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appeared among the four great potentates. "Every one was sovereign within his own jurisdiction; but their united authority extended over the whole monarchy, and each of them was prepared to assist his colleagues with his counsels or presence. The Caesars, in their exalted rank, revered the majesty of the emperors, and the three younger princes invariably acknowledged, by their gratitude and obedience, the common parent of their fortunes. The suspicious jealousy of power found not any plaee among them; and the singular happiness of their union has been compared to a chorus of music, whose harmony was regulated and maintained by the skilful hand of the first artist" But the historian, who transcribes from Julian this glowing picture of imperial concord, has pointed out the vast increase of taxation required to maintain the dignity of four courts, of which two at least were on the pattern of oriental splendour, with the vast hierarchy of officials who were now multiplied in every province,* till, as the Christian writer Lactantius says, "the proportion of those who received exceeded the proportion of those who contributed." Since Gibbon wrote, a remarkable discovery has proved at once the effects of growing luxury and public expenditure, and the false principles of political economy, which might excite our surprise the more if we ourselves had escaped from them longer. In 1826, Colonel Leake found at Stratonicea (Eskihissar), in Caria, a copy of an edict of Diocletian and bis colleagues, referred to by Lactantius, and issued in A.d. 301, fixing the maximum prices of the necessaries of life throughout the empire, in consequence, as the preamble declares, of the hardhearted, inhuman, unbridled cupidity of the dealers, who withheld from customers the benefits of abundance. "Among the articles of which the maximum value is assessed are oil, salt, honey, butchers' meat, poultry, game, fish, vegetables, fruit; the wages of labourers and artisans, schoolmasters and orators; clothes, skins, boots and shoes, harness, timber, corn, wine, and beer. The depreciation in the value of money, or the rise in the price of commodities, had been so great during the last century, that butchers' meat, which in the second century of the empire was in Rome about two denarii the pound, was now fixed at a maximum of eight: Colonel Leake supposes the average price could not be less than four: at the same time the maximum of the wages of the agricultural labourers was twenty-five. The whole edict is,
• The reader who wishes to see a vivid illustration of this statement should glance hi9 eye r-~- the Notiiia Utriu*pts Imperii.
AD. 305.] ABDICATION OF DIOCLETIAN AND MAXIMIAN. 665
perhaps, the most gigantic effort of a blind though well-intentioned despotism to control that which is and ought to be beyond the regulation of the government."* The separation of the provinces of the Augusti and the Csesars had given the deathblow to the political unity of the empire; nor ought it to have been expected that their personal concord would last beyond the first quaternion of princes. Diocletian was too sagacious not to feel such doubts; and having provided for the peaceful succession to the empire, he resolved himself to superintend the change.
The decision to take a step for which the whole history of the empire furnished no precedent,!—though Sulla had given one under the Republic—was prompted, or at least hastened, by a serious illness, which broke down the emperor's vigour at the comparatively early age of fifty-nine. He had left Rome after celebrating the festival of his twentieth year, and entered on his ninth consulship at Ravenna on the 1st of January, A.d. 304. His journey through Ulyricum during a cold wet winter was so injurious, that he reached Nicomedia dangerously ill, and was not able to appear in public till the 1st of March, A.d. 305. Galerius was absent, and Diocletian must have often reflected on the danger of leaving the supreme power an object of contention between two such men as him and Maximian. He decided that the two Augusti should quietly give place to the two Caesars; and he is said to have provided for the contingency by exacting an oath from Maximian, at the time of their joint triumph, to share the abdication which he was even then meditating. Accordingly, on the 1st of May, A.D. 305, the double act of resignation was performed at Milan and Nicomedia. While Maximian retired unwillingly to Ravenna, Diocletian took a solemn and graceful leave of the soldiers and people assembled in a plain three miles from Nicomedia, autl withdrew to the retreat he had prepared near his native city of Salona, on the Adriatic coast The magnificent palace, the completion of which was a chief amusement of his nine remaining years, has given its name to the modern village of
* Dean Milman's note to Gibbon, chap. siii. For a copy of and commentary on the edict, see Das Edict Diocletians de Prcliis Serum Venalium, herausgegeben von Theodor Mommscn, Leipzig, 1851. The value of the documont is unfortunately lessened by our ignorance of the worth of the denarius, which was not the silver coin of that name, but a copper coin, worth much less.
+ Eutrop. ix. 28 : Solus omnium post conditum Romanum imperium, qui ex tnnto fastigio ad private vite statum civilitatemquo remcarot.
