This paper questions the post-Flavian reception of Domitian by exploring the imagery of catasterism in the Silvae’s first two poems. 1.1 solemnly celebrates Domitian’s colossal equestrian statue by overlapping imagery of catasterism with apotheosis. This is typical for imperial panegyric, but also key to Domitian’s divine self-portrayal. The tone becomes playful in 1.2, which celebrates the nuptials of the book’s patron, suggestively named Stella. I suggest that the contrastive effect deflates the grandeur of apotheosis, which risks offending the emperor. Domitian’s lack of punitive response, however, indicates that he was not as stringent with literary censorship as posterity has suggested.

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