Apocalypse for whites • XXXI

by Evropa Soberana

The destruction of the Greco-Roman World – 1

(Fourth century)

After the Council of Nicaea, Christianity reaches a doctrinal uniformity that unifies the diverse factions, and acquires a legal administrative character, like a state within the State. Nicaea, incidentally, is a city in the province of Bithynia, Asia Minor (now Turkey). Constantine brings together 318 bishops, each elected by their community, to debate and establish a ‘Christian normalization’, in view of the many factions and discrepancies within the religion. The result is the so-called ‘Nicene creed’: the Christianity to preach.

By this time, the emperor needs a force of union for the melting pot of races that has been imposed in Rome. There were many ‘salvation cults’ with rites practiced in secret, mostly of the underground type of cults that always arise in times of decadence and degeneration.

There is the cult of Mithras (a cult of Iranian origin and military character, already corrupted by the masses, although during an ascending era it was popular in the Roman legions), and the cult of Cybele. The emperor chose Christianity for his empire, not because of its value as a religion, but because of its Semitic intolerance; its fanaticism—famous throughout the empire—, its centuries-old experience as a tool of intrigue, its intelligence networks and its equalizing, proselytising and globalising ethos make it the perfect ‘emergency religion’.

The other religions, lacking of intolerance, will not impose themselves by violence on reluctant people with that unifying effect of flock of sheep that Christianity will provide. And what the unwise Constantine needs is precisely a flock, not a combination of different people each with its own identity. Christianity, therefore, slightly prolongs the agony of the Roman Empire. People begin to convert to Christianity by snobbishness and climbing eagerness, to reach high positions: that is, to make a career.

After a thousand intrigues, conspiracies, factional fights, poisonings, manipulations and blackmail, the Edict of Milan gives Christianity the consideration of ‘respectable’ religion, giving it clearance. Its former creeping humility disappears and the most unpleasant Christian face arises: Christians immediately demand that the ‘idol-worshipers’ be prescribed the bestial punishments described in the Old Testament.

324
Throughout Italy, with the exception of Rome, the temples of Jupiter are closed. In Didyma, Asia Minor, the sanctuary of the Oracle of Apollo is sacked. Priests are sadistically tortured to death. Constantine expelled the Hellenists from Mount Athos (a mystical zone of classical Greece that later became an important Christian-Orthodox centre), destroying all the Hellenic temples in the area. In 324, Constantine, brainwashed by his mother Helena, ordered to destroy the temple of the god Asclepius in Cilicia, as well as numerous temples of the goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Afak (Lebanon), Mamre, Phoenicia, Baalbek, and other places.

326
Constantine changes the capital of his empire to Byzantium, which he renames with the name Nuova Roma. This, together with the adoption of Christianity, means a radical change within the Roman Empire. From then on, the Roman focus of cultural attention changes from its origin in northern Europe and Greece, to Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and North Africa (the Eastern Mediterranean, from which most of the inhabitants of the Empire now come): importing models of dark Semitic beauty unthinkable for the ancient Romans who, like the Greeks, had the Nordic beauty in high esteem as a sign of noble and divine origin.

330
Constantine steals statues and treasures from Greece to decorate Nuova Roma (later Constantinople), the new capital of his empire. At this same time, a bishop from Caesarea, Asia Minor, later known as St. Basil who is credited with grandiose phrases such as ‘I wept for my miserable life’, laid the foundations of what would later become the Orthodox Church.

337
On his deathbed, Emperor Constantine I is baptized a Christian, becoming the first Christian Roman emperor. The Judeo-Christian sycophants, wanting to make clear what example of emperor he was, will call him Constantine I ‘the Great’ and ‘Saint Constantine’.

341
Emperor Flavius Julius Constantius (reigned 337 to 361), another fanatical Christian, proclaims his intention to persecute ‘all fortune-tellers and pagans’. Thus, many Greek Hellenists are imprisoned, tortured and executed. Around this time, famous Christian leaders such as Marcus of Arethusa or Cyril of Heliopolis do their way, particularly demolishing temples, burning important writings and persecuting the Hellenists who, in some way, threaten the expansion of the incipient Church.

We cannot doubt that, at least in part, Christianity used its repugnance for Roman decadence to persecute any Greco-Roman cult, just as Islam today rejects the decline of Western Civilization. This was just the perfect excuse how Christianity justified its deeds and exterminated classical culture. That which Christianity systematically persecuted with shameful excuses, was something pure and aristocratic: luminous Hellenism, love of gnosis, art, philosophy, free debate and the natural sciences. It was Egyptian, Greek and Persian knowledge. What Christianity was doing with its persecution and extermination was literally erasing the traces of the gods.

346
Another great anti-Hellenistic persecution in Constantinople. The famous anti-Christian author and speaker Libanius[1] is accused of being a ‘magician’ and is banished. At this point, what was once the Roman Empire has gone crazy, chaotic and unrecognisable. The patriotic Romans must take their hands to their heads when they see how ignorant crowds snatch from their heirs all the harvest of the classic cultures, not only of Rome itself, but also of Egypt, Persia and Greece.

353-354
The Decree of Constantius establishes the death penalty for anyone who practices a religion with ‘idols’. Another decree, in 354, orders to close all the Greco-Roman temples. Many of them are assaulted by fanatical crowds, who torture and murder the priests, loot the treasures, burn the writings, destroy works of art that today would be considered sublime and destroy everything in general.

Most of the temples that fall in this era are desecrated, being converted into stables, brothels and gambling halls. The first lime factories are installed next to these closed temples, from which they extract their raw material—in such a way that a large part of classical sculpture and architecture is transformed into lime!

In this same year of 354, a new edict plainly orders destruction of all Greco-Roman temples and the extermination of all ‘idolaters’. The killings of the adepts of Greco-Roman culture, the demolitions of their temples, the destructions of statues and the fires of libraries throughout the empire follow each other.

This statue of Emperor Augustus—the first Roman emperor,
who was obviously pagan—was disfigured by the Christians,
who engraved a cross on the forehead.

Let us not make the mistake of blaming the Christianised Roman emperors. They were ridiculous and weak men, but they were in the hands of their educators. The instructors, who respond to the type of vampiric and parasitic priest so hated by Nietzsche, were the true leaders of the meticulous and massive destruction that was taking place.

The numerous bishops and saints to whom we have referred were ‘cosmopolitan’ men of Jewish education, many of whom had been born in Judea, or came from essentially Jewish areas. They were transformed Jews who, having come in contact with their enemies, studying them carefully and hatefully, knew how to destroy them.

They had a broad rabbinical education and knew in depth the teachings of classical culture, dominating the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syrian and Egyptian languages. Such characters, of an intelligence and a cunning as outstanding as their resentment, were convinced that they were building a new order, and that to do so it was necessary to erase a hundred percent every trace of any previous civilisation, and any thought that was not of Jewish origin. We must recognise that their psychological knowledge and their mastery of propaganda were of a very high level.

356
All the rituals of classical culture are placed outside the law and punished by death. A year later, all methods of divination, including astrology, are also proscribed.

359
In the very Jewish city of Scythopolis, (province of Syria, today corresponds to Beit She’an, in Israel), Christian leaders organise nothing more and nothing less than a concentration camp for the Hellenists detained throughout the empire. In this field those who profess classical beliefs, or who simply opposed the Church, are imprisoned, tortured and executed.

Over time, Scythopolis becomes a whole infrastructure of camps, dungeons, torture cells and execution rooms, where thousands of Hellenists would go. The most intense horrors of the time take place here. It was the gulag that the communism of the time used to suppress the dissidents.[2]
 
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[1] Note of the Editor: Libanius is a kind of hero in Gore Vidal’s historical novel, Julian.

[2] Note of the Editor: Unlike Karlheinz Deschner, who uses thousands of footnotes in his books about the criminal history of Christianity, Evropa Soberana does not reference most of what he writes. I guess his source for the Judaeo-Christian death camp in Scythopolis was Ammianus Marcellinus, but the Wikipedia article on Ammianus does not mention the camps because the wiki is run by Jews and philo-Semite whites.

Scholars of the 14 words really need to start building a library in Greek and Latin that includes the collection of the Loeb Classical Library to properly reference these historical tragedies so difficult to find without a proper bibliographical guide.

Kriminalgeschichte, 47

Editor’s note: This image of the ethnic group of the first Christians in a province of the Roman Empire is really worth a thousand words. Deschner tells us below that St. Athanasius ‘was short and weak; Julian calls him homunculus’.

We can imagine the envy that these mudblood Christians felt for the pagan Aryans! It is a pity that white nationalists are unaware of the role that ethnic struggles played in the Christian takeover of the Roman Empire.
 

______ 卐 ______

 

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
Character and tactics of a Father of the Church

Probably like Paul and like Gregory VII, Athanasius—one of the most discussed personalities in history (even today some of the facts about his life remain controversial)—was short and weak; Julian calls him homunculus. However, like Paul and Gregory, each one of them was a genius of hatred. This cleric, the most obstinate of his century, compensated his scarce physical presence with enormous activity.

He was one of the ecclesiastical personages that with great tenacity and lack of scruples induced errors. However, the Catholics declared him Father of the Church, which is one of the highest honours for which the facts are adjusted: ‘Brutal violence against his near adversaries: mistreatment, beatings, burning of churches, murder’ (Dannenbauer).

We may add bribery and counterfeiting; ‘imposing’ if we want to use the term used by Erich Caspar, but ‘totally devoid of attractive human traits’. In an analogous way Eduard Schwartz expresses himself about this ‘humanly repulsive nature, but superb from the historical point of view’, and records ‘the inability to distinguish between politics and morality, the absence of any doubt about his own self-legitimacy’.

The theologian Schneemelcher, on the other hand, splits hairs distinguishing the ‘pamphlets of ecclesiastical policy of Athanasius with his abhorrent polemics and lack of veracity’ of his ‘dogmatic writings which brighten the heart of orthodoxy’, and considers Athanasius a man ‘who wants to be a theologian and a Christian and who nevertheless remains always in his human nature’, which means that the theologian and Christian, and many of his actions, combine the rewarding orthodoxy with hatred and lies. Schneemelcher himself cites the ‘intrigues’ and ‘the violent impulses of the hierarchs’.

