Julian the Apostate

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 Jovian. 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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