!Free ☭ Julian ⚓ The Remarkable Bestseller About The Fourth Century Roman Emperor Who Famously Tried To Halt The Spread Of Christianity, Julian Is Widely Regarded As One Of Gore Vidal S Finest Historical NovelsJulian The Apostate, Nephew Of Constantine The Great, Was One Of The Brightest Yet Briefest Lights In The History Of The Roman Empire A Military Genius On The Level Of Julius Caesar And Alexander The Great, A Graceful And Persuasive Essayist, And A Philosopher Devoted To Worshiping The Gods Of Hellenism, He Became Embroiled In A Fierce Intellectual War With Christianity That Provoked His Murder At The Age Of Thirty Two, Only Four Years Into His Brilliantly Humane And Compassionate Reign A Marvelously Imaginative And Insightful Novel Of Classical Antiquity, Julian Captures The Religious And Political Ferment Of A Desperate Age And Restores With Blazing Wit And Vigor The Legacy Of An Impassioned Ruler
No one can ever love us quite so much as we love ourselvesAttributed to Julian by Gore Vidal Julian is a well crafted historical fictional soliloquy written by Gore Vidal in 1964 It is some five hundred pages in length but moves along quickly Covering the thirty two year life of the last of the great Roman emperors, the story includes palace intrigue, a great deal of history, fascinating war campaigns and then ultimate betrayal Vidal s tone is somewhat subdued in the book perhaps because there are enough historically dramatic events such that Vidal didn t feel the need to oversell There is also another narrator in the presence of Priscus, an actual historian of the 5th century, who does some minor narrating to correct Julian s errant facts and begin the story when Julian is young and wrap it up after he dies Julian s reign as Roman Emperor AD 361 AD 363 was significant in many ways but was largely so because he came so near the end of the one thousand year reign of the Roman Empire Julian was known to posterity as Julian the Apostate, a boy raised as a Christian who renounced Christianity early in life He was considered the last pagan Emperor, even though that sobriquet is not entirely accurate Julian was also a noted philosopher and eventual military leader who wrote several books in his young life Against the Galileans , perhaps his most famous writing, is a long essay dissecting the origins and inconsistencies of Christianity, even to a large degree defending the logical nature of Judaism although he was not a believer of Judaism himself In this essay he asserted that Jesus Christ as the son of God is as much a myth as the Greek gods The writings of Julian and the nearly contemporary writings of Theodoret in the 5th century AD are where Vidal drew much of his inspiration This may be a spoiler for some The novel itself starts out when Julian and his older brother Gallus are young boys Their mother had died giving birth to Julian We learn that Gallus is a bully through a number of episodes but amidst the resentment there is still a brotherly bond there A few years later, while acting as the emperor s consul, their father, is assassinated by the Roman Emperor Constantius II Constantius II also happens to be Gallus and Julian s older cousin From this moment in the novel the boys are now orphans They are looked after by their cousin and given the best education, the boys are split up and their private instruction and living arrangements shuffle between palaces in Byzantium and Greece While being educated the boys are also routinely spied upon by the eunuchs of which Constantius is fond of relying on Vidal masterfully creates the aura of palace intrigue through several eunuchs The Roman Empire is so large and there often many Caesars needed to rule, fight rebellions, pacify the populace and bring in tax revenue for the Emperor Thus this need for loyal Caesars is why Constantius wants to educate and have the boys prosper despite having killed their father To ensure that they remain loyal, he needs his spies So Julian learns to rely almost solely on himself and keeps a low profile and does not espouse much in his writings or criticize the Emperor within earshot This would only give his cousin the justification to assassinate him Julian studies religion and philosophy and by his teenage years has already given up on the idea of Christianity Gallus is outspoken in his opinions but is focused on becoming a military leader Constantius eventually elevates Gallus to Caesar in the East when he is twenty five He is needed in the East to quash rebellions in Serbia and elsewhere in Byzantium and persecute rebellious Jews Ruling is dangerously difficult for Gallus and he survives at least one assassination attempt from within the military Deeming him politically expedient, Gallus is lured by Constantius with false offers of co emperor, then he is arrested and executed.Julian does not seem surprised at the news of his brother s execution, almost expecting it The following year, AD 355, Julian is also given