St. Epiphanius (whose religious fervour contrasted, as is well known, strongly with his intelligence), revered as ‘patriarch of orthodoxy’, testifies about Athanasius: ‘If he was opposed, he resorted to violence’.

When violence affected him, as in the years 357-358 fleeing from the officials of Constantius, he pathetically preaches tolerance and condemns force as a sign of heresy. But this always was the policy of a Church that, when defeated, preached tolerance and freedom in the face of oppression, but when accessing the majority and power, it did not retreat before coercion and infamy. For the Christian Church, especially the Catholic Church, never aspires to essential freedoms but only to its own freedom.

When the Catholic Church was the State, St. Optatus of Milevis approved in 366-367 to fight against the ‘heretics’, even passing them by the arms. ‘Why’, the saint asks, ‘should it be forbidden to avenge God [!] with the death of the guilty? Do you want tests? There are thousands in the Old Testament. It is not possible to stop thinking about terrible examples’. And indeed: there is no lacking of texts in the Sacred Scriptures!

However, when the Arians were in power, the Catholics presented themselves as defenders of religious freedom. ‘The Church threatens exile and jail’, lamented St. Hilary, ‘it wants to take faith by force… exile and prison. It persecutes the clerics. The comparison between the Church of yesteryear, now lost, and what we have before our eyes, cries out to heaven’.

Athanasius similarly appeals to the emperor, who was on the side of the Catholics. However, when the emperor supported the Arians, Athanasius advocated the libertas ecclesiae and the emperor’s politics suddenly became ‘unheard of’ and the emperor became the ‘patron of atheism and heresy’, a forerunner of the Antichrist, comparable to the demon on earth. Athanasius did not hesitate a moment to insult him gravely in a personal way, treating him as a man without reason and intelligence, a friend of the criminals and of the Jews. ‘The truth is not announced with swords, spears and soldiers’, he says. ‘The Lord has not used violence against anyone’.

Even the Jesuit Sieben admits ‘that Athanasius was forced to make such claims because of the difficulties caused by the persecution. As soon as the Nicaea faction reached supremacy and enjoyed the emperor’s attention, those tones did not rise again’. However, the same Athanasius could dedicate to that same emperor, when he hoped to recover through him his episcopal see, numerous panegyrics praising him with new attributes for his humanity and his clemency, even treating him as a Christian who had always been full of divine love. In his Apology to Constantius, published in 357, he courts the sovereign in a disgusting way.

However, in the year 358, in his History of the Arians he fills Constantius with contempt and hatred. Athanasius constantly changes his mind about the emperor and the Empire, adapting or opposing him, according to the situation, according to the needs. During his third exile he even dared to rebel openly against his (Christian) lord. However, the emperor’s early death prevented him from having to draw conclusions about those considerations.

Julian, 18

Julian presiding at a conference of Sectarians
(Edward Armitage, 1875)

 

My interview with Constantius occurred on the last day of his visit. Bishop George spent the morning coaching us in what to say. He was as nervous as we were; his career was at stake, too.

Gallus was admitted first to the sacred presence. During the halfhour he was with the Emperor, I recall praying to every deity I could think of; even then I was eclectic!

At last the Master of the Offices, gorgeous in court robes, came to fetch me. He looked like an executioner. Bishop George rattled out a blessing. The Master gave me instructions in how I was to salute the Emperor and which formula of greeting I was to use. I muttered them over and over to myself as I swam—that was my exact sensation—into the presence of the Augustus.

Constantius was seated on an ordinary chair in the apse of the hall. Eusebius stood beside him, holding a sheaf of documents. On a stool at Constantius’s feet sat Gallus, looking well-pleased with himself.

I went through the formula of homage, the words falling without thought from my lips. Constantius gave me a long, shrewd, curious look. Then he did not look at me again during the course of the interview. He was one of those men who could never look another in the eye. Nor should this characteristic be taken, necessarily, as a sign of weakness or bad conscience. I am rather like Constantius in this. I have always had difficulty looking into men’s eyes. All rulers must. Why? Because of what we see: self-interest, greed, fear. It is not a pleasant sensation to know that merely by existing one inspires animal terror in others. Constantius was often evil in his actions but he took no pleasure in the pain of others. He was not a Caligula, nor a Gallus.

Constantius spoke to me rapidly and impersonally. “We have received heartening reports concerning the education of our most noble cousin Julian. Bishop George tells us that it is your wish to prepare for the priesthood.” He paused, not so much to hear what I might say as to give proper weight to what he intended to say next. As it was, I was speechless.

Constantius continued, “You must know that your desire to serve God is pleasing to us. It is not usual for princes to remove themselves from the world, but then it is not usual for any man to be called by heaven.” I suddenly saw with perfect clarity the prison I was to occupy. Deftly, Constantius spun his web. No priest could threaten him. I would be a priest.

“Bishop George tells me that you have pondered deeply the disputes which—sadly—divide holy church. And he assures me that in your study of sacred matters you have seen the truth and believe, as all Christians ought, that the son is of like substance to the father, though not of the same substance. Naturally, as one of our family, you may not live as an ordinary holy man; responsibilities will be thrust upon you. For this reason your education must be continued at Constantinople. You are already a reader in the church. In Constantinople you can hope to become ordained, which will give us pleasure, as well as making you most pleasing to God who has summoned you to serve him. And so we salute our cousin and find him a worthy descendant of Claudius Gothicus, the founder of our house.”

That was all. Constantius gave me his hand to kiss. I never said a word beyond those required by court ceremonial. As I backed out of the room, I saw Gallus smile at Eusebius.

I wonder now what Constantius was thinking. I suspect that even then I may have puzzled him. Gallus was easily comprehended. But who was this silent youth who wanted to become a priest? I had planned to say all sorts of things to Constantius, but he had given me no opportunity. Surprisingly enough, he was nervous with everyone. He could hardly speak, except when he was able to speak, as it were, from the throne. Excepting his wife, Eusebia, and the Grand Chamberlain, he had no confidants. He was a curious man.

Now that I am in his place I have more sympathy for him than I did, though no liking. His suspicious nature was obviously made worse by the fact that he was somewhat less intelligent than those he had to deal with. This added to his unease and made him humanly inaccessible. As a student he had failed rhetoric simply through slowness of mind. Later he took to writing poetry, which embarrassed everyone. His only “intellectual” exercise was Galilean disputes. I am told that he was quite good at this sort of thing, but any village quibbler can make a name for himself at a Galilean synod. Look at Athanasius!

I was relieved by this interview. Of course I did not want to become a priest, though if that were the price I had to pay for my life I was perfectly willing to pay it.

In a blaze of pageantry, Constantius departed. Gallus, Bishop George and I stood in the courtyard as he rode past. Mounted, he looked splendid and tall in his armour of chased gold. He acknowledged no one as he rode out of Macellum. In his cold way he was most impressive, and I still envy him his majesty. He could stand for hours in public looking neither to left nor right, motionless as a statue, which is what our ceremonial requires.

It was the Emperor Diocletian who decided that we should become, in effect, if not in title, Asiatic kings, to be displayed on rare occasions like the gilded effigies of gods. Diocletian’s motive was understandable, perhaps inevitable, for in the last century emperors were made and unmade frivolously, at the whim of the army. Diocletian felt that if we were to be set apart, made sacred in the eyes of the people and hedged round by awe-inspiring ritual, the army would have less occasion to treat us with easy contempt.

To a certain extent, this policy has worked. Yet today whenever I ride forth in state and observe the awe in the faces of the people, an awe inspired not by me but by the theatricality of the occasion, I feel a perfect impostor and want to throw off my weight of gold and shout, “Do you want a statue or a man?” I don’t, of course, because they would promptly reply, “A statue!”

As we watched the long procession make its way from the villa to the main highway, Gallus suddenly exclaimed, “What I’d give to go with them!”

“You will be gone soon enough, most noble Gallus.” Bishop George had now taken to using our titles.

“When?” I asked.

Gallus answered. “In a few days. The Emperor promised, ‘When all is ready, you will join us.’ That’s what he said. I shall be given a military command, and then…!” But Gallus was sufficiently wise not to mention his hopes for the future. Instead he gave me a dazzling smile. “And then,” he repeated, with his usual malice, “you’ll become a deacon.”

“The beginning of a most holy career,” said Bishop George, removing his silver headdress and handing it to an attendant. There was a red line around his brow where the crown had rested. “I wish I could continue with your education myself, but, alas, the divine Augustus has other plans for me.” For an instant a look of pure delight illuminated that lean, sombre face.

“Alexandria?” I asked. He put his finger to his lips, and we went inside, each pleased with his fate: Gallus as Caesar in the East, George as bishop of Alexandria, and I… well, at least I would be able to continue my studies; better a live priest than a dead prince.

For the next few weeks we lived in hourly expectation of the imperial summons. But as the weeks became months, hope slowly died in each of us. We had been forgotten.

Bishop George promptly lost all interest in our education. We seldom saw him, and when we did his attitude was obscurely resentful, as if we were in some way responsible for his bad luck. Gallus was grim and prone to sudden outbursts of violence. If a brooch did not fasten properly, he would throw it on the floor and grind it under his heel. On the days when he spoke at all, he roared at everyone. But most of the time he was silent and glowering, his only interest the angry seduction of slave girls.

I was not, I confess, in the best of spirits either, but at least I had Plotinus and Plato. I was able to study, and to wait.

