Julian's Education and Philosophic Ideal
DOI link for Julian's Education and Philosophic Ideal
Julian's Education and Philosophic Ideal book
In his days as Caesar in Gaul, Julian confided in a letter to his friend and fellow-Neoplatonist Priscus that his first wish in life was to be of some use to 'true philosophers' .1 His continuing regard for philosophy after he became Emperor prompted considerable interest during his reign and in some quarters it could still inspire strong feelings much later: more than a century after contemporaries had extolled the philosopher king in speeches and on stone,2 Neoplatonists at Athens were using the year of his accession as the basis of a private chronology.3 The practice most likely derived from a theme in late classicizing historiography; the notion that Julian's reign provided a standard of judgement for times preceding and following had already influenced the shaping of Eunapius' Universal History, and was to figure again afterwards in the New History of Zosimus.4 But the roots of this idealization by later pagans seem to lie more in their appreciation of the stand Julian took on behalf of their kind than in any close study of his own writings, which they very seldom quote. It is upon these that any adequate description of Julian's philosophic ideal must concentrate. He has much to say both about the nature of philosophy-its aims, the studies appropriate to those who aspire to it and the standards of conduct required of those who profess it-and about the teachers and friends who influenced his views on the subject.