Could Diocletian be viewed as a national hero for Croatia?

#3
I think he is an easy emperor to heroize, since he is among Rome's most successful and certainly most proactive emperors. His role in bringing stability to the post-Severan empire is undeniable. Valentinian I was a decent emperor too. But I imagine that there are three hurdles between Diocletian and national hero status:

1. The Croatians of today are Slavs, whereas the Romans of Pannonia and Dalmatia were not.

2. Croatia is a very Catholic country, and Diocletian is most famous in the popular consciousness as the emperor who began the Great Persecution. There is possibly some cheeky enjoyment for Croats in the fact that Diocletian's mausoleum in Croatia is now a church.

3. I have spent some time in Serbia, and it is my (perhaps misguided) impression that your average Serb pays little attention to the land's Roman past. This is despite the fact that 17 or so emperors were born in what is now Serbia. Perhaps Croatia is a similar case.

Diocletian's retirement palace at Split has now become the city of Split in Croatia, and it is a popular tourist. Diocletian's home town of Salona is a notable archaeological site. But for the reasons I have given, I suspect not many Croats revere him. But who knows? Nationalism often finds a way of looking past 'technicalities' of the past. I wonder if there is a Croatian user who can enlighten us.
 
Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#4
The concept of nation-states didn't exist then, not even close. The area that roughly corresponds to Croatia in the modern day had no concept of being such 1,800 years ago.
 
#5
The concept of nation-states didn't exist then, not even close. The area that roughly corresponds to Croatia in the modern day had no concept of being such 1,800 years ago.
Certainly Diocletian wouldn't have viewed himself as a Croat. There was no such thing back then. He would have identified as a Roman and a Dalmatian, and perhaps also as a Pannonian. Valentinian likewise was a Roman and a 'degenerate Pannonian', as the usurper Procopius described his brother.
 
Feb 2019
445
Serbia
#6
3. I have spent some time in Serbia, and it is my (perhaps misguided) impression that your average Serb pays little attention to the land's Roman past. This is despite the fact that 17 or so emperors were born in what is now Serbia. Perhaps Croatia is a similar case.
The people take some sort of pride in the land's Roman past but don't associate too heavily with it. Some might point to the amount of Roman emperors born there or the Roman ruins that remained in a sense of ''look at us, we have something interesting!'' but not really associate with it through nationalism. (Except for maybe some pseudo-historians and ultra-nationalists that try to claim them as Serbs but their opinion is irrelevant.) In the city of Niš there is an airport named after Constantine and the Roman ruins in the city are a tourist attraction but again, there is not much nationalistic association with it. Felix Romuliana is possibly the largest and most famous Roman structure and serves as a tourist attraction as well. My hometown is very close to it and the palace is technically a part of it, if you ask the locals they will surely know about it and some might express some pride but nothing too much, a model of it is also displayed in the Zaječar museum. However few people take actual nationalistic pride in it and if you ask someone who Galerius was (He built the Romuliana.) or when the it was built they will likely not know.

That being said, I would imagine that some might locally associate with Diocletian's legacy in Croatia or take some pride in the fact that their land was a birthplace of a Roman Emperor but they won't take too much national pride with it, let alone declare Diocletian a national hero.
 
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#7
The people take some sort of pride in the land's Roman past but don't associate too heavily with it. Some might point to the amount of Roman emperors born there or the Roman ruins that remained in a sense of ''look at us, we have something interesting!'' but not really associate with it through nationalism. (Except for maybe some pseudo-historians and ultra-nationalists that try to claim them as Serbs but their opinion is irrelevant.) In the city of Niš there is an airport named after Constantine and the Roman ruins in the city are a tourist attraction but again, there is not much nationalistic association with it. Felix Romuliana is possibly the largest and most famous Roman structure and serves as a tourist attraction as well. My hometown is very close to it and the palace is technically a part of it, if you ask the locals they will surely know about it and some might express some pride but nothing too much, a model of it is also displayed in the Zaječar museum. However few people take actual nationalistic pride in it and if you ask someone who Galerius was (He built the pRomuliana.) or when the it was built they will likely not know.

That being said, I would imagine that some might locally associate with Diocletian's legacy in Croatia or take some pride in the fact that their land was a birthplace of a Roman Emperor but they won't take too much national pride with it, let alone declare Diocletian a national hero.
Fair enough. That all makes a lot of sense. The reason so many emperors were born there is the fact that Pannonia and Moesia were heavily garrisoned against Sarmatians, Goths, etc, and the third-century imperial leadership (especially the Central Regime from 260-274) increasingly came to rely on the Balkan armies and their officers to preserve the borders and fight civil wars. This meant that Balkan military officers could rise to the top.

