The Great Philosopher-Emperor You’ve Never Heard Of

The Story of an Orphan who Upended the Roman Empire

Steven Gambardella
Oct 6 · 15 min read
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The emperor Julian modelled himself on Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. The young philosopher made an idealistic attempt to return the Roman Empire to older, philosophically-guided values but died in battle after only 20 months in power. (Image: Julian II in Paris City Museum. Photo by Ωméga * on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Philosopher King

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Constantine the Great won total power at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. It is said that he had a vision of Christ on the eve of the battle and instructed his soldiers to paint the Christian Chi-Rhu symbol on their shields. It is thought that the emperor converted to Christianity on his deathbed, his heirs further consolidated the power of the creed over the Roman Empire. Image: The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (1520–24) by Giulio Romano (Public Domain. source: Wikimedia Commons)

Caesar in Gaul

A Modest Emperor

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A modern statue of Julian in Tongeren, Belgium. Julian rejected the opulence and showy wealth of the Constantinian court that he inherited, he also wore a beard, a counter-cultural gesture at the time. (photo by Carole Raddato, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Religious Reform

War in the East

The Sophist

A Collection of Posts by Steven Gambardella

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