Diocletian

Diocletian

Overview
Diocletian was a Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 284 to 305.

Born to a family of low status in the Roman province of Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus
Carus
Carus , was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success. During his campaign against the Sassanid Empire he sacked their capital Ctesiphon, but died shortly thereafter...

. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian
Numerian
Numerian , was a Roman Emperor from 282 to 284 with his older brother Carinus. They were sons of Carus, a general raised to the office of praetorian prefect under Emperor Probus in 282.-Reign:...

 on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus
Carinus
Carinus , was Roman Emperor 282 to 285. The elder son of emperor Carus, he was appointed Caesar and co-emperor of the western portion of the empire upon his father's accession...

, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus
Battle of the Margus
The Battle of the Margus was fought in July 285 between the armies of Roman Emperors Diocletian and Carinus in the valley of the Margus River in Moesia ....

. With his accession to power, Diocletian ended the Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

.
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Timeline

284   Diocletian is proclaimed emperor by his soldiers.

284   Diocletian is chosen as Roman Emperor.

285   Diocletian appoints Maximian as Caesar and co-ruler.

285   Diocletian appoints Maximian as Caesar, co-ruler.

286   Roman Emperor Diocletian raises Maximian to the rank of ''Caesar''.

303   Diocletian, Roman Emperor, publishes his edict that begins the persecution of Christians in his portion of the Empire.

305   Diocletian and Maximian retire from the office of Roman Emperor.

308   At Carnuntum, Emperor ''emeritus'' Diocletian confers with Galerius, ''Augustus'' of the East, and Maximianus, the recently returned former ''Augustus'' of the West, in an attempt to restore order to the Roman Empire.

 
Encyclopedia
Diocletian was a Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 284 to 305.

Born to a family of low status in the Roman province of Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus
Carus
Carus , was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success. During his campaign against the Sassanid Empire he sacked their capital Ctesiphon, but died shortly thereafter...

. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian
Numerian
Numerian , was a Roman Emperor from 282 to 284 with his older brother Carinus. They were sons of Carus, a general raised to the office of praetorian prefect under Emperor Probus in 282.-Reign:...

 on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus
Carinus
Carinus , was Roman Emperor 282 to 285. The elder son of emperor Carus, he was appointed Caesar and co-emperor of the western portion of the empire upon his father's accession...

, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus
Battle of the Margus
The Battle of the Margus was fought in July 285 between the armies of Roman Emperors Diocletian and Carinus in the valley of the Margus River in Moesia ....

. With his accession to power, Diocletian ended the Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

. He appointed fellow officer Maximian
Maximian
Maximian was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent...

 Augustus
Augustus (honorific)
Augustus , Latin for "majestic," "the increaser," or "venerable", was an Ancient Roman title, which was first held by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus , and subsequently came to be considered one of the titles of what are now known as the Roman Emperors...

his senior co-emperor in 285. He delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius
Galerius
Galerius , was Roman Emperor from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by Diocletian, against the Sassanid Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 299. He also campaigned across the Danube against the Carpi, defeating them in 297 and 300...

 and Constantius
Constantius Chlorus
Constantius I , commonly known as Constantius Chlorus, was Roman Emperor from 293 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty. As Caesar he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the...

 as Caesars
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

, junior co-emperors. Under this "Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
The term Tetrarchy describes any system of government where power is divided among four individuals, but usually refers to the tetrarchy instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire...

", or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the Empire. Diocletian secured the Empire's borders and purged it of all threats to his power. He defeated the Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 and Carpi
Carpi (people)
The Carpi or Carpiani were an ancient people that resided, between not later than ca. AD 140 and until at least AD 318, in the former Principality of Moldavia ....

 during several campaigns between 285 and 299, the Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

 in 288, and usurpers in Egypt between 297 and 298. Galerius, aided by Diocletian, campaigned successfully against Sassanid Persia, the Empire's traditional enemy. In 299 he sacked their capital, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

. Diocletian led the subsequent negotiations and achieved a lasting and favorable peace.

Diocletian separated and enlarged the Empire's civil and military services and reorganized the Empire's provincial divisions, establishing the largest and most bureaucratic
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 government in the history of the Empire. He established new administrative centers in Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

, Mediolanum
Mediolanum
Mediolanum, the ancient Milan, was an important Celtic and then Roman centre of northern Italy. This article charts the history of the city from its settlement by the Insubres around 600 BC, through its conquest by the Romans and its development into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital...

, Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, and Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, closer to the Empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome had been. Building on third-century trends towards absolutism
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

, he styled himself an autocrat, elevating himself above the Empire's masses with imposing forms of court ceremonial and architecture. Bureaucratic and military growth, constant campaigning, and construction projects increased the state's expenditures and necessitated a comprehensive tax reform. From at least 297 on, imperial taxation was standardized, made more equitable, and levied at generally higher rates.

Not all Diocletian's plans were successful: the Edict on Maximum Prices
Edict on Maximum Prices
The Edict on Maximum Prices was issued in 301 by Roman Emperor Diocletian....

(301), his attempt to curb inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 via price controls
Price controls
Price controls are governmental impositions on the prices charged for goods and services in a market, usually intended to maintain the affordability of staple foods and goods, and to prevent price gouging during shortages, or, alternatively, to insure an income for providers of certain goods...

, was counterproductive and quickly ignored. Although effective while he ruled, Diocletian's Tetrarchic system collapsed after his abdication under the competing dynastic claims of Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

 and Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, sons of Maximian and Constantius respectively. The Diocletianic Persecution (303–11), the Empire's last, largest, and bloodiest official persecution of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, did not destroy the Empire's Christian community; indeed, after 324 Christianity became the empire's preferred religion under its first Christian emperor, Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

.

In spite of his failures, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the Empire economically and militarily, enabling the Empire to remain essentially intact for another hundred years despite having seemed near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth. Weakened by illness, Diocletian left the imperial office on May 1, 305, and became the only Roman emperor to voluntarily abdicate the position. He lived out his retirement in his palace
Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace is a building in Split, Croatia, that was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD.Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It lies in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from...

 on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens. His palace eventually became the core of the modern-day city of Split.

Early life



Diocletian was probably born near Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

 in Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

 (Solin in modern Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

), some time around 244. His parents named him Diocles, or possibly Diocles Valerius. The modern historian Timothy Barnes
Timothy Barnes
Timothy David Barnes is a British classicist.Timothy David Barnes was born in Yorkshire in 1942. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield until 1960, going up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Literae Humaniores, taking his BA in 1964 and MA in 1967...

 takes his official birthday, 22 December, as his actual birthdate. Other historians are not so certain. Diocles' parents were of low status, and writers critical of him claimed that his father was a scribe
Scribe
A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The profession, previously found in all literate cultures in some form, lost most of its importance and status with the advent of printing...

 or a freedman
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

 of the senator Anullinus, or even that Diocles was a freedman himself. The first forty years of his life are mostly obscure. The Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 chronicler Joannes Zonaras
Joannes Zonaras
Ioannes Zonaras was a Byzantine chronicler and theologian, who lived at Constantinople.Under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos he held the offices of head justice and private secretary to the emperor, but after Alexios' death, he retired to the monastery of St Glykeria, where he spent the rest of his...

 states that he was Dux
Dux
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....

 Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

e
, a commander of forces on the lower Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

. The often-unreliable Historia Augusta
Augustan History
The Augustan History is a late Roman collection of biographies, in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues and usurpers of the period 117 to 284...

states that he served in Gaul, but this account is not corroborated by other sources and is ignored by modern historians of the period.

Death of Numerian



Emperor Carus
Carus
Carus , was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success. During his campaign against the Sassanid Empire he sacked their capital Ctesiphon, but died shortly thereafter...

' death left his unpopular sons Numerian and Carinus as the new Augusti. Carinus quickly made his way to Rome from Gaul and arrived by January 284. Numerian lingered in the east. The Romans left the country unopposed. The Roman withdrawal from Persia was orderly. The Sassanid king Bahram II
Bahram II
Bahram II was the fifth Sassanid King of Persia in 276–293. He was the son of Bahram I .Bahram II is said to have ruled at first tyrannically, and to have greatly disgusted all his principal nobles, who went so far as to form a conspiracy against him, and intended to put him to death...

 could not field any armies against them, as he was still struggling to establish his authority. By March 284, Numerian had only reached Emesa (Homs)
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

; by November, only Asia Minor. In Emesa he was apparently still alive and in good health: he issued the only extant rescript
Rescript
A rescript is a document that is issued not on the initiative of the author, but in response to a specific demand made by its addressee...

 in his name there, but after he left the city, his staff, including the prefect Aper, reported that he suffered from an inflammation of the eyes. He traveled in a closed coach from then on. When the army reached Bithynia
Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

, some of the soldiers smelled an odor emanating from the coach. They opened its curtains and inside they found Numerian dead.

Aper officially broke the news in Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

 (İzmit
Izmit
İzmit is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Istanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city center has a population of 294.875...

) in November. Numerianus' generals and tribunes called a council for the succession, and chose Diocles as Emperor, in spite of Aper's attempts to garner support. On 20 November 284, the army of the east gathered on a hill 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) outside Nicomedia. The army unanimously saluted Diocles as their new Augustus, and he accepted the purple imperial vestments. He raised his sword to the light of the sun and swore an oath disclaiming responsibility for Numerian's death. He asserted that Aper had killed Numerian and concealed it. In full view of the army, Diocles drew his sword and killed Aper. According to the Historia Augusta, he quoted from Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 while doing so. Soon after Aper's death, Diocles changed his name to the more Latinate "Diocletianus", in full Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus.

