Posted by: ken98 | November 4, 2009

Planet of the Apes meets Diocletian

Day 54 Ken here

Cold(er), wintery day here – and we continue with Gibbon in chapter 13 – with Diocletian

The Story

  • Diocletian associates the Emperorship (as Augustus) with Maximian his friend (4-1-286)
  • Diocletian associates junior emperors (as Caesars) with Galerius and Constantius (father of Constantine), thus starting the rule of 4 (Tetrarchy)(292)
  • Brief descriptions of the characters of Maximian, Galerius, Constantius
  • Empire itself is divided into 4 parts – one for each emperor, sub-emperor
  • The uprising in Gaul (Bagaudae) suppressed by Maximian (287)
  • Revolt of Carausius (commander of the Atlantic fleet) in Britain – separate for 7 years into British empire (287)
  • Diocletian and Maximian acknowledge Carausius (289)
  • Constantius attacks Carausius (292)
  • Carausius murdered by 1st Ministere Allectus (294)
  • Constantius retakes Britain (296)
  • Brief descriptions of many barbarian wars of Maximian, Galerius and Constantius
  • Policy of Diocletian: let barbarians war among themselves, allow them to establish colonies within the empire, divided and far from their homes
  •  

    First British Empire
    Gibbons spends a couple of pages reflecting on Carausius’ First British Empire (sea-based even!). It lasted 7 years but has given British historians many more years of enjoyment and research potential.

    Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, Constantius
    This is the famous Tetrarchy (rule of 4).

    Spectacular Find
    For someone who likes Late Antiquity AND Architecture, there is a 3-D site devoted to the reconstruction of Constantinople as of the year 1200 Byzantium 1200. Granted this is 900 years in the future, but Constantine (son of Constantius) will be founding the city on the site of the Greek city of Byzantium in only 40 or so years from our current date.

    The Story of 4 (Crude, Embarrassing) Statues
    As you can tell from Galerius’ portrait below, we are on the brink of the Dark Ages in terms of technical skills of artists – this very famous (well, famous to me) (and crude) set of 4 statues of the 4 emperors (Diocletian, Maximian (Augusti), Galerius, Constantius (Caesari), embracing in fraternal amity has a strange history.

    Capitol - Constantinople - reconstruction in 3D

    Capitol - Constantinople - reconstruction in 3D

    capitol (Capitolium) Detail of Porch showing the figures of the Tetrarchy

    capitol (Capitolium) Detail of Porch showing the figures of the Tetrarchy

    Constantine set these up in his brand-spanking new capital, in his Capitol (Capitolium) in the early 330’s. These same 4 statues were still extant when the final barbarian invasion occurred (Venice attacking/sacking Constantinople in 1204 during the 4th Crusade). The Venetians detached and brought home (read: sacked and stole) numerous works of art including the embracing Tetrarchs. The Tetrarchs ended up being attached to a corner of Saint Mark’s and their identities were lost for centuries (many considered them figures of the 4 Evangelists, others personifications of brotherly love).

    The Tetrarchs - mushed together on a corner of St Mark's in Venice

    The Tetrarchs - mushed together on a corner of St Mark's in Venice

    Enter the author, early 21st century. It was kind of a big moment for me, on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago, to actually get to touch the Tetrarch sculptures (they’re right on the plaza there, cemented onto a corner, carved out of hard, imperial purple porphyry).

    What a long journey the statues have had – installed new in Constantine’s Capitol at the glorious rebirth of the Roman Empire (a building in ruins probably when the Venetians took them), then stolen, and re-installed in the center of the Venetian’s empire at its height (another empire now also disappeared). They are figures of world rulers whose statues are forgotten and wash up like so much driftwood in a lagoon only to be forgotten again for hundreds of years.

    Makes you think of Ozymandias, or perhaps the Statue of Liberty scene in Planet of the Apes.

    Statue of Liberty - Planet of the Apes Film (1968)

    Statue of Liberty - Planet of the Apes Film (1968)

    What about the U.S. of A.? We are mighty, we demand despair from others, but who knows if anyone will even remember our country’s name, in a couple of thousand years? Dark, wintery thoughts.

    Galerius - one of the 4 Tetrarchs - Note the incredibly crude work for an imperial statue - we stand at the brink of the Dark Ages

    Galerius - one of the 4 Tetrarchs - Note the incredibly crude work for an imperial statue - we stand at the brink of the Dark Ages

    Advertisements

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    Categories

    %d bloggers like this: