Page 0979

979 ROMECONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS.

afterwards the Emperor died, and the crown

descended to his cousin, Julianus, brother of

Gallus. He was accepted without opposition

in the year 361.

JULIAN, surnamed the Apostate, had been

bred in the Christian faith. On his accession

to power he made his head-quarters in Antioch, and from that place began to prepare for

a renewal of the war with Persia. Here, however, he became acquainted with the pagan

philosophers, who at this time prevailed in Antioch, and was soon enamored of their teachings to the extent of renouncing Christianity.

By nature the Emperor was a man of severe

and simple habits; and the somewhat lax, even

luxurious, proceedings of the Church at Antioch attracted him less than did the austerity

of the old faith, especially as viewed through

the lenses of stoicism. He deliberately turned

from Jehovah to Jupiter, and from Christ to

Plato. The Christian fathers bitterly resented

this apostasy, and gave Julian an unenviable

reputation with posterity. They devised an

epigram which began with, "Long live Caesar!" and ended thus: "But if he lives long

all we must perish!"

As a military leader Julian led a brief but

brilliant career. Collecting a large army, he

set out on an expedition against Persia. He

besieged Ctesiphon, and afterwards, in A. D.

363, advanced into the country of the enemy

whom he could not bring to battle. When his

supplies failed and his troops were discouraged

the Persians gave battle, but were severely repulsed. Julian, leading the pursuit, was killed,

after a reign of but two years duration, and

one of his generals, named JOVIAN, was proclaimed Emperor.

The religious policy of the Apostate was at

once reversed by his successor. Christian rites

were immediately substituted in the army for

those which had recently prevailed under sanction of Julian. As a general Jovian belied

his name. He retreated from the enemy's

country, and left a large part of the eastern

provinces exposed to the assaults of the Persians. Professing orthodox Christianity he

reinstated Athanasius in the see of Alexandria,

but was at the same time careful not to persecute the followers of Arius. While still on his

way to Constantinople the monarch fell sick

and died, having worn the purple for the brief

space of seven months.

The legions next chose a Pannonian captain

named VALENTINIAN as Emperor. His reputation was wholly military, and his merit as a

ruler consisted altogether in the application of

military methods to the management of the

affairs of State. On arriving at Constantinople his first civil act was one of the vastest

importance, being no less than the final division of the Roman Empire. The eastern provinces, with the city

of Constantine for

their capital, were

assigned to VALENS, brother of

Valentinian;

while the West

was retained by

the latter as his

part of the dominions. He fixed his

capital at Milan,

and was from the

first occupied with

the defense of his

northern frontiers

against the Alemanni and other

nations of Germany. The whole force and

energy of his character, as well as his military

talents, were brought into requisition in beating back the barbarian invaders. In A. D.

375 he associated his son Gratian with himself in the government and soon afterwards

died while conducting an expedition against

the tribes on the Danube.

Several years before this event the Pope

Liberius passed away, and his death was followed by an unseemly and bloody contest

among the aspirants for his place. The pontificate had now become the principal office

in Rome. Every element in the lust of power

whetted the appetite of him who sought the

place of chief bishop of Christendom. Wealth,

1 A tradition of the Church Fathers has it that

Julian was struck by lightning on the battle-field the bolt being hurled from heaven in punishment

of his apostasy.