The Image of Julian the Apostate in the Historiography of Ammianus Marcellinus

Authors

  • Ana Bembič

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.23.1.97-136

Keywords:

Roman historiography, Christianity, pagan religion, Julian the Apostate, Ammianus Marcellinus

Abstract

In the 4th century AD, when Christianity had already been firmly established under Constantine, the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate sought to turn history back to the pagan period. His rule was brief and unexpected, characterised by religious reforms and a march on Persia. While his portrayal by Christian writers is a negative one, he is considered by Ammianus Marcellinus, a pagan historiographer, as a model ruler. Ammianus’ history, Res gestae, presents Julian as one chosen by the gods. Despite his admiration, he does not hesitate to criticise the Emperor, but he deliberately downplays the significance of religious issues and of other matters which might tarnish Julian’s image. To improve his standing, Ammianus compares him to many famous personages from the Greek and Roman past, while the preceding Emperor Constantius and Julian’s brother Gallus are drawn in strikingly negative colours. Despite the favour of the gods, however, Julian rejected all warning signs on his march on Persia, which cost him his life. Comparing his death to the death of Socrates, Ammianus portrays him as a philosopher-ruler, which corresponds to Julian’s own ideal.

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References

Izdaja Amijanovih del

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Published

24.08.2021

How to Cite

Bembič, Ana. 2021. “The Image of Julian the Apostate in the Historiography of Ammianus Marcellinus”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 23 (1):97-136. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.23.1.97-136.

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