The Lord in good slippers

Diocletian was more than the first citizen.

Diocletian … was the first that introduced into the Roman empire a ceremony suited rather to royal usages than to Roman liberty, giving orders that he should be adored, whereas all emperors before him were only saluted. He put ornaments of precious stones on his dress and shoes, when the imperial distinction had previously been only in the purple robe, the rest of the habit being the same as that of other men.

So foreign …

Diocletian was the first who introduced the custom of offering reverence to the emperor after this foreign manner and royal pretension; whereas all former princes, as we read, had been saluted like judges.

From hardly being a citizen, let alone the first …

The victorious army … conferred the imperial dignity on Diocletian, a native of Dalmatia, of such extremely obscure birth, that he is said by most writers to have been the son of a clerk, but by some to have been a freedman of a senator named Anulinus.

to the first Lord and god of Rome …

he was, in fact, the first who really desired a supply of silk, purple, and gems for his sandals, together with a gold-brocaded robe. Although these things went beyond good taste and betrayed a vain and haughty disposition, they were nevertheless trivial in comparison with the rest. For he was the first of all after Caligula and Domitian to permit himself to be called “Lord” in public and to be worshiped and addressed as a god.

His original name was Greek though it grasped for god. Diocles meant the fame of Zeus ala Heracles, the glory of Hera and Diocletian would style himself Jovius after the Roman Zeus.

Even Augustus …

the founder of the Empire, would never permit himself to be styled even Lord … How can he, who is properly styled the Father of his country, be its lord. Besides, the name which entitles him to filial respect is more grateful than that which implies absolute power. Any one, in his own family, would rather be called father than lord.

But he was a fatherly Lord …

But these faults in Valerius (Diocletian) were effaced by the other good qualities, and especially by the fact that although he allowed himself to be called “Lord” he acted like a parent

One who even took a private citizen as his colleague for consul …

took as his colleague a private individual; an act of which no one recollected an instance since that of Diocletian and Aristobulus.

This was nothing more than grandiosity …

From these indications, as far as I can understand, I have concluded that all men from the humblest backgrounds, especially when have attained exalted positions, are excessive in their pride and ambition. … since a mind that has never experienced power is insatiable like a man saved from starvation.

But it wasn’t just that. As mere first men, emperor after emperor before Diocletian had been murdered, often lasting no more than months. Diocletian ruled for twenty years - as Lord and god. The Lord-less Rome of Augustus was as over as the Republic.

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