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but some modern historians state that Diocletian avoided the city, and that he did so on principle, as the city and its Senate were no longer politically relevant to the affairs of the empire and needed to be taught as much.
Diocletian dated his reign from his elevation by the army, not the date of his ratification by the Senate, However, Diocletian was to offer proof of his deference towards the Senate by retaining Aristobulus as ordinary consul and colleague for 285 (one of the few instances during the Late Empire in which an emperor admitted a privatus as his colleague) The concept of dual rulership was nothing new to the Roman Empire.
Augustus, the first Emperor, had nominally shared power with his colleagues, and more formal offices of Co-Emperor had existed from Marcus Aurelius on.
Most recently, Emperor Carus and his sons had ruled together, albeit unsuccessfully.
The first time Diocletian's whereabouts are accurately established, in 282, he was made by the newly Emperor Carus commander of the Protectores domestici, the élite cavalry force directly attached to the Imperial household – a post that earned him the honor of a consulship in 283.
– left his sons Numerian and Carinus as the new Augusti.
On 20 November 284, the army of the east gathered on a hill 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) outside Nicomedia.
The army unanimously saluted Diocles as their new augustus, and he accepted the purple imperial vestments.
After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor.
In spite of these failures and challenges, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling the empire to remain essentially intact for another 150 years despite being near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth.
Weakened by illness, Diocletian left the imperial office on 1 May 305, and became the first Roman emperor to abdicate the position voluntarily.
Diocletian separated and enlarged the empire's civil and military services and reorganized the empire's provincial divisions, establishing the largest and most bureaucratic government in the history of the empire.
He established new administrative centres in Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Antioch, and Trier, closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome had been.