Emperor Diocletian

Many powerful state leaders tend toward eccentricity, and Roman emperor Diocletian was no exception. Born to a humble family in Dalmatia, he went on to govern the empire for 20 years, proving to be an astute and innovative leader. However, he was also something of a megalomaniac. Believing himself to be Jupiter's representative on Earth, he set about persecuting Christians, ordering religious scriptures to be burnt, churches destroyed, and thousands of believers executed. He dressed in robes of satin and gold, along with a crown embedded with pearls and shoes studded with precious stones. His imperial apartments were guarded by eunuchs, and it's said that anyone who came into his presence was obliged to fall prostrate on the ground out of respect. Among his many well-known building schemes are the Baths of Diocletian in Rome, a vast complex of marble and mosaics, constructed by 10,000 Christian prisoners for the pleasure of some 3,000 bathers.

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