Conflict with Carinus



After his accession, Diocletian and Lucius Caesonius Bassus were named as consuls. They assumed the fasces
Fasces
Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity"...

in place of Carinus and Numerianus. Bassus was a member of a Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

n senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 family, a former consul and a proconsul of Africa. He had been chosen by Probus for signal distinction. He was a man skilled in areas of government where Diocletian, presumably, had no experience. Diocletian's elevation of Bassus as consul symbolized his rejection of Carinus' government in Rome, his refusal to accept second-tier status to any other emperor, and his willingness to continue the long-standing collaboration between the Empire's senatorial and military aristocracies. It also tied his success to that of the Senate, whose support he would need in an advance on Rome.

Diocletian was not the only challenger to Carinus' rule: the usurper M. Aurelius Julianus
Sabinus Iulianus
Marcus Aurelius Sabinus Iulianus was a Roman usurper against Emperor Carinus or Maximian...

, Carinus' corrector Venetiae, took control of northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 after Diocletian's accession. Julianus minted coins from the mint at Siscia (Sisak
Sisak
Sisak is a city in central Croatia. The city's population in 2011 was 33,049, with a total of 49,699 in the administrative region and it is also the administrative centre of the Sisak-Moslavina county...

, Croatia) declaring himself as Emperor and promising freedom. It was all good publicity for Diocletian, and it aided in his portrayal of Carinus as a cruel and oppressive tyrant. Julianus' forces were weak, however, and were handily dispersed when Carinus' armies moved from Britain to northern Italy. As leader of the united East, Diocletian was clearly the greater threat. Over the winter of 284–85, Diocletian advanced west across the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. In the spring, some time before the end of May, his armies met Carinus' across the river Margus (Great Morava) in Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

. In modern accounts, the site has been located between the Mons Aureus (Seone, west of Smederevo
Smederevo
Smederevo is a city and municipality in Serbia, on the right bank of the Danube, about 40 km downstream of the capital Belgrade. According to official results of the 2011 census, the city has a population of 107,528...

) and Viminacium
Viminacium
Viminacium was a major city and military camp of the Roman province of Moesia , and the capital of Moesia Superior. The archeological site occupies a total of 450 hectares. Viminacium is located 12 km from Kostolac, was devastated by Huns in the 5th century, but rebuilt by Justinian...

, near modern Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, Serbia.

Despite having the stronger army, Carinus held the weaker position. His rule was unpopular, and it was later alleged that he had mistreated the Senate and seduced his officers' wives. It is possible that Flavius Constantius
Constantius Chlorus
Constantius I , commonly known as Constantius Chlorus, was Roman Emperor from 293 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty. As Caesar he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the...

, the governor of Dalmatia and Diocletian's associate in the household guard, had already defected to Diocletian in the early spring. When the Battle of the Margus
Battle of the Margus
The Battle of the Margus was fought in July 285 between the armies of Roman Emperors Diocletian and Carinus in the valley of the Margus River in Moesia ....

 began, Carinus' prefect Aristobulus also defected. In the course of the battle, Carinus was killed by his own men. Following Diocletian's victory, both the western and the eastern armies acclaimed him Augustus. Diocletian exacted an oath of allegiance from the defeated army and departed for Italy.

Early rule


Diocletian may have become involved in battles against the Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

 and Marcomanni
Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

 immediately after the Battle of the Margus. He eventually made his way to northern Italy and made an imperial government, but it is not known whether he visited the city of Rome at this time. There is a contemporary issue of coins suggestive of an imperial adventus
Adventus (ceremony)
The adventus was a ceremony in ancient Rome, in which an emperor was formally welcomed into a city either during a progress or after a military campaign, often Rome. The term is also used to refer to artistic depicitions of such ceremonies. Its 'opposite' is the profectio.-External links:*...

(arrival) for the city, but some modern historians state that Diocletian avoided the city, and that he did so on principle, as the city and its Senate were no longer politically relevant to the affairs of the Empire and needed to be taught as much. Diocletian dated his reign from his elevation by the army, not the date of his ratification by the Senate, following the practice established by Carus, who had declared the Senate's ratification a useless formality. If Diocletian ever did enter Rome shortly after his accession, he did not stay long; he is attested back in the Balkans by November 2, 285, on campaign against the Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

.

Diocletian replaced the prefect of Rome with his consular colleague Bassus. Most officials who had served under Carinus, however, retained their offices under Diocletian. In an act the epitomator Aurelius Victor
Aurelius Victor
Sextus Aurelius Victor was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire.Aurelius Victor was the author of a History of Rome from Augustus to Julian , published ca. 361. Julian honoured him and appointed him prefect of Pannonia Secunda...

 denotes as unusual act of clementia, Diocletian did not kill or depose Carinus' traitorous praetorian prefect and consul Ti. Claudius Aurelius Aristobulus, but confirmed him in both roles, and later gave him the proconsulate of Africa and the rank of urban prefect. The other figures who retained their offices might have also betrayed Carinus.

Maximian made co-emperor



Recent history had demonstrated that sole rulership was dangerous to the stability of the empire. The assassinations of Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

 (r. 270–75) and Probus testified to that truth. Conflict boiled in every province of the Empire, from Gaul to Syria, from Egypt to the lower Danube. It was too much for a single person to control, and Diocletian needed a lieutenant. At some time in 285 at Mediolanum
Mediolanum
Mediolanum, the ancient Milan, was an important Celtic and then Roman centre of northern Italy. This article charts the history of the city from its settlement by the Insubres around 600 BC, through its conquest by the Romans and its development into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital...

 (Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Italy), Diocletian raised his fellow-officer Maximian to the office of Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

, making him co-emperor.

The concept of dual rulership was nothing new to the Roman Empire. Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, the first Emperor (r. 27 BC–AD 14), had shared power with his colleagues, and more formal offices of co-Emperor had existed from Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–80) on. Most recently, the emperor Carus and his sons had ruled together, albeit unsuccessfully. Diocletian was in a less comfortable position than most of his predecessors, as he had a daughter, Valeria, but no sons. His co-ruler had to be from outside his family. He could not, therefore, be easily trusted. Some historians state that Diocletian, like some emperors before him, adopted Maximian as his filius Augusti, his "Augustan son", upon his appointment to the throne. This argument has not been universally accepted.

The relationship between Diocletian and Maximian was quickly couched in religious terms. Circa 287 Diocletian assumed the title Iovius, and Maximian assumed the title Herculius. The titles were probably meant to convey certain characteristics of their associated leaders; Diocletian, in Jovian
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

 style, would take on the dominating roles of planning and commanding; Maximian, in Herculian
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

 mode, would act as Jupiter's hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

ic subordinate. For all their religious connotations, the emperors were not "gods" in the tradition of the Imperial cult
Imperial cult (ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

—although they may have been hailed as such in Imperial panegyric
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

s. Instead, they were seen as the gods' representatives, effecting their will on earth. The shift to divine sanctification from military acclamation took the power to appoint emperors away from the army. Religious legitimization elevated Diocletian and Maximian above potential rivals in a way military power and dynastic claims could not. After his acclamation, Maximian was dispatched to fight the rebel Bagaudae
Bagaudae
In the time of the later Roman Empire bagaudae were groups of peasant insurgents who emerged during the "Crisis of the Third Century", and persisted particularly in the less-Romanised areas of Gallia and Hispania, where they were "exposed to the depredations of the late Roman state, and the great...

 in Gaul. Diocletian returned to the East.

Conflict with Sarmatia and Persia


Diocletian progressed slowly. By November 2, he had only reached Citivas Iovia (Botivo, near Ptuj
Ptuj
Ptuj is a city and one of 11 urban municipalities in Slovenia. Traditionally the area was part of the Lower Styria region. The municipality is now included in the Podravje statistical region...

, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

). In the Balkans during the autumn of 285, he encountered a tribe of Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 who demanded assistance from the Emperor. The Sarmatians requested that Diocletian either help them recover their lost lands or grant them pasturage rights within the empire. Diocletian refused and fought a battle with them, but was unable to secure a complete victory. The nomadic pressures of the European Plain
European Plain
The European Plain or Great European Plain is a plain in Europe. It is the largest mountain-free landform in Europe, although a number of highlands are identified within. It stretches from the Pyrenees Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east.It consists of the...

 remained, and could not be solved by a single war; soon the Sarmatians would have to be fought again. He wintered in Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

. There may have been a revolt in the eastern provinces at this time, because Diocletian brought settlers from Asia to populate emptied farmlands in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. He visited Judea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 the following spring. He probably returned to Nicomedia for the winter. Diocletian's stay in the East saw diplomatic success in the conflict with Persia: in 287, Bahram II
Bahram II
Bahram II was the fifth Sassanid King of Persia in 276–293. He was the son of Bahram I .Bahram II is said to have ruled at first tyrannically, and to have greatly disgusted all his principal nobles, who went so far as to form a conspiracy against him, and intended to put him to death...

 granted him precious gifts, declared open friendship with the Empire, and invited Diocletian to visit him. Roman sources insist that the act was entirely voluntary.

Around the same time, perhaps in 287, Persia relinquished claims on Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and recognized Roman authority over territory to the west and south of the Tigris. The western portion of Armenia was incorporated into the Empire and made a province. Tiridates III
Tiridates III of Armenia
Tiridates III or Diritades III was the king of Arsacid Armenia , and is also known as Tiridates the Great ; some scholars incorrectly refer to him as Tiridates IV as a result of the fact that Tiridates I of Armenia reigned twice)...

, Arsacid
Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia
The Arsacid dynasty or Arshakuni dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 54 AD to 428 AD. Formerly a branch of the Iranian Parthian Arsacids, they became a distinctly Armenian dynasty. Arsacid Kings reigned intermittently throughout the chaotic years following the fall of the Artaxiad Dynasty...

 claimant to the Armenian throne and Roman client, had been disinherited and forced to take refuge in the Empire after the Persian conquest of 252/3. In 287, he returned to lay claim to the eastern half of his ancestral domain. He encountered no opposition. Bahram II's gifts were widely recognized as symbolic of a victory in the ongoing conflict with Persia
Roman-Persian Wars
The Roman–Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world and two successive Iranic empires: the Parthian and the Sassanid. Contact between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 92 BC; wars began under the late Republic, and continued...

