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Diocletian, Constantine and the End of the Roman Empire

Diocletian, Constantine and the End of the Roman Empire

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Diocletian, Constantine and the End of the Roman Empire

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  1. Diocletian, Constantine and the End of the Roman Empire Capitoline Museums Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum: Courtyard Colossal statue of Constantine: headMarble, cm 260 (= 8’ 6”)inv. MC0757313-324 AD

  2. Sources for the End of the Roman Empire: 4th-5th c. Apologists Proponents of paganism Christian fathers 4th-6th c. law codes (Justinian, 528-534) Archaeological evidence fragmentary and unrevealing: graffiti disappears, coins focus on the emperors

  3. Diocletian, 284-305 Divides empire into two: tetrarchy Diocletian (Augustus), Galerius (Caesar): East Maximian (Augustus), Constantius (Caesar): West Able administrator Rome not caput mundi (“head of world”) Retires, along with Maximian Caesars succeed

  4. Impact of Diocletian’s rule All sovereignty  emperor Titles: Imperator, Caesar, Augustus; tribunicia potestas; Dominus noster (“our Lord”) “Adore the purple” Asian court Jovius (Diocletian) & Herculius (Maximian)

  5. Impact of Diocletian’s rule Division of empire Prefectures: Gaul, Italy, Illyricum, Oriens. Governed by praetorian prefect 12 dioceses (3/prefecture). Governed by vicars 120 provinces (10/diocese) Equestrian bureaucracy oversaw arsenals, taxes, mail, spying, palace, largess, imperial landholdings

  6. Impact of Diocletian’s rule Separation: military from civilian authority Army doubled in size; under duces (“dukes”) Taxes reorganized; payment “in kind” Price edict Extortion, bribery, espionage undermined integrity of empire Emphasis on mos maiorum (“ancestral tradition”) Persecution of Christians in 303

  7. Constantine, 306-337 Son of Caesar Constantius, acclaimed as emperor by troops in 306 By 310, five Augusti; by 312, down to two: Constantine vs. Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge XP (chi-rho) vision in the sky By 324, entire empire under Constantine Persecutions of Christians ceased Strengthened the military, government Founded Constantinople in 324 at Byzantium

  8. Constantine, 306-337 Constantinople – “city of Constantine” – resembled Rome Rome becomes a minor city Constantine embraced Christianity but remained pagan (pontifex maximus; worship of sun god = syncretism) Restored empire’s prestige, peace, dynasty, and was baptized on deathbed Transformed Rome to a Christian state

  9. Decline and fall Rome sacked by Alaric, Goths in 410; last pagan emperor Romulus Augustulus 476 Why did Roman civilization end? Natural causes Social causes Economic causes Political causes Military causes Moral causes