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CLST 201 Lecture Notes - Valerius Severus, Aurelius Victor, Last Roman Emperor

Classical Studies
Course Code
CLST 201

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Out of 100 MC questions – 60 are Augustus or later
General questions about emperors, events – ex. what makes Nero famous
Continuation from Aurelian death
General about period of chaos
oHad at least 35 emperors in 50 years
oForeign invasions so bad that even Rome threatened (frontiers weakly defended)
oSome tribes settled inside frontiers as buffers. able to join Roman empire and
oFragmentation, internal dissensions – no central control: general lawlessness
oPlague of 250’s and 260’s leads to depleted army
oEconomic pressures – collapse of currency, denarius worthless (from 50% silver
content to only 4%) terrible inflation, ruined trade
oshortage of goods made prices increase
oTroops wanted higher and higher pay
oDecentralization shifts away from Rome in centre – 3 main power bases: Gaul,
Danube frontier, East – Emperor wanted to be here
Later Roman Empire
oSextus Aurelius Victor (Caesars)
oEutropius (Breviary)
oEusebius (Life of Constantine, History of the Church)
Transition from Imperial Roman history to Late Roman history, in the East this refers to
Byzantine history
Attempt by emperor to deal with previous chaos
C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletian (285-305)
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oEnds chaos and takes control for length time, first time in a while
oRome had come close to collapse
oDiocletian got rid of other two pretenders (284-285)
oHe was from Illyricum, son of a former slave! Was in Rome only twice in 20 years
oRealized empire too big for one man, still problems on the frontiers therefore he
created a new system to ensure empire’s survival
285 Diocletian (East): Senior partner aka the Augustus
Maximian (West): Junior partner aka the Caesar
Diocletian realized Maximian was weak and therefore appointed 2 other
Now: Diocletian = East (asia, Syria, Egypt), Maximian (Italy, Africa),
Constantius (Gaul, Britain), Galerius (Balkans, Danube)
This is known as a Tetrarchy (4 man rule)
Capitals: Diocletian = Nicomedia, Maximian = Milan, Constantius = Trier,
Galerius = Sirmium (NO ROME)
oThe point of a Tetrarchy established for military need, succession so that always
have 4 people ruling – Augusti would retire, caesars move up, 2 new caesars
oDuring this period – last great Christian persecution (299 on)
oIn 302-303 Christians banned from practicing their religion
oBy 303, Diocletian sick – him and Maximian retire in 305
Galerius and Constantius moved up to Augusti, need to pick 2 new
Flavius Valerius Severus, Galerius Valerius Maximinus , tetrarchy intact
BUT, soon all fighter each other for power, Maximian’s son (MAXENTIUS)
and Constantius’ son (CONSTANTINE) thought they should be in power
oConstantius dies in 306 – Army proclaims Constantine
o308 – Licinius, Galerius, Constantine, Maximinus
o309 – Constantine, Maximinus ruling alone with no Caesars….uh oh spaghettio
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