The Personality of Julian the Apostate

Julian Statue by Tataryn77

Julian built a solid foundation for the successes he had as Caesar. It was not by sheer luck that he managed to beat back the barbarians in Gaul. But to understand the reasons for his success, we have to look at the habits of the man. How did he live? How did he use his newfound power? How did he use his time? Not only do these questions reveal the reasons for his success, they also reveal personality of the man.

Spartan Habits

The duties of Caesar weighed heavily upon the shoulders of Julian, but he was determined to do a good job. Although he had access to food, drink and comfort that was befitting his station, he cared little for them. Instead, he shunned delicacies and shared the same food and drink as his soldiers. He also shunned comfort when it came to rest. Julian did not sleep on a bed of silk but made do with a rug and a coarse blanket.

The actions of Julian must have endeared him to his troops. Not many leaders were willing to share the same hardships as their men. This behaviour had many examples throughout the ages and in various parts of the world. Many commanders believed that they were better than the men they led. As such, they ate better food and had better sleeping arrangements under the pretext of leading their armies better. Meanwhile, their men who did most of the fighting suffered great hardships. By shunning comforts, Julian made it clear to his men that he shared their lot. Thus, they were more willing to follow and to die for him.

Daily Routine

As Caesar, Julian led a lifestyle of strict discipline to fulfil his duties. He had high expectations of himself and did not take his position lightly. During the day, he trained with his army to ensure that everyone was in top fighting condition. The severity of the barbarian threat in Gaul left no room to be lax. At any moment, the barbarians could attack the Romans. Until Julian pacified Gaul, there would be no peace.

But brute force alone would not bring lasting peace to Gaul. Julian realized that he had to win the hearts and minds of the people as well. Thus, he devoted his time to reforms in his administration to make it more efficient. He streamlined it and did his best to root out corruption. Where tax and tributes were concerned, he made sure to take measures that benefitted the poor.

Finally, Julian had to handle many appeals from the common people. As Caesar, he was the highest authority in the West. The common people looked to him to stand up for them and to redress their wrongs. In the judgments he meted out, Julian tried to be impartial. Where he felt it was necessary, he did not hesitate to adjust the punishment to fit the crime. Due to the mildness of his nature, he generally showed mercy where he could, believing it his duty to temper the law with clemency. This did not please everyone, but Julian focused on doing what he felt was right. He knew the weight of his decisions and the irreversibility of sentencing a man to death. While Julian ruled, mercy and mildness characterized his reign.

Nightly Routine

The many duties that Julian had kept him busy all day. But even night did not bring rest and relaxation for him. Often, he had to deal with state affairs long after the sun had set. To manage, Julian divided the time he had each night into three parts. The first part he dedicated to public matters. The second part he used for self-study. The last part he reserved for his much-needed rest. Most men would have found it hard to adhere to such a strict regimen. But Julian was not like most men. His willpower was so great that he could get by on a few hours of sleep and stick to the schedule he had set for himself.

Even though Julian loved learning, he placed his duties first. Only after he had seen to the public matters that needed his attention, did he allow himself to engage in his studies. Knowledge was Julian’s lifelong passion. Although he loved philosophy the most, he was prudent enough to devote his time and effort to other areas as well. These areas included poetry and rhetoric, history and Latin. His growth in knowledge and wisdom helped him to carry out his duties as Caesar more efficiently.

Reflections of the Vizier

Julian’s success as Caesar was due to hard work and abstinence from fun and pleasure. He devoted all his waking hours to his duties and used his free time to study. Although he had high expectations of his men, he had even higher expectations of himself. It is no wonder he attained his successes in Gaul.

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