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The tragic life of Julian, the last non-Christian emperor of Rome, by award-winning author Philip Freeman

"When we think of ancient Rome, it's impossible not to think of Christianity, one of its most notable exports--but what if it hadn't been? This is the question provoked by classicist Philip Freeman in Julian, an appealing new entry in Yale's Ancient Lives series, which tells the story of the old faith's last imperial torchbearer."--Anna Heyward, New York Times Book Review

Flavius Claudius Julianus, or Julian the Apostate, ruled Rome as sole emperor for just a year and a half, from 361 to 363, but during that time he turned the world upside down. Although a nephew of Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of Rome, Julian fought to return Rome to the old gods who had led his ancestors to build their vast empire.

As emperor, Julian set about reforming the administration, conquering new territories, and reviving ancient religions. He was scorned in his time for repudiating Christianity and demonized as an apostate for willfully rejecting Christ. Through the centuries, Julian has been viewed by many as a tragic figure who sought to save Rome from its enemies and the corrupting influence of Christianity. Christian writers and historians have seen Julian much differently: as a traitor to God and violent oppressor of Christians. Had Julian not been killed by a random Persian spear, he might well have changed all of history.

Publication Date: 
September 26, 2023