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Julian the Apostate

The emperors of Rome had diverse and interesting histories, but one of the most interesting emperors during the fall of Rome was the emperor known as Julian the Apostate. His full name was Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus and he was emperor from 361 to 363. He was the son of Julius Constantius, who was half-brother to Constantine the Great. He was brought up by the eunuch Mardonius and the philosopher Nicocles. “Julian received a Christian training, but the recollection of the murder of his relatives sowed in him a bitter resentment against the authors of that massacre [of his kinsfolk], and he extended this hatred to Christians in general (newadvent).” He gained a deep interest in literature, philosophy, and paganism, though he also studied grammar and rhetoric. Constantius II moved Julian further and further away from the center of power as his education continued. “[He] was moved from Constantinople to Nicodemia by the emperor in AD 342… Soon after Julian was moved again, this time to a remote fortress at Macellum in Cappadocia, together with his half-brother Gallus (” Julian remained at the fortress for six years until he returned to Constantinople but returned to Nicodemia in 351. That year, he also converted to pagan Neoplatonism and was initiated into theurgy by Maximus of Ephesus.

Julien_1A statue of Julian dressed as a philosopher and wearing a crown.

Julian was presented to the army in November 355 as the next in line to the empire, was married to the emperor’s sister Helena, and then was sent to the city of Gaul. He was a gifted soldier.  His first order was to go to the Rhine and repel invasions by Franks and Alemanni. “Julian, though completely inexperience in military matters, successfully recovered Colonia Aggripina by AD 356, and in AD 357 defeated a vastly superior force of Alemanni near Argetorate (Strasbourg) (” During this time though, he was not totally successful. After his success in 356, he distributed his forces to protect multiple towns. He was left with insufficient forces to protect himself when Franks attacked the town and Julian was held captive for several months until his general Marcellus lifted the siege. In 358, Julian was victorious over the Salian Franks on the lower Rhine. The fourth year of his campaign was by far Julian’s most successful. In 360, the Sassanid Emperor invaded Mesopotamia and took Amida after a two month siege. Julian was order to send troops to his eastern army. “This provoked an insurrection by troops of the Petulantes, who proclaimed Julian emperor in Paris, and led to a very swift military campaign to secure or win the allegiance of others (newworld).” Constantius II’s troops captured Aquileia and besieged 23,000 loyal to Julian. “Civil war was avoided only by the death of Constantius II, who, in his last will, recognized Julian as his rightful successor (newworld).” This began Julian’s rule as emperor of Rome.


Though Julian did not become emperor until 361, he had a history in administration. “At the end of 357 Julian, with the prestige of his victory over the Alamanni to give him confidence, prevented a tax increase by the Gallic praetorian prefect Florentius and personally took charge of the province of Belgica Secunda (Wikipedia).” His views were highly influenced by his education and he and Florentius often clashed over how Gaul should be administered to. “On December 11, 361, he entered Constantinople as sole emperor and, despite his rejection of Christianity, his first political act was to preside over Constantius’ Christian burial, escorting the body to the Church of the Apostles, where it was placed alongside that of Constantine (Wikipedia).” As emperor, he simplified the life of the court and reduced expenses. He removed all eunuchs from office, reduced the number of servants and guards and began the Chalcedon tribunal where some follower of the old emperor were tortured and killed. He tried to model his reign after that of Marcus Aurelius. He was did not try to rule as an absolute autocrat and described the ideal ruler as ‘first among equals.’ He took an active part in the Senate and did not try to put himself above others, He expanded the authority of cities and tried to reduce direct imperial involvement in their affairs. “For example, city land owned by the imperial government was returned to the cities, city council members were compelled to resume civic authority, often against their will, and the tribute in gold by the cities called the aurum coronarium was made voluntary rather than a compulsory tax (Wikipedia).” Even though he did try to push for a less powerful imperial government, he did try and take more power for himself, much like other emperors of the time.

