. Arrecinus Clemens the Consul of 73 A.D. and 94 A.D., and that she was the wife and not the daughter of her cousin Flavius Sabinus, the brother of Vespasian, and that, through her, T. Flavius Clemens, her son, Consul in 95 A.D., obtained his cognomen, has about it impress of verisimilitude.

(5) Arrecina Tertulla.—The first wife of the Emperor Titus. She died quite young. See ‘CIL.' vi. 12355, 12357.

(6) Clement the Bishop.—In the ‘Clementine Homilies' and ‘Clementine Recognitions,' which are in reality Petrine romances derived from a common original and dating from the beginning of the third century, Clement is represented as a Roman by birth and of the kindred of Caesar. His father is a relative and foster-brother of an emperor, and his mother likewise connected with Caesar's family. The name of the father is Faustus (‘Homilies'), Faustinianus (‘Recognitions'), Faustinus (‘Liber 254Pontificalis'), of two elder brothers Faustinus and Faustinianus (‘Homilies'), Faustinus and Faustus (‘Recognitions'), of the mother Mattidia. Now these names belong to the period of Hadrian and the Antonines. Faustina (died 141 A.D.) was the wife of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and her daughter of the same name (died 175 A.D.) was the wife of his adopted son and successor, Marcus Aurelius. Mattidia was the niece of Trajan, and her daughter Sabina the wife of the Emperor Hadrian. As the romances throughout make Clement to have been the disciple and companion of St. Peter and he is spoken of as being already grown up at the time of the Crucifixion, it will be at once perceived that the compilers of this Clementine literature were, in the use that they made of tradition, absolutely indifferent to chronological considerations. That they gave voice to a genuine tradition both as regards Clement's discipleship to St. Peter and his relationship to the family of the reigning Caesars is rendered in the highest degree probable from the fact that the Clementine story is merely a framework for the Ebionite or Helchasaite version of Peter's travels, preaching and controversies with Simon Magus, which forms the real subject-matter of this literature. [Hort, ‘Clementine Recognitions.'] M. Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens was the kinsman of Vespasian, and as that emperor was brought up not in his paternal home but by his grandmother Tertulla, it is quite possible that they were actually foster-brothers. Tertullus was one of the Flavian cognomina. Q. Flavius Tertullus was consul suffect. in 133 A.D. (‘CIL.' vi. 858). Plautia was a relative of Plautia Urgulanilla, the second wife of Claudius, her daughter Arrecina Tertulla the wife of Titus.

In the ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles' Clement the Bishop is addressed as the nephew of Clement the Consul: ‘patris tui fuisse germanum.' In the Clementines he is represented as considerably the youngest of his family. It is for various reasons more probable that he was the younger brother than the nephew of M. Arrecinus Clemens, and such I have assumed him to be.

(7) T. Flavius Petro.—The name of the famous saint, Petronilla, who was buried in the Flavian cemetery of Domitilla, was probably derived from this Flavian cognomen. A crop of legends grew up around her name, as being a daughter of St. Peter. It is possible that she may have been a spiritual daughter of the Apostle, as having been converted and baptized by him.


(8), (9), (10). Titus Flavius Sabinus and his wife, according to Suetonius, left Italy to live among the Helvetii; their son Vespasian was educated by his grandmother Tertulla upon a family estate at Cosa in the Volscian territory. (Suet. ‘Vespasian,' 2, 3.)

(11) T. Flavius Sabinus, the elder son of (9) and (10). After serving the State in thirty-five campaigns with distinction (Tac. ‘Hist.' iii. 75) and having been Governor of Moesia for seven years, Sabinus was appointed in 57 A.D. Prefect of the City. He held this important office for twelve years continuously save for a brief interval in the short reign of Galba. As Prefect of the City he must have taken part (perhaps passively) in the persecution of the Christians in 65 A.D. and been the witness of the courage with which so many martyrs faced torture and a horrible death. Some have supposed that in his latter years he may to a greater or less extent have fallen under the influence of the Christian Faith. His whole career proclaims him to have been during the greater part of his life a man of action. Tacitus speaks of his being ‘invalidus senecta' and describes him at this stage as ‘mitem virum abhorrere a sanguine et caedibus' (‘Hist.' iii. 65). When the Vitellians stormed the Capitol, ‘Flavium Sabinum inermem neque fugam coeptantem circumsistunt' (‘Hist.' iii. 73). And again after his murder, ‘in fine vitae alii segnem, multi moderatum et civium sanguinis parcum credidere' (‘Hist.' iii. 75). All these traits do not prove much in themselves, but the fact that several of his descendants and relatives were undoubtedly Christians lends a certain probability to the supposition that this mildness, sluggishness, and unwillingness to resist arms in hand may have been due to the acceptance of Christian principles. Sabinus apparently did not marry till late in life, possibly not till after he settled at Rome in 57 A.D., as his children were quite young at the time of his murder in December 69 A.D. If Plautilla were his wife, she died four years before her husband, leaving two sons and a daughter, the younger son receiving his grandfather's cognomen Clemens.