the Caesar title as the military and ruler of Gaul There are many fascinating chapters and a lot of detail in the book about his life in Paris as Caesar and the military campaigns against the Germanic tribes including the victorious Battle of Strasbourg in AD 357 This military rule and battles with the Germanic tribes continued for three years and Julian became very popular with the troops and the people who started to call him Augustus He then just decided to take on the title His cousin Constantius was still ruling in the east and being the rightful Augustus decided enough was enough He launched a campaign to defeat his usurping cousin Julian As Julian s army was eventually hemmed in by the larger armies of the Emperor Constantius, Julian received some good fortune when Constantius fell ill and died There was little outward resistance to Julian then claiming the title as sole Emperor At this point in the story, wanting to consolidate power in the east, Julian in AD 361 overconfidently launched a multi year campaign against the Persians Julian s army was successful militarily in the early battles, leading his army of tens of thousands into Mesopotamia, but eventually the extremely hot weather arrives and the Persians began burning crops to starve out Julian s army and it worked As a result there are threats of mutiny amongst Julian s troops While looking for astrological signs in the stars for months, Julian finally heeds the warnings and turns his army back from deep within Persia So in AD 363 he leads his army back along the long and winding Euphrates He loses men to disease and starvation and skirmishes with Persian militias from nearby strongholds In one of the battles he is struck in the abdomen and liver with a spear from which he succumbs a few days later We learn that the spear is of Roman origin so it is clear that he was killed by one of his own men Late in the book, we learn what happened from one of the narrators who visited Julian s aide de camp in that last campaign The aide, a former slave, is now retired and living a life of luxury along the coast of the Mediterranean He admits to spearing Julian during the battle but never divulges how he came by his wealth leaving the reader to wonder who ordered the assassination Since enough time had passed since Julian s death and because Julian was an apostate there is little appetite to prosecute his assassin anyway and that s where the story ends End of Spoiler So this novel was exceptionally well written I can t say that the language and voices used were as convincing as a period piece like say I Claudius but Julian was generally educational and interesting than Claudius story to be sure Vidal has written many novels and is indisputably one of the 20th century s greatest essayists and I observed that his writing style tends to be informative and analytical than overly dramatic, at least in this novel There is very little discussion of women in this book, apart from unflattering descriptions of Helena, the wife who Julian was arranged to marry by his cousin After I read the essay, Against the Galileans by Julian, I can also say that Vidal probably attributed too much emphasis to Julian s belief in classical mythology in making military decisions I got the clear sense from Julian s own words that he was much of a traditionalist and did not appreciate what he viewed as the new mythologies, such as Christianity in particular, which were so rapidly transforming the culture in the Roman empire Something to the effect of, we already have a Greek and Roman mythological culture why do we need a new one This view was in spite of the fact that his uncle, Constantine the Great, may have done than anyone in history to spread Christianity 4.5 stars There is some flatness in the writing of this story and so it might be of less interest to those who don t especially like historical books. Julian the Apostate was emperor of Rome from 361 363 CE and the nephew of Constantine Raised in a strict Christian environment although of the Arian tradition , he formally announced his conversion to paganism in 361 and became a public enemy of Christianity.That provides the background for Vidal s excellent historical novel historical in the best sense in that Vidal tried to use as many actual events and recorded conversations as possible Vidal is, of course, rather flagrant in rejecting Christianity himself, so it is easy to see why Julian s gradual rejection of what he viewed as a faith filled with contradictions both in belief and behavior would be appealing to Vidal.The book is told from Julian s point of view as a form of autobiography with little side social commentaries of two of his friends The debate between the supporters of Athanasius who finally won out and the Arians is well explained In the fourth century see also When Jesus Became God, the debate over the divinity of Jesus was of huge consequence The Arians basing their case on John 14 25 believed in