Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus), sur-named the Apostate, a Roman emperor, born in Constantinople, Nov. 17, A. D. 331, died in Persia, June 26, 363. He was the son of Julius Constantius, the grandson of Constan-tius Chlorus, and the nephew of Constantine the Great. When Constantius II. ordered the male descendants of Chlorus by his second wife Theodora to be put to death, he made an exception in favor of Julian and his half brother Gallus, whose tender years did not excite his apprehension; but he banished them to certain cities of Ionia and Bithynia, and ultimately confined them in the strong castle of Macellum near the Cappadocian Caesarea. During the period of their restraint Julian was instructed in the doctrines of the Christian faith, and was taught to fast, to pray, and to fill the office of reader in the church of Nico-media. In 351 Gallus was taken from prison, invested with the dignity of Caesar, and made prefect of the East. Through his mediation Julian was liberated, and permitted to fix his residence in any of the Asiatic cities. He now first became acquainted with those Platonic philosophers who ere long induced him to abandon Christianity for paganism; but he did not make a public avowal of his apostasy till he could do so with safety.
After the murder of Gallus he again became an object of distrust to Constantius, who had him transported to Italy and imprisoned at Milan, whence having been liberated by the intercession of the empress Eusebia, he retired to Athens. Constantius soon recalled him, and on Nov. 6, 355, proclaimed him Caesar, and gave him his sister Helena in marriage. He was at the same time invested with the government of all the transalpine provinces, and with the command of the forces which were to drive the German invaders of Gaul beyond the Rhine. Having effected this latter undertaking, and checked the rapacity of the local governors, he acquired such popularity that when the jealous Constantius in 360 commanded him to send his best soldiers to the Persian war, the troops proclaimed him emperor. Julian crossed over into Germany, and made an admirable march along the forest-covered valley of the Danube, intending to advance against Constantinople; but the sudden death of Constantius gave him undisputed possession of the empire. On Dec. 11, 361, he made his triumphal entry into the capital, amid the acclamations of the soldiers, the citizens, and the senate.
He now openly avowed his abandonment of Christianity, which had long before been known to his friends, and his Christian subjects apprehended a cruel and relentless persecution. Shortly after his accession, however, he published an edict which granted perfect toleration to all sects and religions. But the spirit of this edict was not respected even by Julian himself. He excluded Christians from civil and military offices, forbade them to teach grammar and rhetoric in the schools, compelled them to contribute to the building and repair of pagan temples, permitting at the same time the Jews to rebuild their temple at Jerusalem, and wrote a voluminous treatise against the assumed errors of Christianity. Amid the licentious priests and lascivious dancers who thronged the pagan temples, he was frequently seen bearing the wood, kindling the fire, slaughtering the victim, and divining from the entrails of the expiring animal. He was nevertheless worthy in other respects to wield the sceptre. Immediately after his accession he applied himself to reform the luxury and extravagance of the imperial court. He ordered the laws to be equitably administered, and instituted a tribunal for the trial of such officials as had been guilty of peculation or oppression in the former reign.
The incursions of the Persians upon Roman territory led him to declare war against that people, and in 363, having crossed the Euphrates at Hierapolis, he advanced with the main body of his army against Ctesiphon. Under the walls of this place he gained a brilliant victory over a division of the enemy; but having been induced by the representations of a Persian noble, who affected to be a fugitive, to postpone the siege, and to march into the desert in search of Sapor, the Persian monarch, he was surprised by the enemy, and received a wound from an arrow which proved mortal in the evening of the same day. Jovian was proclaimed his successor on the battle field. In his manner of life Julian emulated the temperance and simplicity of the primitive Romans; he was indefatigable in the discharge of his public duties, and in his intervals of leisure was devoted to study and philosophy. He possessed rhetorical and literary talents of a high order, and wrote much and well on various subjects. The ablest if not the most important of his extant works are: " The Caesars," or "The Banquet," a satirical composition in which the different Roman emperors are made to appear at a celestial banquet where old Silenus censures their vices and crimes; and the "Misopogon," or the "Beard-Hater," in which the emperor exposes the licentiousness and effeminacy of the citizens of An-tioch, who had ridiculed the beard of their sovereign, such appendages not being fashionable in that city.
His treatise against the Christians has been lost, except those extracts preserved in the refutation of it by Cyril of Alexandria. The best collective edition of the works of Julian is that of Spanheim (Leipsic, 1696). The most celebrated modern lives of Julian are by Gibbon in his " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire;" by the abbe de la Blet-terie, Histoire de l'empereur Julien l'Apostat (Paris, 1735); and by Neander, Ueber den Kaiser Julianus und sein Zeitalter (Leipsic, 1812).