14 April 2008

Reluctant Acceptance by Julian of Title of Augustus - Ammianus Marcellinus

"To confer further honor on [the soldiers] at their departure on so long a journey [Julian] invited their leading men to dinner... After this liberal entertainment two sad thoughts oppressed them as they went away; through the unkindness of fortune they were losing not only their native land but a beneficent ruler. With these sorrowful feelings they returned to their quarters."
Summary: These soldiers left their homes to fight for Julian on the express condition that they never have to go beyond the Alps. Emperor Constantius, however, doesn't give a shit, and orders them to be sent there anyway. Julian throws them a going away party to soften the blow.
"But at nightfall they broke out into open revolt; they gave way to the feelings roused in each of them to a different degree by this unexpected event, took up arms, and rushed to the palace with a tremendous uproar."
Oh snap. This must be where they kill Julian.
"They surrounded it so that no one could escape, and saluted Julian as Augustus with terrifying shouts, urgently demanding that he come out to them."
Yeah, kill that oppressive bastard!... Or, uh, hail him as Augustus and make him Emperor. Always a good option.
"Julian, however, resisted one and all firmly and resolutely. At one moment he showed displeasure, at the next he stretched out his arms in passionate entreaty, begging them not to spoil so many happy victories by behaving dishonourably or to let rashness and bad judgment give rise to civil war."
You're Caesar of Rome, a giant angry riot of soldiers storms your palace in the middle of the night, and you talk to them like a kindergarten teacher begging toddlers to stop throwing the graham crackers. You're a better man than I, dear Julian.
"In spite of this appeal the shouting continued on all sides, and finding it impossible to resist the uniform pressure of this loud uproar, with which some abuse was mingled, the Caesar was obliged to give way. He was placed on an infantry shield, raised aloft, and proclaimed Augustus without a dissentient voice."
Just so we're clear- Julian is now the highest ranking man in the entirety of the Roman Empire... and got there because he was completely at the mercy of an impassioned mob. Leadership as slavery indeed.
"Then he was told to produce a diadem, and when he said that he had never had one they asked for a necklace or a head ornament of his wife's. When he protested that to wear a female trinket would be an inauspicious beginning, they searched about for a horse-trapping to crown him with..."
"This too he rejected as unbecoming, and finally a man called Maurus... took off his standard-bearer's collar and boldly placed it on Julian's head. Julian, finding that there was no way out and perceiving that continued resistance would place him in instant danger, promised each man five gold pieces and a pound of silver."
Oh, come on, Julian, seriously? What happened to Romans being manly?

But wait, the soap opera continues:
"Terrified by the change which had occurred he withdrew into seclusion, where he remained until one of the decurions of the palace, an important official, hastened to the camp of the Petulantes and Celts shouting at the top of his voice that a shameful crime had been committed and that the man whom they had proclaimed Augustus on the previous day had been secretly put to death."
It's like an episode of I Love Lucy!
"At this news the troops... rushed in the disorderly way which is natural in emergency to occupy the palace...When they were asked what had led to this sudden foolish commotion there was a long silence... they would not disperse till they had been admitted to his council chamber and had seen him in all the splendour of his imperial robes."
Splendour. Right.