Domitian’s architecture was much denigrated, and nuanced readings of his buildings were closed off. His damnatio memoriae was remarkably complete. Buildings act as theoretically open spaces where meaning is constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed. Imperial buildings exist on a conceptual continuum with humbler structures. Domitianic architecture is read through the poetry of Martial and Statius, through elite writers such as Pliny, Suetonius, and Dio, and through Domitian’s own coinage and inscriptions. Senatorial survivors justify their continued existence through denigration of Domitian’s buildings, but Domitian himself becomes a kind of writer, constructing his own existence through his utterances on and in architecture.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.