Edward_Armitage_-_Julian_the_Apostate_presiding_at_a_conference_of_sectarian_-_1875Julian at a conference of sectarians

The one people who were openly discriminated against during his reign were Christians. “Although as emperor he issued an edict of religious toleration, he did try unsuccessfully to restore paganism [.] (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia).” He declared himself under the protection of Zeus and commanded towns to reopen pagan temples and perform animal sacrifice. “Julian issued a decree that all titles to lands, rights and immunities bestowed since the reign of Constantine upon the Galileans, as he contemptuously called the Christians, were abrogated, and that the moneys granted to the Church from the revenues of the State must be repaid (newadvent).” But even with his contempt for Christianity, he modeled his new paganism after the church, forming a similar hierarchy and calling for followers to mimic many of their virtues. His new pagan views did not last after his death though. “In 363, when Julian died, he was succeeded by Jovian, a Christian, at least nominally, instead of the obvious choice, Julian’s praetorian prefect, the moderate polytheist, Saturninius Secundus Salutius (ancienthistory).”

JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNGThe image of Julian on a Roman coin.

Julian died in 363, during a campaign against the Sassanid Empire. He was trying to take back cities conquered during the rule of Constantius II. Julian was able to enter the territory of Armenia and was able to conquer several cities. “He arrived under the walls of the Sassanid capital, Ctesiphon, but even after defeating a super Sassanid army in front of the city (Battle of Ctesiphon), he could not take the Persian capital (newworld).” He decided to retreat back to Roman borders. On June 26, he died during a battle against the Sassanid army. He received a spear wound that is guessed to have injured his intestines and he died shortly after. Though he was a strong emperor during his reign, he left no real imprint on the Roman Empire or history. What he is remembered for most is his literary work, some of which survives to today.


“Julian (emperor).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA:. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

Baynes, Norman H. “The Death of Julian the Apostate in a Christian Legend.” The Journal of Roman Studies 27 (1937): 22-29. JSTOR. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Emperor Julian.” Emperor Julian. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

Perowne, Stewart H. “Julian: Roman Emperor.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

Gill, N.S. “Julian the Apostate and Fall of Paganism – Roman Empire.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Edward Armitage – Julian the Apostate presiding at a conference of sectarian – 1875” by Edward Armitage – Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Julian” by First uploaded on wiki:de; Baumeister: Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums. 1885. Band I., Seite 763.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Julien 1” by Unknown – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNG” by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


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Women in Ancient Rome

Women in ancient Rome had a unique position when compared to women of other cultures. “Unlike some other ancient cultures such as the Greeks who had formed a creation myth where woman was a creature secondary to man and, more specifically, in the form of Pandora, a bringer of unhappiness and vices, the Romans had a more neutral approach where humanity, and not specifically the male, was created by the gods from earth and water (” Roman women were educated and went to school. In different ancient writings, it is suggested that girls and boys were educated together. Upper class women seemed to have been well educated but most are not remembered for their educational endeavors. In religious affairs, women could participate very little. “Of this exclusive religion of the family, the father was the high-priest…. Before the family altar women had no independent place. They took part in the ceremonies only through their fathers or husbands (Women in Early Roman Law).” They usually had marriages arranged for them and generally noble women would marry younger to ensure she was a virgin (  They could refuse the match, but only if they could prove their expected husband had a bad character. “For it was a lasting principle of Roman law that not only connubium (right of intermarriage), but also consent, were necessary to a valid tying of the nuptial knot. The term “consent” here included not only the woman’s consent but his also in whose power she was (Couch).” After she married, she left the legal protection of her father and she and her children came under the rule of her husband. Marriage did not require a ceremony, even though it was customary to prove they had married. Divorce was unusual but occurred usually on the grounds of adultery. “Here all that was necessary was simply an expression of a desire or commandy by the husband that the wife should no longer dwell in his house (Couch).”  The woman would leave her husband’s house and take her dowry, and it was socially acceptable. Remarriage and concubinage was also common among the Romans.

