Not as famous as Augustus or Nero, emperor Diocletian has nevertheless been deemed a relevant subject for numerous biographers, as well as writers. Since the late 17th century, Diocletian constantly aroused the interest both for his political role and the human material his life was made of. He who deliberately accepted to step down from the throne, after some twenty years of reign, was born as Diocles in Illyria and became the ruler of the Roman empire in 284 under the name of Diocletian. Yet he spent the rest of his life as a simple citizen, in his native province of Dalmatia, in the palace he had built, which eventually became the city of Split. The lecture will focus on the lasting presence of Diocletian in Dalmatia, in various political frameworks, from the Austro-Hungarian empire, through socialist Yugoslavia until post-war Croatia. Be it in art history and the practice of heritage preservation (Alois Riegl), or in unorthodox Marxism, as it was favoured in Tito’s socialism (exemplified by the novel Dioklecijan (1973) by Ivan Ivanji and the play The Palace of Diocletian (1970) by Antun Šoljan, until actual pressure by a booming industry of tourism, the afterlife of Diocletian stands for an example of European "lieu de mémoire" : richly multifaceted, and yet elusive, if not utterly taboo.
Response: Jörg Schulte (University of Cologne)