Presenter: Nicola Holm (Mid-candidature review)

The reign of Diocletian and the first Tetrarchy (AD 293-305) is most often associated with the ‘Great Persecution’ of 303, which identified Christianity as a threat to Rome and its empire. However, these policies were not isolated, with a number of imperial documents from the preceding decade featuring rhetoric propagating romanitas in a number of its manifestations (such as the importance of the pax deorum, the dichotomy of human and non-human, and the examples of the emperors). This paper will examine these documents in order to place the persecution of 303 into context as a continuation of policies aimed at maintaining the stability of Rome and its traditions. The three documents that will be discussed are: the Damascus Edict on Incest (295), the Edict on Maximum Prices (301), and the Letter on the Manichees (302). The vigorous promotion of romanitas for the sake of the empire would ultimately provide the backbone for the policies of the later Tetrarchs, especially Galerius and Maximinus Daza.


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