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Chapter II.—The Life, Education, and Training of Julian, and his Accession to the Empire.
Immediately after the death of
Soc. iii. 1. Much the same order is followed by
Soz., but with the addition of many details. Greg. Naz. adv.
Julianum, i. and ii. Invectiva; Eunapius, Excerpt, i.
1, 2; Excerpt, ii. 1–24; Zos. ii. 45; iii. 2–29, 34.
Am. Marcel. xv.–xxiv. Theodoret, H. E. iii. 2, 3, follows
the dread of a persecution arose in
the Church, and Christians suffered more anguish from the anticipation
of this calamity than they would have experienced from its actual
occurrence. This state of feeling proceeded from the fact that a long
interval had made them unaccustomed to such dangers, and from the
remembrance of the tortures which had been exercised by the tyrants
upon their fathers, and from their knowledge of the hatred with which
the emperor regarded their doctrines. It is said that he openly
renounced the faith of Christ so entirely, that he by sacrifices and
expiations, which the pagans call renunciatory, and by the blood of
animals, purged himself of our baptism. From that period he employed
himself in auguries and in the celebration of the pagan rites, both
publicly and privately. It is related13621362
Greg. Naz. Or. cont. Julianum, i. 54.
that one day, as he was inspecting the entrails of a victim, he beheld
among them a cross encompassed with a crown. This appearance terrified
those who were assisting in the ceremony, for they judged that it
indicated the strength of religion, and the eternal duration of the
Christian doctrines; inasmuch as the crown by which it was encircled is
the symbol of victory, and because of its continuity, for the circle
beginning everywhere and ending in itself, has no limits in any
direction. The chief augur commanded Julian to be of good cheer,
because in his judgment the victims were propitious, and since they
surrounded the symbol of the Christian doctrine, and was indeed pushing
into it, so that it would not spread and expand itself where it wished,
since it was limited by the circumference of the circle.
I have also heard that one day Julian descended into a
most noted and terrific adytum,13631363
Greg. Naz. cont. Julianum, 1 inv.
either for the purpose of participating in some initiation, or of
consulting an oracle; and that, by means of machinery which is devised
for this end, or of enchantments, such frightful specters were
projected suddenly before him, that through perturbation and fear, he
became forgetful of those who were present, for he had turned to his
new religion when already a man, and so unconsciously fell into his
earlier habit, and signed himself with the symbol of Christ, just as
the Christian encompassed with untried dangers is wont to do.
Immediately the specters disappeared and their designs were frustrated.
The initiator was at first surprised at this, but when apprised of the
cause of the flight of the demons, he declared that the act was a
profanation; and after exhorting the emperor to be courageous and to
have no recourse in deed or thought to anything connected with the
Christian religion, he again conducted him to the initiation. The zeal
of the king for such matters saddened the Christians not a little and
made them extremely anxious, more especially as he had been himself
formerly a Christian. He was born of pious parents, had been initiated
in infancy according to the custom of the Church, and had been brought
up in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and was nurtured by bishops
and men of the Church. He and Gallus were the sons of Constantius, the
brother by the same father of Constantine the emperor, and of
Dalmatius. Dalmatius had a son of the same name, who was declared
Cæsar, and was slain by the soldiery after the death of
Constantine. His fate would have been shared by Gallus and Julian, who
were then orphans, had not Gallus been spared on account of a disease
under which he was laboring, and from which, it was supposed, that he
would soon naturally die; and Julian, on account of his extreme youth,
for he was but eight years of age. After this wonderful preservation, a
residence was assigned to the two brothers in a palace called Macellum,
situated in Cappadocia; this imperial post was near Mount Argeus, and
not far from Cæsarea; it contained a magnificent palace and was
adorned with baths, gardens, and perennial fountains. Here they were
cultured and educated in a manner corresponding to the dignity of their
birth; they were taught the sciences and bodily exercises befitting
their age, by masters of languages and interpreters of the Holy
Scriptures, so that they were enrolled among the clergy, and read the
ecclesiastical books to the people. Their habits and actions indicated
no dereliction from piety. They respected the clergy and other good
people and persons zealous for doctrine; they repaired regularly to
church and rendered due homage to the tombs of the martyrs.
It is said that they undertook to deposit the tomb of
Under Aurelian, a.d. 274.
The Greeks celebrate him Sept. 2; Latins, Aug. 17. He is said by Greg.
Naz. (Orat. 44, 12), and by Basil (Hom. 23, on St.
Mammas) to have been a shepherd and also a martyr. The miraculous story
here related is given also by Greg. Naz. in his First Oration
against Julian, 25, though he does not mention the martyr’s
the martyr in a large edifice, and to divide the labor between
themselves, and that while they were trying to excel one another in a
rivalry of honor, an event occurred which was so astonishing that it
would indeed be utterly incredible were it not for the testimony of
many who are still among us, who heard it from those who were
eyewitnesses of the transaction.
