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Julian (Emperor)


Hellenistic philosopher, military leader, Roman emperor, and satirist, often referred to as Julian the Apostate because of his rejection of formal Christian doctrines, and opposition to their spread, and sometimes as Julian II, to distinguish him from Didius Julianus.
Julian (Emperor)
To explain, however, everything relating to the nature of this deity, is beyond the power of man, even though the god himself should grant him the ability to understand it: in a case where it seems, to me at least, impossible even mentally to conceive all its extent. And now that we have discussed so much, we must put as it were a seal upon this subject; and to stay a while and pass on to other points no less requiring examination. What then is this seal; and what comprises everything, as it were in a summary of the conception concerning the nature of the god? May He Himself inspire our understanding when we attempt briefly to explain the source out of which he proceeded; and what he is himself; and with what effects he fills the visible world. It must therefore be laid down that the sovereign Sun proceeded from the One God, — One out of the one Intelligible world; he is stationed in the middle of the Intelligible Powers, according to the strictest sense of "middle position;" bringing the last with the first into a union both harmonious and loving, and which fastens together the things that were divided: containing within himself the means of perfecting, of cementing together, of generative life, and of the uniform existence, and to the world of Sense, the author of all kinds of good; not merely adorning and cheering it with the radiance wherewith he himself illumines the same, but also by making subordinate to himself the existence of the Solar Angels; and containing within himself the unbegotten Cause of things begotten; and moreover, prior to this, the unfading, unchanging source of things eternal.
All, therefore, that was fitting to be said touching the nature of this deity (although very much has been passed over in silence) has now been stated at some length.
Julian (Emperor) quotes
That divine and all-beauteous World, which from the highest vault of Heaven down to the lowest Earth is held together by the immutable providence of God, and which has existed from all eternity, without creation, and shall be eternal for all time to come, and which is not regulated by anything, except approximately by the Fifth Body (of which the principle is the solar light) placed, as it were, on the second step below the world of intelligence; and finally by the means of the "Sovereign of all things, around whom all things stand." This Being, whether properly to be called "That which is above comprehension," or the "Type of things existing," or "The One," (inasmuch as Unity appears to be the most ancient of all things), or "The Good," as Plato regularly designates Him, This, then, is the Single Principle of all things, and which serves to the universe as a model of indescribable beauty, perfection, unity, and power. And after the pattern of the primary substance that dwells within the Principle, He hath sent forth out of Himself, and like in all things unto Himself, the Sun, a mighty god, made up of equal parts of intelligible and creative causes. And this is the sense of the divine Plato, where he writes, "You may say (replied I) that I mean the offspring of the Good, whom the Good has produced, similar to itself; in order that, what the Good is in the region of intelligence, and as regards things only appreciable by the mind, its offspring should be the same in the region that is visible, and in the things that are appreciable by the sight." For this reason I believe that the light of the Sun bears the same relation to things visible as Truth does to things intelligible. But this Whole, inasmuch as it emanates from the Model and "Idea" of the primal and supreme Good, and exists from all eternity around his immutable being, has received sovereignty also over the gods appreciable by the intellect alone, and communicates to them the same good things, (because they belong to the world of intelligence), as are poured down from the Supreme Good upon the other objects of Intelligence. For to these latter, the Supreme Good is the source, as I believe, of beauty, perfection, existence, and union; holding them together and illuminating them by its own virtue which is the "Idea" of the Good.
Julian (Emperor)
It is my opinion that the present subject interests all: "Whatever breathes, and moves upon the earth," all that are endowed with existence, with a rational soul, and with a mind: but that above all others it interests myself, inasmuch as I am a votary of the Sun.




Julian (Emperor) quotes
No wild beasts are so dangerous to men as Christians are to one another.
Julian (Emperor)
Indeed I have observed that even the Barbarians across the Rhine sing savage songs composed in language not unlike the croaking of harsh-voiced birds, and that they delight in such songs. For I think it is always the case that inferior musicians, though they annoy their audiences, give very great pleasure to themselves
Julian (Emperor) quotes
Julian’s folly was yet more clearly manifested by his death. He crossed the river that separates the Roman Empire from the Persian, brought over his army, and then forthwith burnt his boats, so making his men fight not in willing but in forced obedience. The best generals are wont to fill their troops with enthusiasm, and, if they see them growing discouraged, to cheer them and raise their hopes; but Julian by burning the bridge of retreat cut off all good hope. A further proof of his incompetence was his failure to fulfil the duty of foraging in all directions and providing his troops with supplies. Julian had neither ordered supplies to be brought from Rome, nor did he make any bountiful provision by ravaging the enemy’s country. He left the inhabited world behind him, and persisted in marching through the wilderness. His soldiers had not enough to eat and drink; they were without guides; they were marching astray in a desert land. Thus they saw the folly of their most wise emperor. In the midst of their murmuring and grumbling they suddenly found him who had struggled in mad rage against his Maker wounded to death. Ares who raises the war-din had never come to help him as he promised; Loxias had given lying divination; he who glads him in the thunderbolts had hurled no bolt on the man who dealt the fatal blow; the boasting of his threats was dashed to the ground. The name of the man who dealt that righteous stroke no one knows to this day. Some say that he was wounded by an invisible being, others by one of the Nomads who were called Ishmaelites; others by a trooper who could not endure the pains of famine in the wilderness. But whether it were man or angel who plied the steel, without doubt the doer of the deed was the minister of the will of God. It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, "Thou hast won, O Galilean." Thus he gave utterance at once to a confession of the victory and to a blasphemy. So infatuated was he.
Julian (Emperor)
I too am not one to despise myths, and I am far from rejecting those that have the right tendency; indeed I am of the same opinion as you and your admired, or rather the universally admired, Plato. He also often conveyed a serious lesson in his myths.
Julian (Emperor) quotes
The same things, therefore, does the Sun communicate to things intelligible, over whom he was appointed by the Good to reign and to command: although these were created and began to exist at the same moment with himself.
Julian (Emperor)
I had imagined that the prelates of the Galilaeans were under greater obligations to me than to my predecessor. For in his reign many of them were banished, persecuted, and imprisoned, and many of the so-called heretics were executed ... all of this has been reversed in my reign; the banished are allowed to return, and confiscated goods have been returned to the owners. But such is their folly and madness that, just because they can no longer be despots, ... or carry out their designs first against their brethren, and then against us, the worshippers of the gods, they are inflamed with fury and stop at nothing in their unprincipled attempts to alarm and enrage the people.
Julian (Emperor)
Of all the emperors, one there was whom I recall from boyhood — bold in war, a lawgiver, far-famed in word and deed; he cared much for his country, but cared not for the true faith, and loved a host of gods. False to the Lord, although true to the world.
Julian (Emperor)
But why do you not cease to call Mary the mother of God, if Isaiah nowhere says that he that is born of the virgin is the "only begotten Son of God" and "the firstborn of all creation"?




