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Julian the Apostate
Published in Hardcover by Harvard Univ Pr (December, 1978)
Author: Glen Warren Bowersock
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Interesting biography of a controversial Roman emperor
The fourth-century Roman Emperor Julian attempted the impossible: to stop the Christianization of the Roman Empire put into motion by Constantine the Great. Branded "the Apostate" by later critics, Julian reigned only about two years, dying in battle against the Persians. This is a balanced, accessible biography that captures the intensity of Julian's Hellenistic Paganism--an intensity that frequently bordered on fanaticism. Bowersock is careful not to romanticize Julian and notes that when he died, practically everyone in Rome breathed a sigh of relief. This is an interesting, well written work that should interest students of ancient history as well as those who enjoy reading about the history of early Christianity

Pagan Martyr
Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome, has been a central part of Christian demonology for the best part of the last two millenia. At his death, Christian tradition holds that he cried, "Vicisti, Galilaueus," i.e., Christ, you have conquered me! Recently, revisionist writers have sought to resurrect Julian as a noble martyr to the grand lost Pagan cause. As this able and concise biography shows, the truth about Julian is infinitely less glamorous. On the plus side, Julian was an extremely able warrior, trusted by his men and brave in battle. He was also a keen student of Hellenic culture, popular in Greece and utterly sincere in his desire to reinvigorate the pan-theistic system. On the minus side, he was an utterly inept politician who simply couldn't comprehend that the pagan religion was so irreversibly in decline. As Bowersock explains, some of his political naivete may have arisen from Julian's years of isolation under house arrest at the hands of his predecessor emperor. Even though Julian fell in battle fighting the Persians, his true demise came somewhat earlier, in Antioch where he met humiliation in trying to organize a pagan sacrifice. This is a balanced yet unsparing portrait of a man who, while no demon, was nonetheless married to a lost cause.

If You Buy Only One Book about Julian
This is the most athoritative modern biography of the nephew of Constantine the Great who was rased a Christian and turned to pagan beliefs in adulthood. Julian tried to revitalize paganism by giving what was a multitude of cults a organization that could compete with the Christian church. He ultimately failed, but the story of Julian's rise to power and the struggle that became his life's work is told here with a refreshing economy. This volume is the most complete biography of the Emperor without being the largest. This is the book you want.

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