6.27.2008

Julian the General

Adrian Murdoch's coverage of Julian and battles has proven inspiring to me - I was thrilled to see that someone else worries about the accuracy of ancient dispatches.
In further discussion, Adrian has suggested:
It might not just be the chronicler who was faking his bravery. It is worth pondering the extent to which commanders put a happy 'gloss' on the behaviour of their men, even when they won. Did commanders, and do commanders still, cover for their men since the behaviour of their troops reflects on them?
Adrian put a great deal of research into his biography of Julian. Some of it was in libraries, but other aspects were more practical - he learnt to ride, so as to get a better feel for Julian's life.
[I learnt archery, and can now fully understand why Amazons cut off a breast. They get in the way. And it hurts].

Julian tends to be remembered for being a pagan, but he was also pretty nifty as a general (winning is what counts). He also died in the field, at the Battle of Ctesiphon (AD 363; in present-day Iraq).

To celebrate the US publication of Adrian's biography, the California Literary Review has a 'feature' by Adrian which covers amongst other things Julian's death (it seems to be the Introduction to the book).

The Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the Death of the Ancient World - Amazon.com
The Last Pagan - Amazon.co.uk


This sculpture of Julian was in the Louvre. Since some of his military victories were in France, that seemed fitting. But then he was demoted to a priest of Serapis, and booted to the Cluny Baths.

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