Roman_fresco_with_a_Woman_on_a_Balcony_-_Getty_Villa_CollectionFresco of a Roman woman on a balcony

Women, if free, were considered citizens but could not hold any sort of political office or vote. There was little difference in status between a noble woman and a freedwoman, but only freedwomen could work outside of the home as a noble woman was expected to rely on her husband to provide for her. In the early empire, daughters had the same rights as son, even if they played different roles. “[I]n the inheritance of her father’s estate the daughter took an equal share with the son, provided she had not by marriage left her father’s family (Couch).” But through all of this they were not recognized by public law. They could not own property, witness in court, or make wills (Woman in Early Roman Law).  During a woman’s adult life, especially if she was an aristocrat, she was expected to be able to run a large household, which included entertaining guests, living frugally, and producing clothing. Women were not expected to be idle and took an active part in business. Women could own their own land and help in their husband’s businesses to earn their own living. “Lower class Roman women did have a public life because they had to work for a living. Typical jobs undertaken by such women were in agriculture, markets, crafts, as midwives and as wet nurses (” Women also enjoyed active social lives. They traveled around the city, gathering in streets with friends, attend religious ceremonies, and visit baths. “In our eyes these seem very trivial privileges; but if we call to mind the absurd restrictions place upon the movements of Greek and other women of antiquity, we must confess that these trifling concessions were a great stride towards that perfect equality of the sexes finally reached in Rome (Couch).”


“Women in Ancient Rome – Crystalinks.” Women in Ancient Rome – Crystalinks. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.


“Women in the Roman World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.


“Honors3.html.” Honors3.html. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.


Couch, John A. “Woman in Early Roman Law.” Harvard Law Review 8.1 (1894): 39-50. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.



“ Roman Fresco With a Woman on a Balcony “By Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup (Flickr: Getty Villa – Collection) [CC BY-SA 2.0

<, via Wikimedia Commons>

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The Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War was a war fought between the Greek states of Athens and Sparta that lasted from 431 until 404 BCE (historyofwar). The war went so long because neither power was able to gain power over the other due to Athens’ strength on the sea and Sparta’s power on land.  The war is traditionally split into many parts; the Archidamian War, the Peace of Nicias, The Sicilian Expedition, and the Decelean War. The war was a huge power struggle that changed the Hellenistic world.

The Archidamian War began in 431 and lasted until 421 BCE (Mathisen). “At the start of the war, much of the Greek world was tied to either Sparta or Athens through alliances, leagues or membership of the Athenian empire.” (historyofwar)Sparta would march on Attic, and the Athenians would retreat into the city of Athens, refusing to fight. The Spartans did not have siege technology and the Spartans had no way to capture a walled city besides starvation, betrayal, or surrender. They tried to invade five separate times, but could not gain any ground. The war really started when the Thebes attacked Plataea, the only city that hadn’t joined the Theban dominated Boeotian League, but Plataea did not fall at that time (Historyofwar). A plague struck Attica, stopping the Spartan attacks on the city for a time. The Spartans were able to take Plataea in 427, gain allies in the Macedonians, capture Amphipolis in 424, and kill Athenian general Cleon. In 425, the Athenians responded by capturing 120 Spartans on Sphacteria, the first time that Spartans had ever been forced to surrender. By 421, both sides were willing to negotiate for peace. The Peace of Nicias began.

800px-Map_Peloponnesian_War_431_BC-en.svgMap of Greece at the time of the Peloponnesian War

The Peace of Nicias was named after the Athenian general who negotiated for Athens. The Spartan prisoners were returned, Athens lost the city of Plataea but gained a port from Megara, and Athens kept Nicea. Everything else was returned to the way it was before the war, settling nothing and upsetting many Spartan allies. The treaty was able to last for about six years, but there were constant skirmishes in and around the Peloponnese (Wikipedia). Argos, a powerful state, tried to create a coalition of states with the support of the Athenians. The Spartans tried to break it, but failed and the Spartan king’s leadership skills were questioned (Wikipedia). The largest battle at the time, and during the entire war, was the Battle of Mantinea, where the coalition was defeated by the Spartans. The alliance broke and most states reincorporated themselves into the Peloponnesian League.

