In the year 284 C.E., Diocles, the son of a freedman in Illyricum, took the name C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus and became the Roman emperor. Within a year, he had elevated a fellow Illyrian and former military comrade, Maximian, to the imperial honor of Caesar, a junior coruler, and within a year after that Maximian was made Augustus, a coruler. This new type of government was called a diarchy, or "rule by two." Diocletian and Maximian adopted the names Iovius, "Jupiter," and Herculius, "Hercules," to illustrate their patriarchal model of power. Diocletian was the representative on earth of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, "Jupiter the Best and Greatest," the king of the gods; and Maximian was his heroic son, dedicated to performing labors on his behalf. In 293 C.E., after continuous warfare in many areas of the empire, they each raised another compatriot to the lesser rank of Caesar. This new type of government was called a tetrarchy, or "rule of four": Galerius became the Caesar of Diocletian and Constantius Chlorus (Constantine's father) the Caesar of Maximian. The concordia, or "harmony," of the tetrachs ensured the empire's security, and a broad range of other reforms in the army and in the tax structure ensured the empire's stability. By 297 C.E., it was clear that Diocletian's tetrarchy had quelled the endless local rebellions and wars and also had set the stage for a smooth succession at his retirement.
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