Spalato.* Ite ruins were studied a century ago by Adams,t who by a comparison with the precepts of Vitruvius, made an ingenious restoration of the immense edifice, wbich formed an almost perfect square of from 600 to 700 feet, and covered a little more than eight acres. The building was composed of two principal parts, of which the one to the south contained the emperor's private apartments and two temples of Jupiter and J2sculapius.J Two streets intersected one another at right angles in the centre of the building, the chief one leading from the Golden Gate to a spacious court before the vestibule of the principal apartments, where the other crossed it. The entrance next in importance was called the Silver Gate; and the other gates were flanked by pairs of octagonal towers, sixteen in all. Diocletian's palace marks an era in the transformation of the Greco-Roman into the Byzantine architecture. Columns and arches were combined in such a manner, that the arches were at first made to rest upon the entablature, and afterwards were even forced immediately to spring from the abacus; and at length the entablature itself took the form of an arch. But, although this architecture offends against the rules of good taste, yet these remains may serve to show how directly the Saracen and Christian architects borrowed from Roman models many of the characteristics which have been looked upon as the creation of their own imagination. §
The locality which Diocletian chose for this magnificent retreat is thus described by Mr. Adams:—"The soil is dry and fertile, the air is pure and wholesome, and, though extremely hot during the summer months, this country seldom feels those sultry and noxious winds, to which the coast of Istria and some parts of Italy are exposed. The views from the palace are no less beautiful than the soil and climate are inviting. Towards the west lies the fertile shore that stretches along the Adriatic, in which a number of small islands are scattered in such a manner as to give this part of the sea the appearance of a great lake. On the north side lies the
* This name, often corrupted into Spalatro, is simply 5. Palatium, i.e., Salome Palatium, the palace of Salona.
+ Gibbon commemorates him as "an ingenious artist of our own time and country, whom a very liberal curiosity carried into the heart of Dalmatia." Our time has had a similar advantage in the researches of Sir Gardner Wilkinson.
J The temple of Jupiter is now the cathedral; that of iEsculapius the church of St John the Baptist; and the Golden Gate, which is nearly perfect, forms the entrance into the market-place of Spalato.
§ See Adams, Antiquities of Diocletian's Palace, 1764; Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, vol. i. pp. 114—143; Fergusson, Handbook of Architecture, vol. i. p. 356.
A.D. 305.] DIOCLETIAN AND CHARLES V. 667
bay, which led to the ancient city of Salona; and the country beyond it, appearing in sight, forms a proper contrast to that more extensive prospect of water, which the Adriatic presents both to the south and to the east. Towards the north the view is terminated by high and irregular mountains, situated at a proper distance, and in many places covered with villages, woods, and vineyards."
Very striking is the contrast of this scene to the gloomy cloister which, twelve and a-half centuries later, received the emperor whose abdication is so near a parallel to that of Diocletian. Both retired, in broken health and premature old age, from the attempt to subdue half the world to their despotic will. But the morose devotion of Charles V. will bear no favourable comparison with the natural pleasures which satisfied Diocletian. While the Austrian continued upon matter the experiments he had made on mind, till the truth dawned upon him that opinions are harder even than clocks to move to the standard of one time, the Illyrian derived from the growth of his garden the contentment he had never found in the prosperity of his empire. When solicited by the restless Maximian to reassume the purple, he observed, that if he could show his former colleague the cabbages he had planted with his own hands at Salona, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power. Nor is the testimony less valuable, which he left to the blindness which must needs mislead the most sagacious and the best meaning despot "How often" — he would exclaim in his familiar conversation—" How often is it the interest of four or five ministers to combine together to deceive their sovereign! Secluded from mankind by his exalted dignity, the truth is concealed from his knowledge; he can see only with their eyes, he hears nothing but their misrepresentations. He confers the most important offices upon vice and weakness, and disgraces the most virtuous and deserving among his subjects. By such infamous arts the best and wisest princes are sold to the venal corruption of their courtiers."
As objects, which have been seen indistinctly or with a distorted outline in the broad glare and tremulous atmosphere caused by a noon-day sun, stand out with startling clearness in the cool light of evening, so do the illusions of empire vanish when looked back upon in the light of the sun that has just set, whether from the Adriatic coast or the Atlantic rock. But one illusion is always left for dethroned despots to impose on themselves, and if possible on the world, the fond idea that the experience gained so late would bear fruit, if the opportunity should be given them again, or that it will teach wisdom to their imitators and admirers. While leaving to future despots, with their flatterers and apologists, this condemnation of the system he had spent his life in framing, Diocletian could not shut out all its evil results from the retirement into which he had escaped. "A just estimate of greatness, and the assurance of immortal fame, improve our relish for the pleasures of retirement; but the Roman emperor had filled too important a character in the world to enjoy without alloy the comforts and security of a private condition. It was impossible that he could remain ignorant of the troubles which afflicted the empire after his abdication. It was impossible that he could be indifferent to their consequences. Fear, sorrow, and discontent sometimes pursued him into the solitude of Salona. His tenderness, or at least his pride, vas deeply wounded by the misfortunes of his wife and daughter; * and the last moments of Diocletian were embittered by some affronts, which Licinius and Constantine might have spared the father of so many emperors, and the first author of their own fortune. A report, though of a very doubtful nature, has reached our times, that he prudently withdrew himself from their power by a voluntary death." f He died in the ninth year after his abdication, just after Constantine had shattered, by his victory over Maxentius, the imperial fabric framed by Diocletian, and had reversed his religious policy by the Edict of Milan (a.d. 313).