The next major event of the war was the Sicilian Expedition. “In the next few years the Athenians took the offensive. They attacked the Sicilian city Syracuse and campaigned in western Greece and the Peloponnese itself (Britannica).” This second period of fighting lasted eleven years, starting in 415. After the Athenians destroyed the city of Melos for not joining the Delian League, Alcibiades, the Athenian leader, tried to gain more power and income by attacking the city of Syracuse. An impossibly large force was suggested to try to dissuade this from occurring, but the proposal passed. One hundred warships, one hundred thirty supply ships, five thousand hoplites, and one thousand three hundred troops were sent to Sicily (Mathisen). Sicily was initially caught off guard, but gained the upper hand, even when the Athenians sent reinforcements. “Aided by a force of Spartans, Syracuse was able to break an Athenian blockade. Even after gaining reinforcements in 413, the Athenian army was defeated again. Soon afterward the navy was also beaten, and the Athenians were utterly destroyed as they tried to retreat (Britannica).” This caused members of the Delian League to begin revolting and Athens lost much of its prestige in the Greek world.

During this time though, Sparta had decided to take to war on land again in a war called the Decelean war. They fortified Decelea and established a permanent military base. “The Spartans, advised by Alcibiades, decided to occupy a fortress in Athenian territory… on the slopes of Mount Parnes (historyofwar).”They also allied with Persia to get the money to pay for a navy, having to promise to let the Persians reoccupy Ionia if they won (Mathisen). “Over the winter of 412-411 the treaty between Sparta and Persian was renegotiated. This time Sparta agreed not to attack any Persian possession or former possession, not to take tribute from any of them, the Persians agreed not to attack the Spartans, both agreed to help the other, although the exact nature of the help was left unclear, both sides agreed to make war jointly against the Athenians, and only make peace together (historyofwar).”  Athens was desperately trying to recuperate from their defeat and was forced to use its reserve fund of 1,000 talents and demand tribute from allies which increased tensions (wiki). Political upheaval continued to wrack Athens making it weaker (historyofwar). Athens continued to win naval victories, but in 404, the Athenian fleet was destroyed. The Athenians were forced to agree to the terms of Sparta and obey Spartan foreign policy. They were also forced to accept an oligarchic government. Athens was completely ruined and both Sparta and Athens were weakened by the long years of warfare.

The Peloponnesian War changed the power structure and political giants of the Hellenistic world. Athens went from being one of the strongest city states in Greece to being effectively ruined, while Sparta grew into a world power. The power struggle between Athens and Sparta showed the power of Greece and changed the Hellenistic world.


“Peloponnesian War.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.


“Peloponnesian War | Ancient Greek History.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica,

n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.


“Second or Great Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC.” Second or Great Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC.

N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.


Mathisen, Ralph W. Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations: From Prehistory to 640 CE. 2nd ed. New York:

Oxford UP, 2012. Print.

“Map Peloponnesian War 431 BC-en” by Map_Peloponnesian_War_431_BC-fr.svg: Marsyasderivative work: Aeonx (talk) – Map_Peloponnesian_War_431_BC-fr.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Egyptian and Mycenaean Writing

Written language is one of the major factors that made different cultures into the first major civilizations. Examples of these first written languages include the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the language of the ancient Mycenaeans, commonly known as Linear B. These writing systems allowed for information to be recorded and passed between people in the culture, communication, and for decoration of religious buildings and monuments. Though some of these scripts survived to become the ancestors of our modern written languages while others did not, they all give us into the historical lives of those who lived in these two cultures.

