Afer, Domitius

, a famous orator, born at Nismes, fifteen or sixteen years B. C. and flourished under Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. He was elected to the prsetorship; but, not being afterwards promoted according to his ambitious expectations, and desirous at any rate to advance himself, he turned informer against Claudia Pulchra, cousin of Agrippina, and pleaded himself in that affair. Having gained this cause, he was ranked amongst the first orators, and got into favour with Tiberius, who hated Agrippina: but this princess not thinking Domitius the author of this process, did not entertain the least resentment against him. The encomiums passed by the emperor on the eloquence of Domitius, made him now eagerly pursue the profession of an orator; so that he was seldom without some accusation or defence, by which he acquired a greater reputation for his eloquence than his probity. In the 779th year of Rome, he carried on an accusation against Claudia Pulchra; and the year following, Quintilius Varus her son was impeached by him and Publius Dolabella. It was not surprising that Afer, who had been poor for many years, and squandered the money got by former impeachments, should return to this practice; but it was matter of great surprise that one who was a relation of Varus, and of such an illustrious family as that of Publius Dolabella, should associate with this informer. Afer had a high reputation as an orator for a considerable time, but this he lost by continuing to plead when age had impaired the faculties of his mind.

Quintilian, in his youth, cultivated the friendship of Domitius very assiduously. He tells us that his pleadings abounded with pleasant stories, and that there were public collections of his witty sayings, some of which he quotes. He also mentions two books of his, “On Witnesses.” Domitius was once in great danger from an inscription he put upon a statue erected by him in honour of Caligula, wherein he declared, that this prince was a second time consul at the age of 27. This he intended as an encomium; but Caligula, taking it as a sarcasm upon his youth, and his infringement of the laws, raised a process against him, and pleaded himself in person. Domitius, instead of making a defence, repeated part of the emperor’s speech, with the highest marks of admiration; after which he fell upon his knees, and begging pardon, declared, that he dreaded more the eloquence of Caligula than his | imperial power. This piece of flattery succeeded so well, that the emperor not only pardoned, but also raised him to the consulship. Afer died in the reign of Nero, A. D. 59. 1


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