the doctrine of homoiousios Jesus was a similar substance to God the father but created by him The followers of Athanasius adopted that pernicious doctrine later codified in the Nicene Creed of homoousius meaning that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same.It was essential for Julian to pretend to be one of the Galileans, as Christians were called then, because it was the declared religion of Rome after Constantine As a potential successor to the throne, he was subject to all sorts of plots and political machinations, and these dangers form much of the tension of the book, as Julian tries to remain alive posing as a student of philosophy with no interest in politics Julian s childhood was that of a prince with all that entails, including constant supervision, little access to people besides his siblings, and strict regulation of behavior Julian s cousin, the reigning emperor Constantius, fearing for his throne, systematically murdered those who might be a threat especially his relatives so Julian had to tread very carefully Fortunately, Julian was needed to be the titular head of Gaul, so he was removed from Athens, married to Constantius s sister, Helena, and sent to barbarian Europe Julian, whom the emperor suspected had no military prowess, surprised everyone with his skill in battle as well as administratively, even though his hands were often tied by Constantius s Florentius, who had a great deal of administrative control Constantius s attempts to subdue the Persians was to prove his undoing, and when he demanded that virtually all of Julian s troops be sent to him despite Julian s promise to the troops from Gaul that they would not have to serve outside the province those troops rebelled and demanded that Julian be appointed Julian Augustus, i.e., Emperor of the West Helena, by this time, even though she was sister to Constantius, sided with Julian, because she knew that her brother had murdered her two children because he feared them as threats to his throne Before a civil war could result Constantius died.Julian s Vidal s comments on power and the corrupting role of imperialism are as pertinent today as they might have been two centuries ago Wherever there is a throne, one may observe in rich detail every folly and wickedness of which man is capable, enameled with manners and gilded with hypocrisy I have often felt when studying history that not enough is made of those intermediaries who so often do the actual governing As a result, factions within the court could form and reform, irrelevant to the nominal power On the throne of the world, any delusion can become fact The corruption and greed become palpable in Vidal s words.Vidal uses a triple narrative technique that intersperses Julian s autobiography with comments by two contemporaries, a philosopher and a rhetorician, whose views do not always coincide with Julian s, permitting Vidal to offer disparate views of events Julian is ultimately portrayed as a pagan philosopher leader struggling against the hypocrisy of the new Galilean religion and trying to recapture the glory of the lost Hellenistic past.Julian used his military and imperial rights to revive paganism and subdue the upstart Christian cult, but was killed Vidal suggests by one of his own men, perhaps at the direction of the bishops during the war against the Persians.Vidal has vividly captured the intense political maneuvering and danger of being in line to succeed to the throne This is historical fiction at its nail biting best.minor editing 11 19 11 I don t know how or why anyone would let a thirteen year old withdraw this book from a public library but someone did, and it went a long way towards forming my mind For better or worse.Julian the Apostate was born just a little too late the last Hellenist pagan in the family of Constantine, who a few years before Julian s birth had converted the Roman Empire to Christianity The novel chronicles his unlikely rise to power and its inevitable conclusion Not a plot spoiler aren t a lot of practicing pagans around, are there It takes the form of an exchange of letters and reminiscences between two Athenian philosophers who had known Julian as a young man, the letters transmitting portions of a hitherto unknown memoir in Julian s own hand The memoir, naturally, is the bulk of the novel.I don t know how to put this otherwise this book, than any other I ve read in the nearly forty years since, made the ancient world come alive Having done that it led me to question seriously the historical antecedents of the religion in which I was being raised But forget that this book is so good that I reread it every three to five years.Oh funny thing about reading a 1963 novel when you re thirteen The descriptions of sex are so circumspect that no kid can imagine what s going on. Excellent novel I had a recollection of this book from ages back, but needed to retake it, and it was a good idea to read it following Ken Broeders