Domitian’s Error

I once heard the story of a Roman Emperor named Domitian.  He was terrified of being assassinated.  He was so afraid that he polished the pillars of his palace so he might see the reflection of anyone attacking him from behind.  His fears caused him to act cruelly at the slightest instigation.  Everyone around him came to be treated as a potential traitor.  Sure enough, Domitian’s behavior began to create enemies all around him.  His obsession with deceit and betrayal gave rise to the very scenarios he most feared.  Soon, he actually was surrounded by people who plotted against him.  Finally, Domitian was assassinated.  His fears had driven him toward the object of his fear.

Thus the irony of a Domitian’s error:  our tendency to cause the problems we most wish to avoid by striving hard to avoid them.


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