By Anne Leader

On 21 May 293, the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian appointed Galerius to serve as Caesar, or second in command, to Diocletian, thus beginning the Roman tetrarchy, or rule by four. Diocletian had shared rule of the empire with his son-in-law Maximian since 286, and it was at the latter’s urging that he allowed further power-sharing with the appointment of Constantius Chlorus as Caesar to Maximian on 1 March 293, followed by the appointment of Galerius in May. Each Caesar supported his corresponding Augustus, from whom he would receive the throne upon his predecessor’s death. Though designed to manage the far-flung empire, the tetrarchy ultimately would fail as power sharing proved impossible among the ambitious men who wanted sole rule of Rome.

Emperor Galerius, porphyry, from his palace in Romuliana (Gamzigrad, Serbia)

Coin of Galerius

Galerius attacking NarsehArch of Galerius, Thessaloniki, Greece

Map of the Roman Empire under the Tetrarchy

The Tetrarchs, porphyry, Basilica of St. Mark, Venice

Emperor Constantius Chlorus, marble, ca. 300, Altes Museum, Berlin

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