History of Greece and Rome-Mar.29 "Rome's Emperors Continued"
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- 217-222: two emperors: 22:235: Severus Alexander
- 235-284: Crisis of the Third Century
o More than eighteen emperors
o More incursions on Rhine and Danube
o In the east, from 220s : Parthians replaced by Sassanid (second) Persian
o Soldier emperors from across the empire (Phillip the Arab,, Maximinus
Thrax) and especially Illyrians
o No legitimate right of succession and no clear hierarchy below the
Any could hope to be the next emperor after the current emperor’s
death – added to the assassination attempts, and the higher
fatality rate, also ensuring a power struggle after the death of
o Constant rivalry resulted in unstable government making for a bad
More concerned with protecting themselves from rivals, rather
than concerning themselves with the empire’s problems (defense
of the frontier, socio-economic problems, the state’s attempted
generation of resources to fight for the frontier).
- 284-305: Diocletian
o Illyrian soldier emperor; bringing renewed stability to the Roman empire.
- 286-293: instituted joint rule with Maximian, both acting as two co-emperor: 2
Augusti (Augustus had become synonymous with emperor)
- From 293: “Tetrarchy” (the rule of four) : in each east and west, an ‘Augustus’
(Diocletian – east, Maximian-west) and a ‘Ceasar’ (vice-emperor) (Galerius –
o Rome is a cultural, but not the political capital.
No longer even in principle the political capital.
Each had their own political capitals – A dominant political capital
in both the east and west, and two lesser capitals in the middle
respectively. (Milan and ...?)
o Problems of imperial succession and administration:
Rather than dynastic succession, Augusti would choose their
Ceasar, and the Caesar would be the heirs to their Augusti
Tetrarchy aimed to provide stable, meritocratic succession
o No extensive administrative hierarchy
Tetrarchic imperial bureaucracy: civil administration- 12/15
dioceses divided into 101 provinces,
To have more detailed administration: vicars of dioceses
reported to 4 Praetorian Prefects (chief minister of each
Separation of military and civil administration:
Military admin. Comites commanding stationary garrisons,
duces commanding mobile troops
*It is in the titles of administrative powers that we see the middle ages’ titles emerging and being shaped.
Marginalization of the senate
Principate to Dominate
Surrounded by divine rituals, subjects required to fall to
their knees in subjugation.
Kingship by divine right.
- 303: Diocletian launches the Third Great Persecution of Christians
o Before 24, spontaneous popular rather than state-directed persecutions
o Religious intolerance unusual in antiquity:
Intolerance of the monotheistic religions towards the polytheistic
religions may have sparked intolerance in return.
o Christianity illegal under Rome and punishable, but not actively
persecuted before 249
Similar to the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; the state only acted if
there were problems arising.
o Great Persecutions: 1st: 249-251, 2nd: 253-260, 3rd:303-313.
(Nero did not persecute Christians for their Christianity, but burnt
them as (appropriate state) punishment for arson)
Christians used as scapegoats; common hate as a unifying force.
- 305: Diocletian became increasingly ill, abdicating the throne, resulting in a
violent struggle for power.
- 311: Maximin Daia Augustus in the east, without an elected Caesar: Licinius
Augusus and Constantine Caesar in west, vs. usurper Maxentius
- 312: conversion of Constantine to Christianity.
o Battle of Milvian Bridge: he had a ‘divine’ vision
o Mens divina (divine mind)
o Secretly Christian
- 313: Edict of Milan (universal religious tolerance) – Liciniu and Constantine vs.
o Daia defeated and commits suicide.
- 323-324: Constantine defeats Licinius and becomes sole Emperor
o Byzantium becomes new capital: Constantinople (modern day Istanbul)
o Christianity as the favoured religion of the state – Christian clergy are
exempt from their duties to the state.
o Othodoxy vs. heresy
Many different natural Christianities – with a hierarchy among
them, and a corresponding hierarchy of clergy.
Unorthodox beliefs are denounced as heresy
o State becomes involved in the regulation of orthodoxy; state as unified by
religion, religion should unified in belief, doctrine, and hierarchy.
A ‘catholic’ (meaning universal) Christianity for the empire’ a
unified set of beliefs and doctrine for the entire state.
Christology – whether Christ, as the son of God, was of the same
essence as the Father – the question of the divinity of Christ
- 325: Council of Nicaea:
o The Nicene Creed: the final catholic word –
- 337: Constantine succeeded by his three sons