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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WE have now described the transactions which took place in the Eastern churches. About the period we have been passing under review, Julian attacked and conquered the barbarians who dwelt on the banks of the Nile; many fell in battle; and the others he took prisoners. As this victory added greatly to his fame, and as his moderation and gentleness had endeared him to the troops, they proclaimed him emperor. Far from seeking to obtain the consent of Constantius to this nomination, he displaced the officers by whom he had been elected, and industriously circulated letters wherein Constantius had solicited the barbarians to enter the Roman territories, and aid him against Magnentius. He then suddenly changed his religion; and, although he had previously professed Christianity, he declared himself high priest, frequented the Pagan temples, offered sacrifices, and invited his subjects to adopt his own form of worship. As an invasion by the Persians was expected, and as Constantius had on this account repaired to Syria, Julian conceived that he might easily render himself master of Illyria; he therefore set out on his journey to this province, under pretence that he intended to present an apology to Constantius for having, without his sanction, received the symbols of imperial power. It is said, that when he arrived on the borders of Illyria, he found the vines loaded with green grapes, although the time of the vintage was past, and the Pleiades had sunk to the West; and that there fell upon him and his followers a kind of dew, of which each drop bore the sign of the cross. He and those with him regarded the grapes as a favourable omen, and attributed the phenomenon of the dew to chance. Others thought that the green grapes signified that Julian would die prematurely after a very short reign, and that the crosses formed by the drops of dew indicated that the Christian religion is from heaven, and that all persons, whoever they may be, ought to receive the sign of the cross. I am, for my own part, convinced that those who regarded these two phenomena as unfavourable omens for Julian, were not mistaken; and events proved the accuracy of their opinion.

When Constantius heard that Julian was marching against him at the head of an army, he abandoned his intended expedition against the Persians, and departed for Constantinople; but he died on the journey, when he had arrived as far as Mopsucrenes, which lies near Taurus, between Cilicia and Cappadocia. He died in the forty-fifth year of his age, after reigning thirteen years conjointly with Constantine his father, and twenty-five years after the death of that emperor.

Immediately on the decease of Constantius, Julian, who had already made himself master of Thrace, entered Constantinople, and was proclaimed emperor. Pagans assert that diviners and demons had predicted the death of Constantius, and his consequent elevation before his departure for Gaul, and had advised him to undertake the expedition. This might have been regarded as a true prediction, had not the life of Julian been terminated so shortly afterwards, and when he had only enjoyed the imperial power as in a dream. But it appears to me absurd to believe that, after he had heard the death of Constantius predicted and had been warned that it would be his own fate to fall in battle by the hands of the Persians, he should have marched voluntarily to meet his own death—particularly as no advantage could accrue to him, and as his name would only be handed down to posterity as that of an inexperienced emperor, utterly unacquainted with the art of war—and who, had he lived, would probably have suffered the greater part of the Roman territories to fall under the Persian yoke. This observation, however, is only inserted lest I should be blamed for omitting it. I leave every one to form his own opinion on the subject.








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