Not many days later the Caesar arrived, not to congratulate his (adoptive) father, but to force him to yield his power. He had now but recently been in conflict with the old Maximian, and he had alarmed him by injecting the fear of civil war.
So, at first, he met Diocletian gently and in a friendly manner, telling him that he was old now, and not strong, and not capable of the management of the affairs of state, that he ought to rest after his labors. At the same time, he suggested to him the example of Nerva who had handed over the empire to Trajan. Diocletian, however, said that it was not fitting if he should fall back into the shadows of a lowly life after having reached such great brilliance in his peak position. He said also that it was not at all safe because during such a long rule he had gained the hatred of many people. He showed that Nerva, reigning only a year, had abdicated from the control of the state and returned to private life, in which he had grown old, because he was not able to bear the burden and care of such great concerns, either on account of his age or his lack of experience. But, he went on to say that if Galerius wished to have the name of emperor, it would not bother him if they were all called Augusti.
That one, however, who had already in hope seized upon the whole world, since he saw that nothing, or not much more, besides the name was coming to him, answered that the original arrangement of Diocletian himself ought to be held to, so that there might be two greater ones in the state who would exercise supreme control, and then two lesser ones to be assistants. He argued that between the two concord could easily be preserved, but that it could be kept in no way among four equals. And if Diocletian should not want to yield to him, he would take matters into his own hands and see to it that he would no longer be a lesser ruler and the last of them all. Already fifteen years had passed since he had been relegated to
Illyricum, that is, to the banks of the Danube, to struggle with the barbarian peoples, while the others were ruling in more relaxed and quieter lands in a luxurious manner.
Upon hearing this, the sick old man, who had already received the letters of old Maximian (who had written all that that one would say) and who had learned that an army was being raised by him, said to him in a voice full of tears, "Let it be, if this is what you want."
It remained for Caesars to be chosen by the common deliberation of them all.
"What is the point of deliberation, since it must be necessary for those other two to agree to what we will have done?"
"Clearly it is so, for their sons must be the ones named."
Now, Maximian had a son, Maxentius, son-in-law of this Maximian [Galerius], a man of perverse and evil mind, so proud and stubborn that he was wont to give deference to neither his father nor his father-in-law, and for this reason, he was hateful to both of them.
Constantius also had a son, Constantine, a most upright young man and very worthy of that high rank. He was loved by the soldiers and wanted by private citizens as well because of his distinguished and fine appearance, his military accomplishments, the probity of his morals, and his exceptional congeniality. He was then present at Diocletian's court, having been long since made a tribune of the first rank by him.
"What shall be done, then?" asked Galerius. "The former," he said, "is not worthy. He who has despised us when he was but a private citizen, what will he do when he gains power?"
"But the latter is quite pleasing, and he will rule in such a way that he will be judged better and more clement than his father," said Diocletian.
"Then it will come to be that I am not able to do what I wish. Men should be named," added Galerius, "who are to be at my disposal, those who fear me, who will do nothing except at my order."
"Whom shall we appoint, then?"
"Severus," he said.
"What! That excitable dancer, that drunkard, to whom night is as day and day as night?"
"He is worthy," he answered, "because he faithfully exercised his command of the soldiers, and I have already sent him to Maximian to be invested by him."
"All right. But whom will you make the other Caesar?"
"This man," he said, indicating a certain young Daia, a semibarbarian, whom he had recently ordered to be called Maximin after his own name. For Diocletian, too, had formerly changed his name for him in part, on account of an omen, because Maximian [Galerius] displayed loyalty most scrupulously.
"Who is this whom you present to me?" asked Diocletian.
"A relative of mine," he said.
Then the other groaned and said: "You do not give me capable men to whom the guardianship of the state can be entrusted."
"I have approved of them," he retorted.
"You seem to be on the verge of taking control of the empire," capitulated Diocletian. "I have labored enough, and I have seen to it that under my command the state should stay unharmed. If any harm comes to it, it will not be my fault."
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