Published in: on November 19, 2017 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kriminalgeschichte, 39

 

Emperor Julian

(Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus)
Caesar: 6 November 355 – February 360
Augustus: February 360 – 3 November 361
Sole Augustus: 3 November 361 – 26 June 363

 
The pagan reaction under Julian

Like his brother Gallus, Julian was also spared from the killing of relatives, although as a member of the imperial dynasty he was kept closely guarded: first in a magnificent estate of Nicomedia, which had been owned by his mother (Basilina, deceased shortly after the birth of Julian), and then in the lonely fortress of Macellum, located in the heart of Anatolia, where his older brother was also imprisoned. The distrustful emperor wove a dense network of spies around both princes, to transmit him each and every one of their words.

They lived ‘like prisoners in that Persian castle’ (Julian), practically arrested and surely threatened with death. In Nicomedia, Julian was given a preceptor, Bishop Eusebius, a relative of Basilina, ecclesiastic and man of the world already known at the time, who, following the custom of Oriental prelates, used to dye his nails with cinnabar and his hair with henna. He was instructed to educate the child severely in the Christian religion; to prevent him from contacting the population, and to ‘never talk about the tragic end of his family’, although at seven Julian was very aware of it and this caused frequent crying spells and terrible nightmares.

In Macellum, where he was confined for seven years with scarcely any other company than that of his slaves, he had as his educator the Arian Jorge of Cappadocia, who was in charge of training him for the priesthood. But then Julian was able to leave the place and settled in Constantinople, where he lived the disputes between Arians and Orthodox and knew the real life of that world of violent riots and fiery mutual excommunications. Towards the end of 351, when Julian was twenty years old, Constantius ordered him to continue his studies in Nicomedia. Julian visited Pergamum, Ephesus and Athens, where he had notable teachers who won him for paganism.

Appointed caesar in 355 by Constantius, and proclaimed augustus by the army in Paris in 360, the same sovereign, who had no offspring, at the time of death appointed Julian as successor… when the two opposing armies marched to the encounter of the other. An ephemeral restoration of polytheistic traditions took place, with the establishment of a Hellenistic ‘state religion’, whose organization followed in many respects the pattern of Christian canons.

Julian tried to replace the cross and the nefarious dualism of Christians by a formula composed of certain streams of Hellenistic philosophy and a ‘solar pantheism’. Without neglecting the other gods of the pagan pantheon, he had a temple built for the Sun god—probably identified with Mithra—in the imperial palace; on numerous occasions he proclaimed his veneration for the basileus Helios, the Sun king, which was already a bi-millennial tradition:

Since my childhood, I was inspired by an invincible longing for the rays of the God, who have always captivated my soul, in such a way that I constantly wanted to contemplate it and even at night, when I was in the country, I forgot everything to admire the beauty of starry heaven…

Today we have become accustomed to interpreting Julian’s reaction as a nostalgic movement, a romantic anachronism or the absurd attempt to turn the hands of the clock backwards. But why do we interpret it that way? Was he refuted, or could he be, instead of being drowned in blood? What is certain and undeniable is that Emperor Julian (from 361 to 363), called ‘the Apostate’ by the Christians, was far superior to his Christian predecessors in character, morality and spirituality.

Trained in philosophy and literature, not only was he ‘the first truly cultured emperor for more than a century’ (Brown), but also deserved ‘a prominent place among writers of the time in the Greek language’ (Stein), and he knew to surround himself with the best thinkers of his time. Julian was zealous in the fulfilment of his duty and enemy of all gentleness, since he never had mistresses or ephebes, never got drunk; the emperor went to work since dawn. He tried to rationalise the bureaucracy and place intellectuals in top government and administrative positions.

Julian abolished the splendours of the court, the possession of eunuchs and jesters, and the whole system of flatterers, parasites, spies and whistleblowers who were fired by the thousands. He reduced the service, reduced the taxes by a fifth, acted with severity against the unfaithful collectors and sanitized the state mail. He also abolished the labarum, that is, the banner of the army with the anagram of Christ, and tried to resurrect ancient cults, festivals and the Paideia: classical education. He ordered the return of the old temples or the reconstruction of those that had been destroyed, and even the return of the statues and other sacred ornaments that adorned the gardens of the individuals who had appropriated them.

But he did not ban Christianity; on the contrary, he allowed the return of the exiled clerics, which only served to foment new conspiracies and tumults.

The Donatists of Africa, while praising the emperor as a paragon of justice, disinfected their newly recovered churches by scrubbing them up and down with sea water, sanded the wood of the altars and the plaster of the walls, regained the influence lost under Constans and Constantius II, and prepared to enjoy their revenge. The Catholics were converted by force, their churches expropriated, their books burned, their chalices and monstrances thrown by the windows and the hosts thrown to the dogs; some abused clerics died. Up to 391, the Donatists continued to have high status, at least in Numidia and Mauritania.

It is true that Julian, as a supporter of polytheism, criticized the Old Testament and its monotheistic rigours, as well as the arrogance of the supposed chosen people, but he granted Yahweh a rank equal to that of the other gods and even admitted that the God worshiped by the Jews was ‘the best and most powerful of all’. A Jewish delegation that visited him in Antioch in July 362, obtained the authorization to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and the promise of new territories, in a kind of anticipation of the current ‘Zionism’, which motivated the jubilation of the diaspora. The reconstruction of the temple was initiated with great eagerness the following spring, while Julian undertook his campaign in Persia, but towards the end of May a fire, judged ‘providential’ by the Christians, as well as the death of Julian, meant the end of the works forever.

Julian was always in favour of tolerance, even towards Christians. If his dispositions regarding the ‘Galileans’, he said on one occasion, were benign and humanitarian, they should reciprocate by not bothering anyone, nor trying to impose assistance on their churches. In a letter to the citizens of Bosra, he wrote:

To convince and to teach men, it is necessary to use reason and not blows, threats or corporal punishment. I will not tire of repeating it: if you are sincere supporters of the true religion, you will refrain from bothering, attacking or offending the community of the Galileans, who are more worthy of pity than hatred, since they are wrong in matters of such power and transcendence.

Now, and although Julian was a supporter of tolerance… he could not avoid the use of violence against the violent, the Christians who were dedicated to desecrating and even destroying the newly rebuilt temples in Syria and Asia Minor, as well as statues. His legislation in the matter of education provoked many hatreds, inasmuch as he forbade Christians to study Greek literature (saying ‘let them stay in their churches interpreting their Matthew and Luke’). He also demanded the return of the columns and capital stolen from the temples by the Christians to adorn their ‘houses of God’.

If the Galileans want to have decoration in their temples, congratulations, but not with the materials belonging to other places of worship.

Libanius tells how the ships and chariots that returned their columns to the sacked gods could be seen everywhere. On October 22, 362, the Christians set fire to the temple of Apollo in Daphne, which had been restored by the sovereign, and destroyed the famous statue. In retaliation, Julian had the Basilica of Antioch and other churches consecrated to various martyrs razed. (Incidentally, Christians said that the temple had been struck by lightning but according to Libanius, there were no storm clouds on the night of the fire.)

In Damascus, Gaza, Ashkelon, Alexandria and other places the Christian basilicas burned, sometimes with the collaboration of the Jews; some believers were tortured or killed, including Bishop Marcus de Arethusa, so he entered the payroll of the martyrs. But, in general lines, ‘more offended had been the rights of the pagans’ (Schuitze), and in any case said pogrom was no more than a reaction to the excesses of the Christians, their abuses and their diatribes against paganism.

Throughout the empire, from Arabia and Syria, through Numidia, and even the Italian Alps, Julian was celebrated as a ‘benefactor of the state’, ‘undoing past wrongs’, ‘restorer of temples and the empire of freedom’, ‘magnanimous inspirer of the edicts of tolerance’. Even one of Julian’s main intellectual detractors, Gregory of Nazianzus, confessed that his ears ached from hearing so much praise from his liberal regime, according to Ernst Stein, ‘one of the healthiest the Roman Empire ever had’.

During the campaign in Persia, initiated by the emperor from Antioch (which was the main base of operations of the Romans against the Persians), on March 5, 363, a favourable occasion was presented. Julian, who was not wearing a breastplate, fell north of Ctesiphon, on the banks of the Tigris. Why was he unarmed? Was he wounded by an enemy spear or, as some claim, from his own ranks? Nobody knew.

Libanius, who was friend of Julian, assures that the author was a man ‘who refused to render cult to the Gods’. And even a Christian historian claims that Julian died at midnight on June 26, 363, when he was thirty-two years old and had governed for twenty months, victim of an assassin in the pay of the Christians…, a hero without blemish, naturally, who ‘perpetrated this audacious action in defence of God and religion’.

The Persians argued that he could not be one of their own, because they were out of range when the emperor was wounded in the midst of his troops. ‘Only one thing is certain’, Benoist-Méchin wrote, ‘and it is that he was not a Persian’, although he does not provide any definitive proof. ‘Be that as it may’, wrote Theodoret, father of the Church, ‘was he man or angel who wielded the sword, the truth is that he acted as the servant of the divine will’.

Kriminalgeschichte, 38

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
First assaults on the temples

Paganism still had many followers among the peasants, the many rectors and philosophers; it was also preserved among the cultivated aristocracy, especially the most rancid senatorial families, even among those of the Eastern empire.

In the year 341, a decree attributed to Constans began not with the classic exposition of motives, but with a propagandistic cry: ‘Let the superstition cease! May the delirium of sacrifices be abolished!’ (caesat superstitio sacrificiorum aboleatur insania). Consequently, the sovereign ordered in 346 the closing, with immediate effects, of the temples located in the cities; in 356, the closing of all the temples was ordered.

The question was to prevent the wicked (perditi) from doing their bad things, which triggered a wave of assaults on the temples. The confiscation of property and death by stepping on a temple, or by participating in the ‘aberration’ of sacrifices or worshiping an image, was one of the points of the laws of Constantius: ‘Whoever such things do, be struck down by the avenger sword’.

Libanius, a pagan Hellene rector of Antioch, wrote that Constantius inherited from his father ‘the spark of the inclination to evil deeds, converted by him into a great fire, because he plunders the treasures of the gods, demolishes the temples, annuls the sacred canons’. Libanius comments that Constantius ‘generalized to the rhetoric (logoi) the contempt of pagan worship, and it is not surprising, because both, worship and rhetoric are related and go together’. The contemporary reader will understand that with this he accused the emperor of going against religion and against classical culture at the same time.

The most fanatical Christians already attacked altars and temples. The deacon Cyril of Heliopolis, for example, became famous with his actions. In Arethusa of Syria, the priest Marcus made to demolish an old sanctuary (what later, being bishop and during the reaction of Julian, it was worth a serious beating). In Caesarea of Cappadocia, the Christian community razed a temple of Zeus, patron of the city, and another of Apollo. In Alexandria, the Arian Georgios destroyed a whole series of sacred places of paganism.
 

Hecatombs under the pious Gallus

(Constantius Gallus in a late copy of 354.) In Palestine, the scene of the process of Scythopolis, occurred the outrages of Gallus, a cousin of Constantius who was saved from the dynastic slaughter of the year 337. We find here another good Christian, assiduous to the church since childhood, great reader of the Bible and supposedly faithful husband of the old Constantina, sister of the emperor and married in second nuptials: a notorious harpy, ‘an unleashed fury’, Amianus wrote, ‘as bloodthirsty as his own husband’.

Gallus sent his brother Julian several letters of reprimand, inviting him to return to Christianity. In 351, the year of his proclamation as Caesar, Gallus scandalized the pagans by carrying the bones of Saint Babylas—incidentally, the first well-documented relocation we know—to the famous Apollo sanctuary in Daphne, which was thus rendered denaturalized.

The Christian Gallus, a great fan of boxing (at that time boxing was very bloody, with frequent breaking of bones), was revealed as a little tyrant in his residence of Antioch, through arbitrariness of all kinds and trials for high treason and witchcraft in which he made fun of all the legal norms and that brought a wake of confiscations, exile, horrible tortures and executions.

The fight against the pagans was tinged with true fanaticism, and he used a network of spies that covered the entire city. The Caesar Gallus, of whom Theodoret says with emphasis that ‘he was orthodox to death until the day of his death’, even induced some lynching by the plebs to get rid of certain uncomfortable fellow citizens. In 352, when the Jews suffered another of their periodic attacks of messianic excitement and rebelled against the prohibition of having slaves who were not Jews, assaulting a Roman garrison to procure weapons and naming someone of name Patrician, the pious Gallus burned entire cities and cut the throats even of the children.

Nor were the high imperial officials saved from this regime of terror; thus it fell the prefect of the East, Thalasius, directly responsible to the emperor. He was succeeded by Domitian, who shortly after his arrival in Antioch was captured by the soldiers, dragged through the streets, hung by his legs and thrown into the river Orontes; the same end suffered his quaestor.

There were several other murders, and towards the beginning of the summer of 354 the population rose ‘for varied and complicated reasons’, as Ammianus writes, but above all because of famine and general misery. Governor Theophilus was killed and dismembered.

Constantius was in need of calling his cousin, despite having promised him full immunity, and asked him to be accompanied by his wife, ‘the lovely Constantina’, since he had not seen her for a long time. Gallus understood that there was something fishy, but he trusted the support of Constantina, the emperor’s sister.

But this supporter died in those days as a result of a fever and the emperor beheaded his man of confidence one autumn morning in 354, in Istria. After the execution he proceeded with the rack, the axe of the executioner or exile against all the friends of Gallus, his officers and officials, and even against some religious people.

Only the death of the sovereign, at forty-four years of age on November 3, 361, avoided Constantius a confrontation with his cousin Julian.

Kriminalgeschichte, 36

Editor’s note: After reading the stories of the white race of Pierce and Kemp, it is obvious that, once the ‘Aryan problem’ is understood, the most practical thing is to exterminate the conquered non-whites instead of using them.

The Aryan problem consists of seeing as capital (slaves) a lower species of humans whose biology allows them to de-code the Aryan DNA and produce fertile mongrels if crossbreeding with them. Since sexual lust is natural among whites, this was precisely how the Roman Empire declined and fell.

In this section we see what Deschner says about the son of Constantine who inherited the empire. Like his father, he forbade Jews from any activity involving slaves: ‘That’s when the Jews’ dedication to financial activities began’. The Christian Constantius practised scorched-earth policies against his Germanic neighbours but not against the Semites at home! In our days the Jewish dominion of the financial sector has its roots in the non-exterminationist, misconceived policies of the Roman emperors. Deschner wrote:

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Constantius and his Christian-style government

(Bust of Constantius II.) Not content with these perfidious massacres, the ‘religiosissimus imperator’ undertook continuous wars against the Alamanni, the Sarmatians, the Persians and other nations; always very cautious, slow but conscientious, always preparing the campaigns thoroughly, from Mesopotamia to the Rhine. He used to leave only a scorched earth behind him.

That politician of whispering and cabinet, in whose court an extraordinary accumulation of bishops met, had very intimate relations with religion. ‘The first ruler who considered himself enthroned by the grace of God’ (Seeck), and who liked to be called officially lord of the whole earth and ‘my eternity’ (aeternitatem meam), was convinced of being an instrument appointed by the Most High and enjoyed the special protection of an angel, whose vague and vaporous contours he even thought he saw sometimes, floating in the air. He practiced chastity with more conviction than his brother, the fan of the ephebes.

This emperor favoured the Christian priests even more than his father, and confirmed, enlarged and multiplied the privileges granted.

If Constantine had dispensed them from the artisanal contribution, Constantius forgave them the territorial contribution and the tax for the use of mail. In the year 355, he ordered that the bishops could not be tried by the common courts, ‘to avoid false testimonies promoted by the fanatical spirits’. And not only did he exempt them from common services, but their wives and children as well as their servants of both sexes would be exempt in perpetuity from all kinds of taxes and benefits on behalf of the State. However, and this is typical of all ecclesiastical history, such concessions only served to make the clergy claim even more privileges.

Constantius, who was not baptized until the end of his life, as his father had done (and in that case, too, being the Arian officiant Eudocium of Antioch), was an Arian Christian. Father Athanasius, his main adversary, includes him in the large list of great Biblical sinners: he calls him perjurer, unjust, irresponsible and worse than the pagan emperors, leader of the impious, accomplice of bandits and Antichrist. ‘There is hardly room for insults worse than those lavished by Athanasius’ (Hagel).

Like his father, Constantius used Christianity as an instrument of his politics and not the other way around. Therefore, as soon as he saw himself as the sole emperor, his first concern was the unity of the Church, although unlike his father, he preferred to look for it in the Arian patriarchs. Hence he banished one after another of numerous Catholic patriarchs, including Athanasius, Paul of Constantinople and Hilary de Poitiers.

Others, like Pope Liberius and Hosius of Corduba, suffered the weight of his authority: ‘My will must be law for the Church’, he explained to those gathered in Milan in 355. ‘You will obey, or you will be banished’. At the same time persecution continued against the Donatists of Africa that Constantine did not initiate, and even proceeded against a sect of Arianism, that of the Anomoeans, seventy of whose bishops are said to have been exiled by his order.

With the Jews, Constantius was even more brutal than his father. A law of the year 339, which calls them a ‘nefarious sect’ and calls ‘markets’ their places of assembly, prohibits under pain of death at the stake to make it difficult for any Jew to pretend to convert to Christianity.

Now, even if the Jews were authorized to become Christians, the Christian who converted to Judaism faced the ‘deserved punishment’, according to the emperor, of confiscation of all his property. He forbade marriages between Christians and Jews; in particular, he persecuted the entry of women into the Hebrew communities with the death penalty.

The Jews could not buy slaves, even if they were pagans, under penalty of confiscation of property, or death penalty if they dared to circumcise them. Consequently, he forbade them any economic activity whose exploitation necessitated the employment of slaves; surely, that’s when the Jews’ dedication to financial activities began, which made them even more hated. The repression was severe, especially with the Jews of Palestine, after an insurrection that was bloody crushed.

The attitude of Constantius against the pagans was also very hard, probably instigated by the Christian party.

Kriminalgeschichte, 35

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
First wars among devout Christians

After the massacre, the sons of Constantine shared the spoils. The eldest, Constantine II (337-340) stayed with the western provinces, Gaul, Hispania, Britannia, and established his residence in Trier; the youngest, Constans, the centrals, Italy, Africa and Greece, with its capital in Sirmium (the current Mitrovicz, in Serbia). Constantius II (337-361), who survived and inherited them all, was awarded East and resided in Antioch until 350, when he was not campaigning.

(Bust of Constans)

Soon war broke out between the eldest and the youngest on a question of border demarcation. In early 340, Constantine II left Gaul and invaded Italy by surprise, but fell into an ambush near Aquileia, while trying to force an alpine pass. Constans’ generals killed him and threw the corpse into the river. In those moments Constantius II, as we will see in the following section, was very busy with the quarrels between Christians and especially with the incursions of the Persians in the East, so that Constans could stay with the western provinces without any discussion.

That seventeen-year-old adolescent, owner of two thirds of the immense empire, was the only one baptized among the sons of Constantine and had been educated in chastity, the ultimate Christian virtue, as we know. In fact, he shied away from women but used to enjoy the company of blond Germans, hostages or slaves, with whom he went out to hunt in remote solitary forests, while publicly declaring himself an enemy of pederasty.

Within the domains of Constans the first temple destructions, sporadic at the beginning, are produced in Rome, as well as a renewed persecution against the Donatists. As they did not allow themselves to be corrupted by the monies of the emperor, which the old Donatus had brusquely rejected, Constans decided to expropriate the unbowed clerics and, by force of arms, handed over the Donatist churches to the Catholics.

In 347 there was the bloody crushing of the Bagai insurrection, where the ordinary was assassinated, another Donatus and Bishop Majorinus, principal saint of the Donatists. Others were tied to columns and whipped by order of Macarius, the imperial commissioner, praised by Catholics as ‘advocate of the holy cause’. They began to speak of ‘the Macarian persecution’. Some Donatists died tortured in prisons. Many fled and others were exiled. Donatus himself died, apparently in the wreck of the ship where he was travelling deported. The assets of the exiles were confiscated.