(12) The Emperor Vespasian appears to have been in considerable poverty at two periods of his life. His eldest son, Titus (19), was born December 30, 39 A.D.: ‘prope Septizonium sordidis aedibus cubiculo vero perparvo et obscuro.' (Suet. ‘Tit.' 1.) Yet a few years later we find him being educated in the palace with Britannicus. It is suggested that this change may have been partly brought about by the influence 256on behalf of his kinsman of the Praetorian Prefect Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens. At a later period, before he went as Proconsul to Africa in 61 or 62 A.D., he was in such bad circumstances that he had to mortgage his entire property to his brother in order to raise money. (Tac. ‘Hist.' iii. 73.) His wife (13) and his daughter (22), both named Flavia Domitilla, predeceased him. His younger son Domitian (25) seems when Vespasian was abroad in Africa and Judaea to have lived with his uncle Sabinus and to have been under his care. Titus (19) was, while still a youth, married to his relative Arrecina Tertulla (5). Domitian (25), born October 25, 51 A.D., was twelve years younger than his brother. From the end of December 69 A.D. to the following June as Praetor with full consular power he with Mucianus exercised in the absence of Vespasian in Egypt and Titus in Judaea the imperial authority at Rome.

(15) Flavia Domitilla, spoken of by Eusebius, ‘Chronicon' (Jerome's Lat. vers. ed. Schöne ii. p. 163), thus:—‘Scribit Bruttius . . . Flaviam Domitillam Flavii Clementis consulis ex sorore neptem in insulam Pontianam relegatam, quia se Christianam esse testata est.' A similar reference derived no doubt from the same source is found in ‘Hist. Eccl.' iii. 18, where the meaning of the word neptem is made clear: Φλαυΐαν Δομετίλλαν . . . ἐξ ἀδελφῆς γεγονυῖαν Φλαυΐου Κλήμεντος, ἑνὸς τῶν τηνικάδε ἐπὶ Ῥώμης ὑπάτων. Eusebius states that this took place in the fifteenth year of Domitian, but, as I have pointed out in Lecture VIII, it is almost certain that Eusebius has here misread his authority and that the Consul to whom Flavia Domitilla was niece was Arrecinus Clemens the Consul of 94 A.D., and not Flavius Clemens the Consul of 95 A.D. The family of Flavius Sabinus (11) were children in 70 A.D.; it is scarcely possible therefore that this Flavia Domitilla should have been old enough to occupy such a position of importance as is here assigned to her, and still more so in the ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles.' In those ‘Acts' she appears as the daughter of Plautilla, sister of Clement the Consul, and is clearly a woman of property with chamberlains of her own. In the ‘Chronicon Paschale' the same passage of Bruttius, about the persecution of the Christians by Domitian, as Eusebius quotes is referred to, but the notice of it appears under the fourteenth year of Domitian, which began in September 94 A.D. The banishment of this Domitilla to the island of Pontia I believe to have taken place at the end of 94 A.D., after Arrecinus Clemens was Consul and before Flavius Clemens entered on his consulship. 257The fact that Eusebius neither in the ‘Chronicle' nor ‘Ecclesiastical History' makes any mention of the execution of Flavius Clemens or the banishment of his wife seems to me inferential evidence that his authority Bruttius did not here record an event which Eusebius could scarcely have overlooked in one or other of his two historical works. In my Table of the Flavian Family I have made Flavia Domitilla [the virgin] the daughter of FIavius Sabinus (15) and of Plautilla (4), the sister of Arrecinus Clemens (3). I have further suggested in Lecture VIII that after the murder of Sabinus, Plautilla being already dead, the maternal uncle (3) undertook the charge of the orphan children. The two sons as they grew up would in due course be cared for by the Emperor Vespasian, as being the nearest male representatives of his family, his own two sons having no male heirs, the daughter remaining still in the wardship of the maternal uncle who had brought her up. It would be only natural therefore in such circumstances for Bruttius to speak of her as the niece of Arrecinus, rather than as the sister of Flavius.

The sudden condemnation to death of Arrecinus Clemens by Domitian, as recorded by Suetonius (‘Domit.' 11), may well have been connected with the same causes which led to his niece Domitilla's banishment, i.e. her profession of the Christian faith and her contumacy in refusing to marry at the Emperor's bidding.

(22), (23), (24) Dion Cassius (lxvii. 14) relates that Domitian put to death his cousin Flavius Clemens while consul [Suet., ‘Domit.' 15, says almost before his consulship had ended] and that he sent his wife Flavia Domitilla, also a relative, into exile on the island of Pandateria. Suetonius does not mention the wife's banishment, but remarks that ‘this violent act—i.e. the execution—very much hastened his own destruction' and then tells us of the tyrant's assassination by Stephanus the steward of Domitilla. Philostratus (‘Apollonius,' viii. 25) in his account says that Stephanus was the freedman of Flavius Clemens' wife. Quintilian, who was the tutor of Flavius Clemens' young sons (of very tender age, Suet. ‘Domit.' 15), makes it clear that their mother was the daughter of Domitian's sister: ‘cum vero mihi Domitianus Augustus sororis suae nepotum delegaverit curam' (‘Inst. Orat.' Prooem. 2). This sister of Domitian died before her father Vespasian became Emperor in 70 A. D. For epigraphic evidence of the existence of this Flavia Domitilla, wife of Flavius Clemens, see ‘CIL.' vi. 258948, 8942 and 16246. The first of these as restored by Mommsen stands:



·       ·       ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

The name of the NEPTIS is given in ‘CIL.' vi. 8942:


There were thus four Flavia Domitillas: the wife of Vespasian (13), her daughter (22), her granddaughter (24), and her niece (15).

« Prev Note D. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection