Odd things anger me.
I was listening to one of the Yale University open courses. The one on the Early Middle Ages. The part of the Middle ages that can be called the dark ages because our sources are so sparse and civilization was in deep decline. The Professor said that “We don’t use the word awesome much, But he should be called Diocletian the Awesome.”
I despise Diocletian. Diocletian ended the right of Roman citizens to appeal to the Emperor. He ended the fig leaf of pretending to be the First Citizen and the First Speaker of the Senate. He called himself Lord and God – Dominus Et Deus. One could not stand in his presence. He made a fetish of himself. He demoted the Senate to the City Council of the city of Rome. In short he eliminated the last pretense of and aspiration to Republic. He was a Stalin with delusions of godhood.
But I primarily despise Diocletian be cause of his reforms. For a century the emperors had undermined the currency. It was so bad that the Roman tax collectors wouldn’t accept it any longer. [ We’ve only been destroying our currency for eight decades. Gold coins worth $20/ounce were in circulation when my father was born. ] Taxes were collected in kind. Whatever you produced. Unpleasant or difficult jobs were made hereditary so people couldn’t migrate to better professions. If your father was a pig butcher so were you. No uppity people. Farmers were bound to the land. To enforce this, lords could preemptively punish or restrict tenants. Some taxes were raised by extracting forced labor. Of course those on the farms were disarmed. Else they wouldn’t accept this. Diocletian tried to fix the price of everything in the empire and seal the status quo in amber.
Of course this didn’t work well. Or at all. And note well, the free Roman Citizens had been converted to serfs.
I still shudder when I hear of collectivist tax reform. Sometime it means government gangsters.
Idiot professors such as the one at Yale celebrate this man for preserving Rome. At the cost of all Rome once stood for. For only 150 years. Rome hadn’t been an exemplar since Julius Caesar. It hadn’t been worth the candle since Marcus Aurelius. They should have let the hulk die and be rebuilt. Stalin, Napoleon, Sargon….Is there any mass murderer that some professor doesn’t hold as an idol?