Meanwhile, on January 18, 350, there was in Autun (Lyon) the pronouncement of General Magnentius, born in Amiens and the son of a Frankish and a Breton, who seized the western provinces. According to some later sources he was pagan; however, the coins he minted suggest the opposite, that is, he was a Christian. The Franks and the Saxons supported him at once, and all the towns and fortresses of the Rhine fell into his hands. Britain, Gaul, Italy, and Africa hastened to recognize him as emperor.

Certainly, Magnentius, the first Germanic anti-caesar and the most dangerous of all the usurpers who threatened the throne of Constantius (up to six in all), failed to enjoy his victory for a long time. The emperor left the Balkans for the Danube, to initiate the ‘holy war’, with troops that doubled those of his opponent. According to Theodoret, even the pagans of the army had to be baptized by order of Constantius.

Magnentius was expelled from Italy in 352; was also defeated in Gaul, and on August of 353, seeing himself surrounded in his castle of Lyon, he threw himself on the tip of his own sword, not without having finished with his intimate friends before; his brother Desiderius and his mother. Constantius had the enemy’s head roved around the country, and had many others cut off.

Kriminalgeschichte, 34

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 

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Chapter 7: The Christian Sons of
Constantine and His Successors

‘Since Constantine, the emperors were much more devoted Christians than they had ever been as pagans’.

— Frank Thiess

‘During the 4th and 5th centuries, the alliance between Christianity and the Imperium Romanum provided the inhabitants of the empire… an entirely new image of the world’.

— Denys Hay

 

Everything seemed very promising: a new idea of the world, the Imperium as a Christian institution oriented towards peace, the emperors turned into zealous Christians…

Statue of Emperor Constantine II.

Indeed, the sons of Constantine, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans, along with the father, were compared by Eusebius with the Trinity. Almost since they began to walk, they were accompanied by experienced prefects, dressed in purple, in the ranks of the army. They were barely fifteen, twelve, eleven years old, and they took part in campaigns on remote fronts. Good Christians and intrepid soldiers: an ideal combination advocated for centuries by a religion of peace that has never brought peace anywhere.
 

The first Christian dynasty founded on family extermination

The imperial father did the pioneering work. Scarcely had he died and Constantius II, who considered himself an envoy of God and ‘bishop of bishops’, and once even practiced sexual continence, began in August 337 the extermination of almost all the male members of the imperial house in Constantinople: his uncle Dalmatius, half brother of Constantine who had lived many years surrounded by spies, and the father of Emperor Julian, Julius Constance, very hated by the Empress St. Elena, amen of six cousins and other badly seen courtesan personalities. Among these, the almost omnipotent Ablabius, prefect of the praetorians, whose daughter Olympias was promised as a child to Constantine. (Later, Constantius married her to the king of the Armenians, Arsaces III, and she was killed by the former wife of the sovereign with the complicity of a priest who mixed poison in the wine of mass.)

Christian mercy only respected Julian, who was five years old (he would be assassinated during a campaign against the Persians); his stepbrother Gallus was also saved because he was so sick that he seemed lost anyway (he would die in Istria in 354).

Constantius was a Christian, so were most of his obedient assassins, soldiers of his guard; Julian deduced from all this that ‘there is no beast as dangerous to man as Christians are to their fellow-believers’.

And just as no man in the Church had criticised the murders of relatives perpetrated by Constantine, no one censured those of the devotee Constantius, ‘one of the most notorious Christian princes of the century’ (Aland). Eusebius alludes to the ‘inspiration from above’ to justify the carnage. In Constantius one could contemplate a revived Constantine, the bishop wrote, and he was not mistaken. The praises dedicated to the multiple parricide and bellicose Constantius are almost as dithyrambic as those deserved by the military leader and exterminator of relatives, Constantine.

Paradigm of the cruelty according to Amianus, Constantius did not take long in sending a message to the bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, the preceptor of Julian, asking him never to speak with him about the destinies of his family.

And six years later, Julian and Gallus were imprisoned in Macellum, a sinister fortress hidden between mountains— ‘without authorizing anyone to approach us, without studies worthy of such a name, without conversations, although we were surrounded by a splendid service’, remembers Julian. A secret agent of the emperor suggested Gallus, the first-born, that Constantius was not guilty of the death of his father, and that the extermination of his family had been an uncontrolled act of the soldiery.

Gibbon on Julian – 12

Edward-Gibbon

The History of the Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire

Chapter XXIII:
Reign of Julian
Part II


The inclination of Julian might prefer the gods of Homer, and of the Scipios, to the new faith, which his uncle had established in the Roman empire; and in which he himself had been sanctified by the sacrament of baptism. But, as a philosopher, it was incumbent on him to justify his dissent from Christianity, which was supported by the number of its converts, by the chain of prophecy, the splendor of or miracles, and the weight of evidence.

The elaborate work, which he composed amidst the preparations of the Persian war, contained the substance of those arguments which he had long revolved in his mind. Some fragments have been transcribed and preserved, by his adversary, the vehement Cyril of Alexandria; and they exhibit a very singular mixture of wit and learning, of sophistry and fanaticism. The elegance of the style and the rank of the author, recommended his writings to the public attention; and in the impious list of the enemies of Christianity, the celebrated name of Porphyry was effaced by the superior merit or reputation of Julian.

The minds of the faithful were either seduced, or scandalized, or alarmed; and the pagans, who sometimes presumed to engage in the unequal dispute, derived, from the popular work of their Imperial missionary, an inexhaustible supply of fallacious objections. But in the assiduous prosecution of these theological studies, the emperor of the Romans imbibed the illiberal prejudices and passions of a polemic divine. He contracted an irrevocable obligation to maintain and propagate his religious opinions; and whilst he secretly applauded the strength and dexterity with which he wielded the weapons of controversy, he was tempted to distrust the sincerity, or to despise the understandings, of his antagonists, who could obstinately resist the force of reason and eloquence.

The Christians, who beheld with horror and indignation the apostasy of Julian, had much more to fear from his power than from his arguments. The pagans, who were conscious of his fervent zeal, expected, perhaps with impatience, that the flames of persecution should be immediately kindled against the enemies of the gods; and that the ingenious malice of Julian would invent some cruel refinements of death and torture which had been unknown to the rude and inexperienced fury of his predecessors.

But the hopes, as well as the fears, of the religious factions were apparently disappointed, by the prudent humanity of a prince, who was careful of his own fame, of the public peace, and of the rights of mankind. Instructed by history and reflection, Julian was persuaded that if the diseases of the body may sometimes be cured by salutary violence, neither steel nor fire can eradicate the erroneous opinions of the mind.

The reluctant victim may be dragged to the foot of the altar; but the heart still abhors and disclaims the sacrilegious act of the hand. Religious obstinacy is hardened and exasperated by oppression; and, as soon as the persecution subsides, those who have yielded are restored as penitents, and those who have resisted are honored as saints and martyrs. If Julian adopted the unsuccessful cruelty of Diocletian and his colleagues, he was sensible that he should stain his memory with the name of a tyrant, and add new glories to the Catholic church, which had derived strength and increase from the severity of the pagan magistrates.

Actuated by these motives, and apprehensive of disturbing the repose of an unsettled reign, Julian surprised the world by an edict, which was not unworthy of a statesman, or a philosopher. He extended to all the inhabitants of the Roman world the benefits of a free and equal toleration; and the only hardship which he inflicted on the Christians, was to deprive them of the power of tormenting their fellow-subjects, whom they stigmatized with the odious titles of idolaters and heretics.

The pagans received a gracious permission, or rather an express order, to open all their temples; and they were at once delivered from the oppressive laws, and arbitrary vexations, which they had sustained under the reign of Constantine, and of his sons. At the same time the bishops and clergy, who had been banished by the Arian monarch, were recalled from exile, and restored to their respective churches; the Donatists, the Novatians, the Macedonians, the Eunomians, and those who, with a more prosperous fortune, adhered to the doctrine of the Council of Nice.

Julian, who understood and derided their theological disputes, invited to the palace the leaders of the hostile sects, that he might enjoy the agreeable spectacle of their furious encounters. The clamor of controversy sometimes provoked the emperor to exclaim, “Hear me! the Franks have heard me, and the Alemanni;” but he soon discovered that he was now engaged with more obstinate and implacable enemies; and though he exerted the powers of oratory to persuade them to live in concord, or at least in peace, he was perfectly satisfied, before he dismissed them from his presence, that he had nothing to dread from the union of the Christians.

The impartial Ammianus has ascribed this affected clemency to the desire of fomenting the intestine divisions of the church, and the insidious design of undermining the foundations of Christianity, was inseparably connected with the zeal which Julian professed, to restore the ancient religion of the empire. As soon as he ascended the throne, he assumed, according to the custom of his predecessors, the character of supreme pontiff; not only as the most honorable title of Imperial greatness, but as a sacred and important office; the duties of which he was resolved to execute with pious diligence. As the business of the state prevented the emperor from joining every day in the public devotion of his subjects, he dedicated a domestic chapel to his tutelar deity the Sun; his gardens were filled with statues and altars of the gods; and each apartment of the palace displaced the appearance of a magnificent temple.

Every morning he saluted the parent of light with a sacrifice; the blood of another victim was shed at the moment when the Sun sunk below the horizon; and the Moon, the Stars, and the Genii of the night received their respective and seasonable honors from the indefatigable devotion of Julian. On solemn festivals, he regularly visited the temple of the god or goddess to whom the day was peculiarly consecrated, and endeavored to excite the religion of the magistrates and people by the example of his own zeal. Instead of maintaining the lofty state of a monarch, distinguished by the splendor of his purple, and encompassed by the golden shields of his guards, Julian solicited, with respectful eagerness, the meanest offices which contributed to the worship of the gods.

