Tetrarchy - Public Image

Public Image

Although power was shared in the Tetrarchic system, the public image of the four emperors in the imperial college was carefully managed to give the appearance of a united empire (patrimonium indivisum). This was especially important after the civil war of the 3rd century.

The Tetrarchs appeared identical in all official portraits. Coinage dating from the Tetrarchic period depicts every emperor with identical features — only the inscriptions on the coins indicate which one of the four emperors is being shown. The Byzantine sculpture Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs (pictured at right) shows the Tetrarchs again with identical features and wearing the same military costume.

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