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Julian II 355-360 (Caesar) 360-363 (Augustus)
Known to history as ‘Julian the Apostate’ on account of his rejection of Christianity and attempt to turn the Roman Empire back to the old religion.
Julian was the cousin of Constantius II and half-nephew of Constantine the Great. Julian survived the massacre of many of Constantine’s remaining male relatives following the latter’s death in 337 AD. Most of those lucky enough to survive the massacre were destined to die violent deaths anyway by execution or battle, until Constantius II himself died whilst bringing up an army to challenge Julian. Julian thus became the last surviving member of the Constantinian dynasty.
In spite of his dubious reputation amongst ancient Christian historians, the evidence suggests that he was a good emperor who didn’t overtax his subjects and, like Marcus Aurelius, became known as a philosopher-emperor. He even devolved greater powers back to the cities at the expense of his own central imperial power due to his own philosophical outlook on the exercise of imperial authority.
He was to die in 363 of a wound received at the Battle of Samarra, either at the hands of a pious Christian soldier in his own ranks, or more likely, at the hands of one of the Persian soldiers he was pursuing at the time. His legendary last words “Vicisti, Galilaee” (You have won, Galilaen) an apparent acknowledgement of the ultimate futility of his efforts to turn the clock back and return the Empire to paganism.
We show a "First Brass" or "AE1" of Julian II facing right. A typical obverse legend would read DN FL CL IULIANUS PF AUG, but our specimen actually and clearly reads DN CL CL IULIANUS PF AUG, which we presume was a mint error.
The reverse shows a bull advancing right, with the legend SECURITAS REPUB, meaning "the security of the republic" rather than "it's safer back in the pub", with ANT Γ (gamma) in the exergue, indicating it was minted at Antioch in the fourth year of his reign 363 AD.
Roman Emperors Portrait Gallery
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