The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. II
Edward Gibbon

Part 10 out of 16

Caesar to hasten the departure of the troops; but they
imprudently rejected the honest and judicious advice of Julian;
who proposed that they should not march through Paris, and
suggested the danger and temptation of a last interview.

[Footnote 6: He granted them the permission of the cursus
clavularis, or clabularis. These post-wagons are often mentioned
in the Code, and were supposed to carry fifteen hundred pounds
weight. See Vales. ad Ammian. xx. 4.]

As soon as the approach of the troops was announced, the
Caesar went out to meet them, and ascended his tribunal, which
had been erected in a plain before the gates of the city. After
distinguishing the officers and soldiers, who by their rank or
merit deserved a peculiar attention, Julian addressed himself in
a studied oration to the surrounding multitude: he celebrated
their exploits with grateful applause; encouraged them to accept,
with alacrity, the honor of serving under the eye of a powerful
and liberal monarch; and admonished them, that the commands of
Augustus required an instant and cheerful obedience. The
soldiers, who were apprehensive of offending their general by an
indecent clamor, or of belying their sentiments by false and
venal acclamations, maintained an obstinate silence; and after a
short pause, were dismissed to their quarters. The principal
officers were entertained by the Caesar, who professed, in the
warmest language of friendship, his desire and his inability to
reward, according to their deserts, the brave companions of his
victories. They retired from the feast, full of grief and
perplexity; and lamented the hardship of their fate, which tore
them from their beloved general and their native country. The
only expedient which could prevent their separation was boldly
agitated and approved the popular resentment was insensibly
moulded into a regular conspiracy; their just reasons of
complaint were heightened by passion, and their passions were
inflamed by wine; as, on the eve of their departure, the troops
were indulged in licentious festivity. At the hour of midnight,
the impetuous multitude, with swords, and bows, and torches in
their hands, rushed into the suburbs; encompassed the palace; ^7
and, careless of future dangers, pronounced the fatal and
irrevocable words, Julian Augustus! The prince, whose anxious
suspense was interrupted by their disorderly acclamations,
secured the doors against their intrusion; and as long as it was
in his power, secluded his person and dignity from the accidents
of a nocturnal tumult. At the dawn of day, the soldiers, whose
zeal was irritated by opposition, forcibly entered the palace,
seized, with respectful violence, the object of their choice,
guarded Julian with drawn swords through the streets of Paris,
placed him on the tribunal, and with repeated shouts saluted him
as their emperor. Prudence, as well as loyalty, inculcated the
propriety of resisting their treasonable designs; and of
preparing, for his oppressed virtue, the excuse of violence.
Addressing himself by turns to the multitude and to individuals,
he sometimes implored their mercy, and sometimes expressed his
indignation; conjured them not to sully the fame of their
immortal victories; and ventured to promise, that if they would
immediately return to their allegiance, he would undertake to
obtain from the emperor not only a free and gracious pardon, but
even the revocation of the orders which had excited their
resentment. But the soldiers, who were conscious of their guilt,
chose rather to depend on the gratitude of Julian, than on the
clemency of the emperor. Their zeal was insensibly turned into
impatience, and their impatience into rage. The inflexible
Caesar sustained, till the third hour of the day, their prayers,
their reproaches, and their menaces; nor did he yield, till he
had been repeatedly assured, that if he wished to live, he must
consent to reign. He was exalted on a shield in the presence, and
amidst the unanimous acclamations, of the troops; a rich military
collar, which was offered by chance, supplied the want of a
diadem; ^8 the ceremony was concluded by the promise of a
moderate donative; and the new emperor, overwhelmed with real or
affected grief retired into the most secret recesses of his
apartment. ^10
[Footnote 7: Most probably the palace of the baths, (Thermarum,)
of which a solid and lofty hall still subsists in the Rue de la
Harpe. The buildings covered a considerable space of the modern
quarter of the university; and the gardens, under the Merovingian
kings, communicated with the abbey of St. Germain des Prez. By
the injuries of time and the Normans, this ancient palace was
reduced, in the twelfth century, to a maze of ruins, whose dark
recesses were the scene of licentious love.

Explicat aula sinus montemque amplectitur alis;
Multiplici latebra scelerum tersura ruborem.
.... pereuntis saepe pudoris
Celatura nefas, Venerisque accommoda furtis.

(These lines are quoted from the Architrenius, l. iv. c. 8, a
poetical work of John de Hauteville, or Hanville, a monk of St.
Alban's, about the year 1190. See Warton's History of English
Poetry, vol. i. dissert. ii.) Yet such thefts might be less
pernicious to mankind than the theological disputes of the
Sorbonne, which have been since agitated on the same ground.
Bonamy, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xv. p. 678-632]

[Footnote 8: Even in this tumultuous moment, Julian attended to
the forms of superstitious ceremony, and obstinately refused the
inauspicious use of a female necklace, or a horse collar, which
the impatient soldiers would have employed in the room of a

[Footnote 9: An equal proportion of gold and silver, five pieces
of the former one pound of the latter; the whole amounting to
about five pounds ten shillings of our money.]

[Footnote 10: For the whole narrative of this revolt, we may
appeal to authentic and original materials; Julian himself, (ad
S. P. Q. Atheniensem, p. 282, 283, 284,) Libanius, (Orat.
Parental. c. 44-48, in Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec. tom. vii. p.
269-273,) Ammianus, (xx. 4,) and Zosimus, (l. iii. p. 151, 152,
153.) who, in the reign of Julian, appears to follow the more
respectable authority of Eunapius. With such guides we might
neglect the abbreviators and ecclesiastical historians.]

The grief of Julian could proceed only from his innocence;
out his innocence must appear extremely doubtful ^11 in the eyes
of those who have learned to suspect the motives and the
professions of princes. His lively and active mind was
susceptible of the various impressions of hope and fear, of
gratitude and revenge, of duty and of ambition, of the love of
fame, and of the fear of reproach. But it is impossible for us
to calculate the respective weight and operation of these
sentiments; or to ascertain the principles of action which might
escape the observation, while they guided, or rather impelled,
the steps of Julian himself. The discontent of the troops was
produced by the malice of his enemies; their tumult was the
natural effect of interest and of passion; and if Julian had
tried to conceal a deep design under the appearances of chance,
he must have employed the most consummate artifice without
necessity, and probably without success. He solemnly declares,
in the presence of Jupiter, of the Sun, of Mars, of Minerva, and
of all the other deities, that till the close of the evening
which preceded his elevation, he was utterly ignorant of the
designs of the soldiers; ^12 and it may seem ungenerous to
distrust the honor of a hero and the truth of a philosopher. Yet
the superstitious confidence that Constantius was the enemy, and
that he himself was the favorite, of the gods, might prompt him
to desire, to solicit, and even to hasten the auspicious moment
of his reign, which was predestined to restore the ancient
religion of mankind. When Julian had received the intelligence
of the conspiracy, he resigned himself to a short slumber; and
afterwards related to his friends that he had seen the genius of
the empire waiting with some impatience at his door, pressing for
admittance, and reproaching his want of spirit and ambition. ^13
Astonished and perplexed, he addressed his prayers to the great
Jupiter, who immediately signified, by a clear and manifest omen,
that he should submit to the will of heaven and of the army. The
conduct which disclaims the ordinary maxims of reason, excites
our suspicion and eludes our inquiry. Whenever the spirit of
fanaticism, at once so credulous and so crafty, has insinuated
itself into a noble mind, it insensibly corrodes the vital
principles of virtue and veracity.
[Footnote 11: Eutropius, a respectable witness, uses a doubtful
expression, "consensu militum." (x. 15.) Gregory Nazianzen, whose
ignorance night excuse his fanaticism, directly charges the
apostate with presumption, madness, and impious rebellion, Orat.
iii. p. 67.]

[Footnote 12: Julian. ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 284. The devout Abbe
de la Bleterie (Vie de Julien, p. 159) is almost inclined to
respect the devout protestations of a Pagan.]

[Footnote 13: Ammian. xx. 5, with the note of Lindenbrogius on
the Genius of the empire. Julian himself, in a confidential
letter to his friend and physician, Oribasius, (Epist. xvii. p.
384,) mentions another dream, to which, before the event, he gave
credit; of a stately tree thrown to the ground, of a small plant
striking a deep root into the earth. Even in his sleep, the mind
of the Caesar must have been agitated by the hopes and fears of
his fortune. Zosimus (l. iii. p. 155) relates a subsequent

To moderate the zeal of his party, to protect the persons of
his enemies, ^14 to defeat and to despise the secret enterprises
which were formed against his life and dignity, were the cares
which employed the first days of the reign of the new emperor.
Although he was firmly resolved to maintain the station which he
had assumed, he was still desirous of saving his country from the
calamities of civil war, of declining a contest with the superior
forces of Constantius, and of preserving his own character from
the reproach of perfidy and ingratitude. Adorned with the ensigns
of military and imperial pomp, Julian showed himself in the field
of Mars to the soldiers, who glowed with ardent enthusiasm in the
cause of their pupil, their leader, and their friend. He
recapitulated their victories, lamented their sufferings,
applauded their resolution, animated their hopes, and checked
their impetuosity; nor did he dismiss the assembly, till he had
obtained a solemn promise from the troops, that if the emperor of
the East would subscribe an equitable treaty, they would renounce
any views of conquest, and satisfy themselves with the tranquil
possession of the Gallic provinces. On this foundation he
composed, in his own name, and in that of the army, a specious
and moderate epistle, ^15 which was delivered to Pentadius, his
master of the offices, and to his chamberlain Eutherius; two
ambassadors whom he appointed to receive the answer, and observe
the dispositions of Constantius. This epistle is inscribed with
the modest appellation of Caesar; but Julian solicits in a
peremptory, though respectful, manner, the confirmation of the
title of Augustus. He acknowledges the irregularity of his own
election, while he justifies, in some measure, the resentment and
violence of the troops which had extorted his reluctant consent.
He allows the supremacy of his brother Constantius; and engages
to send him an annual present of Spanish horses, to recruit his
army with a select number of barbarian youths, and to accept from
his choice a Praetorian praefect of approved discretion and
fidelity. But he reserves for himself the nomination of his
other civil and military officers, with the troops, the revenue,
and the sovereignty of the provinces beyond the Alps. He
admonishes the emperor to consult the dictates of justice; to
distrust the arts of those venal flatterers, who subsist only by
the discord of princes; and to embrace the offer of a fair and
honorable treaty, equally advantageous to the republic and to the
house of Constantine. In this negotiation Julian claimed no more
than he already possessed. The delegated authority which he had
long exercised over the provinces of Gaul, Spain, and Britain,
was still obeyed under a name more independent and august. The
soldiers and the people rejoiced in a revolution which was not
stained even with the blood of the guilty. Florentius was a
fugitive; Lupicinus a prisoner. The persons who were disaffected
to the new government were disarmed and secured; and the vacant
offices were distributed, according to the recommendation of
merit, by a prince who despised the intrigues of the palace, and
the clamors of the soldiers. ^16

[Footnote 14: The difficult situation of the prince of a
rebellious army is finely described by Tacitus, (Hist. 1, 80-85.)
But Otho had much more guilt, and much less abilities, than

[Footnote 15: To this ostensible epistle he added, says Ammianus,
private letters, objurgatorias et mordaces, which the historian
had not seen, and would not have published. Perhaps they never

[Footnote 16: See the first transactions of his reign, in Julian.
ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 285, 286. Ammianus, xx. 5, 8. Liban.
Orat. Parent. c. 49, 50, p. 273-275.]

