Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hadrian and Julian the Apostate

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Damien F. Mackey
“… Julian … and Hadrian were both 'full of zeal for idolatry', 'superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic'.”
Emperor and Author
Some comparisons follow between Hadrian, his reign conventionally dated to c. 117-138 AD - but I have re-dated him to the Maccabean era - and Julian ‘the Apostate’, his reign conventionally dated to c. 361-363 AD.
From Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian 'the Apostate', p. 307 (edited by Nicholas J. Baker-Brian, Shaun Tougher):
What [Jean-Philippe-Rene de] La Bletterie says of Julian as Caesars' author differs markedly from his earlier characterization of him as emperor at the start of his 1735 biography; there, he represents Julian as as a ruler driven by 'an uncontrolled passion for glory' – one who pursued his policies with 'a kind of fanaticism', and who was not free of 'the faults which [his] amour propre perceive[d] only in others'. ….
Just what La Bletterie was thinking of, on that last count, can be inferred from his note on the passage in Caesars in which Hadrian is teased as a star-gazer who was forever prying into ineffable mysteries (311d). La Bletterie was prompted to remark that much the same could be said of Julian: he and Hadrian were both 'full of zeal for idolatry', 'superstitious […] astrologers wanting to know everything, so constantly inquisitive as to be accused of magic'. And the likeness did not end there: Julian, assuredly, 'did not have the infamous [homosexual] vices of Hadrian […], but he had almost all his [other] faults and absurdities'; both of them were ‘fickle, obstinate, and vain of soul’….
Moreover, at one point in his comparison of Julian with Hadrian, La Bletterie entertains a possibility which would imply a very hostile view indeed of Julian: 'they both passed very wise laws and performed many merciful actions; but Hadrian seemed cruel sometimes, and some say that [“l'on dit que”] Julian was only humane out of vanity'. ….
“Julian is often compared in character to Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian, indeed he is very much a blend of the two. He combines Hadrian's philhellenism with Marcus Aurelius' Stoicism, scholasticism, and militaristic determination”.
From Ammianus Marcellinus, p. 309, by Gavin Kelly:
“Ammianus …. rejects the comparison chosen by Valentinian's partisans to Aurelian .... He compares him to Hadrian in his depreciation of the well-dressed, the learned, the wealthy, the noble, the brave, 'so that he alone should appear to excel in fine abilities' (ut solus uideretur bonis artibus eminere, 30.8.10); Julian too had been compared to Hadrian in one of his faults .... His tendency towards timorousness is described …”.
From Emperors and Historiography: Collected Essays on the Literature of the Roman ..., p. 315, by Daniel den Hengst:
“… divination was practiced in an uncontrolled and lawless way affectata varietate, that is to say with overzealous efforts to practice all forms of divinatio. In the necrology Ammianus compares Julian to Hadrian in this respect. By doing so he harks back again to his description of Julian in Antioch, where Julian is characterized in this context as multorum curiosior. …. In this case, Julian may have been plagued by curiositas, but he shared this vice with a great predecessor. ….
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