; Diocletian was hailed as the "founder of eternal peace". The events might have represented a formal end to Carus' eastern campaign, which probably ended without an acknowledged peace. At the conclusion of discussions with the Persians, Diocletian re-organized the Mesopotamian frontier and fortified the city of Circesium
Circesium
Circesium was an ancient city in Osrhoene, corresponding to the modern city of Buseira, in the region of Deir ez-Zor in Syria, at the confluence of the Khabur River with the Euphrates.- History :...

 (Buseire, Syria) on the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

.

Maximian made Augustus


Maximian's campaigns were not proceeding as smoothly. The Bagaudae had been easily suppressed, but Carausius
Carausius
Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Valerius Carausius was a military commander of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. He was a Menapian from Belgic Gaul, who usurped power in 286, declaring himself emperor in Britain and northern Gaul. He did this only 13 years after the Gallic Empire of the Batavian...

, the man he had put in charge of operations against Saxon
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 and Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 pirates
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 on the Saxon Shore
Saxon Shore
Saxon Shore could refer to one of the following:* Saxon Shore, a military command of the Late Roman Empire, encompassing southern Britain and the coasts of northern France...

, had begun keeping the goods seized from the pirates for himself. Maximian issued a death-warrant for his larcenous subordinate. Carausius fled the Continent, proclaimed himself Augustus, and spurred Britain and northwestern Gaul into open revolt against Maximian and Diocletian. Spurred by the crisis, on April 1, 286, Maximian took up the title of Augustus
Augustus (honorific)
Augustus , Latin for "majestic," "the increaser," or "venerable", was an Ancient Roman title, which was first held by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus , and subsequently came to be considered one of the titles of what are now known as the Roman Emperors...

. Maximian's appointment is unusual in that it was impossible for Diocletian to have been present to witness the event. It has even been suggested that Maximian usurped the title, and was only later recognized by Diocletian in hopes of avoiding civil war. This suggestion is unpopular, as it is clear that Diocletian meant for Maximian to act with a certain amount of independence.


Maximian realized that he could not immediately suppress the rogue commander, and so, for the whole campaigning season of 287, campaigned against tribes beyond the Rhine instead. The following spring, as Maximian prepared a fleet for an expedition against Carausius, Diocletian returned from the East to meet Maximian. The two emperors agreed on a joint campaign against the Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

. Diocletian invaded Germania through Raetia while Maximian progressed from Mainz. Each emperor burned crops and food supplies as he went, destroying the Germans' means of sustenance. The two men added territory to the Empire and allowed Maximian to continue preparations against Carausius without further disturbance. On his return to the East, Diocletian managed what was probably another rapid campaign against the resurgent Sarmatians. No details survive, but surviving inscriptions indicate that Diocletian took the title Sarmaticus Maximus after 289.

In the East, Diocletian engaged in diplomacy with desert tribes in the regions between Rome and Persia. He might have been attempting to persuade them to ally themselves with Rome, thus reviving the old, Rome-friendly, Palmyrene
Palmyra
Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

 sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

, or simply attempting to reduce the frequency of their incursions. No details survive for these events. Some of the princes of these states were Persian client kings; a disturbing fact in light of increasing tensions with that kingdom. In the West, Maximian lost the fleet built in 288 and 289, probably in the early spring of 290. The panegyrist
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

 who refers to the loss suggests that its cause was a storm, but this might simply be the panegyrist's attempt to conceal an embarrassing military defeat. Diocletian broke off his tour of the Eastern provinces soon thereafter. He returned with haste to the West, reaching Emesa by May 10, 290, and Sirmium on the Danube by July 1, 290.

Diocletian met Maximian in Milan in the winter of 290–91, either in late December 290 or January 291. The meeting was undertaken with a sense of solemn pageantry. The Emperors spent most of their time in public appearances. It has been surmised that the ceremonies were arranged to demonstrate Diocletian's continuing support for his faltering colleague. A deputation from the Roman Senate met with the Emperors, renewing that body's infrequent contact with the Imperial office. The choice of Milan over Rome further snubbed the capital's pride. But then it was already a long established practice that Rome itself was only a ceremonial capital, as the actual seat of the Imperial administration was determined by the needs of defense. Long before Diocletian, Gallienus
Gallienus
Gallienus was Roman Emperor with his father Valerian from 253 to 260, and alone from 260 to 268. He took control of the Empire at a time when it was undergoing great crisis...

 (r. 253–68) had already chosen Milan as the seat of his headquarters. If the panegyric detailing the ceremony implied that the true center of the Empire was not Rome, but where the Emperor sat ("...the capital of the Empire appeared to be there, where the two emperors met"), it simply echoed what had already been stated by the historian Herodian
Herodian
Herodian or Herodianus of Syria was a minor Roman civil servant who wrote a colourful history in Greek titled History of the Empire from the Death of Marcus in eight books covering the years 180 to 238. His work is not entirely reliable although his relatively unbiased account of Elagabalus is...

 in the early third century: "Rome is where the emperor is". During the meeting, decisions on matters of politics and war were probably made, but they were made in secret. The Augusti would not meet again until 303.

Foundation of the Tetrarchy



Some time after his return, and before 293, Diocletian transferred command of the war against Carausius from Maximian to Flavius Constantius. Constantius was a former governor of Dalmatia and a man of military experience stretching back to Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

's campaigns against Zenobia
Zenobia
Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Roman Syria. She led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. The second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene Empire following Odaenathus' death in 267...

 (272–73). He was Maximian's praetorian prefect in Gaul, and the husband to Maximian's daughter, Theodora
Flavia Maximiana Theodora
Flavia Maximiana Theodora was the stepdaughter of Maximian. Her parents were Flavius Afranius Hannibalianus and wife, divorced before 283, Eutropia, later wife of Maximian. Theodora's father was consul in 292, and praetorian prefect under Diocletian...

. On March 1, 293 at Milan, Maximian gave Constantius the office of Caesar. In the spring of 293, in either Philippopolis (Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

) or Sirmium, Diocletian would do the same for Galerius
Galerius
Galerius , was Roman Emperor from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by Diocletian, against the Sassanid Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 299. He also campaigned across the Danube against the Carpi, defeating them in 297 and 300...

, husband to Diocletian's daughter Valeria, and perhaps Diocletian's praetorian prefect. Constantius was assigned Gaul and Britain. Galerius was assigned Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and responsibility for the eastern borderlands.

This arrangement is called the Tetrarchy, from a Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 term meaning "rulership by four". The Tetrarchic Emperors were more or less sovereign in their own lands, and they travelled with their own imperial courts, administrators, secretaries, and armies. They were joined by blood and marriage; Diocletian and Maximian now styled themselves as brothers. The senior co-Emperors formally adopted Galerius and Constantius as sons in 293. These relationships implied a line of succession. Galerius and Constantius would become Augusti after Diocletian and Maximian's departure. Maximian's son Maxentius
Maxentius
Maxentius was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian, and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.-Birth and early life:Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278...

, and Constantius' son Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 would then become Caesars. In preparation for their future roles, Constantine and Maxentius were taken to Diocletian's court in Nicomedia.

Conflict in the Balkans and Egypt



Diocletian spent the spring of 293 traveling with Galerius from Sirmium to Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 (Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). Diocletian then returned to Sirmium, where he would remain for the following winter and spring. He campaigned against the Sarmatians again in 294, probably in the autumn, and won a victory against them. The Sarmatians' defeat kept them from the Danube provinces for a long time. Meanwhile, Diocletian built forts north of the Danube, at Aquincum
Aquincum
The ancient city of Aquincum was situated on the North-Eastern borders of the Pannonia province within the Roman Empire. The ruins of the city can be found today in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary...

 (Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

), Bononia (Vidin
Vidin
Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Serbia and Romania, and is also the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin...

, Bulgaria), Ulcisia Vetera, Castra Florentium, Intercisa (Dunaújváros
Dunaújváros
Dunaújváros is a Hungarian city in Central Transdanubia, along the Danube river. It is in Fejér county.-History:Dunaújváros is one of the newest cities of the country...

, Hungary), and Onagrinum (Begeč
Begec
Begeč is a village in Serbian province of Vojvodina. It is located in Novi Sad municipality, in South Bačka District. Begeč is situated on the river Danube, approximately 15 km west from Novi Sad, on Bačka Palanka-Novi Sad road...

, Serbia). The new forts became part of a new defensive line called the Ripa Sarmatica. In 295 and 296 Diocletian campaigned in the region again, and won a victory over the Carpi in the summer of 296. Afterwards, during 299 and 302, as Diocletian was then residing in the East, it was Galerius' turn to campaign victoriously on the Danube. By the end of his reign, Diocletian had secured the entire length of the Danube, provided it with forts, bridgeheads, highways, and walled towns, and sent fifteen or more legions to patrol the region; an inscription at Sexaginta Prista on the Lower Danube extolled restored tranquilitas at the region. The defense came at a heavy cost, but was a significant achievement in an area difficult to defend.