The negotiations of peace were accompanied and supported by
the most vigorous preparations for war. The army, which Julian
held in readiness for immediate action, was recruited and
augmented by the disorders of the times. The cruel persecutions
of the faction of Magnentius had filled Gaul with numerous bands
of outlaws and robbers. They cheerfully accepted the offer of a
general pardon from a prince whom they could trust, submitted to
the restraints of military discipline, and retained only their
implacable hatred to the person and government of Constantius.
^17 As soon as the season of the year permitted Julian to take
the field, he appeared at the head of his legions; threw a bridge
over the Rhine in the neighborhood of Cleves; and prepared to
chastise the perfidy of the Attuarii, a tribe of Franks, who
presumed that they might ravage, with impunity, the frontiers of
a divided empire. The difficulty, as well as glory, of this
enterprise, consisted in a laborious march; and Julian had
conquered, as soon as he could penetrate into a country, which
former princes had considered as inaccessible. After he had
given peace to the Barbarians, the emperor carefully visited the
fortifications along the Qhine from Cleves to Basil; surveyed,
with peculiar attention, the territories which he had recovered
from the hands of the Alemanni, passed through Besancon, ^18
which had severely suffered from their fury, and fixed his
headquarters at Vienna for the ensuing winter. The barrier of
Gaul was improved and strengthened with additional
fortifications; and Julian entertained some hopes that the
Germans, whom he had so often vanquished, might, in his absence,
be restrained by the terror of his name. Vadomair ^19 was the
only prince of the Alemanni whom he esteemed or feared and while
the subtle Barbarian affected to observe the faith of treaties,
the progress of his arms threatened the state with an
unseasonable and dangerous war. The policy of Julian
condescended to surprise the prince of the Alemanni by his own
arts: and Vadomair, who, in the character of a friend, had
incautiously accepted an invitation from the Roman governors, was
seized in the midst of the entertainment, and sent away prisoner
into the heart of Spain. Before the Barbarians were recovered
from their amazement, the emperor appeared in arms on the banks
of the Rhine, and, once more crossing the river, renewed the deep
impressions of terror and respect which had been already made by
four preceding expeditions. ^20

[Footnote 17: Liban. Orat. Parent. c. 50, p. 275, 276. A strange
disorder, since it continued above seven years. In the factions
of the Greek republics, the exiles amounted to 20,000 persons;
and Isocrates assures Philip, that it would be easier to raise an
army from the vagabonds than from the cities. See Hume's Essays,
tom. i. p. 426, 427.]

[Footnote 18: Julian (Epist. xxxviii. p. 414) gives a short
description of Vesontio, or Besancon; a rocky peninsula almost
encircled by the River Doux; once a magnificent city, filled with
temples, &c., now reduced to a small town, emerging, however,
from its ruins.]

[Footnote 19: Vadomair entered into the Roman service, and was
promoted from a barbarian kingdom to the military rank of duke of
Phoenicia. He still retained the same artful character, (Ammian.
xxi. 4;) but under the reign of Valens, he signalized his valor
in the Armenian war, (xxix. 1.)]
[Footnote 20: Ammian. xx. 10, xxi. 3, 4. Zosimus, l. iii. p.

Chapter XXII: Julian Declared Emperor.

Part II.

The ambassadors of Julian had been instructed to execute,
with the utmost diligence, their important commission. But, in
their passage through Italy and Illyricum, they were detained by
the tedious and affected delays of the provincial governors; they
were conducted by slow journeys from Constantinople to Caesarea
in Cappadocia; and when at length they were admitted to the
presence of Constantius, they found that he had already
conceived, from the despatches of his own officers, the most
unfavorable opinion of the conduct of Julian, and of the Gallic
army. The letters were heard with impatience; the trembling
messengers were dismissed with indignation and contempt; and the
looks, gestures, the furious language of the monarch, expressed
the disorder of his soul. The domestic connection, which might
have reconciled the brother and the husband of Helena, was
recently dissolved by the death of that princess, whose pregnancy
had been several times fruitless, and was at last fatal to
herself. ^21 The empress Eusebia had preserved, to the last
moment of her life, the warm, and even jealous, affection which
she had conceived for Julian; and her mild influence might have
moderated the resentment of a prince, who, since her death, was
abandoned to his own passions, and to the arts of his eunuchs.
But the terror of a foreign invasion obliged him to suspend the
punishment of a private enemy: he continued his march towards the
confines of Persia, and thought it sufficient to signify the
conditions which might entitle Julian and his guilty followers to
the clemency of their offended sovereign. He required, that the
presumptuous Caesar should expressly renounce the appellation and
rank of Augustus, which he had accepted from the rebels; that he
should descend to his former station of a limited and dependent
minister; that he should vest the powers of the state and army in
the hands of those officers who were appointed by the Imperial
court; and that he should trust his safety to the assurances of
pardon, which were announced by Epictetus, a Gallic bishop, and
one of the Arian favorites of Constantius. Several months were
ineffectually consumed in a treaty which was negotiated at the
distance of three thousand miles between Paris and Antioch; and,
as soon as Julian perceived that his modest and respectful
behavior served only to irritate the pride of an implacable
adversary, he boldly resolved to commit his life and fortune to
the chance of a civil war. He gave a public and military
audience to the quaestor Leonas: the haughty epistle of
Constantius was read to the attentive multitude; and Julian
protested, with the most flattering deference, that he was ready
to resign the title of Augustus, if he could obtain the consent
of those whom he acknowledged as the authors of his elevation.
The faint proposal was impetuously silenced; and the acclamations
of "Julian Augustus, continue to reign, by the authority of the
army, of the people, of the republic which you have saved,"
thundered at once from every part of the field, and terrified the
pale ambassador of Constantius. A part of the letter was
afterwards read, in which the emperor arraigned the ingratitude
of Julian, whom he had invested with the honors of the purple;
whom he had educated with so much care and tenderness; whom he
had preserved in his infancy, when he was left a helpless orphan.

"An orphan!" interrupted Julian, who justified his cause by
indulging his passions: "does the assassin of my family reproach
me that I was left an orphan? He urges me to revenge those
injuries which I have long studied to forget." The assembly was
dismissed; and Leonas, who, with some difficulty, had been
protected from the popular fury, was sent back to his master with
an epistle, in which Julian expressed, in a strain of the most
vehement eloquence, the sentiments of contempt, of hatred, and of
resentment, which had been suppressed and imbittered by the
dissimulation of twenty years. After this message, which might
be considered as a signal of irreconcilable war, Julian, who,
some weeks before, had celebrated the Christian festival of the
Epiphany, ^22 made a public declaration that he committed the
care of his safety to the Immortal Gods; and thus publicly
renounced the religion as well as the friendship of Constantius.

[Footnote 21: Her remains were sent to Rome, and interred near
those of her sister Constantina, in the suburb of the Via
Nomentana. Ammian. xxi. 1. Libanius has composed a very weak
apology, to justify his hero from a very absurd charge of
poisoning his wife, and rewarding her physician with his mother's
jewels. (See the seventh of seventeen new orations, published at
Venice, 1754, from a MS. in St. Mark's Library, p. 117-127.)
Elpidius, the Praetorian praefect of the East, to whose evidence
the accuser of Julian appeals, is arraigned by Libanius, as
effeminate and ungrateful; yet the religion of Elpidius is
praised by Jerom, (tom. i. p. 243,) and his Ammianus (xxi. 6.)]

[Footnote 22: Feriarum die quem celebrantes mense Januario,
Christiani Epiphania dictitant, progressus in eorum ecclesiam,
solemniter numine orato discessit. Ammian. xxi. 2. Zonaras
observes, that it was on Christmas day, and his assertion is not
inconsistent; since the churches of Egypt, Asia, and perhaps
Gaul, celebrated on the same day (the sixth of January) the
nativity and the baptism of their Savior. The Romans, as
ignorant as their brethren of the real date of his birth, fixed
the solemn festival to the 25th of December, the Brumalia, or
winter solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of
the sun. See Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church, l.
xx. c. 4, and Beausobre, Hist. Critique du Manicheismo tom. ii.
p. 690-700.]
[Footnote 23: The public and secret negotiations between
Constantius and Julian must be extracted, with some caution, from
Julian himself. (Orat. ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 286.) Libanius,
(Orat. Parent. c. 51, p. 276,) Ammianus, (xx. 9,) Zosimus, (l.
iii. p. 154,) and even Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xiii. p. 20, 21,
22,) who, on this occasion, appears to have possessed and used
some valuable materials.]

The situation of Julian required a vigorous and immediate
resolution. He had discovered, from intercepted letters, that his
adversary, sacrificing the interest of the state to that of the
monarch, had again excited the Barbarians to invade the provinces
of the West. The position of two magazines, one of them
collected on the banks of the Lake of Constance, the other formed
at the foot of the Cottian Alps, seemed to indicate the march of
two armies; and the size of those magazines, each of which
consisted of six hundred thousand quarters of wheat, or rather
flour, ^24 was a threatening evidence of the strength and numbers
of the enemy who prepared to surround him. But the Imperial
legions were still in their distant quarters of Asia; the Danube
was feebly guarded; and if Julian could occupy, by a sudden
incursion, the important provinces of Illyricum, he might expect
that a people of soldiers would resort to his standard, and that
the rich mines of gold and silver would contribute to the
expenses of the civil war. He proposed this bold enterprise to
the assembly of the soldiers; inspired them with a just
confidence in their general, and in themselves; and exhorted them
to maintain their reputation of being terrible to the enemy,
moderate to their fellow-citizens, and obedient to their
officers. His spirited discourse was received with the loudest
acclamations, and the same troops which had taken up arms against
Constantius, when he summoned them to leave Gaul, now declared
with alacrity, that they would follow Julian to the farthest
extremities of Europe or Asia. The oath of fidelity was
administered; and the soldiers, clashing their shields, and
pointing their drawn swords to their throats, devoted themselves,
with horrid imprecations, to the service of a leader whom they
celebrated as the deliverer of Gaul and the conqueror of the
Germans. ^25 This solemn engagement, which seemed to be dictated
by affection rather than by duty, was singly opposed by
Nebridius, who had been admitted to the office of Praetorian
praefect. That faithful minister, alone and unassisted, asserted
the rights of Constantius, in the midst of an armed and angry
multitude, to whose fury he had almost fallen an honorable, but
useless sacrifice. After losing one of his hands by the stroke
of a sword, he embraced the knees of the prince whom he had
offended. Julian covered the praefect with his Imperial mantle,
and, protecting him from the zeal of his followers, dismissed him
to his own house, with less respect than was perhaps due to the
virtue of an enemy. ^26 The high office of Nebridius was bestowed
on Sallust; and the provinces of Gaul, which were now delivered
from the intolerable oppression of taxes, enjoyed the mild and
equitable administration of the friend of Julian, who was
permitted to practise those virtues which he had instilled into
the mind of his pupil. ^27
[Footnote 24: Three hundred myriads, or three millions of
medimni, a corn measure familiar to the Athenians, and which
contained six Roman modii. Julian explains, like a soldier and a
statesman, the danger of his situation, and the necessity and
advantages of an offensive war, (ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 286,

[Footnote 25: See his oration, and the behavior of the troops, in
Ammian. xxi. 5.]

[Footnote 26: He sternly refused his hand to the suppliant
praefect, whom he sent into Tuscany. (Ammian. xxi. 5.) Libanius,
with savage fury, insults Nebridius, applauds the soldiers, and
almost censures the humanity of Julian. (Orat. Parent. c. 53, p.

[Footnote 27: Ammian. xxi. 8. In this promotion, Julian obeyed
the law which he publicly imposed on himself. Neque civilis
quisquam judex nec militaris rector, alio quodam praeter merita
suffragante, ad potiorem veniat gradum. (Ammian. xx. 5.) Absence
did not weaken his regard for Sallust, with whose name (A. D.
363) he honored the consulship.]