Apostate series, which also has Caesar Julian Augustus as its protagonist I thought it d be an interesting new experience to revisit this period of Roman history I normally don t invest much in by way of contrasting different depictions of the emperor who tried to end Christianity as Rome s official religion In this novel, we get Julian s story in his own words, as this is written in journal plus historical chronicle format, but it doesn t mean we only get his side, because interspersed throughout Julian s journal entries are commentaries by two men who knew and followed him, a pair of often cheeky philosophers called Priscus and Libanius, who interject protests, clarifications, and hilarious counterfactual addenda in between the emperor s account of events, sometimes outright contradicting him That was a clever device by Gore Vidal to give the story the feel of impartiality that first person narratives usually lack In contrast to Broeders series, this book has a sober tone, sometimes rather too serious, yet doesn t entirely circumvent little bits of scandal and salacious morsels to enliven the story, which is a neat mix to keep readers entertained I also found Vidal s interpretation of how Julian s demise came to be rather unexpected, as it s one I didn t remember reading Very creative, though, and makes you feel for this apostate emperor and for what could have been if he d not died so young whilst at the pinnacle. In my sad and maddening teenage years, I happened on my mother s copy of the Oxford Book of British Verse and read through it with the doggedness I had at the time One poem that hit me hard was Algernon Charles Swinburne s Hymn to Proserpina, written in the voice of a Roman lamenting the passing of the old gods as Rome embraced Christianity It begins with the line Vicisti, Galil e, which, I am told, translates to Thou hast conquered, Galilean, and, I am told, was not said by the Emperor Julian as he lay dying I m older and less full of fire and gothic sentimentality these days, but some of Swinburne s lines still give me shivers Viz, these Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean the world has grown grey from thy breath We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May I read and re read the poem, and it gave me vague, mythic notions about this Emperor who both seems progressive, as he attempted to create a Rome of religious pluralism, and deeply conservative in the William F Buckley mode of standing athwart history and yelling Stop Constantine s nephew, who tried, and failed, to undo what he did If he had not died two years into his reign, history might have been very different On the occasion of Gore Vidal s death, I thought to read one of his books, and or less randomly picked Julian Very readable, and it made me like Julian in a less soppy way At least as portrayed by Vidal, while he got his hands dirty, he strove hard to be a good man and a good Emperor I m startled, though, that according to the Guardian obituary, it was a best seller It is, among other things, a scathing critique of Christianity Julian despises it, and Christians are portrayed in this text as despicable manipulative, treacherous, small minded, and murderous It is an elegy for the world that could have been, had Julian lived I am also struck that it was a best seller I don t know when or by what metric because it was published the year after JFK was assassinated Julian, in this text if not by history, dies by a spear thrust from his own bodyguard, the victim of a plot by the Christians in his immediate circle who made a pact he would not live to return from the war I don t want to stretch the analogy too far, but in both times, the world was disrupted, and not, by the death of leader While Julian may not have been loved by all, he was loved by Libanius, one of the narrators Perhaps people turned to this book to take solace in another man s grief after the death of a beloved leader It ends with a powerful quote, spoken by Libanius, who has been informed that the current emperor will not allow him to publish a biography of Julian at this time Libanius is old, and nearly blind, and near death He tells us I have been reading Plotinus all evening He has the power to sooth me and I find his sadness curiously comforting Even when he writes Life here with the things of earth is a sinking, a defeat, a failure of the wing The wing has indeed failed One sinks Defeat is certain Even as I write these lines, the lamp wick sputters to an end, and the pool of light in which I sit contracts Soon the room will be dark One has always feared that death would be like this But what else is there With Julian, the light went, and now nothing remains but to let the darkness come, and hope for a new sun and another day, born of time s mystery and a man s love of life 502 I would have loved this book when I was a soppy teenager If Julian had prevailed, we might never have had the dark ages, the Inquisition, the