The Roman who left his imperial post to grow cabbage: Who is Diocletian?

He was such a wasteful emperor that, in the end, because he could not prevent the "inflation" that emerged in the country, he resigned from his post voluntarily, returned to his village in Illyria, and became famous for the "cabbages" he grew.

By Stephen McWright Published on 7 Haziran 2024 : 00:02.
The Roman who left his imperial post to grow cabbage: Who is Diocletian?

51st Roman Emperor Diocletianus (Diokles) is one of the famous Roman Emperors who ruled for 21 years and carried out many public works. However, at the end of this long period of rule, because he could not prevent the "inflation" that emerged in the country, he left his post voluntarily, returned to his village in Illyria, and became famous for the "cabbages" he grew.

Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (b. 245–d. 311) was a Roman emperor who served between 20 November 284 and 1 May 305, dividing the Roman empire into Eastern Rome and Western Rome and assuming the empire of the Eastern part.

The emperor saved the Roman Empire from 50 years of chaos by carrying out administrative reforms and indirectly enabled the establishment of the Byzantine Empire.

Diocletian (242/245 – 311/312), nicknamed Jovius, was Roman emperor from 284 until his abdication in 305. He was born Diocles to a family of low status in the Roman province of Dalmatia. Diocles rose through the ranks of the military early in his career, eventually becoming a cavalry commander for the army of Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on a campaign in Persia, Diocles was proclaimed emperor by the troops, taking the name Diocletianus. The title was also claimed by Carus's surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.

Because he generally ruled the empire from the cities of Nicomedia (Izmit) and Caesarea (Kayseri in Turkiye) and left the west to Maximilian. Constantine I, who ascended the throne after him, added religious revolutions to his administrative revolutions and officially founded Byzantium.

Hyperinflation during his period

He personally experienced that religions, tyranny, and even the Roman emperor cannot be stronger than historical movement and economic laws.

For example, in 301 AD, Diocletian declared that all coins were worth twice the value written on them, in response to the excessive increase in prices. When these measures failed, he banned the increase of wages and prices, and those who did not comply with the ban were sentenced to death. Yet, far from being reined in, prices and wages resulted in black markets, famine, and riots.

He is one of the rare Roman emperors who retired himself and while he was working as a gardener at Diocletian's Palace in Split; When the bureaucrats who could not manage the tetrarchy he established during his reign called him back to the throne, he said to them, "If you taste the cabbages I grew, believe me, you won't want to go back either." A few years later, he passed away in the aforementioned palace, in the peace provided by the fruit and vegetable gardens.

Diocletian, whose father was a slave, was born a soldier by nature.

Diocletian, whose first job when he and his father regained their freedom was to become a volunteer soldier in the army, stood out, especially during the Persian Wars, and achieved numerous successes.

Diocletian, who first received the rank of consul, later became the commander of the palace guards and gained the respect of the Legionnaires.

Diocletian, who rose more and more with his successes, received the title of Augustus in 284. Diocletianus, who first changed Rome's form of government, turned the monarchy into a dual government and decided to share the throne with his comrade-in-arms Maximianus. Therefore he gave him the title of Caesar.

He ruled in Izmit and Kayseri, and Maximianus ruled in Europe. With this move, Diocletian set the goal of expanding Rome's borders.

Even though this was the case, Maximianus was quite irresponsible and cruel. Therefore, Diocletian changed the dual system to the quadruple system, and two heirs were appointed for the East and the West. Maximianus chose Constantius, and Diocletian chose Galerius.

Diocletian, whose management approach was to create one reform after another, never stood still and increased border security and military troops following the quadruple system.

Frankly, this was the best reform he made because the Roman Empire lived a peaceful and non-violent life for 20 years thanks to these measures. Although everyone thought that Diocletian did these for his people, he was actually minimizing possible coup attempts.

Dioctenianus divided the entire empire into regions, mixed the careers of civilians and soldiers, established special armies for 4 rulers, and created special troops to protect the borders.

Diocletian, who increased the number of soldiers from 390,000 to 580,000, committed incredible wastefulness with these reforms to the army and soldiers, meaning that the economy of the empire gradually sank to the bottom.

The walls, towers, and expanding army built on the borders dealt a major blow to the economy.

In addition, all four rulers stopped going to Rome, and the administration of Rome was left to its own fate. The Senate is overruled. Diocletian even exiled the members of the senate and wore a golden crown, just like Caligula.

The 21-year reign and the power and wealth that followed blinded Diocletian completely.

Ostentation took precedence over everything else. Golden palaces were built. Diocletian wore shoes and clothing made exclusively of gold. With his reforms, Diocletian made reforms only in appearance.

Diocletian later divided the empire into small villages and subjected each point to high taxes. Thus, he received the salaries of his soldiers from the public.

He put soldiers in charge of those who rebelled against this order, and was not satisfied with this, and made a new reform, regulating things from father to son. In other words, whatever a person's father did, he should do the same job.

After these reforms of Diocletian, the people began to revolt. The empire was struggling with hunger, misery, and poverty.

Diocletian, who ordered all Christians to be killed in his last reform, destroyed thousands of villages. Still, he could not end Christianity, and this faith survived.

Diocletian, who decided to leave his palace after all these reforms, saw how poor and hopeless his people were on the street.

Prostitution, theft, corrupt guards, and poverty were at their peak. When he saw his people like this, he returned to his palace, prepared his resignation letter, and abdicated of his own accord. Diocletian went to his palace in Croatia and tended his cabbage field for the rest of his life.