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
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
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.