Julian the Apostate

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Julian the Apostate

(Flavius Claudius Julianus), 331?–363, Roman emperor (361–63), nephew of Constantine I; successor of Constantius II. He was given an education that combined Christian and Neoplatonic ideas. He and his half-brother Gallus were sent (c.341) to Cappadocia. When Gallus was appointed caesar (351), Julian was brought back to Constantinople. After Gallus had been put to death, Julian was called from the quiet of a scholar's life and made (355) caesar. Sent to Gaul, he was unexpectedly successful in combating the Franks and the Alemanni and was popular with his soldiers. When Constantius, fearing Julian, ordered him (360) to send soldiers to assist in a campaign against the Persians, Julian obeyed, but his soldiers mutinied and proclaimed him augustus. He accepted the title, but Constantius refused to yield the western provinces to him. Before the two could meet in battle to decide the claim, Constantius died, naming Julian as his successor. Sometime in the course of his studies, Julian abandoned Christianity. Although as emperor he issued an edict of religious toleration, he did try unsuccessfully to restore paganism; the result was much confusion since Christianity was rent by the quarrel over Arianism. His short reign was just, and he was responsible for far-reaching legislation. During a campaign against the Persians, he was killed in a skirmish. He was succeeded by JovianJovian
(Flavius Claudius Jovianus) , c.331–364, Roman emperor (363–64). The commander of the imperial guard under Julian the Apostate in his Persian campaign, Jovian was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers when Julian was killed.
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. Julian was a writer of some merit, and his works have been translated into English by W. C. Wright (3 vol., 1913–24).


See G. W. Bowersock, Julian the Apostate (1978); P. Athanassiadi-Fowden, Julian and Hellanism (1981).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Julian the Apostate


(full name, Flavius Claudius Julianus Apostata). Born A.D. 331; died A.D. 363. Roman emperor (361–363). Nephew of Constantine the Great.

Although Julian was raised by the bishop Eusebius, his spiritual development was strongly influenced by the eunuch Mardonius, an enthusiastic admirer of Hellenic culture; thus, Julian became a secret adherent of paganism in his youth. In 355, Emperor Constantius appointed him to the position of Caesar

Table 2. Number of days elapsed before the start of each month of a four-year interval
YearJan.0Feb.0Mar.0Apr.0May 0June 0July 0Aug.0Sept.0Oct.0Nov. 0Dec.O
0 ...............0316091121152182213244274305335
1 ...............366397425456486517547578609639670700
2 ...............731762790821851882912943974100410351065
3 ...............109611271155118612161247127713081339136914001430

and made him governor of Gaul. In 360, the Gallic legions who had rebelled against an order from Constantius proclaimed Julian their emperor (Augustus), and when Constantius died in 361, Julian became the autocratic ruler of the Roman Empire.

Julian expanded the rights of the municipal curiae, lowered taxes, reduced the palace staff, and refused the privilege of a luxurious, expensive court. As emperor and with the support of part of the intelligentsia, he openly declared himself to be an adherent of paganism. He reformed the pagan religion on the basis of Neoplatonism, issued two edicts against Christianity, and restored pagan temples.

Julian was the author of a number of works—treatises, speeches, and letters—directed against Christians. His actions aroused the hatred of the Christian clergy, who nicknamed him the Apostate (Apostata). After Julian’s death (from wounds incurred in a battle against the Persians on the Tigris River), the anti-Christian edicts were repealed by Emperor Jovian, and the persecution of Christians was ended.


In Russian translation:
“Pis’ma.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1970, nos. 1–3.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Julian the Apostate

(331–363) Roman emperor, educated as a Christian but renounced Christianity when he became emperor. [Rom. Hist.: Benét, 533]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.