Galerius, meanwhile, was engaged during 291–293 in disputes in Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, where he suppressed a regional uprising. He would return to Syria in 295 to fight the revanchist Persian Empire. Diocletian's attempts to bring the Egyptian tax system in line with Imperial standards stirred discontent, and a revolt swept the region after Galerius' departure. The usurper L. Domitius Domitianus
Domitius Domitianus
Lucius Domitius Domitianus was a Roman usurper against Diocletian, who seized power for a short time in Aegyptus.Domitianus revolted against Diocletian in 297 AD, but died in December of the same year, when Diocletian went to Aegyptus to quell with the revolt. Numismatic and papyrological evidence...

 declared himself Augustus in July or August 297. Much of Egypt, including Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, recognized his rule. Diocletian moved into Egypt to suppress him, first putting down rebels in the Thebaid
Thebaid
The Thebaid or Thebais is the region of ancient Egypt containing the thirteen southernmost nomes of Upper Egypt, from Abydos to Aswan. It acquired its name from its proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes....

 in the autumn of 297, then moving on to besiege Alexandria. Domitianus died in December 297, by which time Diocletian had secured control of the Egyptian countryside. Alexandria, whose defense was organized under Diocletian's former corrector Aurelius Achilleus
Achilleus (emperor)
Achilleus assumed the title of emperor under Diocletian and reigned over Egypt for some time. He was possibly the Corrector of Domitius Domitianus. He seems to have succeeded the revolt started by Domitianus, after the latter died...

, held out until a later date, probably March 298.

Bureaucratic affairs were completed during Diocletian's stay: a census took place, and Alexandria, in punishment for its rebellion, lost the ability to mint independently. Diocletian's reforms in the region, combined with those of Septimus Severus, brought Egyptian administrative practices much closer to Roman standards. Diocletian travelled south along the Nile the following summer, where he visited Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus is a city in Upper Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered...

 and Elephantine
Elephantine
Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. This region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the land is higher than that near the Mediterranean coast. The island may have received its name because it was a...

. In Nubia, he made peace with the Nobatae and Blemmyes
Blemmyes
The Blemmyes were a nomadic Nubian tribe described in Roman histories of the later empire. From the late third century on, along with another tribe, the Nobadae, they repeatedly fought the Romans...

 tribes. Under the terms of the peace treaty Rome's borders moved north to Philae
Philae
Philae is an island in the Nile River and the previous site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex in southern Egypt...

 and the two tribes received an annual gold stipend. Diocletian left Africa quickly after the treaty, moving from Upper Egypt in September 298 to Syria in February 299. He met up with Galerius in Mesopotamia.

War with Persia



Invasion, counterinvasion



In 294, Narseh
Narseh
Narseh was the seventh Sassanid King of Persia , and son of Shapur I ....

, a son of Shapur who had been passed over for the Sassanid succession, came to power in Persia. Narseh eliminated Bahram III
Bahram III
Bahram III was the sixth Sassanid King of Persia and son of Bahram II. He was appointed viceroy to the region of Sakasthan after Bahram II's conquest of it sometime in the 280's CE....

, a young man installed in the wake of Bahram II's death in 293. In early 294, Narseh sent Diocletian the customary package of gifts between the empires, and Diocletian responded with an exchange of ambassadors. Within Persia, however, Narseh was destroying every trace of his immediate predecessors from public monuments. He sought to identify himself with the warlike kings Ardashir
Ardashir I
Ardashir I was the founder of the Sassanid Empire, was ruler of Istakhr , subsequently Fars Province , and finally "King of Kings of Sassanid Empire " with the overthrow of the Parthian Empire...

 (r. 226–41) and Shapur (r. 241–72), the same Shapur who had sacked Roman Antioch and skinned the Emperor Valerian
Valerian (emperor)
Valerian , also known as Valerian the Elder, was Roman Emperor from 253 to 260. He was taken captive by Persian king Shapur I after the Battle of Edessa, becoming the only Roman Emperor who was captured as a prisoner of war, resulting in wide-ranging instability across the Empire.-Origins and rise...

 (r. 253–260) to decorate his war temple.

Narseh declared war on Rome in 295 or 296. He appears to have first invaded western Armenia, where he seized the lands delivered to Tiridates in the peace of 287. Narseh moved south into Roman Mesopotamia in 297, where he inflicted a severe defeat on Galerius in the region between Carrhae (Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

, Turkey) and Callinicum (Ar-Raqqah, Syria) (and thus, the historian Fergus Millar
Fergus Millar
-External links:* staff page at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford* announcement of "History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ."...

 notes, probably somewhere on the Balikh River). Diocletian may or may not have been present at the battle, but he quickly divested himself of all responsibility. In a public ceremony at Antioch, the official version of events was clear: Galerius was responsible for the defeat; Diocletian was not. Diocletian publicly humiliated Galerius, forcing him to walk for a mile at the head of the Imperial caravan, still clad in the purple robes of the Emperor.


Galerius was reinforced, probably in the spring of 298, by a new contingent collected from the Empire's Danubian holdings. Narseh did not advance from Armenia and Mesopotamia, leaving Galerius to lead the offensive in 298 with an attack on northern Mesopotamia via Armenia. It is unclear if Diocletian was present to assist the campaign; he might have returned to Egypt or Syria. Narseh retreated to Armenia to fight Galerius' force, to Narseh's disadvantage; the rugged Armenian terrain was favorable to Roman infantry, but unfavorable to Sassanid cavalry. In two battles, Galerius won major victories over Narseh. During the second encounter
Battle of Satala (298)
The Battle of Satala was fought in 298 between the forces of the Roman Empire under the Tetrarch Galerius and the forces of the Sassanid Persian ruler Narseh. The battle was a decisive Roman victory. Galerius' forces caught the Persians by surprise and routed them, capturing the Persian camp,...

, Roman forces seized Narseh's camp, his treasury, his harem, and his wife. Galerius continued moving down the Tigris, and took the Persian capital Ctesiphon before returning to Roman territory along the Euphrates.

Peace negotiations


Narseh sent an ambassador to Galerius to plead for the return of his wives and children in the course of the war, but Galerius had dismissed him. Serious peace negotiations began in the spring of 299. Diocletian and Galerius' magister memoriae (secretary) Sicorius Probus were sent to Narseh to present terms. The conditions of the resulting Peace of Nisibis
Peace of Nisibis
The peace treaty of Nisibis was concluded between the Roman and Sassanid Persian empires at Nisibis in 299. It ended the Roman–Sassanid war and enforced the Roman military exploits during the conflict...

 were heavy; Armenia returned to Roman domination, with the fort of Ziatha as its border; Caucasian Iberia
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 would pay allegiance to Rome under a Roman appointee; Nisibis, now under Roman rule, would become the sole conduit for trade between Persia and Rome; and Rome would exercise control over the five satrapies between the Tigris and Armenia: Ingilene, Sophanene (Sophene
Sophene
Sophene , or ) was a province of the Armenian Kingdom and of the Roman Empire, located in the south-west of the kingdom. It currently lies in modern-day southeastern Turkey....

), Arzanene (Aghdznik
Aghdznik
Aghdznik , also known as Altzniq or Arzanene, was a province of Greater Armenia. It covered an area of , divided into 11 districts:*Angegh-home*Tigranakert*Arzn*Qagh*Ketik*Tatik*Aznvadzor*Erkhetq*Gzeghq*Salnodzor*Sasun....

), Corduene
Corduene
Corduene was an ancient region located in northern Mesopotamia and modern day Kurdish inhabited south east Turkey. It was a province of the Greater Armenia. It was referred to by the Greeks as Karduchia and by both the Greeks and Romans as Corduene...

 (Carduene), and Zabdicene (near modern Hakkâri
Hakkari
Hakkâri , is a city and the capital of the Hakkâri Province of Turkey. The name Hakkâri is derived from the Syriac word, Akkare, meaning farmers...

, Turkey). These regions included the passage of the Tigris through the Anti-Taurus
Anti-Taurus Mountains
Anti-Taurus is a mountain range in southern and eastern Turkey, curving northeast from the Taurus Mountains. The tallest mountain in the range is Mount Erciyes,...

 range; the Bitlis
Bitlis
Bitlis is a town in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The town is located at an elevation of 1,400 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. The local economy is mainly based on agricultural products which include...

 pass, the quickest southerly route into Persian Armenia; and access to the Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin
Tur Abdin is a hilly region of south east Turkey incorporating the eastern half of Mardin Province, and Şırnak Province west of the Tigris, on the border with Syria. The name 'Tur Abdin' is from the Syriac language meaning 'mountain of the servants '. Tur Abdin is of great importance to Syriac...

 plateau.

A stretch of land containing the later strategic strongholds of Amida (Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, Turkey) and Bezabde came under firm Roman military occupation. With these territories, Rome would have an advance station north of Ctesiphon, and would be able to slow any future advance of Persian forces through the region. Many cities east of the Tigris came under Roman control, including Tigranokert, Saird
Siirt
- External links :* * * *...

, Martyropolis
Martyropolis
Martyropolis was the former name of a city in Turkey, now known in Turkish as Silvan, in Aramaic as Meiafarakin .It is a Catholic titular see....

, Balalesa
Bitlis
Bitlis is a town in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The town is located at an elevation of 1,400 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. The local economy is mainly based on agricultural products which include...

, Moxos
Bakhchisaray
Bakhchisaray is a town in Central Crimea, centre of the Bakhchisaray raion , best known as the former capital of the Crimean Khanate...

, Daudia, and Arzan – though under what status is unclear. At the conclusion of the peace, Tiridates regained both his throne and the entirety of his ancestral claim. Rome secured a wide zone of cultural influence, which led to a wide diffusion of Syriac Christianity
Syriac Christianity
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India....

 from a center at Nisibis in later decades, and the eventual Christianization of Armenia.