In Ancient Egypt, the most common written language was hieroglyphic script. It is dated to about 3500 years before Christ, at the beginning of pharaonic civilization, and is made up of around 500 symbols. “Hieroglyphs were called, by the Egyptians, ‘the words of God’ and were mainly used by the priests.” (Egyptian Hieroglyphic Alphabet) Most texts were written on papyrus, “a type of paper… which was made from the river plant of the same name. Papyrus was a very strong and durable paper-like material that was used in Egypt for over 3000 years.” (Penn Museum) Hieroglyphs also appeared on tombs, temple walls, and monuments as works of art. Hieroglyphs were used as either ideograms, made to represent ideas through pictures, or as phonograms that were given phonetic value.  The Egyptians also had two cursive forms of hieroglyphic writing called hieratic and demotic hieroglyphs.  They had very similar purposes but were used at different times during the Egyptian period. These written forms of language could be read from either direction, dependent on the direction of human and animal figures. The one exception is hieratic, which was always read right to left. In the First century AD, the Coptic language, a modified Greek alphabet with some demotic symbols, began to be used. By the Fourth century, Coptic had become the dominant writing form and formal hieroglyphs were used in only a ceremonial role. In 1789, the Rosetta Stone was found, a stone carved with the same text written in Egyptian and Greek, using hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek writing forms. This allowed some Egyptian texts to be deciphered and give a better view into Ancient Egyptian history.

256px-Stein_von_Rosetta_-196                       The Rosetta Stone helped to interpret different forms

of Greek and Egyptian writing.

The Mycenaeans used a very different language called Linear B, “the oldest preserved form of written Greek that we know of.” (Violatti)  Linear B was first attested on Crete and have been found in mainland Greece, suggesting that the writing form was used between 1500 and 1100 BCE, depending on sources. Inscriptions found on clay tablets in major palace sites in Crete, Pylos, and Mycenae itself. Most of the texts found are inventories, palace administrations, and some military activity. They also dealt with religious offerings, such as food and wine, and the gods and goddess they were for.  There are no surviving narratives, myths, or poetry. The oldest of these tablets are the Room of the Chariot Tablets from Knossos, dated to 1450-1350 BCE (Wikipedia). Linear B writing consists of about 200 syllabic signs and logograms, characters that represent a word of phrase. It was initially derived from Linear A, a Minoan language that has not been deciphered yet, being mixed with Greek. Linear B is written in such a way that deciphering the pronunciation of words is difficult, especially where the meaning of a word is unclear from context of has no dialectic descendants. “Linear B cannot represent consonant clusters… the limitations of the script to represent Greek are fairly clear.” (Violatti)  “This system was apparently designed for a non-Greek language as it did not fit the sounds of Greek very well. In fact, it is likely that Linear A was used to write the pre-Greek language of Crete, and the incoming Greeks adopted this writing system for their own use, but without changing how the system fundamentally works.” (Linear B) When the Mycenaean civilization collapsed, Linear B gradually disappeared and literacy was lost until the Greek alphabet emerged in the 8th century BCE.

How Cool Is Writing?

A Clay Tablet from Pylos, an example of Linear B writing

Both of these written languages emerged, developed, and collapsed in similar ways. They were used for common functions and help historians today figure out the culture and history of these ancient civilizations today. Though these written languages are not used they still have great influence on how history is interpreted and how we see the people of ancient Egypt and the Mycenaeans.


“Egyptian Hieroglyphic Writing.” Discovering Ancient Egypt. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.


“Egyptian Hieroglyphic Alphabet.” Discovering Ancient Egypt. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.


“WRITING – Scribes, Hieroglyphs, and Papyri – A New Look at Ancient Egypt @ UPMAA.”WRITING – Scribes, Hieroglyphs, and Papyri – A New Look at Ancient Egypt @ UPMAA. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.                       <;.

“Ancient Scripts: Linear B.” Ancient Scripts: Linear B. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.


“Mycenaean Greek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.


“Writing in Ancient Egypt.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.


Rosetta Stone, By Aiwok (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0

(, via Wikimedia Commons.

“NAMA Linear B tablet of Pylos” by Sharon Mollerus – originally posted to Flickr as How Cool Is Writing?. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


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Hi I’m here!

I picked the name Caesarissa because I enjoy learning Roman history and this is the name that Roman empresses were given.

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