The hopes of Julian depended much less on the number of his
troops, than on the celerity of his motions. In the execution of
a daring enterprise, he availed himself of every precaution, as
far as prudence could suggest; and where prudence could no longer
accompany his steps, he trusted the event to valor and to
fortune. In the neighborhood of Basil he assembled and divided
his army. ^28 One body, which consisted of ten thousand men, was
directed under the command of Nevitta, general of the cavalry, to
advance through the midland parts of Rhaetia and Noricum. A
similar division of troops, under the orders of Jovius and
Jovinus, prepared to follow the oblique course of the highways,
through the Alps, and the northern confines of Italy. The
instructions to the generals were conceived with energy and
precision: to hasten their march in close and compact columns,
which, according to the disposition of the ground, might readily
be changed into any order of battle; to secure themselves against
the surprises of the night by strong posts and vigilant guards;
to prevent resistance by their unexpected arrival; to elude
examination by their sudden departure; to spread the opinion of
their strength, and the terror of his name; and to join their
sovereign under the walls of Sirmium. For himself Julian had
reserved a more difficult and extraordinary part. He selected
three thousand brave and active volunteers, resolved, like their
leader, to cast behind them every hope of a retreat; at the head
of this faithful band, he fearlessly plunged into the recesses of
the Marcian, or Black Forest, which conceals the sources of the
Danube; ^29 and, for many days, the fate of Julian was unknown to
the world. The secrecy of his march, his diligence, and vigor,
surmounted every obstacle; he forced his way over mountains and
morasses, occupied the bridges or swam the rivers, pursued his
direct course, ^30 without reflecting whether he traversed the
territory of the Romans or of the Barbarians, and at length
emerged, between Ratisbon and Vienna, at the place where he
designed to embark his troops on the Danube. By a well-concerted
stratagem, he seized a fleet of light brigantines, ^31 as it lay
at anchor; secured a apply of coarse provisions sufficient to
satisfy the indelicate, and voracious, appetite of a Gallic army;
and boldly committed himself to the stream of the Danube. The
labors of the mariners, who plied their oars with incessant
diligence, and the steady continuance of a favorable wind,
carried his fleet above seven hundred miles in eleven days; ^32
and he had already disembarked his troops at Bononia, ^* only
nineteen miles from Sirmium, before his enemies could receive any
certain intelligence that he had left the banks of the Rhine. In
the course of this long and rapid navigation, the mind of Julian
was fixed on the object of his enterprise; and though he accepted
the deputations of some cities, which hastened to claim the merit
of an early submission, he passed before the hostile stations,
which were placed along the river, without indulging the
temptation of signalizing a useless and ill-timed valor. The
banks of the Danube were crowded on either side with spectators,
who gazed on the military pomp, anticipated the importance of the
event, and diffused through the adjacent country the fame of a
young hero, who advanced with more than mortal speed at the head
of the innumerable forces of the West. Lucilian, who, with the
rank of general of the cavalry, commanded the military powers of
Illyricum, was alarmed and perplexed by the doubtful reports,
which he could neither reject nor believe. He had taken some
slow and irresolute measures for the purpose of collecting his
troops, when he was surprised by Dagalaiphus, an active officer,
whom Julian, as soon as he landed at Bononia, had pushed forwards
with some light infantry. The captive general, uncertain of his
life or death, was hastily thrown upon a horse, and conducted to
the presence of Julian; who kindly raised him from the ground,
and dispelled the terror and amazement which seemed to stupefy
his faculties. But Lucilian had no sooner recovered his spirits,
than he betrayed his want of discretion, by presuming to admonish
his conqueror that he had rashly ventured, with a handful of men,
to expose his person in the midst of his enemies. "Reserve for
your master Constantius these timid remonstrances," replied
Julian, with a smile of contempt: "when I gave you my purple to
kiss, I received you not as a counsellor, but as a suppliant."
Conscious that success alone could justify his attempt, and that
boldness only could command success, he instantly advanced, at
the head of three thousand soldiers, to attack the strongest and
most populous city of the Illyrian provinces. As he entered the
long suburb of Sirmium, he was received by the joyful
acclamations of the army and people; who, crowned with flowers,
and holding lighted tapers in their hands, conducted their
acknowledged sovereign to his Imperial residence. Two days were
devoted to the public joy, which was celebrated by the games of
the circus; but, early on the morning of the third day, Julian
marched to occupy the narrow pass of Succi, in the defiles of
Mount Haemus; which, almost in the midway between Sirmium and
Constantinople, separates the provinces of Thrace and Dacia, by
an abrupt descent towards the former, and a gentle declivity on
the side of the latter. ^33 The defence of this important post
was intrusted to the brave Nevitta; who, as well as the generals
of the Italian division, successfully executed the plan of the
march and junction which their master had so ably conceived. ^34

[Footnote 28: Ammianus (xxi. 8) ascribes the same practice, and
the same motive, to Alexander the Great and other skilful
[Footnote 29: This wood was a part of the great Hercynian forest,
which, is the time of Caesar, stretched away from the country of
the Rauraci (Basil) into the boundless regions of the north. See
Cluver, Germania Antiqua. l. iii. c. 47.]

[Footnote 30: Compare Libanius, Orat. Parent. c. 53, p. 278, 279,
with Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. iii. p. 68. Even the saint admires
the speed and secrecy of this march. A modern divine might apply
to the progress of Julian the lines which were originally
designed for another apostate: -

- So eagerly the fiend,
O'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,

With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.]

[Footnote 31: In that interval the Notitia places two or three
fleets, the Lauriacensis, (at Lauriacum, or Lorch,) the
Arlapensis, the Maginensis; and mentions five legions, or
cohorts, of Libernarii, who should be a sort of marines. Sect.
lviii. edit. Labb.]

[Footnote 32: Zosimus alone (l. iii. p. 156) has specified this
interesting circumstance. Mamertinus, (in Panegyr. Vet. xi. 6,
7, 8,) who accompanied Julian, as count of the sacred largesses,
describes this voyage in a florid and picturesque manner,
challenges Triptolemus and the Argonauts of Greece, &c.]

[Footnote *: Banostar. Mannert. - M.]

[Footnote 33: The description of Ammianus, which might be
supported by collateral evidence, ascertains the precise
situation of the Angustine Succorum, or passes of Succi. M.
d'Anville, from the trifling resemblance of names, has placed
them between Sardica and Naissus. For my own justification I am
obliged to mention the only error which I have discovered in the
maps or writings of that admirable geographer.]

[Footnote 34: Whatever circumstances we may borrow elsewhere,
Ammianus (xx. 8, 9, 10) still supplies the series of the

The homage which Julian obtained, from the fears or the
inclination of the people, extended far beyond the immediate
effect of his arms. ^35 The praefectures of Italy and Illyricum
were administered by Taurus and Florentius, who united that
important office with the vain honors of the consulship; and as
those magistrates had retired with precipitation to the court of
Asia, Julian, who could not always restrain the levity of his
temper, stigmatized their flight by adding, in all the Acts of
the Year, the epithet of fugitive to the names of the two
consuls. The provinces which had been deserted by their first
magistrates acknowledged the authority of an emperor, who,
conciliating the qualities of a soldier with those of a
philosopher, was equally admired in the camps of the Danube and
in the cities of Greece. From his palace, or, more properly,
from his head-quarters of Sirmium and Naissus, he distributed to
the principal cities of the empire, a labored apology for his own
conduct; published the secret despatches of Constantius; and
solicited the judgment of mankind between two competitors, the
one of whom had expelled, and the other had invited, the
Barbarians. ^36 Julian, whose mind was deeply wounded by the
reproach of ingratitude, aspired to maintain, by argument as well
as by arms, the superior merits of his cause; and to excel, not
only in the arts of war, but in those of composition. His
epistle to the senate and people of Athens ^37 seems to have been
dictated by an elegant enthusiasm; which prompted him to submit
his actions and his motives to the degenerate Athenians of his
own times, with the same humble deference as if he had been
pleading, in the days of Aristides, before the tribunal of the
Areopagus. His application to the senate of Rome, which was
still permitted to bestow the titles of Imperial power, was
agreeable to the forms of the expiring republic. An assembly was
summoned by Tertullus, praefect of the city; the epistle of
Julian was read; and, as he appeared to be master of Italy his
claims were admitted without a dissenting voice. His oblique
censure of the innovations of Constantine, and his passionate
invective against the vices of Constantius, were heard with less
satisfaction; and the senate, as if Julian had been present,
unanimously exclaimed, "Respect, we beseech you, the author of
your own fortune." ^38 An artful expression, which, according to
the chance of war, might be differently explained; as a manly
reproof of the ingratitude of the usurper, or as a flattering
confession, that a single act of such benefit to the state ought
to atone for all the failings of Constantius.
[Footnote 35: Ammian. xxi. 9, 10. Libanius, Orat. Parent. c. 54,
p. 279, 280. Zosimus, l. iii. p. 156, 157.]

[Footnote 36: Julian (ad S. P. Q. Athen. p. 286) positively
asserts, that he intercepted the letters of Constantius to the
Barbarians; and Libanius as positively affirms, that he read them
on his march to the troops and the cities. Yet Ammianus (xxi. 4)
expresses himself with cool and candid hesitation, si famoe
solius admittenda est fides. He specifies, however, an
intercepted letter from Vadomair to Constantius, which supposes
an intimate correspondence between them. "disciplinam non

[Footnote 37: Zosimus mentions his epistles to the Athenians, the
Corinthians, and the Lacedaemonians. The substance was probably
the same, though the address was properly varied. The epistle to
the Athenians is still extant, (p. 268-287,) and has afforded
much valuable information. It deserves the praises of the Abbe
de la Bleterie, (Pref. a l'Histoire de Jovien, p. 24, 25,) and is
one of the best manifestoes to be found in any language.]
[Footnote 38: Auctori tuo reverentiam rogamus. Ammian. xxi. 10.
It is amusing enough to observe the secret conflicts of the
senate between flattery and fear. See Tacit. Hist. i. 85.]

The intelligence of the march and rapid progress of Julian
was speedily transmitted to his rival, who, by the retreat of
Sapor, had obtained some respite from the Persian war.
Disguising the anguish of his soul under the semblance of
contempt, Constantius professed his intention of returning into
Europe, and of giving chase to Julian; for he never spoke of his
military expedition in any other light than that of a hunting
party. ^39 In the camp of Hierapolis, in Syria, he communicated
this design to his army; slightly mentioned the guilt and
rashness of the Caesar; and ventured to assure them, that if the
mutineers of Gaul presumed to meet them in the field, they would
be unable to sustain the fire of their eyes, and the irresistible
weight of their shout of onset. The speech of the emperor was
received with military applause, and Theodotus, the president of
the council of Hierapolis, requested, with tears of adulation,
that his city might be adorned with the head of the vanquished
rebel. ^40 A chosen detachment was despatched away in
post-wagons, to secure, if it were yet possible, the pass of
Succi; the recruits, the horses, the arms, and the magazines,
which had been prepared against Sapor, were appropriated to the
service of the civil war; and the domestic victories of
Constantius inspired his partisans with the most sanguine
assurances of success. The notary Gaudentius had occupied in his
name the provinces of Africa; the subsistence of Rome was
intercepted; and the distress of Julian was increased by an
unexpected event, which might have been productive of fatal
consequences. Julian had received the submission of two legions
and a cohort of archers, who were stationed at Sirmium; but he
suspected, with reason, the fidelity of those troops which had
been distinguished by the emperor; and it was thought expedient,
under the pretence of the exposed state of the Gallic frontier,
to dismiss them from the most important scene of action. They
advanced, with reluctance, as far as the confines of Italy; but
as they dreaded the length of the way, and the savage fierceness
of the Germans, they resolved, by the instigation of one of their
tribunes, to halt at Aquileia, and to erect the banners of
Constantius on the walls of that impregnable city. The vigilance
of Julian perceived at once the extent of the mischief, and the
necessity of applying an immediate remedy. By his order, Jovinus
led back a part of the army into Italy; and the siege of Aquileia
was formed with diligence, and prosecuted with vigor. But the
legionaries, who seemed to have rejected the yoke of discipline,
conducted the defence of the place with skill and perseverance;
vited the rest of Italy to imitate the example of their courage
and loyalty; and threatened the retreat of Julian, if he should
be forced to yield to the superior numbers of the armies of the
East. ^41

[Footnote 39: Tanquam venaticiam praedam caperet: hoc enim ad
Jeniendum suorum metum subinde praedicabat. Ammian. xxii. 7.]

[Footnote 40: See the speech and preparations in Ammianus, xxi.
13. The vile Theodotus afterwards implored and obtained his
pardon from the merciful conqueror, who signified his wish of
diminishing his enemies and increasing the numbers of his
friends, (xxii. 14.)]

[Footnote 41: Ammian. xxi. 7, 11, 12. He seems to describe, with
superfluous labor, the operations of the siege of Aquileia,
which, on this occasion, maintained its impregnable fame.
Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. iii. p. 68) ascribes this accidental
revolt to the wisdom of Constantius, whose assured victory he
announces with some appearance of truth. Constantio quem
credebat procul dubio fore victorem; nemo enim omnium tunc ab hac
constanti sententia discrepebat. Ammian. xxi. 7.]