Early persecutions


At the conclusion of the peace, Diocletian and Galerius returned to Syrian Antioch. At some time in 299, the Emperors took part in a ceremony of sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

 and divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 in an attempt to predict the future. The haruspices
Haruspex
In Roman and Etruscan religious practice, a haruspex was a man trained to practice a form of divination called haruspicy, hepatoscopy or hepatomancy. Haruspicy is the inspection of the entrails of sacrificed animals, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep and poultry...

 were unable to read the entrails of the sacrificed animals, and blamed Christians in the Imperial household. The Emperors ordered all members of the court to perform a sacrifice to purify the palace. The Emperors sent letters to the military command, demanding the entire army perform the required sacrifices or face discharge. Diocletian was conservative in matters of religion, a man faithful to the traditional Roman pantheon and understanding of demands for religious purification, but Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

, Lactantius
Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

 and Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 state that it was Galerius, not Diocletian, who was the prime supporter of the purge, and its greatest beneficiary. Galerius, even more devoted and passionate than Diocletian, saw political advantage in the politics of persecution. He was willing to break with a government policy of inaction on the issue.

Antioch was Diocletian's primary residence from 299 to 302, while Galerius swapped places with his Augustus on the Middle and Lower Danube. He visited Egypt once, over the winter of 301–2, and issued a grain dole in Alexandria. Following some public disputes with Manicheans
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

, Diocletian ordered that the leading followers of Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 be burnt alive along with their scriptures. In a March 31, 302 rescript from Alexandria, he declared that low-status Manicheans must be executed by the blade, and high-status Manicheans must be sent to work in the quarries of Proconnesus (Marmara Island
Marmara Island
Marmara is a Turkish island in the Sea of Marmara. It is the largest island in the Sea of Marmara that is the center of Marmara district in Balıkesir Province...

, Turkey) or the mines of Phaeno in southern Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. All Manichean property was to be seized and deposited in the imperial treasury. Diocletian found much to be offended by in Manichean religion: its novelty, its alien origins, the way it corrupted the morals of the Roman race, and its inherent opposition to long-standing religious traditions. Manichaeanism was also supported by Persia at the time, compounding religious dissent with international politics. Excepting Persian support, the reasons why he disliked Manichaenism were equally applicable, if not more so, to Christianity, his next target.

Great Persecution


Diocletian returned to Antioch in the autumn of 302. He ordered that the deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 Romanus of Caesarea
Romanus of Caesarea
Saint Romanus of Caesarea is venerated as a martyr. In 303 or 304, at the beginning of the Diocletian persecution, a deacon called Romanus of Caesarea in Palestine suffered martyrdom at Antioch...

 have his tongue removed for defying the order of the courts and interrupting official sacrifices. Romanus was then sent to prison, where he was executed on November 17, 303. Diocletian believed that Romanus of Caesarea was arrogant, and he left the city for Nicomedia in the winter, accompanied by Galerius. According to Lactantius, Diocletian and Galerius entered into an argument over imperial policy towards Christians while wintering at Nicomedia in 302. Diocletian argued that forbidding Christians from the bureaucracy and military would be sufficient to appease the gods, but Galerius pushed for extermination. The two men sought the advice of the oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 at Didyma
Didyma
Didyma was an ancient Ionian sanctuary, the modern Didim, Turkey, containing a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion. In Greek didyma means "twin", but the Greeks who sought a "twin" at Didyma ignored the Carian origin of the name...

. The oracle responded that the impious on Earth hindered Apollo's ability to provide advice. Rhetorically Eusebius records the Oracle as saying "The just on Earth..." These impious, Diocletian was informed by members of the court, could only refer to the Christians of the Empire. At the behest of his court, Diocletian acceded to demands for universal persecution.

On February 23, 303, Diocletian ordered that the newly built church at Nicomedia be razed. He demanded that its scriptures be burned, and seized its precious stores for the treasury. The next day, Diocletian's first "Edict against the Christians" was published. The edict ordered the destruction of Christian scriptures and places of worship across the Empire, and prohibited Christians from assembling for worship. Before the end of February, a fire destroyed part of the Imperial palace. Galerius convinced Diocletian that the culprits were Christians, conspirators who had plotted with the eunuchs of the palace. An investigation was commissioned, but no responsible party was found. Executions followed anyway, and the palace eunuchs Dorotheus and Gorgonius
Gorgonius
Saint Gorgonius of Nicomedia was a Christian martyr, part of the group Gorgonius, Peter Cubicularius and Dorotheus, who died in 304 AD at Nicomedia during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian....

 were executed. One individual, Peter Cubicularius, was stripped, raised high, and scourged. Salt and vinegar were poured in his wounds, and he was slowly boiled
Boiling to death
Death by boiling is a method of execution in which a person is killed by being immersed in a boiling liquid such as water or oil. While not as common as other methods of execution, boiling to death has been used in many parts of Europe and Asia...

 over an open flame. The executions continued until at least April 24, 303, when six individuals, including the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 Anthimus
Anthimus of Nicomedia
Anthimus of Nicomedia , was the bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia, where he was beheaded during a persecution of Christians, traditionally placed under Diocletian , in which "rivers of blood" flowed....

, were decapitated
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

. A second fire occurred sixteen days after the first. Galerius left the city for Rome, declaring Nicomedia unsafe. Diocletian would soon follow.

Although further persecutionary edicts followed, compelling the arrest of the Christian clergy and universal acts of sacrifice, the persecutionary edicts were ultimately unsuccessful; most Christians escaped punishment, and pagans too were generally unsympathetic to the persecution. The martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s' sufferings strengthened the resolve of their fellow Christians. Constantius and Maximian did not apply the later persecutionary edicts, and left the Christians of the West unharmed. Galerius rescinded the edict in 311, announcing that the persecution had failed to bring Christians back to traditional religion. The temporary apostasy of some Christians, and the surrendering of scriptures, during the persecution played a major role in the subsequent Donatist
Donatist
Donatism was a Christian sect within the Roman province of Africa that flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries. It had its roots in the social pressures among the long-established Christian community of Roman North Africa , during the persecutions of Christians under Diocletian...

 controversy. Within twenty-five years of the persecution's inauguration, the Christian Emperor Constantine would rule the empire alone. He would reverse the consequences of the edicts, and return all confiscated property to Christians. Under Constantine's rule, Christianity would become the Empire's preferred religion. Diocletian was demonized by his Christian successors: Lactantius intimated that Diocletian's ascendancy heralded the apocalypse, and in Serbian mythology
Serbian mythology
Serbian mythology comprises beliefs and myths of Serbia and Serbs.The Apostles of the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius, have been venerated by Serbian Orthodox Christians since their christianization in 867, they have been considered Serbs by historians....

, Diocletian is remembered as Dukljan
Dukljan
Dukljan or Dukljanin is a figure in Serbian mythology that is a reflection of the Roman emperor Diocletian. He is presented as the adversary of God, possibly because of the real Diocletian's persecution of Christians....

, the adversary
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

.

Illness and abdication



Diocletian entered the city of Rome in the early winter of 303. On November 20, he celebrated, with Maximian, the twentieth anniversary of his reign (vicennalia), the tenth anniversary of the Tetrarchy (decennalia
Decennalia
Decennalia were Ancient Roman festivals celebrated with games every ten years by the Roman emperors....

), and a triumph for the war with Persia. Diocletian soon grew impatient with the city, as the Romans acted towards him with what Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

, following Lactantius
Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

, calls "licentious familiarity". The Roman people did not give enough deference to his supreme authority; it expected him to act the part of an aristocratic ruler, not a monarchic one. On December 20, 303, Diocletian cut short his stay in Rome and left for the north. He did not even perform the ceremonies investing him with his ninth consulate; he did them in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 on January 1, 304 instead. There are suggestions in the Panegyrici Latini
Panegyrici Latini
The Panegyrici Latini or Latin Panegyrics is a collection of twelve ancient Roman panegyric orations. The authors of most of the speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny the Younger in 100 CE, the other...

and Lactantius' account that Diocletian arranged plans for his and Maximian's future retirement of power in Rome. Maximian, according to these accounts, swore to uphold Diocletian's plan in a ceremony in the Temple of Jupiter.

From Ravenna, Diocletian left for the Danube. There, possibly in Galerius' company, he took part in a campaign against the Carpi. He contracted a minor illness while on campaign, but his condition quickly worsened and he chose to travel in a litter
Litter (vehicle)
The litter is a class of wheelless vehicles, a type of human-powered transport, for the transport of persons. Examples of litter vehicles include lectica , jiao [较] , sedan chairs , palanquin , Woh , gama...

. In the late summer he left for Nicomedia. On November 20, he appeared in public to dedicate the opening of the circus beside his palace. He collapsed soon after the ceremonies. Over the winter of 304–5 he kept within his palace at all times. Rumors alleging that Diocletian's death was merely being kept secret until Galerius could come to assume power spread through the city. On December 13, he seemed to have finally died. The city was sent into a mourning from which it was only retrieved by public declarations of his survival. When Diocletian reappeared in public on March 1, 305, he was emaciated and barely recognizable.

Galerius arrived in the city later in March. According to Lactantius, he came armed with plans to reconstitute the Tetrarchy, force Diocletian to step down, and fill the Imperial office with men compliant to his will. Through coercion and threats, he eventually convinced Diocletian to comply with his plan. Lactantius also claims that he had done the same to Maximian at Sirmium. On May 1, 305, Diocletian called an assembly of his generals, traditional companion troops, and representatives from distant legions. They met at the same hill, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) out of Nicomedia, where Diocletian had been proclaimed emperor. In front of a statue of Jupiter, his patron deity, Diocletian addressed the crowd. With tears in his eyes, he told them of his weakness, his need for rest, and his will to resign. He declared that he needed to pass the duty of Empire on to someone stronger. He thus became the first Roman Emperor to voluntarily abdicate his title.

