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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 February 2009
The importance of the role of the empress Eusebia1 in the watershed years (354–5) of the life of Julian is not in question. The narrative runs as follows. When Julian was summoned to Milan in 354 to the court of his Christian cousin Constantius (337–61) in the aftermath of the execution of his half-brother Gallus for treason and was questioned about his loyalty to the emperor, it was the empress who secured an audience for him with the emperor and who effected his liberation in 355. His subsequent residency at Athens was also the suggestion of the empress. Not much later in the same year, when Julian was again recalled to the court at Milan to be appointed Caesar on 6 November, the empress supported his promotion, if not indeed being the very proponent of it. Thus began Julian's imperial career, which led him to succeed Constantius as emperor in 361.
1 For details on Eusebia and her life seeJones, A. H. M., Martindale, J. R., ANDMorris, J., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire I, AD.260–395 (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 300–1;Szidat J., Histohscher Kommentar zu Ammianus Marcellinus, Buch XX XXI, III, Historia, Einzelschriften 89 (Stuttgart, 1996), pp. 54–5.Google Scholar
2 For Julian's evidence see his Letter to the Senate and People of Athens (Ep. ad Ath.) and his Speech of Thanks to the Empress Eusebia (Or. III). The kind-hearted Eusebia appears also in Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, 21.6.4. For modern opinion subscribing to this image see especially Browning R., The Emperor Julian(London, 1975), pp. 74–5Google Scholar
3 Browning, op. cit. (n. 2), p. 84, dismisses the story of the killing of Julian's child at the instigation of Eusebia as ‘unverifiable’ and ‘symptomatic of the way the man in the street saw the imperial family’;Matthews, J., The Roman Empire of Ammianus(London,1989), p.86, dismisses the story of the empress preventing Helena from having a child as ‘an unsupported fragment of court gossip’.Google Scholar
4 Amm. Marc. 15.8.3.
5 Amm. Marc. 15.8.3
6 Amm. Mare. 16.10.18–19. Ammianus's attitude to Eusebia's brothers Eusebius and Hypatius is also striking and I hope to explore it elsewhere.
7 Zosimos, III.1.2–3, ed. trans.Paschoud, F., Zosime. Histoire Nouvelle II.1 (Paris, 1979), pp.8–9Google Scholar
8 Paschoud, op. cit. (n. 7), p. 62.
9 Drinkwater, J. F., ‘The pagan “underground”, Constantius II's “secret service”, and the survival, and the usurpation of Julian the Apostate’, inDeroux, C. Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History II, Collection Latomus 180 (Brussels, 1983), pp.348–87, esp. p.368.Google Scholar
10 See also Tougher, S., ‘In praise of an empress: Julian's Speech of Thanks to Eusebia’, in Mary Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power (Leiden,1998), pp.105–23.Google Scholar
11 Aujoulat, N., ‘Eusebie, Helene et Julien’, Byzantion, 58 (1983), I, ‘Le temoignage de Julien’, pp.78–103, II, ‘Le temoignage des historiensRsquo;, pp.421–52.Google Scholar
12 Ep. adAth., 273D–274D.
13 Or. Ill, 121B-C.
14 Matthews, op. cit. (n. 3), p. 85.
15 Leedom J. W., ‘Constantius II: three revisions’, Byzantion 48 (1978), 132–45, explores the question of Constantius's involvement in the deaths that followed that of Constantine the Great and concludes that the evidence is not good enough to convict Constantius
16 See the comments Seager f R., Ammianus Marcellinus. Seven Studies in his Language and Thought (Columbia,1986), p.102
17 Drinkwater, op.cit.(n. 9), p.348.
18 And perhaps more realistic as a late antique empress: see R. W. Burgess, ‘The accession of Marcian in the light of Chalcedonian apologetic and monophysite polemic’, BZ 86/87 (1993–94), 47–68, esp. 68, who concludes that Pulcheria was in fact manipulated by Aspar and, ‘far from being a proto-Irene’, Pulcheria was ‘in reality, one of the last of the Roman aristocratic wives and daughters, mere tools in the dynastic plans of the men who married them and gave them away’.
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