So are you from Gamzigrad? Felix Romuliana is spectacular, and the Zaječar museum is great, with its head of Galerius, the mosaics and the pilaster representations of the Tetrarchs. I've also seen the ruins in Sremska Mitrovica, and at some point would like to see the archaeological sites at Viminacium, Šarkamen and Mediana.
 
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Feb 2019
445
Serbia
#8
Fair enough. That all makes a lot of sense. The reason so many emperors were born there is the fact that Pannonia and Moesia were heavily garrisoned against Sarmatians, Goths, etc, and the empire in the third century leadership (especially the Central Regime from 260-274) increasingly came to rely on the Balkan armies and their officers to preserve the borders and fight civil wars. This meant that Balkan military officers could rise to the top.

So are you from Gamzigrad? Felix Romuliana is spectacular, and the Zaječar museum is great, with its head of Galerius, the mosaics and the pilaster representations of the Tetrarchs. I've also seen the ruins in Sremska Mitrovica, and at some point would like to see the arcaeological sites at Viminacium, Šarkamen and Mediana.
I'm form Zaječar actually. I've been to Viminacium and can say that is indeed worth looking at.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,683
Republika Srpska
#9
TBF, while modern Serbs do not really consider the Roman past of their land important, we cannot say that was the case throughout history. There are a number of old Serb chronicles that connect Serb medieval rulers to the old Roman emperors. For example, Konstantin Filozof, the biographer of Serbian despot Stefan Lazarević, wrote this in Stefan's biography:
"There was a Consta, the great, also called the Green, the father of the great Constantine, a man most forbearing, who loved piety. So he accepted Christians while ruling in Vretania in the years of Diocletian and Maximian Herculius. They, after killing many Christians, abdicated the empire and lived simple lives; and Maximian remained in the East and Constantine the Great, a martyr, was his hostage. And Maxentius ruled in the great Rome itself. The great Consta bore three sons: Constantine, Constantius and Consta and a daughter Constantia, who great Constantine gave as wife to Licinius and to him he gave the Greek part of the empire (...) And this Licinius was a Dalmatian lord, a Serb by birth, and with Constantia he bore a son Bela-Uroš and Bela-Uroš bore Tehomil and Tehomil bore St. Simeon and St. Simeon bore with his wife three sons: Stefan the First-Crowned king and Vukan the Grand Prince and Rastka, later Sava, the first Serb Archbishop."

So, from this genealogy we see that the biographer apparently thought that it was neccessary to connect the Nemanjić dynasty (and through them the man whose biography he was writing, despot Stefan Lazarević) with the old Roman emperors.
 
#10
TBF, while modern Serbs do not really consider the Roman past of their land important, we cannot say that was the case throughout history. There are a number of old Serb chronicles that connect Serb medieval rulers to the old Roman emperors. For example, Konstantin Filozof, the biographer of Serbian despot Stefan Lazarević, wrote this in Stefan's biography:
"There was a Consta, the great, also called the Green, the father of the great Constantine, a man most forbearing, who loved piety. So he accepted Christians while ruling in Vretania in the years of Diocletian and Maximian Herculius. They, after killing many Christians, abdicated the empire and lived simple lives; and Maximian remained in the East and Constantine the Great, a martyr, was his hostage. And Maxentius ruled in the great Rome itself. The great Consta bore three sons: Constantine, Constantius and Consta and a daughter Constantia, who great Constantine gave as wife to Licinius and to him he gave the Greek part of the empire (...) And this Licinius was a Dalmatian lord, a Serb by birth, and with Constantia he bore a son Bela-Uroš and Bela-Uroš bore Tehomil and Tehomil bore St. Simeon and St. Simeon bore with his wife three sons: Stefan the First-Crowned king and Vukan the Grand Prince and Rastka, later Sava, the first Serb Archbishop."

So, from this genealogy we see that the biographer apparently thought that it was neccessary to connect the Nemanjić dynasty (and through them the man whose biography he was writing, despot Stefan Lazarević) with the old Roman emperors.
It's fascinating that he chose to connect the Nemanjić dynasty to the disgraced Licinius (and by extension Constantine) rather than taking a more direct route to Constantine himself. Are we to presume that the biographer was unaware that Constantius I and Constantine I were likewise born in places that are today in Serbia? Also, that's such a classic medieval mistake - mixing up Maximian Herculius with Galerius Maximian (the Maximian in the east).
 

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