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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Lesson from Gibbon: Diocletian


Lessons From Gibbon


Gibbon wrote the eight volumes from 1776 to 1830’s. Most historians refer to him, but today I don’t think many people want to read it anymore. His writing is archaic, stuffy, stilted, and dry. The audio version, the narrator drones without any inflection or emotion. Still better to listen instead of trying to read all eight volumes.

I discovered that there was actually a lot to learn from Eddie. Well from Julius Caesar up to Diocletian not much I didn’t already know. A few insights but most books on Roman history focus on the emperors at least through Commodus. Gibbon places the death of Commodus, when the Praetorian Guard put the next emperor up for auction, as the beginning of the decline.

This entered a time where any general with an army marched on Rome to name himself emperor. Some lasted for a few years others didn’t make it to a year.

The Germanic tribes on the other side of Rhine seized the weakness and invaded carving out parts of the empire. Mercenaries from tribes across the Rhine and Danube were used in the legions. Total chaos.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from Diocletian (284–305 CE):

· Diocletian pulled the empire out of chaos. Once he had total control of the empire, he realized it was too big and cumbersome for one person to rule. He divided it up into four areas and placed a handpicked man to rule each one. He took the title of Augustus and the other three had the title of Caesar. Each area was called a diocese, taken from his name. The Catholic church still uses this term for each area under the direction of a bishop.

· Eunuchs were used for the bureaucracy. Not able to sire children and have a family they were considered less likely to be corrupt. Main reason for Catholic priest being celibate. It didn’t work and still doesn’t for The Church.

· Diocletian instituted the most thorough and ruthless persecution of the Christians. He noticed that many temples throughout the empire were shuttered, and others were suffering from poor attendance and money from sacrifices.  The temples were a major source of money in time of need. They built up large treasuries and then loaned the money out acting as bankers making even more off interest. They were the dragon sitting on a pile of treasure. Whenever emperors needed money for holding off an invasion or putting down a rebellion, they would raid the temples of the hoarded gold and silver. If the temples are going out of business the monetary backup plan was gone.

· Christianity doesn’t have temples, and they don’t sacrifice animals to raise money. This was a serious hit on the temples dedicated to emperor worship. Which provided the personal income of the emperor.

· Diocletian issued an edict of Milan outlawing Christianity. Milan was where the emperor resided not in Rome. For three hundred years the Christians were persecuted sporadically, but in the chaos of the second and third centuries stayed under the radar and prospered. In the larger cities they built churches. Now was the time of empire wide intense persecution.

· Gibbon relates that the wealthy class became Christians from their slaves. Slaves flocked to the religion and then converted their masters.

· The middle class or merchants were the most opposed to Christianity as they didn’t like the idea of equality in the afterlife. They also worshipped gods that promised wealth. The military worshipped Mithras.

· This persecution nearly destroyed all the good work in restoring the empire Diocletian accomplished.

· Only the wealthy were condemned and suffered. Freemen and slaves, he didn’t care about. Domitian was after confiscating wealth.

· Gibbon added up all the lives lost to persecution from Nero to Diocletian his estimation of the total was 150,000. He compared this to the lives lost in the Netherlands during the 30 year’s war which was 100,000.

I downloaded The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon on Audio. It’s 108 hours. I also downloaded the Kindle edition for only two dollars. Comes in useful if I want to look up certain lessons. So far, I’m through the reign of Constantine to the end of paganism. That’s already 30 hours a long way to go yet.

Next edition will cover Constantine.

Patrick Prescott is a retired public-school teacher and author of: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, Stephanus, I Maury: The Life and Times of a Rebel, Human Sacrifices, The Fan Plan Tribology, Three Medieval Battles and others in e-books and paperbacks on Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sunday's are the worst.


I'm three fifths of the way through radiation. Five weeks to go. One of the check-in clerks is a former student. I gave her a copy of Human Sacrifices. She is very friendly.

During the week I'm fine. My only problem is having enough in my bladder for treatment. Only once this week was I short and had to drink water for a few minutes before they let me in again and there was enough.

Last Sunday I had bad diabetic nerve pain when I woke up. It was up to my kneecaps. I go into church early to fix coffee and tea for our Friendship Cafe, between worship service and Sunday School. My wife had to fill in for me. I'm getting get well cards, even from good blogger buddy Berthold in Ohio. 

This week I came down with a UTI. Friday morning I went into urgent care at 6AM, I was the only customer and was seen right away. I didn't get out of there with a injection of anti-biotic and prescription until 10:00. I made it through radiation, but Friday night I was going about every ten minutes, same for all day Saturday. I got some sleep last night and it's settled down some, but I was afraid to go to church if I had to run to the bathroom too often. 

Reminds me of an old book title joke: Fifty Yards to the Out House written by Willie Make It and Illustrated by Betty Wont.

Linda has to make coffee again. I'm a tea drinker connoisseur. Plain old orange, black tea gets boring. And the person getting the coffee never had hot water for tea or hot chocolate and when she couldn't do it anymore, I volunteered. 

I started something, an elderly lady decided to hold an afternoon tea last year. Ten ladies took a table and sold tickets and on a Saturday afternoon they held a tea. They had three different snacks for three different types of tea. They had an auction. I donated a fancy tea pot inherited from my mother. We raised $1,500 for the Heifer Project. This year the tea is in late April the day after my last radiation treatment. Linda and daughter will host a table and the proceeds will go to local animal rescue groups. Not sure I'll be able to make it.

My cousin messaged me on fb after I posted about my treatments. She told me that she was fine through all of her treatments, but two months later she was leaking from every orifice in her body for a month. Seems it has a delayed reaction. Oh Joy!

I put the picture of Edward Gibbon on top. I got a copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on audio (108 hours), also a kindle copy for two bucks. So far, I've listened to 35 hours. I'm writing a series of articles that I'm posting on Medium entitled Lessons from Gibbon. It is filling in the time without rotting my brain streaming TV and giving me something to write about. I'll post them here too.

I'm confined to the bedroom as its closest to the bathroom, but I do have my faithful companion beside me to keep me company.

This is Sammie, she helped me through the time I fell and broke my hand and wrenched my back a few years ago. A good girl.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Hanging in there.

 I've had ten of the forty radiation treatments. So far, I've had few ill effects (knock on wood). Some loose stools and one night of the runs is about it.

I've started on the regimen of Zytiga and Prednisone without any loss of energy or other side effects mentioned. I'll be on this for a year of more.

I had my first chemo injection yesterday and will have them every three months for from a year to three.

I'm hanging in there for now.