But the humanity of Julian was preserved from the cruel
alternative which he pathetically laments, of destroying or of
being himself destroyed: and the seasonable death of Constantius
delivered the Roman empire from the calamities of civil war. The
approach of winter could not detain the monarch at Antioch; and
his favorites durst not oppose his impatient desire of revenge.
A slight fever, which was perhaps occasioned by the agitation of
his spirits, was increased by the fatigues of the journey; and
Constantius was obliged to halt at the little town of Mopsucrene,
twelve miles beyond Tarsus, where he expired, after a short
illness, in the forty- fifth year of his age, and the
twenty-fourth of his reign. ^42 His genuine character, which was
composed of pride and weakness, of superstition and cruelty, has
been fully displayed in the preceding narrative of civil and
ecclesiastical events. The long abuse of power rendered him a
considerable object in the eyes of his contemporaries; but as
personal merit can alone deserve the notice of posterity, the
last of the sons of Constantine may be dismissed from the world,
with the remark, that he inherited the defects, without the
abilities, of his father. Before Constantius expired, he is said
to have named Julian for his successor; nor does it seem
improbable, that his anxious concern for the fate of a young and
tender wife, whom he left with child, may have prevailed, in his
last moments, over the harsher passions of hatred and revenge.
Eusebius, and his guilty associates, made a faint attempt to
prolong the reign of the eunuchs, by the election of another
emperor; but their intrigues were rejected with disdain, by an
army which now abhorred the thought of civil discord; and two
officers of rank were instantly despatched, to assure Julian,
that every sword in the empire would be drawn for his service.
The military designs of that prince, who had formed three
different attacks against Thrace, were prevented by this
fortunate event. Without shedding the blood of his
fellow-citizens, he escaped the dangers of a doubtful conflict,
and acquired the advantages of a complete victory. Impatient to
visit the place of his birth, and the new capital of the empire,
he advanced from Naissus through the mountains of Haemus, and the
cities of Thrace. When he reached Heraclea, at the distance of
sixty miles, all Constantinople was poured forth to receive him;
and he made his triumphal entry amidst the dutiful acclamations
of the soldiers, the people, and the senate. At innumerable
multitude pressed around him with eager respect and were perhaps
disappointed when they beheld the small stature and simple garb
of a hero, whose unexperienced youth had vanquished the
Barbarians of Germany, and who had now traversed, in a successful
career, the whole continent of Europe, from the shores of the
Atlantic to those of the Bosphorus. ^43 A few days afterwards,
when the remains of the deceased emperor were landed in the
harbor, the subjects of Julian applauded the real or affected
humanity of their sovereign. On foot, without his diadem, and
clothed in a mourning habit, he accompanied the funeral as far as
the church of the Holy Apostles, where the body was deposited:
and if these marks of respect may be interpreted as a selfish
tribute to the birth and dignity of his Imperial kinsman, the
tears of Julian professed to the world that he had forgot the
injuries, and remembered only the obligations, which he had
received from Constantius. ^44 As soon as the legions of Aquileia
were assured of the death of the emperor, they opened the gates
of the city, and, by the sacrifice of their guilty leaders,
obtained an easy pardon from the prudence or lenity of Julian;
who, in the thirty-second year of his age, acquired the
undisputed possession of the Roman empire. ^45

[Footnote 42: His death and character are faithfully delineated
by Ammianus, (xxi. 14, 15, 16;) and we are authorized to despise
and detest the foolish calumny of Gregory, (Orat. iii. p. 68,)
who accuses Julian of contriving the death of his benefactor.
The private repentance of the emperor, that he had spared and
promoted Julian, (p. 69, and Orat. xxi. p. 389,) is not
improbable in itself, nor incompatible with the public verbal
testament which prudential considerations might dictate in the
last moments of his life.
Note: Wagner thinks this sudden change of sentiment
altogether a fiction of the attendant courtiers and chiefs of the
army. who up to this time had been hostile to Julian. Note in
loco Ammian. - M.]

[Footnote 43: In describing the triumph of Julian, Ammianus
(xxii. l, 2) assumes the lofty tone of an orator or poet; while
Libanius (Orat. Parent, c. 56, p. 281) sinks to the grave
simplicity of an historian.]
[Footnote 44: The funeral of Constantius is described by
Ammianus, (xxi. 16.) Gregory Nazianzen, (Orat. iv. p. 119,)
Mamertinus, in (Panegyr. Vet. xi. 27,) Libanius, (Orat. Parent.
c. lvi. p. 283,) and Philostorgius, (l. vi. c. 6, with Godefroy's
Dissertations, p. 265.) These writers, and their followers,
Pagans, Catholics, Arians, beheld with very different eyes both
the dead and the living emperor.]

[Footnote 45: The day and year of the birth of Julian are not
perfectly ascertained. The day is probably the sixth of
November, and the year must be either 331 or 332. Tillemont,
Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 693. Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p.
50. I have preferred the earlier date.]

Chapter XXII: Julian Declared Emperor.

Part III.

Philosophy had instructed Julian to compare the advantages
of action and retirement; but the elevation of his birth, and the
accidents of his life, never allowed him the freedom of choice.
He might perhaps sincerely have preferred the groves of the
academy, and the society of Athens; but he was constrained, at
first by the will, and afterwards by the injustice, of
Constantius, to expose his person and fame to the dangers of
Imperial greatness; and to make himself accountable to the world,
and to posterity, for the happiness of millions. ^46 Julian
recollected with terror the observation of his master Plato, ^47
that the government of our flocks and herds is always committed
to beings of a superior species; and that the conduct of nations
requires and deserves the celestial powers of the gods or of the
genii. From this principle he justly concluded, that the man who
presumes to reign, should aspire to the perfection of the divine
nature; that he should purify his soul from her mortal and
terrestrial part; that he should extinguish his appetites,
enlighten his understanding, regulate his passions, and subdue
the wild beast, which, according to the lively metaphor of
Aristotle, ^48 seldom fails to ascend the throne of a despot. The
throne of Julian, which the death of Constantius fixed on an
independent basis, was the seat of reason, of virtue, and perhaps
of vanity. He despised the honors, renounced the pleasures, and
discharged with incessant diligence the duties, of his exalted
station; and there were few among his subjects who would have
consented to relieve him from the weight of the diadem, had they
been obliged to submit their time and their actions to the
rigorous laws which that philosophic emperor imposed on himself.
One of his most intimate friends, ^49 who had often shared the
frugal simplicity of his table, has remarked, that his light and
sparing diet (which was usually of the vegetable kind) left his
mind and body always free and active, for the various and
important business of an author, a pontiff, a magistrate, a
general, and a prince. In one and the same day, he gave audience
to several ambassadors, and wrote, or dictated, a great number of
letters to his generals, his civil magistrates, his private
friends, and the different cities of his dominions. He listened
to the memorials which had been received, considered the subject
of the petitions, and signified his intentions more rapidly than
they could be taken in short-hand by the diligence of his
secretaries. He possessed such flexibility of thought, and such
firmness of attention, that he could employ his hand to write,
his ear to listen, and his voice to dictate; and pursue at once
three several trains of ideas without hesitation, and without
error. While his ministers reposed, the prince flew with agility
from one labor to another, and, after a hasty dinner, retired
into his library, till the public business, which he had
appointed for the evening, summoned him to interrupt the
prosecution of his studies. The supper of the emperor was still
less substantial than the former meal; his sleep was never
clouded by the fumes of indigestion; and except in the short
interval of a marriage, which was the effect of policy rather
than love, the chaste Julian never shared his bed with a female
companion. ^50 He was soon awakened by the entrance of fresh
secretaries, who had slept the preceding day; and his servants
were obliged to wait alternately while their indefatigable master
allowed himself scarcely any other refreshment than the change of
occupation. The predecessors of Julian, his uncle, his brother,
and his cousin, indulged their puerile taste for the games of the
Circus, under the specious pretence of complying with the
inclinations of the people; and they frequently remained the
greatest part of the day as idle spectators, and as a part of the
splendid spectacle, till the ordinary round of twenty-four races
^51 was completely finished. On solemn festivals, Julian, who
felt and professed an unfashionable dislike to these frivolous
amusements, condescended to appear in the Circus; and after
bestowing a careless glance at five or six of the races, he
hastily withdrew with the impatience of a philosopher, who
considered every moment as lost that was not devoted to the
advantage of the public or the improvement of his own mind. ^52
By this avarice of time, he seemed to protract the short duration
of his reign; and if the dates were less securely ascertained, we
should refuse to believe, that only sixteen months elapsed
between the death of Constantius and the departure of his
successor for the Persian war. The actions of Julian can only be
preserved by the care of the historian; but the portion of his
voluminous writings, which is still extant, remains as a monument
of the application, as well as of the genius, of the emperor.
The Misopogon, the Caesars, several of his orations, and his
elaborate work against the Christian religion, were composed in
the long nights of the two winters, the former of which he passed
at Constantinople, and the latter at Antioch.

[Footnote 46: Julian himself (p. 253-267) has expressed these
philosophical ideas with much eloquence and some affectation, in
a very elaborate epistle to Themistius. The Abbe de la Bleterie,
(tom. ii. p. 146-193,) who has given an elegant translation, is
inclined to believe that it was the celebrated Themistius, whose
orations are still extant.]

[Footnote 47: Julian. ad Themist. p. 258. Petavius (not. p. 95)
observes that this passage is taken from the fourth book De
Legibus; but either Julian quoted from memory, or his MSS. were
different from ours Xenophon opens the Cyropaedia with a similar

[Footnote 48: Aristot. ap. Julian. p. 261. The MS. of Vossius,
unsatisfied with the single beast, affords the stronger reading
of which the experience of despotism may warrant.]

[Footnote 49: Libanius (Orat. Parentalis, c. lxxxiv. lxxxv. p.
310, 311, 312) has given this interesting detail of the private
life of Julian. He himself (in Misopogon, p. 350) mentions his
vegetable diet, and upbraids the gross and sensual appetite of
the people of Antioch.]

[Footnote 50: Lectulus . . . Vestalium toris purior, is the
praise which Mamertinus (Panegyr. Vet. xi. 13) addresses to
Julian himself. Libanius affirms, in sober peremptory language,
that Julian never knew a woman before his marriage, or after the
death of his wife, (Orat. Parent. c. lxxxviii. p. 313.) The
chastity of Julian is confirmed by the impartial testimony of
Ammianus, (xxv. 4,) and the partial silence of the Christians.
Yet Julian ironically urges the reproach of the people of
Antioch, that he almost always in Misopogon, p. 345) lay alone.
This suspicious expression is explained by the Abbe de la
Bleterie (Hist. de Jovien, tom. ii. p. 103-109) with candor and

[Footnote 51: See Salmasius ad Sueton in Claud. c. xxi. A
twenty-fifth race, or missus, was added, to complete the number
of one hundred chariots, four of which, the four colors, started
each heat.

Centum quadrijugos agitabo ad flumina currus.

It appears, that they ran five or seven times round the Mota
(Sueton in Domitian. c. 4;) and (from the measure of the Circus
Maximus at Rome, the Hippodrome at Constantinople, &c.) it might
be about a four mile course.]
[Footnote 52: Julian. in Misopogon, p. 340. Julius Caesar had
offended the Roman people by reading his despatches during the
actual race. Augustus indulged their taste, or his own, by his
constant attention to the important business of the Circus, for
which he professed the warmest inclination. Sueton. in August. c.