Amidst the sacred but licentious crowd of priests, of inferior ministers, and of female dancers, who were dedicated to the service of the temple, it was the business of the emperor to bring the wood, to blow the fire, to handle the knife, to slaughter the victim, and, thrusting his bloody hands into the bowels of the expiring animal, to draw forth the heart or liver, and to read, with the consummate skill of an haruspex, imaginary signs of future events. The wisest of the Pagans censured this extravagant superstition, which affected to despise the restraints of prudence and decency.

Under the reign of a prince, who practised the rigid maxims of economy, the expense of religious worship consumed a very large portion of the revenue a constant supply of the scarcest and most beautiful birds was transported from distant climates, to bleed on the altars of the gods; a hundred oxen were frequently sacrificed by Julian on one and the same day; and it soon became a popular jest, that if he should return with conquest from the Persian war, the breed of horned cattle must infallibly be extinguished.

Yet this expense may appear inconsiderable, when it is compared with the splendid presents which were offered either by the hand, or by order, of the emperor, to all the celebrated places of devotion in the Roman world; and with the sums allotted to repair and decorate the ancient temples, which had suffered the silent decay of time, or the recent injuries of Christian rapine.

Encouraged by the example, the exhortations, the liberality, of their pious sovereign, the cities and families resumed the practice of their neglected ceremonies. “Every part of the world,” exclaims Libanius, with devout transport, “displayed the triumph of religion; and the grateful prospect of flaming altars, bleeding victims, the smoke of incense, and a solemn train of priests and prophets, without fear and without danger. The sound of prayer and of music was heard on the tops of the highest mountains; and the same ox afforded a sacrifice for the gods, and a supper for their joyous votaries.”

But the genius and power of Julian were unequal to the enterprise of restoring a religion which was destitute of theological principles, of moral precepts, and of ecclesiastical discipline; which rapidly hastened to decay and dissolution, and was not susceptible of any solid or consistent reformation.

The jurisdiction of the supreme pontiff, more especially after that office had been united with the Imperial dignity, comprehended the whole extent of the Roman empire. Julian named for his vicars, in the several provinces, the priests and philosophers whom he esteemed the best qualified to cooperate in the execution of his great design; and his pastoral letters, if we may use that name, still represent a very curious sketch of his wishes and intentions.

He directs, that in every city the sacerdotal order should be composed, without any distinction of birth and fortune, of those persons who were the most conspicuous for the love of the gods, and of men. “If they are guilty,” continues he,

of any scandalous offence, they should be censured or degraded by the superior pontiff; but as long as they retain their rank, they are entitled to the respect of the magistrates and people. Their humility may be shown in the plainness of their domestic garb; their dignity, in the pomp of holy vestments.

When they are summoned in their turn to officiate before the altar, they ought not, during the appointed number of days, to depart from the precincts of the temple; nor should a single day be suffered to elapse, without the prayers and the sacrifice, which they are obliged to offer for the prosperity of the state, and of individuals. The exercise of their sacred functions requires an immaculate purity, both of mind and body; and even when they are dismissed from the temple to the occupations of common life, it is incumbent on them to excel in decency and virtue the rest of their fellow-citizens. The priest of the gods should never be seen in theatres or taverns.

His conversation should be chaste, his diet temperate, his friends of honorable reputation; and if he sometimes visits the Forum or the Palace, he should appear only as the advocate of those who have vainly solicited either justice or mercy. His studies should be suited to the sanctity of his profession. Licentious tales, or comedies, or satires, must be banished from his library, which ought solely to consist of historical or philosophical writings; of history, which is founded in truth, and of philosophy, which is connected with religion.

The impious opinions of the Epicureans and sceptics deserve his abhorrence and contempt; but he should diligently study the systems of Pythagoras, of Plato, and of the Stoics, which unanimously teach that there are gods; that the world is governed by their providence; that their goodness is the source of every temporal blessing; and that they have prepared for the human soul a future state of reward or punishment.

The Imperial pontiff inculcates, in the most persuasive language, the duties of benevolence and hospitality; exhorts his inferior clergy to recommend the universal practice of those virtues; promises to assist their indigence from the public treasury; and declares his resolution of establishing hospitals in every city, where the poor should be received without any invidious distinction of country or of religion. Julian beheld with envy the wise and humane regulations of the church; and he very frankly confesses his intention to deprive the Christians of the applause, as well as advantage, which they had acquired by the exclusive practice of charity and beneficence.

The same spirit of imitation might dispose the emperor to adopt several ecclesiastical institutions, the use and importance of which were approved by the success of his enemies. But if these imaginary plans of reformation had been realized, the forced and imperfect copy would have been less beneficial to Paganism, than honorable to Christianity.

The Gentiles, who peaceably followed the customs of their ancestors, were rather surprised than pleased with the introduction of foreign manners; and in the short period of his reign, Julian had frequent occasions to complain of the want of fervor of his own party. The enthusiasm of Julian prompted him to embrace the friends of Jupiter as his personal friends and brethren; and though he partially overlooked the merit of Christian constancy, he admired and rewarded the noble perseverance of those Gentiles who had preferred the favor of the gods to that of the emperor.

If they cultivated the literature, as well as the religion, of the Greeks, they acquired an additional claim to the friendship of Julian, who ranked the Muses in the number of his tutelar deities. In the religion which he had adopted, piety and learning were almost synonymous; and a crowd of poets, of rhetoricians, and of philosophers, hastened to the Imperial court, to occupy the vacant places of the bishops, who had seduced the credulity of Constantius.

His successor esteemed the ties of common initiation as far more sacred than those of consanguinity; he chose his favorites among the sages, who were deeply skilled in the occult sciences of magic and divination; and every impostor, who pretended to reveal the secrets of futurity, was assured of enjoying the present hour in honor and affluence.

Among the philosophers, Maximus obtained the most eminent rank in the friendship of his royal disciple, who communicated, with unreserved confidence, his actions, his sentiments, and his religious designs, during the anxious suspense of the civil war. As soon as Julian had taken possession of the palace of Constantinople, he despatched an honorable and pressing invitation to Maximus, who then resided at Sardes in Lydia, with Chrysanthius, the associate of his art and studies.

The prudent and superstitious Chrysanthius refused to undertake a journey which showed itself, according to the rules of divination, with the most threatening and malignant aspect: but his companion, whose fanaticism was of a bolder cast, persisted in his interrogations, till he had extorted from the gods a seeming consent to his own wishes, and those of the emperor. The journey of Maximus through the cities of Asia displayed the triumph of philosophic vanity; and the magistrates vied with each other in the honorable reception which they prepared for the friend of their sovereign. Julian was pronouncing an oration before the senate, when he was informed of the arrival of Maximus.

The emperor immediately interrupted his discourse, advanced to meet him, and after a tender embrace, conducted him by the hand into the midst of the assembly; where he publicly acknowledged the benefits which he had derived from the instructions of the philosopher.

Maximus, who soon acquired the confidence, and influenced the councils of Julian, was insensibly corrupted by the temptations of a court. His dress became more splendid, his demeanor more lofty, and he was exposed, under a succeeding reign, to a disgraceful inquiry into the means by which the disciple of Plato had accumulated, in the short duration of his favor, a very scandalous proportion of wealth. Of the other philosophers and sophists, who were invited to the Imperial residence by the choice of Julian, or by the success of Maximus, few were able to preserve their innocence or their reputation.

The liberal gifts of money, lands, and houses, were insufficient to satiate their rapacious avarice; and the indignation of the people was justly excited by the remembrance of their abject poverty and disinterested professions. The penetration of Julian could not always be deceived: but he was unwilling to despise the characters of those men whose talents deserved his esteem: he desired to escape the double reproach of imprudence and inconstancy; and he was apprehensive of degrading, in the eyes of the profane, the honor of letters and of religion.

The favor of Julian was almost equally divided between the Pagans, who had firmly adhered to the worship of their ancestors, and the Christians, who prudently embraced the religion of their sovereign. The acquisition of new proselytes gratified the ruling passions of his soul, superstition and vanity; and he was heard to declare, with the enthusiasm of a missionary, that if he could render each individual richer than Midas, and every city greater than Babylon, he should not esteem himself the benefactor of mankind, unless, at the same time, he could reclaim his subjects from their impious revolt against the immortal gods.

A prince who had studied human nature, and who possessed the treasures of the Roman empire, could adapt his arguments, his promises, and his rewards, to every order of Christians; and the merit of a seasonable conversion was allowed to supply the defects of a candidate, or even to expiate the guilt of a criminal. As the army is the most forcible engine of absolute power, Julian applied himself, with peculiar diligence, to corrupt the religion of his troops, without whose hearty concurrence every measure must be dangerous and unsuccessful; and the natural temper of soldiers made this conquest as easy as it was important.

The legions of Gaul devoted themselves to the faith, as well as to the fortunes, of their victorious leader; and even before the death of Constantius, he had the satisfaction of announcing to his friends, that they assisted with fervent devotion, and voracious appetite, at the sacrifices, which were repeatedly offered in his camp, of whole hecatombs of fat oxen.

The armies of the East, which had been trained under the standard of the cross, and of Constantius, required amore artful and expensive mode of persuasion. On the days of solemn and public festivals, the emperor received the homage, and rewarded the merit, of the troops. His throne of state was encircled with the military ensigns of Rome and the republic; the holy name of Christ was erased from the Labarum; and the symbols of war, of majesty, and of pagan superstition, were so dexterously blended, that the faithful subject incurred the guilt of idolatry, when he respectfully saluted the person or image of his sovereign.

The soldiers passed successively in review; and each of them, before he received from the hand of Julian a liberal donative, proportioned to his rank and services, was required to cast a few grains of incense into the flame which burnt upon the altar. Some Christian confessors might resist, and others might repent; but the far greater number, allured by the prospect of gold, and awed by the presence of the emperor, contracted the criminal engagement; and their future perseverance in the worship of the gods was enforced by every consideration of duty and of interest.

