Julian
by Gore Vidal

An epistolary novel about the Emperor Julian, who tried to restore Hellenism to the Roman Empire after it had been Christianized.
"Now if this god of the Jews were indeed, as Paul claimed, the One God, why then did he reserve for a single unimportant race the anointing, the prophets and the law? Why did he allow the rest of mankind to exist thousands of years in darkness, worshipping falsely? Of course the Jews admit that he is a 'jealous god.' But what an extraordinary thing for the absolute to be! Jealous of what? And cruel, too, for he avenged the sins of the fathers on guiltless children. Is not the creator described by Homer and Plato more likely?" (80)
For a longer criticism see pages 286 through 288. See also pages 291 and 317. For a good example of irony see page 322.

Despite his intelligence and extensive education, Julian believed in the superstitions, ritual sacrifices, magic, and prophesies of the ancient Greek religion. As emperor, he changed from being a scholar to being a military conqueror.

Year Read: 1998


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