The reformation of the Imperial court was one of the first
and most necessary acts of the government of Julian. ^53 Soon
after his entrance into the palace of Constantinople, he had
occasion for the service of a barber. An officer, magnificently
dressed, immediately presented himself. "It is a barber,"
exclaimed the prince, with affected surprise, "that I want, and
not a receiver-general of the finances." ^54 He questioned the
man concerning the profits of his employment and was informed,
that besides a large salary, and some valuable perquisites, he
enjoyed a daily allowance for twenty servants, and as many
horses. A thousand barbers, a thousand cup-bearers, a thousand
cooks, were distributed in the several offices of luxury; and the
number of eunuchs could be compared only with the insects of a
summer's day. The monarch who resigned to his subjects the
superiority of merit and virtue, was distinguished by the
oppressive magnificence of his dress, his table, his buildings,
and his train. The stately palaces erected by Constantine and
his sons, were decorated with many colored marbles, and ornaments
of massy gold. The most exquisite dainties were procured, to
gratify their pride, rather than their taste; birds of the most
distant climates, fish from the most remote seas, fruits out of
their natural season, winter roses, and summer snows. ^56 The
domestic crowd of the palace surpassed the expense of the
legions; yet the smallest part of this costly multitude was
subservient to the use, or even to the splendor, of the throne.
The monarch was disgraced, and the people was injured, by the
creation and sale of an infinite number of obscure, and even
titular employments; and the most worthless of mankind might
purchase the privilege of being maintained, without the necessity
of labor, from the public revenue. The waste of an enormous
household, the increase of fees and perquisites, which were soon
claimed as a lawful debt, and the bribes which they extorted from
those who feared their enmity, or solicited their favor, suddenly
enriched these haughty menials. They abused their fortune,
without considering their past, or their future, condition; and
their rapine and venality could be equalled only by the
extravagance of their dissipations. Their silken robes were
embroidered with gold, their tables were served with delicacy and
profusion; the houses which they built for their own use, would
have covered the farm of an ancient consul; and the most
honorable citizens were obliged to dismount from their horses,
and respectfully to salute a eunuch whom they met on the public
highway. The luxury of the palace excited the contempt and
indignation of Julian, who usually slept on the ground, who
yielded with reluctance to the indispensable calls of nature; and
who placed his vanity, not in emulating, but in despising, the
pomp of royalty.
[Footnote 53: The reformation of the palace is described by
Ammianus, (xxii. 4,) Libanius, Orat. (Parent. c. lxii. p. 288,
&c.,) Mamertinus, in Panegyr. Vet. xi. 11,) Socrates, (l. iii. c.
l.,) and Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xiii. p. 24.)]

[Footnote 54: Ego non rationalem jussi sed tonsorem acciri.
Zonaras uses the less natural image of a senator. Yet an officer
of the finances, who was satisfied with wealth, might desire and
obtain the honors of the senate.]
[Footnote 56: The expressions of Mamertinus are lively and
forcible. Quis etiam prandiorum et caenarum laboratas
magnitudines Romanus populus sensit; cum quaesitissimae dapes non
gustu sed difficultatibus aestimarentur; miracula avium,
longinqui maris pisces, aheni temporis poma, aestivae nives,
hybernae rosae]

By the total extirpation of a mischief which was magnified
even beyond its real extent, he was impatient to relieve the
distress, and to appease the murmurs of the people; who support
with less uneasiness the weight of taxes, if they are convinced
that the fruits of their industry are appropriated to the service
of the state. But in the execution of this salutary work, Julian
is accused of proceeding with too much haste and inconsiderate
severity. By a single edict, he reduced the palace of
Constantinople to an immense desert, and dismissed with ignominy
the whole train of slaves and dependants, ^57 without providing
any just, or at least benevolent, exceptions, for the age, the
services, or the poverty, of the faithful domestics of the
Imperial family. Such indeed was the temper of Julian, who
seldom recollected the fundamental maxim of Aristotle, that true
virtue is placed at an equal distance between the opposite vices.

The splendid and effeminate dress of the Asiatics, the curls and
paint, the collars and bracelets, which had appeared so
ridiculous in the person of Constantine, were consistently
rejected by his philosophic successor. But with the fopperies,
Julian affected to renounce the decencies of dress; and seemed to
value himself for his neglect of the laws of cleanliness. In a
satirical performance, which was designed for the public eye, the
emperor descants with pleasure, and even with pride, on the
length of his nails, and the inky blackness of his hands;
protests, that although the greatest part of his body was covered
with hair, the use of the razor was confined to his head alone;
and celebrates, with visible complacency, the shaggy and populous
^58 beard, which he fondly cherished, after the example of the
philosophers of Greece. Had Julian consulted the simple dictates
of reason, the first magistrate of the Romans would have scorned
the affectation of Diogenes, as well as that of Darius.
[Footnote 57: Yet Julian himself was accused of bestowing whole
towns on the eunuchs, (Orat. vii. against Polyclet. p. 117-127.)
Libanius contents himself with a cold but positive denial of the
fact, which seems indeed to belong more properly to Constantius.
This charge, however, may allude to some unknown circumstance.]

[Footnote 58: In the Misopogon (p. 338, 339) he draws a very
singular picture of himself, and the following words are
strangely characteristic. The friends of the Abbe de la Bleterie
adjured him, in the name of the French nation, not to translate
this passage, so offensive to their delicacy, (Hist. de Jovien,
tom. ii. p. 94.) Like him, I have contented myself with a
transient allusion; but the little animal which Julian names, is
a beast familiar to man, and signifies love.]

But the work of public reformation would have remained
imperfect, if Julian had only corrected the abuses, without
punishing the crimes, of his predecessor's reign. "We are now
delivered," says he, in a familiar letter to one of his intimate
friends, "we are now surprisingly delivered from the voracious
jaws of the Hydra. ^59 I do not mean to apply the epithet to my
brother Constantius. He is no more; may the earth lie light on
his head! But his artful and cruel favorites studied to deceive
and exasperate a prince, whose natural mildness cannot be praised
without some efforts of adulation. It is not, however, my
intention, that even those men should be oppressed: they are
accused, and they shall enjoy the benefit of a fair and impartial
trial." To conduct this inquiry, Julian named six judges of the
highest rank in the state and army; and as he wished to escape
the reproach of condemning his personal enemies, he fixed this
extraordinary tribunal at Chalcedon, on the Asiatic side of the
Bosphorus; and transferred to the commissioners an absolute power
to pronounce and execute their final sentence, without delay, and
without appeal. The office of president was exercised by the
venerable praefect of the East, a second Sallust, ^60 whose
virtues conciliated the esteem of Greek sophists, and of
Christian bishops. He was assisted by the eloquent Mamertinus,
^61 one of the consuls elect, whose merit is loudly celebrated by
the doubtful evidence of his own applause. But the civil wisdom
of two magistrates was overbalanced by the ferocious violence of
four generals, Nevitta, Agilo, Jovinus, and Arbetio. Arbetio,
whom the public would have seen with less surprise at the bar
than on the bench, was supposed to possess the secret of the
commission; the armed and angry leaders of the Jovian and
Herculian bands encompassed the tribunal; and the judges were
alternately swayed by the laws of justice, and by the clamors of
faction. ^62
[Footnote 59: Julian, epist. xxiii. p. 389. He uses the words in
writing to his friend Hermogenes, who, like himself, was
conversant with the Greek poets.]

[Footnote 60: The two Sallusts, the praefect of Gaul, and the
praefect of the East, must be carefully distinguished, (Hist. des
Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 696.) I have used the surname of Secundus,
as a convenient epithet. The second Sallust extorted the esteem
of the Christians themselves; and Gregory Nazianzen, who
condemned his religion, has celebrated his virtues, (Orat. iii.
p. 90.) See a curious note of the Abbe de la Bleterie, Vie de
Julien, p. 363.
Note: Gibbonus secundum habet pro numero, quod tamen est
viri agnomen Wagner, nota in loc. Amm. It is not a mistake; it
is rather an error in taste. Wagner inclines to transfer the
chief guilt to Arbetio. - M.]
[Footnote 61: Mamertinus praises the emperor (xi. l.) for
bestowing the offices of Treasurer and Praefect on a man of
wisdom, firmness, integrity, &c., like himself. Yet Ammianus
ranks him (xxi. l.) among the ministers of Julian, quorum merita
norat et fidem.]

[Footnote 62: The proceedings of this chamber of justice are
related by Ammianus, (xxii. 3,) and praised by Libanius, (Orat.
Parent. c. 74, p. 299, 300.)]

The chamberlain Eusebius, who had so long abused the favor
of Constantius, expiated, by an ignominious death, the insolence,
the corruption, and cruelty of his servile reign. The executions
of Paul and Apodemius (the former of whom was burnt alive) were
accepted as an inadequate atonement by the widows and orphans of
so many hundred Romans, whom those legal tyrants had betrayed and
murdered. But justice herself (if we may use the pathetic
expression of Ammianus ^63) appeared to weep over the fate of
Ursulus, the treasurer of the empire; and his blood accused the
ingratitude of Julian, whose distress had been seasonably
relieved by the intrepid liberality of that honest minister. The
rage of the soldiers, whom he had provoked by his indiscretion,
was the cause and the excuse of his death; and the emperor,
deeply wounded by his own reproaches and those of the public,
offered some consolation to the family of Ursulus, by the
restitution of his confiscated fortunes. Before the end of the
year in which they had been adorned with the ensigns of the
prefecture and consulship, ^64 Taurus and Florentius were reduced
to implore the clemency of the inexorable tribunal of Chalcedon.
The former was banished to Vercellae in Italy, and a sentence of
death was pronounced against the latter. A wise prince should
have rewarded the crime of Taurus: the faithful minister, when he
was no longer able to oppose the progress of a rebel, had taken
refuge in the court of his benefactor and his lawful sovereign.
But the guilt of Florentius justified the severity of the judges;
and his escape served to display the magnanimity of Julian, who
nobly checked the interested diligence of an informer, and
refused to learn what place concealed the wretched fugitive from
his just resentment. ^65 Some months after the tribunal of
Chalcedon had been dissolved, the praetorian vicegerent of
Africa, the notary Gaudentius, and Artemius ^66 duke of Egypt,
were executed at Antioch. Artemius had reigned the cruel and
corrupt tyrant of a great province; Gaudentius had long practised
the arts of calumny against the innocent, the virtuous, and even
the person of Julian himself. Yet the circumstances of their
trial and condemnation were so unskillfully managed, that these
wicked men obtained, in the public opinion, the glory of
suffering for the obstinate loyalty with which they had supported
the cause of Constantius. The rest of his servants were
protected by a general act of oblivion; and they were left to
enjoy with impunity the bribes which they had accepted, either to
defend the oppressed, or to oppress the friendless. This
measure, which, on the soundest principles of policy, may deserve
our approbation, was executed in a manner which seemed to degrade
the majesty of the throne. Julian was tormented by the
importunities of a multitude, particularly of Egyptians, who
loudly redemanded the gifts which they had imprudently or
illegally bestowed; he foresaw the endless prosecution of
vexatious suits; and he engaged a promise, which ought always to
have been sacred, that if they would repair to Chalcedon, he
would meet them in person, to hear and determine their
complaints. But as soon as they were landed, he issued an
absolute order, which prohibited the watermen from transporting
any Egyptian to Constantinople; and thus detained his
disappointed clients on the Asiatic shore till, their patience
and money being utterly exhausted, they were obliged to return
with indignant murmurs to their native country. ^67
[Footnote 63: Ursuli vero necem ipsa mihi videtur flesse
justitia. Libanius, who imputes his death to the soldiers,
attempts to criminate the court of the largesses.]

[Footnote 64: Such respect was still entertained for the
venerable names of the commonwealth, that the public was
surprised and scandalized to hear Taurus summoned as a criminal
under the consulship of Taurus. The summons of his colleague
Florentius was probably delayed till the commencement of the
ensuing year.]

[Footnote 65: Ammian. xx. 7.]

[Footnote 66: For the guilt and punishment of Artemius, see
Julian (Epist. x. p. 379) and Ammianus, (xxii. 6, and Vales, ad
hoc.) The merit of Artemius, who demolished temples, and was put
to death by an apostate, has tempted the Greek and Latin churches
to honor him as a martyr. But as ecclesiastical history attests
that he was not only a tyrant, but an Arian, it is not altogether
easy to justify this indiscreet promotion. Tillemont, Mem.
Eccles. tom. vii. p. 1319.]

[Footnote 67: See Ammian. xxii. 6, and Vales, ad locum; and the
Codex Theodosianus, l. ii. tit. xxxix. leg. i.; and Godefroy's
Commentary, tom. i. p. 218, ad locum.]

Chapter XXII: Julian Declared Emperor.

Part IV.