By the frequent repetition of these arts, and at the expense of sums which would have purchased the service of half the nations of Scythia, Julian gradually acquired for his troops the imaginary protection of the gods, and for himself the firm and effectual support of the Roman legions. It is indeed more than probable, that the restoration and encouragement of Paganism revealed a multitude of pretended Christians, who, from motives of temporal advantage, had acquiesced in the religion of the former reign; and who afterwards returned, with the same flexibility of conscience, to the faith which was professed by the successors of Julian.

While the devout monarch incessantly labored to restore and propagate the religion of his ancestors, he embraced the extraordinary design of rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem. In a public epistle to the nation or community of the Jews, dispersed through the provinces, he pities their misfortunes, condemns their oppressors, praises their constancy, declares himself their gracious protector, and expresses a pious hope, that after his return from the Persian war, he may be permitted to pay his grateful vows to the Almighty in his holy city of Jerusalem.

The blind superstition, and abject slavery, of those unfortunate exiles, must excite the contempt of a philosophic emperor; but they deserved the friendship of Julian, by their implacable hatred of the Christian name. The barren synagogue abhorred and envied the fecundity of the rebellious church; the power of the Jews was not equal to their malice; but their gravest rabbis approved the private murder of an apostate; and their seditious clamors had often awakened the indolence of the Pagan magistrates.

Under the reign of Constantine, the Jews became the subjects of their revolted children nor was it long before they experienced the bitterness of domestic tyranny. The civil immunities which had been granted, or confirmed, by Severus, were gradually repealed by the Christian princes; and a rash tumult, excited by the Jews of Palestine, seemed to justify the lucrative modes of oppression which were invented by the bishops and eunuchs of the court of Constantius.

The Jewish patriarch, who was still permitted to exercise a precarious jurisdiction, held his residence at Tiberias; and the neighboring cities of Palestine were filled with the remains of a people who fondly adhered to the promised land. But the edict of Hadrian was renewed and enforced; and they viewed from afar the walls of the holy city, which were profaned in their eyes by the triumph of the cross and the devotion of the Christians.

Gibbon on Julian – 11

Edward-Gibbon


The History of the Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire

Chapter XXIII: Reign of Julian

Part I

The religion of Julian. Universal toleration. He attempts to restore and reform the pagan worship. To rebuild the temple of Jerusalem. His artful persecution of the Christians. Mutual zeal and injustice.


The character of Apostate has injured the reputation of Julian; and the enthusiasm which clouded his virtues has exaggerated the real and apparent magnitude of his faults. Our partial ignorance may represent him as a philosophic monarch, who studied to protect, with an equal hand, the religious factions of the empire; and to allay the theological fever which had inflamed the minds of the people, from the edicts of Diocletian to the exile of Athanasius.

A more accurate view of the character and conduct of Julian will remove this favorable prepossession for a prince who did not escape the general contagion of the times. We enjoy the singular advantage of comparing the pictures which have been delineated by his fondest admirers and his implacable enemies. The actions of Julian are faithfully related by a judicious and candid historian, the impartial spectator of his life and death. The unanimous evidence of his contemporaries is confirmed by the public and private declarations of the emperor himself; and his various writings express the uniform tenor of his religious sentiments, which policy would have prompted him to dissemble rather than to affect.

A devout and sincere attachment for the gods of Athens and Rome constituted the ruling passion of Julian; the powers of an enlightened understanding were betrayed and corrupted by the influence of superstitious prejudice; and the phantoms which existed only in the mind of the emperor had a real and pernicious effect on the government of the empire. The vehement zeal of the Christians, who despised the worship, and overturned the altars of those fabulous deities, engaged their votary in a state of irreconcilable hostility with a very numerous party of his subjects; and he was sometimes tempted by the desire of victory, or the shame of a repulse, to violate the laws of prudence, and even of justice. The triumph of the party, which he deserted and opposed, has fixed a stain of infamy on the name of Julian; and the unsuccessful apostate has been overwhelmed with a torrent of pious invectives, of which the signal was given by the sonorous trumpet of Gregory Nazianzen.

The interesting nature of the events which were crowded into the short reign of this active emperor, deserve a just and circumstantial narrative. His motives, his counsels, and his actions, as far as they are connected with the history of religion, will be the subject of the present chapter. The cause of his strange and fatal apostasy may be derived from the early period of his life, when he was left an orphan in the hands of the murderers of his family. The names of Christ and of Constantius, the ideas of slavery and of religion, were soon associated in a youthful imagination, which was susceptible of the most lively impressions.

The care of his infancy was intrusted to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, who was related to him on the side of his mother; and till Julian reached the twentieth year of his age, he received from his Christian preceptors the education, not of a hero, but of a saint. The emperor, less jealous of a heavenly than of an earthly crown, contented himself with the imperfect character of a catechumen, while he bestowed the advantages of baptism on the nephews of Constantine. They were even admitted to the inferior offices of the ecclesiastical order; and Julian publicly read the Holy Scriptures in the church of Nicomedia. The study of religion, which they assiduously cultivated, appeared to produce the fairest fruits of faith and devotion.

They prayed, they fasted, they distributed alms to the poor, gifts to the clergy, and oblations to the tombs of the martyrs; and the splendid monument of St. Mamas, at Cæsarea, was erected, or at least was undertaken, by the joint labor of Gallus and Julian. They respectfully conversed with the bishops, who were eminent for superior sanctity, and solicited the benediction of the monks and hermits, who had introduced into Cappadocia the voluntary hardships of the ascetic life. As the two princes advanced towards the years of manhood, they discovered, in their religious sentiments, the difference of their characters.

The dull and obstinate understanding of Gallus embraced, with implicit zeal, the doctrines of Christianity; which never influenced his conduct, or moderated his passions. The mild disposition of the younger brother was less repugnant to the precepts of the gospel; and his active curiosity might have been gratified by a theological system, which explains the mysterious essence of the Deity, and opens the boundless prospect of invisible and future worlds. But the independent spirit of Julian refused to yield the passive and unresisting obedience which was required, in the name of religion, by the haughty ministers of the church.

Their speculative opinions were imposed as positive laws, and guarded by the terrors of eternal punishments; but while they prescribed the rigid formulary of the thoughts, the words, and the actions of the young prince; whilst they silenced his objections, and severely checked the freedom of his inquiries, they secretly provoked his impatient genius to disclaim the authority of his ecclesiastical guides.

He was educated in the Lesser Asia, amidst the scandals of the Arian controversy. The fierce contests of the Eastern bishops, the incessant alterations of their creeds, and the profane motives which appeared to actuate their conduct, insensibly strengthened the prejudice of Julian, that they neither understood nor believed the religion for which they so fiercely contended. Instead of listening to the proofs of Christianity with that favorable attention which adds weight to the most respectable evidence, he heard with suspicion, and disputed with obstinacy and acuteness, the doctrines for which he already entertained an invincible aversion.

Whenever the young princes were directed to compose declamations on the subject of the prevailing controversies, Julian always declared himself the advocate of Paganism; under the specious excuse that, in the defence of the weaker cause, his learning and ingenuity might be more advantageously exercised and displayed. As soon as Gallus was invested with the honors of the purple, Julian was permitted to breathe the air of freedom, of literature, and of Paganism. The crowd of sophists, who were attracted by the taste and liberality of their royal pupil, had formed a strict alliance between the learning and the religion of Greece; and the poems of Homer, instead of being admired as the original productions of human genius, were seriously ascribed to the heavenly inspiration of Apollo and the muses.

The deities of Olympus, as they are painted by the immortal bard, imprint themselves on the minds which are the least addicted to superstitious credulity. Our familiar knowledge of their names and characters, their forms and attributes, seems to bestow on those airy beings a real and substantial existence; and the pleasing enchantment produces an imperfect and momentary assent of the imagination to those fables, which are the most repugnant to our reason and experience.

In the age of Julian, every circumstance contributed to prolong and fortify the illusion; the magnificent temples of Greece and Asia; the works of those artists who had expressed, in painting or in sculpture, the divine conceptions of the poet; the pomp of festivals and sacrifices; the successful arts of divination; the popular traditions of oracles and prodigies; and the ancient practice of two thousand years.

The weakness of polytheism was, in some measure, excused by the moderation of its claims; and the devotion of the Pagans was not incompatible with the most licentious scepticism. Instead of an indivisible and regular system, which occupies the whole extent of the believing mind, the mythology of the Greeks was composed of a thousand loose and flexible parts, and the servant of the gods was at liberty to define the degree and measure of his religious faith.

The creed which Julian adopted for his own use was of the largest dimensions; and, by strange contradiction, he disdained the salutary yoke of the gospel, whilst he made a voluntary offering of his reason on the altars of Jupiter and Apollo. One of the orations of Julian is consecrated to the honor of Cybele, the mother of the gods, who required from her effeminate priests the bloody sacrifice, so rashly performed by the madness of the Phrygian boy.

The pious emperor condescends tolerate, without a blush, and without a smile, the voyage of the goddess from the shores of Pergamus to the mouth of the Tyber, and the stupendous miracle, which convinced the senate and people of Rome that the lump of clay, which their ambassadors had transported over the seas, was endowed with life, and sentiment, and divine power. For the truth of this prodigy he appeals to the public monuments of the city; and censures, with some acrimony, the sickly and affected taste of those men, who impertinently derided the sacred traditions of their ancestors.

But the devout philosopher, who sincerely embraced, and warmly encouraged, the superstition of the people, reserved for himself the privilege of a liberal interpretation; and silently withdrew from the foot of the altars into the sanctuary of the temple. The extravagance of the Grecian mythology proclaimed, with a clear and audible voice, that the pious inquirer, instead of being scandalized or satisfied with the literal sense, should diligently explore the occult wisdom, which had been disguised, by the prudence of antiquity, under the mask of folly and of fable. The philosophers of the Platonic school, Plotinus, Porphyry, and the divine Iamblichus, were admired as the most skilful masters of this allegorical science, which labored to soften and harmonize the deformed features of Paganism.