Julian (Emperor) quotes
A very weighty argument is this — namely, that neither does the light which descends from thence, chiefly upon the world, mix itself with anything, nor admit of dirtiness or pollution, but remains entirely, and in all things that are, free from defilement, admixture, and suffering. Besides, we must pay attention to the other kinds of phenomena, both to the Intelligible, and yet more to the Sensible — whatever are connected with matter, or will manifest themselves in relation to our subject.
Julian (Emperor)
Know all ye mortals who have entered this contest,
that according to our laws and decrees the victor is
allowed to exult but the vanquished must not complain.
Depart then wherever you please, and in future live
every one of you under the guidance of the gods.
Let every man choose his own guardian and guide.
Julian (Emperor) quotes
Must we then speak of this subject also: and shall we write concerning things that are not to be told, and shall we publish things not to be divulged, and secrets not to be spoken aloud? Who indeed is Attis or Gallos; who the Mother of the Gods; what is the reason of this rule of Chastity; moreover for what cause has such an institution been established among us from remote antiquity; handed down to us indeed from the most ancient of the Phrygians, but accepted in the first place by the Greeks — and those not the vulgar herd, but the Athenians — taught by the event that they had not done well in ridiculing him that was performing the rites of the Great Mother. For they are said to have insulted and driven off the Gallos, as one who was making innovations in religion: because they did not understand the character of the goddess, or how that she was the very "Deo", "Rhea," and " "Demeter" so much honoured amongst them themselves.
Julian (Emperor)
The trial that begins
Awards to him who wins
The fairest prize to-day.
And lo, the hour is here
And summons you. Appear!
Ye may no more delay.
Come hear the herald's call
Ye princes one and all.
Many tribes of men
Submissive to you then!
How keen in war your swords!
But now 'tis wisdom's turn;
Now let your rivals learn
How keen can be your words.
Julian (Emperor) quotes
From my earliest infancy I was possessed with a strange longing for the solar rays, so that when, as a boy, I cast my eyes upon the ethereal splendour, my soul felt seized and carried up out of itself. And not merely was it my delight to gaze upon the solar brightness, but at night also whenever I walked out in clear weather, disregarding all else, I used to fix my eyes upon the beauty of the heavens; so that I neither paid attention to what was said to me, nor took any notice of what was going on. On this account, people used to think me too much given to such pursuits, and far too inquisitive for my age: and they even suspected me, long before my beard was grown, of practising divination by means of the heavenly bodies. And. yet at that time no book on the subject had fallen into my hands, and I was utterly ignorant of what that science meant. But what use is it to quote these matters, when I have still stranger things to mention; if I should mention what I at that time thought about the gods? But let oblivion rest upon that epoch of darkness! How the radiance of heaven, diffused all round me, used to lift up my soul to its own contemplation! to such a degree that I discovered for myself that the moon's motion was in the opposite direction to that of the rest of the system, long before I met with any works giving the philosophy of such matters.
Julian (Emperor)
Julian clearly believed in his own destiny. His courage and his fortitude were not illusory. His nearness to his gods strengthened his conviction; and his austere style of life, with its isolation from normal human contacts, equipped him for the single-minded pursuit of his goals.
Julian (Emperor) quotes
Erring soul of man — if thou wast indeed forced to err, it shall surely be accounted to thee for good on that great day when the Mighty One shall descend in the clouds to judge the living dead and the dead who are yet alive!
Julian (Emperor)
I pray the Sovereign Sun himself to grant me ability to explain the nature of the station that he holds amongst those in whose middle he is placed! By the term "middle" we are to understand not what is so defined in the case of things contrary to each other, as "equi-distant from the extremes," as orange and dark brown in the case of colours; lukewarm, in that of hot and cold, and other things of the sort; but the power that collects and unites into one things dispersed, like the "Harmony" of Empedocles, from which he completely excludes all discord and contention.
Julian (Emperor)
Hating pomp and show, impatient of the petty, hampering rules of Court etiquette, constantly dwelling in thought on the ancient glories of democratic Athens and senatorial Rome, he could hardly view the orientalising and inordinate exaltation of the Imperial dignity in the light of a reform. Yet his almost single-handed efforts to revive the great days of the Roman Senate and of Greek municipal freedom were not productive of very great results, either for good or for evil. … As to the change in spiritual conditions, this was to him not merely an adverse element of the environment in which he had to work; it was the destruction of all that he held dear and believed to be most necessary for the common good. He felt bound to prevent such a destruction at any cost, or to perish in the attempt.


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