The numerous army of spies, of agents, and informers
enlisted by Constantius to secure the repose of one man, and to
interrupt that of millions, was immediately disbanded by his
generous successor. Julian was slow in his suspicions, and
gentle in his punishments; and his contempt of treason was the
result of judgment, of vanity, and of courage. Conscious of
superior merit, he was persuaded that few among his subjects
would dare to meet him in the field, to attempt his life, or even
to seat themselves on his vacant throne. The philosopher could
excuse the hasty sallies of discontent; and the hero could
despise the ambitious projects which surpassed the fortune or the
abilities of the rash conspirators. A citizen of Ancyra had
prepared for his own use a purple garment; and this indiscreet
action, which, under the reign of Constantius, would have been
considered as a capital offence, ^68 was reported to Julian by
the officious importunity of a private enemy. The monarch, after
making some inquiry into the rank and character of his rival,
despatched the informer with a present of a pair of purple
slippers, to complete the magnificence of his Imperial habit. A
more dangerous conspiracy was formed by ten of the domestic
guards, who had resolved to assassinate Julian in the field of
exercise near Antioch. Their intemperance revealed their guilt;
and they were conducted in chains to the presence of their
injured sovereign, who, after a lively representation of the
wickedness and folly of their enterprise, instead of a death of
torture, which they deserved and expected, pronounced a sentence
of exile against the two principal offenders. The only instance
in which Julian seemed to depart from his accustomed clemency,
was the execution of a rash youth, who, with a feeble hand, had
aspired to seize the reins of empire. But that youth was the son
of Marcellus, the general of cavalry, who, in the first campaign
of the Gallic war, had deserted the standard of the Caesar and
the republic. Without appearing to indulge his personal
resentment, Julian might easily confound the crime of the son and
of the father; but he was reconciled by the distress of
Marcellus, and the liberality of the emperor endeavored to heal
the wound which had been inflicted by the hand of justice. ^69

[Footnote 68: The president Montesquieu (Considerations sur la
Grandeur, &c., des Romains, c. xiv. in his works, tom. iii. p.
448, 449,) excuses this minute and absurd tyranny, by supposing
that actions the most indifferent in our eyes might excite, in a
Roman mind, the idea of guilt and danger. This strange apology
is supported by a strange misapprehension of the English laws,
"chez une nation . . . . ou il est defendu da boire a la sante
d'une certaine personne."]

[Footnote 69: The clemency of Julian, and the conspiracy which
was formed against his life at Antioch, are described by Ammianus
(xxii. 9, 10, and Vales, ad loc.) and Libanius, (Orat. Parent. c.
99, p. 323.)]
Julian was not insensible of the advantages of freedom. ^70
From his studies he had imbibed the spirit of ancient sages and
heroes; his life and fortunes had depended on the caprice of a
tyrant; and when he ascended the throne, his pride was sometimes
mortified by the reflection, that the slaves who would not dare
to censure his defects were not worthy to applaud his virtues.
^71 He sincerely abhorred the system of Oriental despotism, which
Diocletian, Constantine, and the patient habits of fourscore
years, had established in the empire. A motive of superstition
prevented the execution of the design, which Julian had
frequently meditated, of relieving his head from the weight of a
costly diadem; ^72 but he absolutely refused the title of
Dominus, or Lord, ^73 a word which was grown so familiar to the
ears of the Romans, that they no longer remembered its servile
and humiliating origin. The office, or rather the name, of
consul, was cherished by a prince who contemplated with reverence
the ruins of the republic; and the same behavior which had been
assumed by the prudence of Augustus was adopted by Julian from
choice and inclination. On the calends of January, at break of
day, the new consuls, Mamertinus and Nevitta, hastened to the
palace to salute the emperor. As soon as he was informed of their
approach, he leaped from his throne, eagerly advanced to meet
them, and compelled the blushing magistrates to receive the
demonstrations of his affected humility. From the palace they
proceeded to the senate. The emperor, on foot, marched before
their litters; and the gazing multitude admired the image of
ancient times, or secretly blamed a conduct, which, in their
eyes, degraded the majesty of the purple. ^74 But the behavior of
Julian was uniformly supported. During the games of the Circus,
he had, imprudently or designedly, performed the manumission of a
slave in the presence of the consul. The moment he was reminded
that he had trespassed on the jurisdiction of another magistrate,
he condemned himself to pay a fine of ten pounds of gold; and
embraced this public occasion of declaring to the world, that he
was subject, like the rest of his fellow-citizens, to the laws,
^75 and even to the forms, of the republic. The spirit of his
administration, and his regard for the place of his nativity,
induced Julian to confer on the senate of Constantinople the same
honors, privileges, and authority, which were still enjoyed by
the senate of ancient Rome. ^76 A legal fiction was introduced,
and gradually established, that one half of the national council
had migrated into the East; and the despotic successors of
Julian, accepting the title of Senators, acknowledged themselves
the members of a respectable body, which was permitted to
represent the majesty of the Roman name. From Constantinople,
the attention of the monarch was extended to the municipal
senates of the provinces. He abolished, by repeated edicts, the
unjust and pernicious exemptions which had withdrawn so many idle
citizens from the services of their country; and by imposing an
equal distribution of public duties, he restored the strength,
the splendor, or, according to the glowing expression of
Libanius, ^77 the soul of the expiring cities of his empire. The
venerable age of Greece excited the most tender compassion in the
mind of Julian, which kindled into rapture when he recollected
the gods, the heroes, and the men superior to heroes and to gods,
who have bequeathed to the latest posterity the monuments of
their genius, or the example of their virtues. He relieved the
distress, and restored the beauty, of the cities of Epirus and
Peloponnesus. ^78 Athens acknowledged him for her benefactor;
Argos, for her deliverer. The pride of Corinth, again rising
from her ruins with the honors of a Roman colony, exacted a
tribute from the adjacent republics, for the purpose of defraying
the games of the Isthmus, which were celebrated in the
amphitheatre with the hunting of bears and panthers. From this
tribute the cities of Elis, of Delphi, and of Argos, which had
inherited from their remote ancestors the sacred office of
perpetuating the Olympic, the Pythian, and the Nemean games,
claimed a just exemption. The immunity of Elis and Delphi was
respected by the Corinthians; but the poverty of Argos tempted
the insolence of oppression; and the feeble complaints of its
deputies were silenced by the decree of a provincial magistrate,
who seems to have consulted only the interest of the capital in
which he resided. Seven years after this sentence, Julian ^79
allowed the cause to be referred to a superior tribunal; and his
eloquence was interposed, most probably with success, in the
defence of a city, which had been the royal seat of Agamemnon,
^80 and had given to Macedonia a race of kings and conquerors.

[Footnote 70: According to some, says Aristotle, (as he is quoted
by Julian ad Themist. p. 261,) the form of absolute government is
contrary to nature. Both the prince and the philosopher choose,
how ever to involve this eternal truth in artful and labored

[Footnote 71: That sentiment is expressed almost in the words of
Julian himself. Ammian. xxii. 10.]

[Footnote 72: Libanius, (Orat. Parent. c. 95, p. 320,) who
mentions the wish and design of Julian, insinuates, in mysterious
language that the emperor was restrained by some particular

[Footnote 73: Julian in Misopogon, p. 343. As he never
abolished, by any public law, the proud appellations of Despot,
or Dominus, they are still extant on his medals, (Ducange, Fam.
Byzantin. p. 38, 39;) and the private displeasure which he
affected to express, only gave a different tone to the servility
of the court. The Abbe de la Bleterie (Hist. de Jovien, tom. ii.
p. 99-102) has curiously traced the origin and progress of the
word Dominus under the Imperial government.]

[Footnote 74: Ammian. xxii. 7. The consul Mamertinus (in
Panegyr. Vet. xi. 28, 29, 30) celebrates the auspicious day, like
an elegant slave, astonished and intoxicated by the condescension
of his master.]

[Footnote 75: Personal satire was condemned by the laws of the
twelve tables:
Si male condiderit in quem quis carmina, jus est
Judiciumque -

Horat. Sat. ii. 1. 82.

Julian (in Misopogon, p. 337) owns himself subject to the law;
and the Abbe de la Bleterie (Hist. de Jovien, tom. ii. p. 92) has
eagerly embraced a declaration so agreeable to his own system,
and, indeed, to the true spirit of the Imperial constitution.]

[Footnote 76: Zosimus, l. iii. p. 158.]

[Footnote 77: See Libanius, (Orat. Parent. c. 71, p. 296,)
Ammianus, (xxii. 9,) and the Theodosian Code (l. xii. tit. i.
leg. 50-55.) with Godefroy's Commentary, (tom. iv. p. 390-402.)
Yet the whole subject of the Curia, notwithstanding very ample
materials, still remains the most obscure in the legal history of
the empire.]

[Footnote 78: Quae paulo ante arida et siti anhelantia
visebantur, ea nunc perlui, mundari, madere; Fora, Deambulacra,
Gymnasia, laetis et gaudentibus populis frequentari; dies festos,
et celebrari veteres, et novos in honorem principis consecrari,
(Mamertin. xi. 9.) He particularly restored the city of Nicopolis
and the Actiac games, which had been instituted by Augustus.]
[Footnote 79: Julian. Epist. xxxv. p. 407-411. This epistle,
which illustrates the declining age of Greece, is omitted by the
Abbe de la Bleterie, and strangely disfigured by the Latin
translator, who, by rendering tributum, and populus, directly
contradicts the sense of the original.]
[Footnote 80: He reigned in Mycenae at the distance of fifty
stadia, or six miles from Argos: but these cities, which
alternately flourished, are confounded by the Greek poets.
Strabo, l. viii. p. 579, edit. Amstel. 1707.]
[Footnote 81: Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 421. This pedigree from
Temenus and Hercules may be suspicious; yet it was allowed, after
a strict inquiry, by the judges of the Olympic games, (Herodot.
l. v. c. 22,) at a time when the Macedonian kings were obscure
and unpopular in Greece. When the Achaean league declared
against Philip, it was thought decent that the deputies of Argos
should retire, (T. Liv. xxxii. 22.)]

The laborious administration of military and civil affairs,
which were multiplied in proportion to the extent of the empire,
exercised the abilities of Julian; but he frequently assumed the
two characters of Orator ^82 and of Judge, ^83 which are almost
unknown to the modern sovereigns of Europe. The arts of
persuasion, so diligently cultivated by the first Caesars, were
neglected by the military ignorance and Asiatic pride of their
successors; and if they condescended to harangue the soldiers,
whom they feared, they treated with silent disdain the senators,
whom they despised. The assemblies of the senate, which
Constantius had avoided, were considered by Julian as the place
where he could exhibit, with the most propriety, the maxims of a
republican, and the talents of a rhetorician. He alternately
practised, as in a school of declamation, the several modes of
praise, of censure, of exhortation; and his friend Libanius has
remarked, that the study of Homer taught him to imitate the
simple, concise style of Menelaus, the copiousness of Nestor,
whose words descended like the flakes of a winter's snow, or the
pathetic and forcible eloquence of Ulysses. The functions of a
judge, which are sometimes incompatible with those of a prince,
were exercised by Julian, not only as a duty, but as an
amusement; and although he might have trusted the integrity and
discernment of his Praetorian praefects, he often placed himself
by their side on the seat of judgment. The acute penetration of
his mind was agreeably occupied in detecting and defeating the
chicanery of the advocates, who labored to disguise the truths of
facts, and to pervert the sense of the laws. He sometimes forgot
the gravity of his station, asked indiscreet or unseasonable
questions, and betrayed, by the loudness of his voice, and the
agitation of his body, the earnest vehemence with which he
maintained his opinion against the judges, the advocates, and
their clients. But his knowledge of his own temper prompted him
to encourage, and even to solicit, the reproof of his friends and
ministers; and whenever they ventured to oppose the irregular
sallies of his passions, the spectators could observe the shame,
as well as the gratitude, of their monarch. The decrees of
Julian were almost always founded on the principles of justice;
and he had the firmness to resist the two most dangerous
temptations, which assault the tribunal of a sovereign, under the
specious forms of compassion and equity. He decided the merits
of the cause without weighing the circumstances of the parties;
and the poor, whom he wished to relieve, were condemned to
satisfy the just demands of a wealthy and noble adversary. He
carefully distinguished the judge from the legislator; ^84 and
though he meditated a necessary reformation of the Roman
jurisprudence, he pronounced sentence according to the strict and
literal interpretation of those laws, which the magistrates were
bound to execute, and the subjects to obey.

[Footnote 82: His eloquence is celebrated by Libanius, (Orat.
Parent. c. 75, 76, p. 300, 301,) who distinctly mentions the
orators of Homer. Socrates (l. iii. c. 1) has rashly asserted
that Julian was the only prince, since Julius Caesar, who
harangued the senate. All the predecessors of Nero, (Tacit.
Annal. xiii. 3,) and many of his successors, possessed the
faculty of speaking in public; and it might be proved by various
examples, that they frequently exercised it in the senate.]