Most in the crowd believed they knew what would follow; Constantine
Constantine
Constantine most commonly refers to one of the following:*Constantine , a given name and surname*Constantine I, Roman Emperor from 306 to 337, commonly known as Constantine the GreatIt may also refer to:- People :Roman/Byzantine Emperors...

 and Maxentius, the only adult sons of a reigning Emperor, men who had long been preparing to succeed their fathers, would be granted the title of Caesar. Constantine had traveled through Palestine at the right hand of Diocletian, and was present at the palace in Nicomedia in 303 and 305. It is likely that Maxentius received the same treatment. In Lactantius' account, when Diocletian announced that he was to resign, the entire crowd turned to face Constantine. It was not to be: Severus
Flavius Valerius Severus
Severus , sometimes known as Severus II, was a Western Roman Emperor from 306 to 307.- Officer in the Roman army :Severus was of humble birth, born in the Illyrian provinces around the middle of the third century AD...

 and Maximin
Maximinus
Maximinus II , also known as Maximinus Daia or Maximinus Daza, was Roman Emperor from 308 to 313. He was born of Dacian peasant stock to the half sister of the emperor Galerius near their family lands around Felix Romuliana; a rural area then in the Danubian region of Moesia, now Eastern Serbia.He...

 were declared Caesars. Maximin appeared and took Diocletian's robes. On the same day, Severus received his robes from Maximian in Milan. Constantius succeeded Maximian as Augustus of the West, but Constantine and Maxentius were entirely ignored in the transition of power. This did not bode well for the future security of the Tetrarchic system.

Retirement and death


Diocletian retired to his homeland, Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

. He moved into the expansive palace
Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace is a building in Split, Croatia, that was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD.Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It lies in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from...

 he had built on the Adriatic
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 near the administrative center of Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

. Maximian retired to villas in Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

 or Lucania
Lucania
Lucania was an ancient district of southern Italy, extending from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Gulf of Taranto. To the north it adjoined Campania, Samnium and Apulia, and to the south it was separated by a narrow isthmus from the district of Bruttium...

. Their homes were distant from political life, but Diocletian and Maximian were close enough to remain in regular contact with each other. Galerius assumed the consular fasces in 308 with Diocletian as his colleague. In the autumn of 308, Galerius again conferred with Diocletian at Carnuntum
Carnuntum
Carnuntum was a Roman army camp on the Danube in the Noricum province and after the 1st century the capital of the Upper Pannonia province...

 (Petronell-Carnuntum
Petronell-Carnuntum
Petronell-Carnuntum is a community of Bruck an der Leitha in Austria. Petronell-Carnuntum takes up about 25,36 square kilometers and 1,158 inhabitants .- External links :*...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

). Diocletian and Maximian were both present on November 11, 308, to see Galerius appoint Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

 to be Augustus in place of Severus, who had died at the hands of Maxentius. He ordered Maximian, who had attempted to return to power after his retirement, to step down permanently. At Carnuntum people begged Diocletian to return to the throne, to resolve the conflicts that had arisen through Constantine's rise to power and Maxentius' usurpation. Diocletian's reply: "If you could show the cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

 that I planted with my own hands to your emperor, he definitely wouldn't dare suggest that I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed."

He lived on for three more years, spending his days in his palace gardens. He saw his Tetrarchic system implode, torn by the selfish ambitions of his successors. He heard of Maximian's third claim to the throne, his forced suicide, his damnatio memoriae
Damnatio memoriae
Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory" in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State...

. In his own palace, statues and portraits of his former companion emperor were torn down and destroyed. Deep in despair and illness, Diocletian may have committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

. He died on December 3, 311.

Tetrarchic and ideological



Diocletian saw his work as that of a restorer, a figure of authority whose duty it was to return the empire to peace, to recreate stability and justice where barbarian hordes had destroyed it. He arrogated, regimented and centralized political authority on a massive scale. In his policies, he enforced an Imperial system of values on diverse and often unreceptive provincial audiences. In the Imperial propaganda from the period, recent history is perverted and minimized in the service of the theme of the Tetrarchs as "restorers". Aurelian's achievements are ignored, the revolt of Carausius is backdated to the reign of Gallienus, and it is implied that the Tetrarchs engineered Aurelian's defeat of the Palmyrenes
Palmyrene Empire
The Palmyrene Empire was a splinter empire, that broke off of the Roman Empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. It encompassed the Roman provinces of Syria Palaestina, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor....

; the period between Gallienus and Diocletian is effectively erased. The history of the empire before the Tetrarchy is portrayed as a time of civil war, savage despotism, and imperial collapse. In those inscriptions that bear their names, Diocletian and his companions are referred to as "restorers of the whole world", men who succeeded in "defeating the nations of the barbarians, and confirming the tranquility of their world". Diocletian was written up as the "founder of eternal peace". The theme of restoration was conjoined to an emphasis on the uniqueness and accomplishments of the Tetrarchs themselves.

The cities where Emperors lived frequently in this period—Milan, Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

, Sirmium, Serdica, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, Nicomedia, and Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

—were treated as alternate imperial seats, to the exclusion of Rome and its senatorial elite. A new style of ceremony was developed, emphasizing the distinction of the Emperor from all other persons. The quasi-republican ideals of Augustus' primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

were abandoned for all but the Tetrarchs themselves. Diocletian took to wearing a gold crown and jewels, and forbade the use of purple cloth
Tyrian purple
Tyrian purple , also known as royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a purple-red natural dye, which is extracted from sea snails, and which was possibly first produced by the ancient Phoenicians...

 to all but the Emperors. His subjects were required to prostrate themselves in his presence (adoratio); the most fortunate were allowed the privilege of kissing the hem of his robe (proskynesis
Proskynesis
Proskynesis refers to the traditional Persian act of prostrating oneself before a person of higher social rank....

, προσκύνησις). Circuses and basilicas were designed to keep the face of the Emperor perpetually in view, and always in a seat of authority. The emperor became a figure of transcendent authority, a man beyond the grip of the masses. His every appearance was stage-managed. This style of presentation was not new—many of its elements were first seen in the reigns of Aurelian and Severus—but it was only under the Tetrarchs that it was refined into an explicit system.

Administrative


In keeping with his move from an ideology of republicanism to one of autocracy, Diocletian's council of advisers, his consilium, differed from those of earlier Emperors. He destroyed the Augustan illusion of imperial government as a cooperative affair between Emperor, Army, and Senate. In its place he established an effectively autocratic structure, a shift later epitomized in the institution's name: it would be called a consistorium ("consistory
Consistory
-Antiquity:Originally, the Latin word consistorium meant simply 'sitting together', just as the Greek synedrion ....

"), not a council. Diocletian regulated his court by distinguishing separate departments (scrina) for different tasks. From this structure came the offices of different magistri, like the Magister officiorum ("Master of offices"), and associated secretariats. These were men suited to dealing with petitions, requests, correspondence, legal affairs, and foreign embassies. Within his court Diocletian maintained a permanent body of legal advisers, men with significant influence on his re-ordering of juridical affairs. There were also two finance ministers, dealing with the separate bodies of the public treasury and the private domains of the Emperor, and the praetorian prefect, the most significant person of the whole. Diocletian's reduction of the Praetorian Guards to the level of a simple city garrison for Rome lessened the military powers of the prefect, but the office retained much civil authority. The prefect kept a staff of hundreds and managed affairs in all segments of government: in taxation, administration, jurisprudence, and minor military commands, the praetorian prefect was often second only to the emperor himself.

Altogether, Diocletian effected a large increase in the number of bureaucrats at the government's command; Lactantius was to claim that there were now more men using tax money than there were paying it. The historian Warren Treadgold estimates that under Diocletian the number of men in the civil service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 doubled from 15,000 to 30,000. The classicist Roger Bagnall
Roger S. Bagnall
Roger Shaler Bagnall is an American classical scholar. He was a professor of classics and history at Columbia University from 1974 until 2007, when he took up the position of first Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University...

 estimated that there was one bureaucrat for every 5–10,000 people in Egypt based on 400 or 800 bureaucrats for 4 million inhabitants(no one knows the population of the province in 300 AD; Strabo 300 years earlier put it at 7.5 million, excluding Alexandria).(By comparison, the ratio in twelfth-century China
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 was one bureaucrat for every 15,000 people.) Jones estimated 30,000 bureaucrats for an empire of 50-65 million inhabitants, which works out to approximately 1,667 or 2,167 inhabitants per imperial official as averages empire-wide. The actual numbers of officials and ratios per inhabitant varied, of course, per diocese depending on the number of provinces and population within a diocese. Provincial and diocesan paid officials (there were unpaid supernumeraries) numbered about 13-15,000 based on their staff establishments as set by law. The other 50% were with the emperor(s)in his or their Comitatus, with the praetorian prefects, with the grain supply officials in the capital (later, the capitals, Rome and Constantinople), Alexandria, and Carthage and officials from the central offices located in the provinces.

To avoid the possibility of local usurpations, to facilitate a more efficient collection of taxes and supplies, and to ease the enforcement of the law, Diocletian doubled the number of provinces
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 from fifty to almost one hundred. The provinces were grouped into twelve dioceses
Roman diocese
A Roman or civil diocese was one of the administrative divisions of the later Roman Empire, starting with the Tetrarchy. It formed the intermediate level of government, grouping several provinces and being in turn subordinated to a praetorian prefecture....

, each governed by an appointed official called a vicarius
Vicarius
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root and origin of the English word "vicar" and cognate to the Persian word most familiar in the variant vizier....

, or "deputy of the praetorian prefects". Some of the provincial divisions required revision, and were modified either soon after 293 or early in the fourth century. Rome herself (including her environs, as defined by a 100 miles (160.9 km)-radius
Radius
In classical geometry, a radius of a circle or sphere is any line segment from its center to its perimeter. By extension, the radius of a circle or sphere is the length of any such segment, which is half the diameter. If the object does not have an obvious center, the term may refer to its...

 perimeter
Perimeter
A perimeter is a path that surrounds an area. The word comes from the Greek peri and meter . The term may be used either for the path or its length - it can be thought of as the length of the outline of a shape. The perimeter of a circular area is called circumference.- Practical uses :Calculating...

 around the City itself) was not under the authority of the praetorian prefect, as she was to be administered by a City Prefect of senatorial rank – the sole prestigious post with actual power reserved exclusively for senators, except for some governors in Italy with the titles of corrector and the proconsuls of Asia and Africa. The dissemination of imperial law to the provinces was facilitated under Diocletian's reign, because Diocletian's reform of the Empire's provincial structure meant that there were now a greater number of governors (praesides
Praeses
Praeses , is a Latin word meaning "Seated in front of, i.e. at the head ", has both ancient and modern uses.-Roman imperial use:...

