"The Emperor who split the Roman Empire"
He was the last emperor to stage a large scale persecution of the Christians. He was a general who fought so bravely, and was hence titled emperor. He was Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletian.

Early Life
Born in the city of Illyricum in A.D. 244, Diocletian grew up in the city of Dalmatia to a poor family. As the son of a scribe to a wealthy senator, and a former slave, he proved to follow his father's footsteps in rising from the less fortunate ones and becoming a man in which we speak of today. Later, he married a younger woman, Prisca and gave birth to his child Valeria. He fought as a military commander in Moesia throughout A.D. 270-280.

A New Emperor
What led him to becoming so greatly respected was the position as commander of the bodyguard of Emperor Numerianus. It is said that Numerianus was assassinated by a man named Aper which means "boar". A soldier to kill a boar was said to have the prophecy of becoming emperor someday. Originally, Diocletian was not first in line for the throne, however, first in line was a man by the name of Carinus. Before he became emperor though, his own troops turned on him and killed him themselves. Once Emperor Numerianus was assassinated, the fellow soldiers appointed Diocletian leader. His reign began in A.D. 284, where he took control for 20 years accomplishing all of the goals he sought out for.

Please enjoy this short informative video of the importance of Diocletian.

  • In A.D. 290, he led an expedition that took him as far as Syria, where he campaigned against the Saracen invaders from the Sinai peninsula.
  • Realizing that Rome was so vast and too difficult and out of control for just one man to rule, he divided it in half, where he then ruled Nicomedia from Asia Minor.
  • Diocletian appointed three other men to form a group called the "tetrarchy." This group consisted of well known people, such as Augustus, Maximian, Caesar, and himself. He formed this group in order to limit the fighting over succession of the throne.
The splitting of Rome into two different sides: the eastern and western territory

Although Diocletian was such a strong and well-respected emperor, he was also known for his harsh persecution of the Christian population. In order to bring rise to Roman traditions, he forced all soldiers and administrators to make sacrifices to the gods and anyone who refused was sentenced to death. In A.D. 303, Diocletian enforced another edict, which was the destruction of all churches and scriptures found within the empire. By A.D. 304, he had issued his final edict: all Christians would pray to Roman gods, and Roman gods only. If disobeyed, they were immediately executed.

End of Reign
By A.D. 305, Diocletian realized all his goals were completed, and he went back to his private life where he resided in his great palace. Six years later, on the third of December, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletian died of natural causes. In A.D. 315, his wife and daughter were arrested and beheaded by the new emperor, Licinius for not marrying the son of Maximian, Daia.

Diocletian's palace built for his retirement on May 1st A.D. 305. It is located on a bay, 4 miles from Salona, the Roman province of Dalmatia.

Works Cited

Duggan, Alfred. The Romans. World Publishing Company. 1964.

"Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus" Roman Empire. Web. 11 May 2011.

Nardo, Don. Ancient Rome. Gale Group, Inc. 2002.