Role of Religion during Diocletian reign

Religion was an integral part of the Roman empire right from its conception. It was mostly a blend of Greek and Egyptian mythologies. They believed in Pietas (priests) maintaining relations with the Pax deorum (Gods). However, different rulers tackled religion differently during their reign. The following analysis begins at what the historians refer-to as the end of the Golden Period i.e the late 200 AD.

Despite having better opportunities like good communication and transport, lack of integrity and the absence of a powerful and reliable ruler who could withstand the threats posed by Persians and Germans worried the Roman populace. It was at this time that a cavalry commander called Diocletian took the brave step of going up the hierarchy on his own to become the ruler of the great Roman Empire following the death of Emperor Carus. But he was faced with the following problem — Given the precarious nature of the Roman Empire at that time, how could he prevent a potential coup d’état?  Someone else could as easily proclaim the throne as he did.

Diocletian had the following choices.

  • Following the path of Augustus and calling himself “The First Among Equals” and then establish a friendly relation with his subjects. But he was a too suspicious to follow this method. He knew that this idea hasn’t worked out successfully for all his predecessors. So, he abandoned it.
  • Tyrannical Rule – Though the ultimate objective of every plan was to establish dominance, suppression had its own problems. Firstly, it could give rise to another civil war and secondly, Diocletian didn’t want to break the legacy of his forerunners by being the suppressive of sorts and being called a tyrannical ruler. With that, he eliminated tyranny.
  • Consecrating the position of the emperor by coming up with an ingenious plan.

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