) ruling over smaller regions and smaller populations. Diocletian's reforms shifted the governors' main function to that of the presiding official in the lower courts: whereas in the early Empire military and judicial functions were the function of governor, and procurators
Promagistrate
A promagistrate is a person who acts in and with the authority and capacity of a magistrate, but without holding a magisterial office. A legal innovation of the Roman Republic, the promagistracy was invented in order to provide Rome with governors of overseas territories instead of having to elect...

 had supervised taxation; under the new system vicarii and governors were responsible for justice and taxation, and a new class of duces
Dux
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....

("duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

s"), acting independently of the civil service, had military command. These dukes sometimes administered two or three of the new provinces created by Diocletian, and had forces ranging from two thousand to more than twenty thousand men. In addition to their roles as judges and tax collectors, governors were expected to maintain the postal service (cursus publicus
Cursus publicus
The cursus publicus was the state-run courier and transportation service of the Roman Empire, later inherited by the Byzantine Empire. It was created by Emperor Augustus to transport messages, officials, and tax revenues from one province to another...

) and ensure that town councils fulfilled their duties.

This curtailment of governors' powers as the Emperors' representatives may have lessened the political dangers of an all-too-powerful class of Imperial delegates, but it also severely limited governors' ability to oppose local landed elites. On one occasion, Diocletian had to exhort a proconsul of Africa not to fear the consequences of treading on the toes of the local magnates of senatorial rank. If a governor of senatorial rank himself felt these pressures, one can imagine the difficulties faced by a mere praeses.

Legal



As with most Emperors, much of Diocletian's daily routine rotated around legal affairs—responding to appeals and petitions, and delivering decisions on disputed matters. Rescripts, authoritative interpretations issued by the Emperor in response to demands from disputants in both public and private cases, were a common duty of second- and third-century Emperors. Diocletian was awash in paperwork, and was nearly incapable of delegating his duties. It would have been seen as a dereliction of duty to ignore them. Diocletian's praetorian prefects—Afranius Hannibalianus, Julius Asclepiodotus, and Aurelius Hermogenianus
Hermogenian
Aurelius Hermogenianus, or Hermogenian in English, was an eminent jurist and public servant of the age of Diocletian and his fellow tetrarchs.-Legal scholar:...

—aided in regulating the flow and presentation of such paperwork, but the deep legalism of Roman culture kept the workload heavy. Emperors in the forty years preceding Diocletian's reign had not managed these duties so effectively, and their output in attested rescripts is low. Diocletian, by contrast, was prodigious in his affairs: there are around 1,200 rescripts in his name still surviving, and these probably represent only a small portion of the total issue. The sharp increase in the number of edicts and rescripts produced under Diocletian's rule has been read as evidence of an ongoing effort to realign the whole Empire on terms dictated by the imperial center.

Under the governance of the jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

s Gregorius, Aurelius Arcadius Charisius, and Hermogenianus, the imperial government began issuing official books of precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

, collecting and listing all the rescripts that had been issued from the reign of Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 (r. 117–38) to the reign of Diocletian. The Codex Gregorianus
Codex Gregorianus
The Codex Gregorianus or Gregorian Code is the title of a collection of constitutions of Roman emperors over a century and a half from the 130s to 290s AD.-History:thumb|Modern bust of Diocletian in his palace at Split, Croatia....

 includes rescripts up to 292, which the Codex Hermogenianus
Codex Hermogenianus
The Codex Hermogenianus or Hermogenian Code is the title of a collection of constitutions of the Roman emperors of the first tetrarchy , mostly from the years 293–94....

 updated with a comprehensive collection of rescripts issued by Diocletian in 293 and 294. Although the very act of codification was a radical innovation, given the precedent-based design of the Roman legal system, the jurists themselves were generally conservative, and constantly looked to past Roman practice and theory for guidance. They were probably given more free rein over their codes than the later compilers of the Codex Theodosianus
Codex Theodosianus
The Codex Theodosianus was a compilation of the laws of the Roman Empire under the Christian emperors since 312. A commission was established by Theodosius II in 429 and the compilation was published in the eastern half of the Roman Empire in 438...

(438) and Codex Justinianus (529) would have. Gregorius and Hermogenianus' codices lack the rigid structuring of later codes, and were not published in the name of the emperor, but in the names of their compilers.

After Diocletian's reform of the provinces, governors were called iudex, or judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

. The governor became responsible for his decisions first to his immediate superiors, as well as to the more distant office of the Emperor. It was most likely at this time that judicial records became verbatim accounts of what was said in trial, making it easier to determine bias or improper conduct on the part of the governor. With these records and the Empire's universal right of appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

, Imperial authorities probably had a great deal of power to enforce behavior standards for their judges. In spite of Diocletian's attempts at reform, the provincial restructuring was far from clear, especially when citizens appealed the decisions of their governors. Proconsuls, for example, were often both judges of first instance and appeal, and the governors of some provinces took appellant cases from their neighbors. It soon became impossible to avoid taking some cases to the Emperor for arbitration and judgment. Diocletian's reign marks the end of the classical period of Roman law. Where Diocletian's system of rescripts shows an adherence to classical tradition, Constantine's law is full of Greek and eastern influences.

Military



It is archaeologically difficult to distinguish Diocletian's fortifications from those of his successors and predecessors. The Devil's Dyke, for example, the Danubian earthworks traditionally attributed to Diocletian, cannot even be securely dated to a particular century. The most that can be said about built structures under Diocletian's reign is that he rebuilt and strengthened forts at the Upper Rhine frontier (where he followed the works made under Probus's reign, both along the Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

-Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 as well as along the Rhine–Iller
Iller
The Iller is a river in Bavaria, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Danube, 147 km in length.The source is located near Oberstdorf in the Allgäu region of the Alps, close to the Austrian border. From there it runs northwards, passing the towns of Sonthofen, Immenstadt, and Kempten...

–Danube line), in Egypt, and on the frontier with Persia. Beyond that, much discussion is speculative, and reliant on the broad generalizations of written sources. Diocletian and the Tetrarchs had no consistent plan for frontier advancement, and records of raids and forts built across the frontier are likely to indicate only temporary claims. The Strata Diocletiana
Strata Diocletiana
The Strata Diocletiana was a fortified road that ran along the eastern desert border, the limes Arabicus, of the Roman Empire. As its name suggests, it was constructed under Emperor Diocletian as part of a wide-ranging fortification drive in the later Roman Empire...

, which ran from the Euphrates to Palmyra and northeast Arabia, is the classic Diocletianic frontier system, consisting of an outer road followed by tightly spaced forts followed by further fortifications in the rear. In an attempt to resolve the difficulty and slowness of transmitting orders to the frontier, the new capitals of the Tetrarchic era were all much closer to the Empire's frontiers than Rome had been: Trier sat on the Rhine, Sirmium and Serdica were close to the Danube, Thessaloniki was on the route leading eastward, and Nicomedia and Antioch were important points in dealings with Persia.

Lactantius criticized Diocletian for an excessive increase in troop sizes, declaring that "each of the four [Tetrarchs] strove to have a far larger number of troops than previous emperors had when they were governing the state alone". The fifth-century pagan Zosimus
Zosimus
Zosimus was a Byzantine historian, who lived in Constantinople during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I . According to Photius, he was a comes, and held the office of "advocate" of the imperial treasury.- Historia Nova :...

, by contrast, praised Diocletian for keeping troops on the borders, rather than keeping them in the cities, as Constantine was held to have done. Both these views had some truth to them, despite the biases of their authors: Diocletian and the Tetrarchs did greatly expand the army, and the growth was mostly in frontier regions, although it is difficult to establish the precise details of these shifts given the weakness of the sources. The army expanded to about 580,000 men from a 285 strength of 390,000. of which 310,000 men were stationed in the East, most of whom manned the Persian frontier. The navy's forces increased from approximately 45,000 men to approximately 65,000 men.

Diocletian's expansion of the army and civil service meant that the Empire's tax burden grew. Since military upkeep took the largest portion of the imperial budget, any reforms here would be especially costly. The proportion of the adult male population, excluding slaves, serving in the army increased from roughly 1 in 25 to 1 in 15, an increase judged excessive by some modern commentators. Official troop allowances were kept to low levels, and the mass of troops often resorted to extortion or the taking of civilian jobs. Arrears became the norm for most troops. Many were even given payment in kind in place of their salaries. Were he unable to pay for his enlarged army, there would likely be civil conflict, potentially open revolt. Diocletian was led to devise a new system of taxation.

Taxation


In the early Empire (30 BC- AD 235) the Roman government paid for what it needed in gold and silver. The coinage was stable. Requisition, forced purchase, was used to supply armies on the march. During the third century crisis (235-285), the government resorted to requisition rather than payment in debased coinage, since it could never be sure of the value of money. Requisition was nothing more or less than seizure. Diocletian made requisition into tax. He introduced an extensive new tax system based on heads (capita) and land (iuga) and tied to a new, regular census of the Empire's population and wealth. Census officials traveled throughout the Empire, assessed the value of labor and land for each landowner, and joined the landowners' totals together to make city-wide totals of capita and iuga. The iugum was not a consistent measure of land, but varied according to the type of land and crop, and the amount of labor necessary for sustenance. The caput was not consistent either: women, for instance, were often valued at half a caput, and sometimes at other values. Cities provided animals, money, and manpower in proportion to its capita, and grain in proportion to its iuga.

