David Pierce // Matematik (Mathematics) // M.S.G.S.Ü.


Edward Gibbon on the future Emperor Julian

The following passage is from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 2, ch. XIX: “Constantius Sole Emperor”, part IV. Constantius is son of Constantine, founder of Constantinople, now İstanbul. Julian's father and Constantine had a common father (but different mothers). Julian and Constantius are the sole surviving relations of Constantine, mainly because Constantius has killed the others.

A page of “the best of Gibbon” quotes a part of the following passage.

I have made each sentence its own paragraph; the original text is continuous.

Under these melancholy circumstances, an unexperienced youth was appointed to save and to govern the provinces of Gaul, or rather, as he expressed it himself, to exhibit the vain image of Imperial greatness.

The retired scholastic education of Julian, in which he had been more conversant with books than with arms, with the dead than with the living, left him in profound ignorance of the practical arts of war and government; and when he awkwardly repeated some military exercise which it was necessary for him to learn, he exclaimed with a sigh, "O Plato, Plato, what a task for a philosopher!"

Yet even this speculative philosophy, which men of business are too apt to despise, had filled the mind of Julian with the noblest precepts and the most shining examples; had animated him with the love of virtue, the desire of fame, and the contempt of death.

The habits of temperance recommended in the schools, are still more essential in the severe discipline of a camp.

The simple wants of nature regulated the measure of his food and sleep.

Rejecting with disdain the delicacies provided for his table, he satisfied his appetite with the coarse and common fare which was allotted to the meanest soldiers.

During the rigor of a Gallic winter, he never suffered a fire in his bed-chamber; and after a short and interrupted slumber, he frequently rose in the middle of the night from a carpet spread on the floor, to despatch any urgent business, to visit his rounds, or to steal a few moments for the prosecution of his favorite studies.

The precepts of eloquence, which he had hitherto practised on fancied topics of declamation, were more usefully applied to excite or to assuage the passions of an armed multitude: and although Julian, from his early habits of conversation and literature, was more familiarly acquainted with the beauties of the Greek language, he had attained a competent knowledge of the Latin tongue.

Since Julian was not originally designed for the character of a legislator, or a judge, it is probable that the civil jurisprudence of the Romans had not engaged any considerable share of his attention: but he derived from his philosophic studies an inflexible regard for justice, tempered by a disposition to clemency; the knowledge of the general principles of equity and evidence, and the faculty of patiently investigating the most intricate and tedious questions which could be proposed for his discussion.

The measures of policy, and the operations of war, must submit to the various accidents of circumstance and character, and the unpractised student will often be perplexed in the application of the most perfect theory.

Son değişiklik: Friday, 22 June 2012, 13:52:00 EEST