The part of the edifice upon which Gallus labored advanced rapidly and according to wish, but of the section upon which Julian labored, a part fell into ruin; another was projected upward from the earth; a third immediately on its touching the foundation could not be held upright, but was hurled backward as if some resistant and strong force from beneath were pushing against it.
This was universally regarded as a prodigy. The people, however, drew no conclusion from it till subsequent events manifested its import. There were a few who from that moment doubted the reality of Julian’s religion, and suspected that he only made an outward profession of piety for fear of displeasing the emperor, who was then a Christian, and that he concealed his own sentiments because it was not safe to divulge them. It is asserted that he was first secretly led to renounce the religion of his fathers by his intercourse with diviners; for when the resentment of Constantius against the two brothers was abated, Gallus went to Asia, and took up his residence in Ephesus, where the greater part of his property was situated; and Julian repaired to Constantinople, and frequented the schools, where his fine natural abilities and ready attainments in the sciences did not remain concealed. He appeared in public in the garb of a private individual, and had much company; but because he was related to the emperor and was capable of conducting affairs and was expected to become emperor, considerable talk about him to this effect was prevalent, as is wont to be the case in a populous and imperial city, he was commanded to retire to Nicomedia.
Here he became acquainted with Maximus, an Ephesian
See Eunap. V. S. vita Maximi; Julian wrote
four letters to him, Op. Ep. 15, 16, 38, 39; to be distinguished
from another teacher of Julian, Maximus of Epirus.
who instructed him in philosophy, and inspired him with hatred towards
the Christian religion, and moreover assured him that the much talked
of prophecy about him was true. Julian, as happens in many cases, while
suffering in anticipation of severe circumstances, was softened by
these favorable hopes and held Maximus as his friend. As these
occurrences reached the ears of Constantius, Julian became
apprehensive, and accordingly shaved himself, and adopted externally
the monkish mode of life, while he secretly held to the other
When he arrived at the age of manhood, he was more readily infatuated, and yet was anxious about these tendencies; and admiring the art (if there be such an art) of predicting the future, he thought the knowledge of it necessary; he advanced to such experiments as are not lawful for Christians. From this period he had as his friends those who followed this art. In this opinion, he came into Asia from Nicomedia, and there consorting with men of such practices, he became more ardent in the pursuit of divination.
When Gallus, his brother, who had been established as Cæsar, was put to death on being accused of revolution, Constantius also suspected Julian of cherishing the love of empire, and therefore put him under the custody of guards.
Eusebia, the wife of Constantius, obtained for him
permission to retire to Athens; and he accordingly settled there, under
pretext of attending the pagan exercises and schools; but as rumor
says, he communed with diviners concerning his future prospects.
Constantius recalled him, and proclaimed him Cæsar, promised him
his sister Constantia13661366
Sozomen is mistaken here, as Constantia was married
to Gallus Cæsar, the brother of Julian. Soc. iii. 1, and Am.
Marcel. xv. 8, 18, give Helena as the name of Julian’s wife.
in marriage, and sent him to Gaul; for the barbarians whose aid had
been hired by Constantius previously against Magnentius, finding that
their services were not required, had portioned out that country. As
Julian was very young, generals, to whom the prudential affairs were
turned over, were sent with him; but as these generals abandoned
themselves to pleasure, he was present as Cæsar, and provided for
the war. He confirmed his soldiers in their spirit for battle, and
urged them in other ways to incur danger; he also ordered that a fixed
reward should be given to each one who should slay a barbarian. After
he had thus secured the affections of the soldiery, he wrote to
Constantius, acquainting him with the levity of the generals; and when
another general had been sent, he attacked the barbarians, and obtained
the victory. They sent embassies to beg for peace, and showed the
letter in which Constantius had requested them to enter the Roman
dominions. He purposely delayed to send the ambassador back; he
attacked a number of the enemy unexpectedly and conquered them.
Some have said that Constantius, with designed enmity,
committed this campaign to him;13671367
As Eunapius, Exc. ii. 3.
but this does not appear probable to me. For, as it rested with
Constantius alone to nominate him Cæsar, why did he confer that
title upon him? Why did he give him his sister in marriage, or hear his
complaints against the inefficient generals, and send a competent one
in their stead in order to complete the war, if he were not friendly to
But as I conjecture, he conferred on him the title of Cæsar because he was well disposed to Julian; but that after Julian had, without his sanction, been proclaimed emperor, he plotted against him through the barbarians on the Rhine; and this, I think, resulted either from the dread that Julian would seek revenge for the ill-treatment he and his brother Gallus had experienced during their youth, or as would be natural, from jealousy of his attaining similar honor. But a great variety of opinions are entertained on this subject.
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