Most taxes were due on each year on 1 September, and levied from individual landowners by decuriones
Decurion (administrative)
A decurion was a member of a city senate in the Roman Empire. Decurions were drawn from the curiales class, which was made up of the wealthy middle class citizens of a town society....

(decurions). These decurions, analogous to city councilors, were responsible for paying from their own pocket what they failed to collect. Diocletian's reforms also increased the number of financial officials in the provinces: more rationales and magistri privatae are attested under Diocletian's reign than before. These officials managed represented the interests of the fisc, which collected taxes in gold, and the Imperial properties. Fluctuations in the value of the currency made collection of taxes in kind the norm, although these could be converted into coin. Rates shifted to take inflation into account. In 296, Diocletian issued an edict reforming census procedures. This edict introduced a general five-year census for the whole Empire, replacing prior censuses that had operated at different speeds throughout the Empire. The new censuses would keep up with changes in the values of capita and iuga.

Italy, which had long been exempt from taxes, was included in the tax system from 290/291 as other provinces. The city of Rome itself and the surrounding Suburbicarian diocese
Suburbicarian diocese
The seven suburbicarian dioceses are Roman Catholic dioceses located in the vicinity of Rome, whose bishops form the highest-ranking order of Cardinals, the Cardinal Bishops....

 (where Roman senators held the bulk of their landed property), however, remained exempt.

Diocletian's edicts emphasize the common liability of all taxpayers. Public records of all taxes were made public. The position of decurion, member of the city council, had been an honor sought by wealthy aristocrats and the middle classes who displayed their wealth by paying for city amenities and public works. Decurions were made liable for any shortfall in the amount of tax collected. Many tried to find ways to escape the obligation.

Currency and inflation


Aurelian's attempt to reform the currency had failed; the denarius was dead. Diocletian restored the three-metal coinage and issued better quality pieces. The new system consisted of five coins: the aureus/solidus
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

, a gold coin weighing, like its predecessors, one-sixtieth of a pound; the argenteus
Argenteus
The argenteus was a silver coin produced by the Roman Empire from the time of Diocletian's coinage reform in AD 294 to ca. AD 310. It was of similar weight and fineness as the denarius of the time of Nero...

, a coin weighing one ninety-sixth of a pound and containing ninety-five percent pure silver; the follis
Follis
The follis was a type of coin in the Roman and Byzantine traditions.-Roman coin:The Roman follis was a large bronze coin introduced in about 294...

, sometimes referred to as the laureatus A, which is a copper coin with added silver struck at the rate of thirty-two to the pound; the radiatus, a small copper coin struck at the rate of 108 to the pound, with no added silver; and a coin known today as the laureatus B, a smaller copper coin struck at the rate of 192 to the pound. Since the nominal values of these new issues were lower than their intrinsic worth as metals, the state was minting these coins at a loss. This practice could be sustained only by requisitioning precious metals from private citizens in exchange for state-minted coin (of a far lower value than the price of the precious metals requisitioned).

By 301, however, the system was in trouble, strained by a new bout of inflation. Diocletian therefore issued his Edict on Coinage, an act re-tariffing all debts so that the nummi, the most common coin in circulation, would be worth half as much. In the edict, preserved in an inscription from the city of Aphrodisias
Aphrodisias
Aphrodisias was a small city in Caria, on the southwest coast of Asia Minor. Its site is located near the modern village of Geyre, Turkey, about 230 km from İzmir....

 in Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

 (near Geyre
Geyre
Geyre is the village in the province of Aydın, Turkey. It is a settlement which was developed among the ruins of the ancient city Aphrodisias.-History:...

, Turkey), it was declared that all debts contracted before 1 September 301 must be repaid at the old standards, while all debts contracted after that date would be repaid at the new standards. It appears that the edict was made in an attempt to preserve the current price of gold and to keep the Empire's coinage on silver, Rome's traditional metal currency. This edict risked giving further momentum to inflationary trends, as had happened after Aurelian's currency reforms. The government's response was to issue a price freeze.

The Edict on Maximum Prices
Edict on Maximum Prices
The Edict on Maximum Prices was issued in 301 by Roman Emperor Diocletian....

(Edictum De Pretiis Rerum Venalium) was issued two to three months after the coinage edict, somewhere between 20 November and 10 December 301. The best-preserved Latin inscription surviving from the Greek East
Greek East
"Greek East" and "Latin West" are terms used to distinguish between the two parts of the Greco-Roman world, specifically the eastern regions where Greek was the lingua franca, and the western parts where Latin filled this role...

, the edict survives in many versions, on materials as varied as wood, papyrus, and stone. In the edict, Diocletian declared that the current pricing crisis resulted from the unchecked greed of merchants, and had resulted in turmoil for the mass of common citizens. The language of the edict calls on the people's memory of their benevolent leaders, and exhorts them to enforce the provisions of the edict, and thereby restore perfection to the world. The edict goes on to list in detail over one thousand goods and accompanying retail prices not to be exceeded. Penalties are laid out for various pricing transgressions.

In the most basic terms, the edict was ignorant of the law of supply and demand
Supply and demand
Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers will equal the quantity supplied by producers , resulting in an...

: it ignored the fact that prices might vary from region to region according to product availability, and it ignored the impact of transportation costs in the retail price of goods. In the judgment of the historian David Potter, the edict was "an act of economic lunacy". Inflation, speculation, and monetary instability continued, and a black market arose to trade in goods forced out of official markets. The edict's penalties were applied unevenly across the empire (some scholars believe they were applied only in Diocletian's domains), widely resisted, and eventually dropped, perhaps within a year of the edict's issue. Lactantius has written of the perverse accompaniments to the edict; of goods withdrawn from the market, of brawls over minute variations in price, of the deaths that came when its provisions were enforced. His account may be true, but it seems to modern historians exaggerated and hyperbolic, and the impact of the law is recorded in no other ancient source.

Legacy


The historian A.H.M. Jones observed that "It is perhaps Diocletian's greatest achievement that he reigned twenty-one years and then abdicated voluntarily, and spent the remaining years of his life in peaceful retirement." Diocletian was one of the few Emperors of the third and fourth centuries to die naturally, and the first in the history of the Empire to retire voluntarily. Once he retired, however, his Tetrarchic system collapsed. Without the guiding hand of Diocletian, the Empire fell into civil wars. Stability emerged after the defeat of Licinius by Constantine in 324. Under the Christian Constantine, Diocletian was maligned. Constantine's rule, however, validated Diocletian's achievements and the autocratic principle he represented: the borders remained secure, in spite of Constantine's large expenditure of forces during his civil wars; the bureaucratic transformation of Roman government was completed; and Constantine took Diocletian's court ceremonies and made them even more extravagant.

Constantine ignored those parts of Diocletian's rule that did not suit him. Diocletian's policy of preserving a stable silver coinage was abandoned, and the gold solidus
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

 became the Empire's primary currency instead. Diocletian's persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians as a consequence of professing their faith can be traced both historically and in the current era. Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews from whose religion Christianity arose, and the Roman Empire which controlled much of the land...

 was repudiated and changed to a policy of toleration and then favoritism. Christianity eventually became the official religion in 381. Constantine would claim to have the same close relationship with the Christian God as Diocletian claimed to have with Jupiter. Most importantly, Diocletian's tax system and administrative reforms lasted, with some modifications, until the advent of the Muslims in the 630s. The combination of state autocracy and state religion was instilled in much of Europe, particularly in the lands which adopted Orthodox Christianity.

See also

  • 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia
    20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia
    The 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia allegedly died in Nicomedia in Bithynia during the rule of Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in the early fourth century...

  • Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306–324)
  • Dioclesian
    Dioclesian
    Dioclesian is a tragicomic semi-opera in five acts by Henry Purcell to a libretto by Thomas Betterton based on the play The Prophetess, by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, which in turn was based very loosely on the life of the Emperor Diocletian. It was premiered in late May 1690 at the...

    , Henry Purcell
    Henry Purcell
    Henry Purcell – 21 November 1695), was an English organist and Baroque composer of secular and sacred music. Although Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, his legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music...

    's 1690 tragicomic semi-opera, loosely based on the life of the historical Diocletian
  • Diocletianopolis
    Diocletianopolis
    Diocletianopolis may refer to a number of places in the ancient world.*Diocletianopolis in Palaestina, now a titular see, was in Palaestina Prima*Diocletianopolis in Thracia was a suffragan see of Philippopolis, in Thrace...

  • Diocletian's Palace
    Diocletian's Palace
    Diocletian's Palace is a building in Split, Croatia, that was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD.Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It lies in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from...

  • Diocletian window
    Diocletian window
    Diocletian windows, also called thermal windows, are large semicircular windows characteristic of the enormous public baths of Ancient Rome...

  • Era of Martyrs
    Era of Martyrs
    The Era of the Martyrs , also known as the Diocletian era , is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century anno Domini and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not...

     Diocletian era

Citations


Chapters from The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XII: The Crisis of Empire are marked with a "(CAH)".

External links


  • Diocletian from the Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    .
  • 12 Byzantine Rulers, by Lars Brownworth
    Lars Brownworth
    Lars Brownworth, an author and former United States history and political science teacher at The Stony Brook School, is the creator of the top 50 podcast, . This podcast was created on a whim by Lars and his brother, Anders Brownworth. Often mistaken for a college professor, Lars was, in fact, a...

    . 15 minute audio lecture on Diocletian.
  • Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia By Robert Adam, 1764. Plates made available by the University of Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

     Digital Collections Center. (N.B. "Spalatro" was a less used alternative form of "Spalato", the Italian name for Croatian "Split").