For the Greek mythological woman who was transformed into a man, see Caeneus. For the genus Mayflies, see Caenis (genus).
Roman imperial dynasties
Flavian dynasty
Vespasian 69 AD 79 AD
Titus 79 AD 81 AD
Domitian 81 AD 96 AD
Gens Flavia
Flavian tree
Category:Flavian dynasty
Preceded by
Year of the Four Emperors
Followed by
Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Antonia Caenis or Cenide, a former slave and secretary of Antonia Minor (mother of the emperor Claudius), was the mistress of the Roman emperor Vespasian. It could be thought that she had family in Istria, now in Croatia, based on a trip she took there (Suet. Dom. 12.3). In her 30s Caenis, still possibly a slave, was in an unofficial relationship known as contubernium, with Vespasian before his marriage. According to Suetonius, after the death of Vespasian's wife Flavia Domitilla, Vespasian and Caenis, now a freedwoman, resumed their relationship; she was his wife "in all but name" until her death in AD 74. She had a remarkable memory and considerable influence on the emperor's administration, carried out official business on his behalf, and apparently made a lot of money from her position Cassius Dio 66.14. However, she was treated with disrespect by Vespasian's son Domitian, who refused to greet her as one of the family (Suet. Dom. 12.3).

Popular culture

The life of Caenis and her love-story with Vespasian is portrayed in Lindsey Davis' novel The Course of Honour. She is also a character who features regularly in Robert Fabbri's Vespasian series, where she is depicted as being the long lost grand-niece of the king of the Caenii, a rebelling tribe in Thracia.

See also



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