[Footnote 83: Ammianus (xxi. 10) has impartially stated the
merits and defects of his judicial proceedings. Libanius (Orat.
Parent. c. 90, 91, p. 315, &c.) has seen only the fair side, and
his picture, if it flatters the person, expresses at least the
duties, of the judge. Gregory Nazianzen, (Orat. iv. p. 120,) who
suppresses the virtues, and exaggerates even the venial faults of
the Apostate, triumphantly asks, whether such a judge was fit to
be seated between Minos and Rhadamanthus, in the Elysian Fields.]

[Footnote 84: Of the laws which Julian enacted in a reign of
sixteen months, fifty-four have been admitted into the codes of
Theodosius and Justinian. (Gothofred. Chron. Legum, p. 64-67.)
The Abbe de la Bleterie (tom. ii. p. 329-336) has chosen one of
these laws to give an idea of Julian's Latin style, which is
forcible and elaborate, but less pure than his Greek.]
The generality of princes, if they were stripped of their
purple, and cast naked into the world, would immediately sink to
the lowest rank of society, without a hope of emerging from their
obscurity. But the personal merit of Julian was, in some
measure, independent of his fortune. Whatever had been his
choice of life, by the force of intrepid courage, lively wit, and
intense application, he would have obtained, or at least he would
have deserved, the highest honors of his profession; and Julian
might have raised himself to the rank of minister, or general, of
the state in which he was born a private citizen. If the jealous
caprice of power had disappointed his expectations, if he had
prudently declined the paths of greatness, the employment of the
same talents in studious solitude would have placed beyond the
reach of kings his present happiness and his immortal fame. When
we inspect, with minute, or perhaps malevolent attention, the
portrait of Julian, something seems wanting to the grace and
perfection of the whole figure. His genius was less powerful and
sublime than that of Caesar; nor did he possess the consummate
prudence of Augustus. The virtues of Trajan appear more steady
and natural, and the philosophy of Marcus is more simple and
consistent. Yet Julian sustained adversity with firmness, and
prosperity with moderation. After an interval of one hundred and
twenty years from the death of Alexander Severus, the Romans
beheld an emperor who made no distinction between his duties and
his pleasures; who labored to relieve the distress, and to revive
the spirit, of his subjects; and who endeavored always to connect
authority with merit, and happiness with virtue. Even faction,
and religious faction, was constrained to acknowledge the
superiority of his genius, in peace as well as in war, and to
confess, with a sigh, that the apostate Julian was a lover of his
country, and that he deserved the empire of the world. ^85
[Footnote 85: . . . Ductor fortissimus armis;

Conditor et legum celeberrimus; ore manuque
Consultor patriae; sed non consultor habendae
Religionis; amans tercentum millia Divum.
Pertidus ille Deo, sed non et perfidus orbi.

Prudent. Apotheosis, 450, &c.

The consciousness of a generous sentiment seems to have raised
the Christian post above his usual mediocrity.]

Chapter XXIII: Reign Of Julian.

Part I.

The Religion Of Julian. - Universal Toleration. - He
Attempts To Restore And Reform The Pagan Worship - To Rebuild The
Temple Of Jerusalem - His Artful Persecution Of The Christians. -
Mutual Zeal And Injustice.
The character of Apostate has injured the reputation of
Julian; and the enthusiasm which clouded his virtues has
exaggerated the real and apparent magnitude of his faults. Our
partial ignorance may represent him as a philosophic monarch, who
studied to protect, with an equal hand, the religious factions of
the empire; and to allay the theological fever which had inflamed
the minds of the people, from the edicts of Diocletian to the
exile of Athanasius. A more accurate view of the character and
conduct of Julian will remove this favorable prepossession for a
prince who did not escape the general contagion of the times. We
enjoy the singular advantage of comparing the pictures which have
been delineated by his fondest admirers and his implacable
enemies. The actions of Julian are faithfully related by a
judicious and candid historian, the impartial spectator of his
life and death. The unanimous evidence of his contemporaries is
confirmed by the public and private declarations of the emperor
himself; and his various writings express the uniform tenor of
his religious sentiments, which policy would have prompted him to
dissemble rather than to affect. A devout and sincere attachment
for the gods of Athens and Rome constituted the ruling passion of
Julian; ^1 the powers of an enlightened understanding were
betrayed and corrupted by the influence of superstitious
prejudice; and the phantoms which existed only in the mind of the
emperor had a real and pernicious effect on the government of the
empire. The vehement zeal of the Christians, who despised the
worship, and overturned the altars of those fabulous deities,
engaged their votary in a state of irreconcilable hostility with
a very numerous party of his subjects; and he was sometimes
tempted by the desire of victory, or the shame of a repulse, to
violate the laws of prudence, and even of justice. The triumph
of the party, which he deserted and opposed, has fixed a stain of
infamy on the name of Julian; and the unsuccessful apostate has
been overwhelmed with a torrent of pious invectives, of which the
signal was given by the sonorous trumpet ^2 of Gregory Nazianzen.
^3 The interesting nature of the events which were crowded into
the short reign of this active emperor, deserve a just and
circumstantial narrative. His motives, his counsels, and his
actions, as far as they are connected with the history of
religion, will be the subject of the present chapter.

[Footnote 1: I shall transcribe some of his own expressions from
a short religious discourse which the Imperial pontiff composed
to censure the bold impiety of a Cynic. Orat. vii. p. 212. The
variety and copiousness of the Greek tongue seem inadequate to
the fervor of his devotion.]
[Footnote 2: The orator, with some eloquence, much enthusiasm,
and more vanity, addresses his discourse to heaven and earth, to
men and angels, to the living and the dead; and above all, to the
great Constantius, an odd Pagan expression.) He concludes with a
bold assurance, that he has erected a monument not less durable,
and much more portable, than the columns of Hercules. See Greg.
Nazianzen, Orat. iii. p. 50, iv. p. 134.]
[Footnote 3: See this long invective, which has been
injudiciously divided into two orations in Gregory's works, tom.
i. p. 49-134, Paris, 1630. It was published by Gregory and his
friend Basil, (iv. p. 133,) about six months after the death of
Julian, when his remains had been carried to Tarsus, (iv. p.
120;) but while Jovian was still on the throne, (iii. p. 54, iv.
p. 117) I have derived much assistance from a French version and
remarks, printed at Lyons, 1735.]

The cause of his strange and fatal apostasy may be derived
from the early period of his life, when he was left an orphan in
the hands of the murderers of his family. The names of Christ
and of Constantius, the ideas of slavery and of religion, were
soon associated in a youthful imagination, which was susceptible
of the most lively impressions. The care of his infancy was
intrusted to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, ^4 who was related to
him on the side of his mother; and till Julian reached the
twentieth year of his age, he received from his Christian
preceptors the education, not of a hero, but of a saint. The
emperor, less jealous of a heavenly than of an earthly crown,
contented himself with the imperfect character of a catechumen,
while he bestowed the advantages of baptism ^5 on the nephews of
Constantine. ^6 They were even admitted to the inferior offices
of the ecclesiastical order; and Julian publicly read the Holy
Scriptures in the church of Nicomedia. The study of religion,
which they assiduously cultivated, appeared to produce the
fairest fruits of faith and devotion. ^7 They prayed, they
fasted, they distributed alms to the poor, gifts to the clergy,
and oblations to the tombs of the martyrs; and the splendid
monument of St. Mamas, at Caesarea, was erected, or at least was
undertaken, by the joint labor of Gallus and Julian. ^8 They
respectfully conversed with the bishops, who were eminent for
superior sanctity, and solicited the benediction of the monks and
hermits, who had introduced into Cappadocia the voluntary
hardships of the ascetic life. ^9 As the two princes advanced
towards the years of manhood, they discovered, in their religious
sentiments, the difference of their characters. The dull and
obstinate understanding of Gallus embraced, with implicit zeal,
the doctrines of Christianity; which never influenced his
conduct, or moderated his passions. The mild disposition of the
younger brother was less repugnant to the precepts of the gospel;
and his active curiosity might have been gratified by a
theological system, which explains the mysterious essence of the
Deity, and opens the boundless prospect of invisible and future
worlds. But the independent spirit of Julian refused to yield
the passive and unresisting obedience which was required, in the
name of religion, by the haughty ministers of the church. Their
speculative opinions were imposed as positive laws, and guarded
by the terrors of eternal punishments; but while they prescribed
the rigid formulary of the thoughts, the words, and the actions
of the young prince; whilst they silenced his objections, and
severely checked the freedom of his inquiries, they secretly
provoked his impatient genius to disclaim the authority of his
ecclesiastical guides. He was educated in the Lesser Asia,
amidst the scandals of the Arian controversy. ^10 The fierce
contests of the Eastern bishops, the incessant alterations of
their creeds, and the profane motives which appeared to actuate
their conduct, insensibly strengthened the prejudice of Julian,
that they neither understood nor believed the religion for which
they so fiercely contended. Instead of listening to the proofs
of Christianity with that favorable attention which adds weight
to the most respectable evidence, he heard with suspicion, and
disputed with obstinacy and acuteness, the doctrines for which he
already entertained an invincible aversion. Whenever the young
princes were directed to compose declamations on the subject of
the prevailing controversies, Julian always declared himself the
advocate of Paganism; under the specious excuse that, in the
defence of the weaker cause, his learning and ingenuity might be
more advantageously exercised and displayed.

[Footnote 4: Nicomediae ab Eusebio educatus Episcopo, quem genere
longius contingebat, (Ammian. xxii. 9.) Julian never expresses
any gratitude towards that Arian prelate; but he celebrates his
preceptor, the eunuch Mardonius, and describes his mode of
education, which inspired his pupil with a passionate admiration
for the genius, and perhaps the religion of Homer. Misopogon, p.
351, 352.]

[Footnote 5: Greg. Naz. iii. p. 70. He labored to effect that
holy mark in the blood, perhaps of a Taurobolium. Baron. Annal.
Eccles. A. D. 361, No. 3, 4.]

[Footnote 6: Julian himself (Epist. li. p. 454) assures the
Alexandrians that he had been a Christian (he must mean a sincere
one) till the twentieth year of his age.]

[Footnote 7: See his Christian, and even ecclesiastical
education, in Gregory, (iii. p. 58,) Socrates, (l. iii. c. 1,)
and Sozomen, (l. v. c. 2.) He escaped very narrowly from being a
bishop, and perhaps a saint.]

[Footnote 8: The share of the work which had been allotted to
Gallus, was prosecuted with vigor and success; but the earth
obstinately rejected and subverted the structures which were
imposed by the sacrilegious hand of Julian. Greg. iii. p. 59,
60, 61. Such a partial earthquake, attested by many living
spectators, would form one of the clearest miracles in
ecclesiastical story.]

[Footnote 9: The philosopher (Fragment, p. 288,) ridicules the
iron chains, &c, of these solitary fanatics, (see Tillemont, Mem.
Eccles. tom. ix. p. 661, 632,) who had forgot that man is by
nature a gentle and social animal. The Pagan supposes, that
because they had renounced the gods, they were possessed and
tormented by evil daemons.]

[Footnote 10: See Julian apud Cyril, l. vi. p. 206, l. viii. p.
253, 262. "You persecute," says he, "those heretics who do not
mourn the dead man precisely in the way which you approve." He
shows himself a tolerable theologian; but he maintains that the
Christian Trinity is not derived from the doctrine of Paul, of
Jesus, or of Moses.]

