Julian. An Intellectual Biography by Polymnia Athanassiadi

By Polymnia Athanassiadi

Julian: An highbrow Biography, first released in 1981, offers a penetrating and scholarly research of Julian’s highbrow improvement opposed to the historical past of philosophy and faith within the past due Roman Empire.

Professor Polymnia Athanassiadi tells the tale of Julian’s transformation from a reclusive and scholarly adolescent right into a able normal and an audacious social reformer. even if, his personality was once fraught with an outstanding many contradictions, tensions and inconsistencies: he might be delicate and clever, but in addition uncontrollably spontaneous and topic to alternating matches of substantial self-pity and self-delusion.

Athanassiadi lines the Emperor Julian’s responses to non-public and public demanding situations, and dwells at the conflicts that every weighty selection imposed on him. This research of Julian’s personality and of the entire matters that faced him as an emperor, highbrow and mystic is predicated mostly on modern facts, with specific emphasis at the wide writings of the fellow himself.

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Myst. I. 9. 33. O n the im portance o f avfjLpoXa and avvdrjpLara in connection w ith theurgy see ibid. I. 11, 15, 2 1; II. 11; IV . 2; V I I . 4-5. See also Lew y, Chaldaean Oracles, 462. *° A n account o f the w ay in which the theurgist brings about mystic union is given b y Iam bi. Myst. V I . 5-7. tl [Olym piodorus], In Phaed. ; cf. Suda I. 159: lepaTiKrj /cat iXo(ToLa ov k a n d tcov avTCov apxovTai apxcov. 4 8 Hellenism: Unity or Diversity? Characterized by the lack of subtlety proper to any generaliza­ tion, this distinction none the less points in the right direction as regards the development of Neoplatonism.

43 I f one reads Ammianus’ account o f the life and career o f George of Cappadocia, one may understand Julian’s feelings: George was an opportunist who profited from the ruin o f many people. 44 Such a man was certainly not the tutor to inspire Julian with confidence in, still less respect for, the teachings of Christianity. It is hardly surprising that, during the period of his sojourn at Macellum, Julian never faced Christianity otherwise than in a lukewarm manner. The antipathy he felt towards his teacher, and his resulting indifference to whatever George taught him or asked him to do, led Julian to seek and realize his moments of spiritual exaltation in a sphere from which all Christian notions were excluded.

71 But we should never forget that this heart, which now Julian opened with such extraordinary sans-gene before an uncomprehending crowd, had over its most tender years been the lonely witness of impossible griefs and agonies. It is only thanks to his belated confession to Themistius that we can form some faint idea o f the close surveillance over Julian during his stay in Constantinople, until in 351 Diocletian’s capital, where intellectual life was flourishing on a smaller scale than in the imperial city, but in a less controlled manner,72 was chosen for a second time as the prince’s residence.

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