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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Julian the Apostate

  • [Julianus Flavius Claudius; Roman emperor, known to history as “Julian the Apostate;” a nephew of Constantine the Great; born in Constantinople, A.D. 331; educated in the principles of the Christian religion, but embraced the philosophy of the Platonists; became emperor, 361; renounced Christianity, proclaiming religious liberty to all; invaded Persia, 363, and gained several victories beyond the Tigris, until he was wounded by a javelin, and died the next day, June, 363.]
  • O Plato, Plato, what a task for a philosopher!

  • When awkwardly repeating some military exercise, after being appointed to the command of the provinces of Gaul, for which his scholastic training had not fitted him.—GIBBON: Decline and Fall, chap. xiv.
  • When, after his accession to power, his army demanded a donation of silver, he assured them, “Such has been the temper of my reign, that I can retire without regret and without apprehension to the obscurity of a private station.”
  • He took for his arms an eagle struck through the heart with his own feathers (propriis configimur alis).
  • “So the struck eagle, stretched upon the plain,
  • No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
  • Viewed his own feather on the fatal dart,
  • And winged the shaft that quivered in his heart.”
  • BYRON: English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.
  • Voltaire quoted a saying of Julian, in a letter to Frederick, Crown Prince of Prussia, Aug. 26, 1736: “Friends should be preferred to kings.”
  • The celebrated exclamation of the stricken emperor, “Thou hast conquered, Galilæan!” (Vicisti, Galilæe!) is dismissed by French and German scholars. Gibbon, after quoting the philosophic discourse Julian held with his friends during his last hours, in which the dying emperor re-affirmed his belief in the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato, that his soul would shortly be united with the divine ethereal substance of the universe, remarks that “the calumnies of Gregory [Nazianzen] and the legends of more recent saints may now be silently despised” (chap. xxiii.).
  • The Emperor Justinian (A.D. 483–565) exclaimed, at the dedication of the cathedral of St. Sophia, built on the plan of the Temple of Jerusalem, “I have vanquished thee, O Solomon!”