Emperor Worship

Diocletian seems to have realized that the authority of the imperial court was dependent to some degree upon court ceremony. Once he had claimed divine status as Jupiter on earth, he demanded that his court adopt the court ceremonial of Hellenistic monarchs. He wore a diadem and in all official appearances he wore purple silk and gold embroidered vestments and stone-studded shoes. He insisted that his subjects approach him on their knees and kiss his purple imperial robe, called the adoratio purpurae, "adoration of the purple," a practice of eastern royal courts. The emperor's arrival in a city was a great event, and people came from miles away to see his adventus, the spectacular procession of his pompous arrival in full imperial regalia. As dominus et deus, "lord and god," he imbued the office with an aura of sanctity that established the divine support of his dominion.

Under Diocletian we see the political transformation from Principate, the rule of the princeps, "first among equals," that had been established by Augustus, to Dominate, the authoritarian basis of the medieval divine right of kings. And we also see the shift of power away from Rome: not only had the tetrarchs not assumed their power at Rome, but their traveling courts no longer resided in the ancient imperial capital. In fact, it was only in 301 C.E., on the occasion of his vicennalia, "twenty years of rule," that Diocletian finally appeared in Rome, although his monumental bath project—the Baths of Diocletian—had already been dedicated there in 299 C.E.

0 0

Post a comment