Julian himself, who was directed in the mysterious pursuit by Ædesius, the venerable successor of Iamblichus, aspired to the possession of a treasure, which he esteemed, if we may credit his solemn asseverations, far above the empire of the world. It was indeed a treasure, which derived its value only from opinion; and every artist who flattered himself that he had extracted the precious ore from the surrounding dross, claimed an equal right of stamping the name and figure the most agreeable to his peculiar fancy.

The fable of Antsy and Cybele had been already explained by Porphyry; but his labors served only to animate the pious industry of Julian, who invented and published his own allegory of that ancient and mystic tale. This freedom of interpretation, which might gratify the pride of the Platonists, exposed the vanity of their art. Without a tedious detail, the modern reader could not form a just idea of the strange allusions, the forced etymologies, the solemn trifling, and the impenetrable obscurity of these sages, who professed to reveal the system of the universe.

As the traditions of Pagan mythology were variously related, the sacred interpreters were at liberty to select the most convenient circumstances; and as they translated an arbitrary cipher, they could extract from any fable any sense which was adapted to their favorite system of religion and philosophy. The lascivious form of a naked Venus was tortured into the discovery of some moral precept, or some physical truth; and the castration of Atys explained the revolution of the sun between the tropics, or the separation of the human soul from vice and error.

The theological system of Julian appears to have contained the sublime and important principles of natural religion. But as the faith, which is not founded on revelation, must remain destitute of any firm assurance, the disciple of Plato imprudently relapsed into the habits of vulgar superstition; and the popular and philosophic notion of the Deity seems to have been confounded in the practice, the writings, and even in the mind of Julian. The pious emperor acknowledged and adored the Eternal Cause of the universe, to whom he ascribed all the perfections of an infinite nature, invisible to the eyes and inaccessible to the understanding, of feeble mortals.

The Supreme God had created, or rather, in the Platonic language, had generated, the gradual succession of dependent spirits, of gods, of dæmons, of heroes, and of men; and every being which derived its existence immediately from the First Cause, received the inherent gift of immortality. That so precious an advantage might be lavished upon unworthy objects, the Creator had intrusted to the skill and power of the inferior gods the office of forming the human body, and of arranging the beautiful harmony of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms. To the conduct of these divine ministers he delegated the temporal government of this lower world; but their imperfect administration is not exempt from discord or error.

The earth and its inhabitants are divided among them, and the characters of Mars or Minerva, of Mercury or Venus, may be distinctly traced in the laws and manners of their peculiar votaries. As long as our immortal souls are confined in a mortal prison, it is our interest, as well as our duty, to solicit the favor, and to deprecate the wrath, of the powers of heaven; whose pride is gratified by the devotion of mankind; and whose grosser parts may be supposed to derive some nourishment from the fumes of sacrifice. The inferior gods might sometimes condescend to animate the statues, and to inhabit the temples, which were dedicated to their honor.

They might occasionally visit the earth, but the heavens were the proper throne and symbol of their glory. The invariable order of the sun, moon, and stars, was hastily admitted by Julian, as a proof of their eternal duration; and their eternity was a sufficient evidence that they were the workmanship, not of an inferior deity, but of the Omnipotent King. In the system of Platonists, the visible was a type of the invisible world. The celestial bodies, as they were informed by a divine spirit, might be considered as the objects the most worthy of religious worship.

The Sun, whose genial influence pervades and sustains the universe, justly claimed the adoration of mankind, as the bright representative of the Logos, the lively, the rational, and the beneficent image of the intellectual Father. In every age, the absence of genuine inspiration is supplied by the strong illusions of enthusiasm, and the mimic arts of imposture. If, in the time of Julian, these arts had been practised only by the pagan priests, for the support of an expiring cause, some indulgence might perhaps be allowed to the interest and habits of the sacerdotal character.

But it may appear a subject of surprise and scandal, that the philosophers themselves should have contributed to abuse the superstitious credulity of mankind, and that the Grecian mysteries should have been supported by the magic or theurgy of the modern Platonists. They arrogantly pretended to control the order of nature, to explore the secrets of futurity, to command the service of the inferior dæmons, to enjoy the view and conversation of the superior gods, and by disengaging the soul from her material bands, to reunite that immortal particle with the Infinite and Divine Spirit.

The devout and fearless curiosity of Julian tempted the philosophers with the hopes of an easy conquest; which, from the situation of their young proselyte, might be productive of the most important consequences. Julian imbibed the first rudiments of the Platonic doctrines from the mouth of Ædesius, who had fixed at Pergamus his wandering and persecuted school. But as the declining strength of that venerable sage was unequal to the ardor, the diligence, the rapid conception of his pupil, two of his most learned disciples, Chrysanthes and Eusebius, supplied, at his own desire, the place of their aged master.

These philosophers seem to have prepared and distributed their respective parts; and they artfully contrived, by dark hints and affected disputes, to excite the impatient hopes of the aspirant, till they delivered him into the hands of their associate, Maximus, the boldest and most skilful master of the Theurgic science.

By his hands, Julian was secretly initiated at Ephesus, in the twentieth year of his age. His residence at Athens confirmed this unnatural alliance of philosophy and superstition. He obtained the privilege of a solemn initiation into the mysteries of Eleusis, which, amidst the general decay of the Grecian worship, still retained some vestiges of their primæval sanctity; and such was the zeal of Julian, that he afterwards invited the Eleusinian pontiff to the court of Gaul, for the sole purpose of consummating, by mystic rites and sacrifices, the great work of his sanctification.

As these ceremonies were performed in the depth of caverns, and in the silence of the night, and as the inviolable secret of the mysteries was preserved by the discretion of the initiated, I shall not presume to describe the horrid sounds, and fiery apparitions, which were presented to the senses, or the imagination, of the credulous aspirant, till the visions of comfort and knowledge broke upon him in a blaze of celestial light. In the caverns of Ephesus and Eleusis, the mind of Julian was penetrated with sincere, deep, and unalterable enthusiasm; though he might sometimes exhibit the vicissitudes of pious fraud and hypocrisy, which may be observed, or at least suspected, in the characters of the most conscientious fanatics.

From that moment he consecrated his life to the service of the gods; and while the occupations of war, of government, and of study, seemed to claim the whole measure of his time, a stated portion of the hours of the night was invariably reserved for the exercise of private devotion. The temperance which adorned the severe manners of the soldier and the philosopher was connected with some strict and frivolous rules of religious abstinence; and it was in honor of Pan or Mercury, of Hecate or Isis, that Julian, on particular days, denied himself the use of some particular food, which might have been offensive to his tutelary deities.

By these voluntary fasts, he prepared his senses and his understanding for the frequent and familiar visits with which he was honored by the celestial powers. Notwithstanding the modest silence of Julian himself, we may learn from his faithful friend, the orator Libanius, that he lived in a perpetual intercourse with the gods and goddesses; that they descended upon earth to enjoy the conversation of their favorite hero; that they gently interrupted his slumbers by touching his hand or his hair; that they warned him of every impending danger, and conducted him, by their infallible wisdom, in every action of his life; and that he had acquired such an intimate knowledge of his heavenly guests, as readily to distinguish the voice of Jupiter from that of Minerva, and the form of Apollo from the figure of Hercules.

These sleeping or waking visions, the ordinary effects of abstinence and fanaticism, would almost degrade the emperor to the level of an Egyptian monk. But the useless lives of Antony or Pachomius were consumed in these vain occupations. Julian could break from the dream of superstition to arm himself for battle; and after vanquishing in the field the enemies of Rome, he calmly retired into his tent, to dictate the wise and salutary laws of an empire, or to indulge his genius in the elegant pursuits of literature and philosophy.

The important secret of the apostasy of Julian was intrusted to the fidelity of the initiated, with whom he was united by the sacred ties of friendship and religion. The pleasing rumor was cautiously circulated among the adherents of the ancient worship; and his future greatness became the object of the hopes, the prayers, and the predictions of the Pagans, in every province of the empire. From the zeal and virtues of their royal proselyte, they fondly expected the cure of every evil, and the restoration of every blessing; and instead of disapproving of the ardor of their pious wishes, Julian ingenuously confessed, that he was ambitious to attain a situation in which he might be useful to his country and to his religion.

But this religion was viewed with a hostile eye by the successor of Constantine, whose capricious passions alternately saved and threatened the life of Julian. The arts of magic and divination were strictly prohibited under a despotic government, which condescended to fear them; and if the Pagans were reluctantly indulged in the exercise of their superstition, the rank of Julian would have excepted him from the general toleration. The apostate soon became the presumptive heir of the monarchy, and his death could alone have appeased the just apprehensions of the Christians.

But the young prince, who aspired to the glory of a hero rather than of a martyr, consulted his safety by dissembling his religion; and the easy temper of polytheism permitted him to join in the public worship of a sect which he inwardly despised. Libanius has considered the hypocrisy of his friend as a subject, not of censure, but of praise. “As the statues of the gods,” says that orator, “which have been defiled with filth, are again placed in a magnificent temple, so the beauty of truth was seated in the mind of Julian, after it had been purified from the errors and follies of his education.

His sentiments were changed; but as it would have been dangerous to have avowed his sentiments, his conduct still continued the same. Very different from the ass in Æsop, who disguised himself with a lion’s hide, our lion was obliged to conceal himself under the skin of an ass; and, while he embraced the dictates of reason, to obey the laws of prudence and necessity.” The dissimulation of Julian lasted about ten years, from his secret initiation at Ephesus to the beginning of the civil war; when he declared himself at once the implacable enemy of Christ and of Constantius.

This state of constraint might contribute to strengthen his devotion; and as soon as he had satisfied the obligation of assisting, on solemn festivals, at the assemblies of the Christians, Julian returned, with the impatience of a lover, to burn his free and voluntary incense on the domestic chapels of Jupiter and Mercury. But as every act of dissimulation must be painful to an ingenuous spirit, the profession of Christianity increased the aversion of Julian for a religion which oppressed the freedom of his mind, and compelled him to hold a conduct repugnant to the noblest attributes of human nature, sincerity and courage.