As soon as Gallus was invested with the honors of the
purple, Julian was permitted to breathe the air of freedom, of
literature, and of Paganism. ^11 The crowd of sophists, who were
attracted by the taste and liberality of their royal pupil, had
formed a strict alliance between the learning and the religion of
Greece; and the poems of Homer, instead of being admired as the
original productions of human genius, were seriously ascribed to
the heavenly inspiration of Apollo and the muses. The deities of
Olympus, as they are painted by the immortal bard, imprint
themselves on the minds which are the least addicted to
superstitious credulity. Our familiar knowledge of their names
and characters, their forms and attributes, seems to bestow on
those airy beings a real and substantial existence; and the
pleasing enchantment produces an imperfect and momentary assent
of the imagination to those fables, which are the most repugnant
to our reason and experience. In the age of Julian, every
circumstance contributed to prolong and fortify the illusion; the
magnificent temples of Greece and Asia; the works of those
artists who had expressed, in painting or in sculpture, the
divine conceptions of the poet; the pomp of festivals and
sacrifices; the successful arts of divination; the popular
traditions of oracles and prodigies; and the ancient practice of
two thousand years. The weakness of polytheism was, in some
measure, excused by the moderation of its claims; and the
devotion of the Pagans was not incompatible with the most
licentious scepticism. ^12 Instead of an indivisible and regular
system, which occupies the whole extent of the believing mind,
the mythology of the Greeks was composed of a thousand loose and
flexible parts, and the servant of the gods was at liberty to
define the degree and measure of his religious faith. The creed
which Julian adopted for his own use was of the largest
dimensions; and, by strange contradiction, he disdained the
salutary yoke of the gospel, whilst he made a voluntary offering
of his reason on the altars of Jupiter and Apollo. One of the
orations of Julian is consecrated to the honor of Cybele, the
mother of the gods, who required from her effeminate priests the
bloody sacrifice, so rashly performed by the madness of the
Phrygian boy. The pious emperor condescends to relate, without a
blush, and without a smile, the voyage of the goddess from the
shores of Pergamus to the mouth of the Tyber, and the stupendous
miracle, which convinced the senate and people of Rome that the
lump of clay, which their ambassadors had transported over the
seas, was endowed with life, and sentiment, and divine power. ^13
For the truth of this prodigy he appeals to the public monuments
of the city; and censures, with some acrimony, the sickly and
affected taste of those men, who impertinently derided the sacred
traditions of their ancestors. ^14

[Footnote 11: Libanius, Orat. Parentalis, c. 9, 10, p. 232, &c.
Greg. Nazianzen. Orat. iii. p 61. Eunap. Vit. Sophist. in
Maximo, p. 68, 69, 70, edit Commelin.]

[Footnote 12: A modern philosopher has ingeniously compared the
different operation of theism and polytheism, with regard to the
doubt or conviction which they produce in the human mind. See
Hume's Essays vol. ii. p. 444- 457, in 8vo. edit. 1777.]

[Footnote 13: The Idaean mother landed in Italy about the end of
the second Punic war. The miracle of Claudia, either virgin or
matron, who cleared her fame by disgracing the graver modesty of
the Roman Indies, is attested by a cloud of witnesses. Their
evidence is collected by Drakenborch, (ad Silium Italicum, xvii.
33;) but we may observe that Livy (xxix. 14) slides over the
transaction with discreet ambiguity.]

[Footnote 14: I cannot refrain from transcribing the emphatical
words of Julian: Orat. v. p. 161. Julian likewise declares his
firm belief in the ancilia, the holy shields, which dropped from
heaven on the Quirinal hill; and pities the strange blindness of
the Christians, who preferred the cross to these celestial
trophies. Apud Cyril. l. vi. p. 194.]

But the devout philosopher, who sincerely embraced, and
warmly encouraged, the superstition of the people, reserved for
himself the privilege of a liberal interpretation; and silently
withdrew from the foot of the altars into the sanctuary of the
temple. The extravagance of the Grecian mythology proclaimed,
with a clear and audible voice, that the pious inquirer, instead
of being scandalized or satisfied with the literal sense, should
diligently explore the occult wisdom, which had been disguised,
by the prudence of antiquity, under the mask of folly and of
fable. ^15 The philosophers of the Platonic school, ^16 Plotinus,
Porphyry, and the divine Iamblichus, were admired as the most
skilful masters of this allegorical science, which labored to
soften and harmonize the deformed features of Paganism. Julian
himself, who was directed in the mysterious pursuit by Aedesius,
the venerable successor of Iamblichus, aspired to the possession
of a treasure, which he esteemed, if we may credit his solemn
asseverations, far above the empire of the world. ^17 It was
indeed a treasure, which derived its value only from opinion; and
every artist who flattered himself that he had extracted the
precious ore from the surrounding dross, claimed an equal right
of stamping the name and figure the most agreeable to his
peculiar fancy. The fable of Atys and Cybele had been already
explained by Porphyry; but his labors served only to animate the
pious industry of Julian, who invented and published his own
allegory of that ancient and mystic tale. This freedom of
interpretation, which might gratify the pride of the Platonists,
exposed the vanity of their art. Without a tedious detail, the
modern reader could not form a just idea of the strange
allusions, the forced etymologies, the solemn trifling, and the
impenetrable obscurity of these sages, who professed to reveal
the system of the universe. As the traditions of Pagan mythology
were variously related, the sacred interpreters were at liberty
to select the most convenient circumstances; and as they
translated an arbitrary cipher, they could extract from any fable
any sense which was adapted to their favorite system of religion
and philosophy. The lascivious form of a naked Venus was
tortured into the discovery of some moral precept, or some
physical truth; and the castration of Atys explained the
revolution of the sun between the tropics, or the separation of
the human soul from vice and error. ^18

[Footnote 15: See the principles of allegory, in Julian, (Orat.
vii. p. 216, 222.) His reasoning is less absurd than that of some
modern theologians, who assert that an extravagant or
contradictory doctrine must be divine; since no man alive could
have thought of inventing it.]

[Footnote 16: Eunapius has made these sophists the subject of a
partial and fanatical history; and the learned Brucker (Hist.
Philosoph. tom. ii. p. 217-303) has employed much labor to
illustrate their obscure lives and incomprehensible doctrines.]

[Footnote 17: Julian, Orat. vii p 222. He swears with the most
fervent and enthusiastic devotion; and trembles, lest he should
betray too much of these holy mysteries, which the profane might
deride with an impious Sardonic laugh.]

[Footnote 18: See the fifth oration of Julian. But all the
allegories which ever issued from the Platonic school are not
worth the short poem of Catullus on the same extraordinary
subject. The transition of Atys, from the wildest enthusiasm to
sober, pathetic complaint, for his irretrievable loss, must
inspire a man with pity, a eunuch with despair.]

The theological system of Julian appears to have contained
the sublime and important principles of natural religion. But as
the faith, which is not founded on revelation, must remain
destitute of any firm assurance, the disciple of Plato
imprudently relapsed into the habits of vulgar superstition; and
the popular and philosophic notion of the Deity seems to have
been confounded in the practice, the writings, and even in the
mind of Julian. ^19 The pious emperor acknowledged and adored the
Eternal Cause of the universe, to whom he ascribed all the
perfections of an infinite nature, invisible to the eyes and
inaccessible to the understanding, of feeble mortals. The
Supreme God had created, or rather, in the Platonic language, had
generated, the gradual succession of dependent spirits, of gods,
of daemons, of heroes, and of men; and every being which derived
its existence immediately from the First Cause, received the
inherent gift of immortality. That so precious an advantage
might be lavished upon unworthy objects, the Creator had
intrusted to the skill and power of the inferior gods the office
of forming the human body, and of arranging the beautiful harmony
of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms. To the
conduct of these divine ministers he delegated the temporal
government of this lower world; but their imperfect
administration is not exempt from discord or error. The earth
and its inhabitants are divided among them, and the characters of
Mars or Minerva, of Mercury or Venus, may be distinctly traced in
the laws and manners of their peculiar votaries. As long as our
immortal souls are confined in a mortal prison, it is our
interest, as well as our duty, to solicit the favor, and to
deprecate the wrath, of the powers of heaven; whose pride is
gratified by the devotion of mankind; and whose grosser parts may
be supposed to derive some nourishment from the fumes of
sacrifice. ^20 The inferior gods might sometimes condescend to
animate the statues, and to inhabit the temples, which were
dedicated to their honor. They might occasionally visit the
earth, but the heavens were the proper throne and symbol of their
glory. The invariable order of the sun, moon, and stars, was
hastily admitted by Julian, as a proof of their eternal duration;
and their eternity was a sufficient evidence that they were the
workmanship, not of an inferior deity, but of the Omnipotent
King. In the system of Platonists, the visible was a type of the
invisible world. The celestial bodies, as they were informed by
a divine spirit, might be considered as the objects the most
worthy of religious worship. The Sun, whose genial influence
pervades and sustains the universe, justly claimed the adoration
of mankind, as the bright representative of the Logos, the
lively, the rational, the beneficent image of the intellectual
Father. ^21
[Footnote 19: The true religion of Julian may be deduced from the
Caesars, p. 308, with Spanheim's notes and illustrations, from
the fragments in Cyril, l. ii. p. 57, 58, and especially from the
theological oration in Solem Regem, p. 130-158, addressed in the
confidence of friendship, to the praefect Sallust.]
[Footnote 20: Julian adopts this gross conception by ascribing to
his favorite Marcus Antoninus, (Caesares, p. 333.) The Stoics and
Platonists hesitated between the analogy of bodies and the purity
of spirits; yet the gravest philosophers inclined to the
whimsical fancy of Aristophanes and Lucian, that an unbelieving
age might starve the immortal gods. See Observations de
Spanheim, p. 284, 444, &c.]

[Footnote 21: Julian. Epist. li. In another place, (apud Cyril.
l. ii. p. 69,) he calls the Sun God, and the throne of God.
Julian believed the Platonician Trinity; and only blames the
Christians for preferring a mortal to an immortal Logos.]

In every age, the absence of genuine inspiration is supplied
by the strong illusions of enthusiasm, and the mimic arts of
imposture. If, in the time of Julian, these arts had been
practised only by the pagan priests, for the support of an
expiring cause, some indulgence might perhaps be allowed to the
interest and habits of the sacerdotal character. But it may
appear a subject of surprise and scandal, that the philosophers
themselves should have contributed to abuse the superstitious
credulity of mankind, ^22 and that the Grecian mysteries should
have been supported by the magic or theurgy of the modern
Platonists. They arrogantly pretended to control the order of
nature, to explore the secrets of futurity, to command the
service of the inferior daemons, to enjoy the view and
conversation of the superior gods, and by disengaging the soul
from her material bands, to reunite that immortal particle with
the Infinite and Divine Spirit.

[Footnote 22: The sophists of Eunapias perform as many miracles
as the saints of the desert; and the only circumstance in their
favor is, that they are of a less gloomy complexion. Instead of
devils with horns and tails, Iamblichus evoked the genii of love,
Eros and Anteros, from two adjacent fountains. Two beautiful
boys issued from the water, fondly embraced him as their father,
and retired at his command, p. 26, 27.]

The devout and fearless curiosity of Julian tempted the
philosophers with the hopes of an easy conquest; which, from the
situation of their young proselyte, might be productive of the
most important consequences. ^23 Julian imbibed the first
rudiments of the Platonic doctrines from the mouth of Aedesius,
who had fixed at Pergamus his wandering and persecuted school.
But as the declining strength of that venerable sage was unequal
to the ardor, the diligence, the rapid conception of his pupil,
two of his most learned disciples, Chrysanthes and Eusebius,
supplied, at his own desire, the place of their aged master.
These philosophers seem to have prepared and distributed their
respective parts; and they artfully contrived, by dark hints and
affected disputes, to excite the impatient hopes of the aspirant,
till they delivered him into the hands of their associate,
Maximus, the boldest and most skilful master of the Theurgic
science. By his hands, Julian was secretly initiated at Ephesus,
in the twentieth year of his age. His residence at Athens
confirmed this unnatural alliance of philosophy and superstition.

He obtained the privilege of a solemn initiation into the
mysteries of Eleusis, which, amidst the general decay of the
Grecian worship, still retained some vestiges of their primaeval
sanctity; and such was the zeal of Julian, that he afterwards
invited the Eleusinian pontiff to the court of Gaul, for the sole
purpose of consummating, by mystic rites and sacrifices, the
great work of his sanctification. As these ceremonies were
performed in the depth of caverns, and in the silence of the
night, and as the inviolable secret of the mysteries was
preserved by the discretion of the initiated, I shall not presume
to describe the horrid sounds, and fiery apparitions, which were
presented to the senses, or the imagination, of the credulous
aspirant, ^24 till the visions of comfort and knowledge broke
upon him in a blaze of celestial light. ^25 In the caverns of
Ephesus and Eleusis, the mind of Julian was penetrated with
sincere, deep, and unalterable enthusiasm; though he might
sometimes exhibit the vicissitudes of pious fraud and hypocrisy,
which may be observed, or at least suspected, in the characters
of the most conscientious fanatics. From that moment he
consecrated his life to the service of the gods; and while the
occupations of war, of government, and of study, seemed to claim
the whole measure of his time, a stated portion of the hours of
the night was invariably reserved for the exercise of private


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