men who feared witches and burned women, the condemnation of Galileo Now it fills me with a mild regret for the untimely death of a man who might have built a better world. I didn t think Vidal s Burr could be topped, but this earlier novel of Vidal s is even extraordinary.Vidal creates a memoir by the Emperor Julian and presents it with the commentary of two friends This novelization gives the reader a good understanding of the social and political dynamics of this often neglected period of history.I expect that the scholarship is as accurate as the critics contend which makes this book not just fiction, but literature, and a major achievement for its author.The book begins with Julian s sheltered childhood as the nephew of the Emperor, who is always in fear that the males in his bloodline would rise up against him The uncle, claiming to be a Christian the new religion that has taken root , has killed Julian s father and later his brother along with many Seeds of doubt of this new religion were planted in Julian s mind early on.Some have commented that the book is hard on Christianity, but it shows how much the religion spead in the early days not just through missionary work, but also through politics and violence It gives an equal number of swipes at the old religion Julian s sacrifices are almost comedies i.e one bull had a damaged liver an ominous sign, Julian spoke at the end of the ceremony negating its meaning so a healthy bull was brought in as are Julian s looking for signs before battle.For anyone interested in historical fiction this is an engrossing read. I suggest that those who can not accept criticism of their Christian religion skip this book The Roman Emperor Julian was totally offended by the Christians of the 4th century AD.I first read this historical novel back in the 1960 s I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it even now This time I really picked up on Julian s flaws 40 years ago I think I just was rooting for him to win knowing, of course, he would ultimately fail and I ignored this dark side Gore Vidal did extensive research in preparation for this book and it shows. I love Roman history Had Julian the Apostate been less conciliatory, the Christians would have remained a fringe sect Uncompromising themselves, and ultimately triumphant, the Christians stamped out what Julian loved most knowledge.This book is written as letters between Libanius and Priscus, who discuss what to do with Julian s diary Vidal s prose is sublime always informing and entertaining, sometimes sharp and often funny Historical fiction is rarely this good. Como s o maravilhosos os livros, ao atravessarem os mundos e os s culos, ao derrotarem a ignor ncia e, por fim, o pr prio tempo cruel Fa amos com que Juliano viva outra vez e para sempre. de Lib nio para Prisco Gore Vidal desvenda Juliano atrav s da pena do pr prio Este escreveu fragmentos de mem rias e medida que o papiro desvendado pelos fil sofos Lib nio e Prisco , estes mentores de Juliano trocam correspond ncia comentando passagens, ou seja, acontecimentos, personagens e at algumas falhas de personalidade, que Juliano julga n o ter Este estratagema de Gore V vai aproximando o leitor do Imperador, apesar da bruma do tempo, tornando o mais aut ntico e humano Juliano, sobrinho de Constantino, nasceu em 331, tendo recebido uma r gida educa o crist N o podia ser de outro modo Contudo, cedo se interessa pelos autores cl ssicos e, quando jovem adulto vai estudar com os fil sofos neo plat nicos, como M ximo de feso Quando se torna Augusto , em 361, Juliano tem como objectivo principal apoiar o Helenismo na sua guerra contra os Galileus crist os As suas medidas levaram redu o substancial dos funcion rios do pal cio imperial, reconstru o e reabertura dos templos pag os, nomea o de sacerdotes para os mesmos e proibi o dos galileus ensinarem os cl ssicos para estes n o serem esvaziados do seu verdadeiro conte do N o se ocupou em perseguir at morte, nem em fechar as portas de templos A guerra contra os seguidores do Nazareno esgrimida com constata es leg timas, argumentos ferozes e com a exig ncia de conten o em p blico No entanto, os rituais pag os , aos quais Juliano se entregava regularmente, s o tamb m alvo de d vidas atrav s de Lib nio e Prisco Estes p em em causa a verdade e efic cia dos or culos e dos sacrif cios um desperd cio de animais O humor subtil mas at o leitor mais distra do acaba por se dar conta dele A alus o a contratempos nos rituais ou a descodifica o das mensagens enviadas pelos deuses n o deixam d vidas Ent o, em quem acreditar Julgo que Gore Vidal nos d a resposta apesar de n o a registar em n s mesmos Um livro quase perfeito de Vidal n o sei se erro da tradu o, mas da boca do Imperador nunca sairia um Bolas Comparar um momento de ansiedade de Juliano emo o que as crian as t m ao rasgar o papel dos presentes um deslize que me chamou realidade Mas a obra no seu todo supera estas escorregadelas Voltarei a ela.