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N the case of the Emperor Julian, Historic Truth
possesses the very rare advantage of having two portraits of the same person, taken from diametrically opposite points of view—and both of them by painters intimately acquainted with their subject during the whole course of his career. Gregory of Nazianzus, a city of Cappadocia, sometime Bishop of Constantinople, had been a fellow-student of Julian's at the University of Athens, and had been treated by him with marked kindness and consideration (for which the worthy Father was subsequently forced to invent a very malicious motive), after his elevation to the purple. Libanius, a teacher of Eloquence, or, in modern phrase, a Professor of Greek Literature, had been summoned and established at Antioch by Julian's ill-fated brother the Cæsar Gallus; in which city during the nine months whilst the emperor was making his vast preparations for the Persian War, he lived upon terms of the greatest familiarity with him. They then renewed the friendship formed some seven years before at Nicomedia, where Julian, as yet in a private station, had greatly benefited by the lectures of the Pagan Professor, although debarred from personally attending them by the jealousy of his appointed Tutor, Ecdicius. The satirist and the panegyrist were both of them men of the highest education their times could afford. I leave it to the reader of their respective productions to decide which of the two had reaped the greater advantage from that education. But the careful perusal of their Attack and Defence will throw a clearer light upon the state of feeling that distracted the civilized world, at this, in every sense, the most critical period of its history, than can be gained from the study of all the Church historians that have written, from the gigantic treatise of Philippus Sidetes in a thousand books ("equally useless to the learned and the unlearned"), down to whatever of the kind may be most in vogue at the present day. I may however remark, parenthetically, that some of Gregory's charges against the emperor, require a very prejudiced construction to give them the blackness aimed at—as for example, his refraining from actual persecution from no other motive than that he begrudged the Christians the honour of martyrdom to which they so zealously aspired. The history of this, in every way, remarkable man, has hitherto been considered merely in its connection with Religion: and, so treated, it is become the most threadbare of all themes. I, therefore, take some credit to myself for discovering a totally new way of investigating these records of his life, and that is, for the valuable service they afford to archæology. A glance at my Index (compiled specially with that view), will show how many curious questions of antiquity derive fresh light from the casual remarks of the two writers. To instance a few—we get descriptions of ancient “ University life;" the course of study there pursued ; military matters, such as the system of carrying on distant campaigns; and what is unexplained from
any other source, the true nature of the Dracones (ventosa draconum pallia, as Prudentius calls them); the transformation of the materials of the ancient temples into the decorations of private houses; the inner life of the later Imperial Court, with its swarms of rapacious officials and domestics, so comparable to that of a Turkish Sultan ; the duties and the abuses of the Agentes in rebus ; the constitution and the burdens of the Provincial Curiales; the British corntrade, and the route it followed ; and the solution of the problem that has so long vexed every intelligent numismatist—the existence of that incalculable quantity of billon denarii, of various degrees of baseness, but nevertheless all pretending to be the actual mintage of the emperors of the third century.
The Manes of the saintly Gregory himself (“si quis sensus in illis ") will doubtless rejoice at my thus making use of the unintentional service he has rendered to archæology, for that he, despite his austere Puritanism, was a lover of Antiquity, is abundantly shown by the hundred and eighty-two little poems, full of good feeling and good taste, which he has directed against the bigoted, or rapacious, destroyers of ancient monuments.
To complete my portrait of the imperial philosopher,
1 The Numeration in the text of Libanius refers to Reiske's edition, used for this Translation.