his hero had escaped.nThis was the context in which Stallone did his own MM.nRambo is freed from the prison where he was sent after FirstnBlood to go into Vietnam to examine a carefully chosennempty POW camp. Our bureaucrats, who had arranged thisncharade, fouled up. The camp was not empty, and Rambonactually gets a soldier to the rendezvous point, whereuponnthe bureaucrat declares the mission aborted and leavesnRambo and the rescued prisoner stranded. Tortured andnalone, Rambo escapes and brings our men back, in thenprocess killing an estimated 75 Vietnamese and Russians.nOh yes, Russians, too. The audience is left in no doubtnabout who is running the show in Southeast Asia.nRambo is a good-hearted movie, after all, with all kindsnof fantastic slayings and shootings and just a little romanticnsadness. A nice Vietnamese girl who helps Rambo is killed.nAt the end, when Crenna asks Rambo not to hate hisncountry, Rambo shrieks that he loves America, he wouldndie for her, but he would like to see the affection returned.nHe stalks off, having frustrated the bureaucrats and freednour men. In Rambo, Stallone has taken the hard-hittingnmotifs of earlier Vietnam movies and made them palatablenfor a mass audience. The American people are not tonblame. Bureaucrats did us in. Given a chance, our men cannstand up to torture and beat Charlie and his Russian master.nFor all its violence and movement, Rambo is ultimately anhierarchical concept of the world.nThe emperors—sometimes interchangeablenin appearance—arenshown oversized and dominatingntheir stiffly regimented subjectsn—soldiers and civilians alike. It wasna new world, one that was to lastnuntil the fall of Constantinople inn1453.nDiocletian suffered two majornsetbacks. Only two forces resistednhis command: the marketplace andnthe Christian Church. For all hisnefforts to stabilize the economy,nprices kept on rising dramatically.nLike many a ruler after him,nDiocletian blamed inflation on thenvillainy of businessmen rather thannon his own high spending and degradedncoinage. In 301 he issuednhis famous edict on wage and pricencontrols, which fixed the price forneverything from Egyptian beer (twondenarii) to legal fees for pleading ancase (1,000). It worked even lessnwell than Mr. Nixon’s efforts alongnthe same lines. Inflation was notnreally licked until Constantine effectivelynput the empire on the goldnstandard of the Solidus.nIf the invisible hand of the marketplacencould not be coerced, thenHoly Spirit proved even more recalcitrant.nPrevious emperors had unsuccessfullyntried to persecutenChristians into conformity, but thenpersecutions under Diocletian andnCaesar Galerius were more “thorough,”nmore relentless than anythingndreamed of by Nero or Decius.nThe combined effect of hisnfour edicts made it a capital crimento be a Christian. The CaesarnConstantius (father of Constantine,nwho “converted” the empire) wasnlax in carrying out all but the mildestnprovisions. The edicts werenstrenuously enforced in the East,nwhere the clergy were arrested, tortured,nand executed; scriptures werenseized, churches burned, and thousandsnof ordinary Christians werenmartyred. Some Christians recant­nconsoling film.nIt did not console the media powers that be, of course.nThey have been picturing us as recovering from thenbrutality and learning the lessons of Vietnam. The Americannpeople had been lied to, but they were learning theirnlimitations and were wiser now. Suddenly appeared thisnoverwhelming proof that the brats had not learned theirnlesson, that they were not even studying seriously. Here wasnan America unwilling to pay money to see Costa-Gavras’npicture of American duplicity in Chile, despite the attractionnof stars like Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon, but eagernto flood theaters when the enemy in the last war wasnportrayed as a sadistic torturer defeatable by resolution andnintelligence. For crying out loud, hadn’t they seen the PBSnVietnam series?nIt would be wrong to pass over the more complex figurenof Michael Cimino. Cimino has many contacts with thenmore popular aspects of the film trade and has worked withnClint Eastwood, but he is committed to making artistic orn”quality” films. In The Deerhunter, he focused on thenhealthiness of ethnic, working-class America, shaken, tortured,nand, in some cases, tragically broken by the VietnamnWar. The war is seen as a kind of national suicide, and thentheme of Russian roulette appears several times in thenmovie to underline this insight, from the gambling halls ofnSaigon to the POW camps of the North Vietnamese. Thennned, others equivocated. But on thenwhole, the church held firm andnattracted the sympathy and admirationnof many decent pagans.nDiocletian was not a monster orneven particularly brutal. His weaknessnwas simply the other side of hisnstrength: his military vision of ancommitted society. In this lucidnand well-written biography, Williamsnsuggests that Diocletian maynhave been inspired by the “Orientalndespotism” and command economynhe had witnessed in Egypt. Ifnso, Egypt probably only served tonreinforce the lessons he had learnednin the army. Like most Machiavelliannrulers, Diocletian succeeded inndoing a great deal of good, but innthe end he succumbed to his ownntheories. What must he haventhought of the civil wars that brokenout among his successors, after henretired (the first real emperor whoncould take the chance) to grow cabbages?nWhat he certainly could notnguess was that a young man he hadnexcluded from the succession, Constantine,nshould emerge victor andnestablish the most successful,nlongest-lasting Christian civilizationnthe world has ever known, ccnDECEMBER 1985 / 23n