He divided the empire into two parts, feeling that it was beyond the management of any one man, and chose an able soldier of low birth but much courage, named Maximian, to rule the West from Trier as his capital, while he himself ruled the East from Nicomedia. Each of the two Emperors chose a future successor, who was to rule in part of his dominions under the title of Caesar, and to reign after him. Diocletian chose his son-in-law Galerius, and sent him to fight on the Danube; and Maximian chose, as Caesar, Constantius Chlorus, who commanded in Britain, Gaul, and Spain; and thus everything was done to secure that a strong hand should be ready everywhere to keep the legions from setting up Emperors at their own will.
Diocletian was esteemed the most just and kind of the Emperors; Maximian, the fiercest and most savage. He had a bitter hatred of the Christian name, which was shared by Galerius; but, on the other hand, the wife of Diocletian was believed to be a Christian, and Helena, the wife of Constantius, was certainly one. However, Maximian and Galerius were determined to put down the faith. Maximian is said to have had a whole legion of Christians in his army, called the Theban, from the Egyptian Thebes. These he commanded to sacrifice, and on their refusal had them decimated—that is, every tenth man was slain. They were called on again to sacrifice, but still were staunch, and after a last summons were, every man of them, slain as they stood with their tribune Maurice, whose name is still held in high honor in the Engadine. Diocletian was slow to become a persecutor, until a fire broke out in his palace at Nicomedia, which did much mischief in the city, but spared the chief Christian church. The enemies of the Christians accused them of having caused it, and Diocletian required every one in his household to clear themselves by offering sacrifice to Jupiter. His wife and daughter yielded, but most of his officers and slaves held out, and died in cruel torments. One slave was scourged till the flesh parted from his bones, and then the wounds were rubbed with salt and vinegar; others were racked till their bones were out of joint, and others hung up by their hands to hooks, with weights fastened to their feet. A city in Phrygia was surrounded by soldiers and every person in it slaughtered; and the Christians were hunted down like wild beasts from one end of the empire to the other, everywhere save in Britain, where, under Constantius, only one martyrdom is reported to have taken place, namely, that of the soldier at Verulam, St. Alban. It was the worst of all the persecutions, and lasted the longest.
[Illustration: DIOCLETIAN IN RETIREMENT.]