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Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church

Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome

Susanna Elm

Publication Year: 2012

This groundbreaking study brings into dialogue for the first time the writings of Julian, the last non-Christian Roman Emperor, and his most outspoken critic, Bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, a central figure of Christianity. Susanna Elm compares these two men not to draw out the obvious contrast between the Church and the Emperor’s neo-Paganism, but rather to find their common intellectual and social grounding. Her insightful analysis, supplemented by her magisterial command of sources, demonstrates the ways in which both men were part of the same dialectical whole. Elm recasts both Julian and Gregory as men entirely of their times, showing how the Roman Empire in fact provided Christianity with the ideological and social matrix without which its longevity and dynamism would have been inconceivable.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Transformation of the Classical Heritage


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-x


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pp. xi-xiv


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pp. xv-xviii

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pp. xix-xxii

...This book began to take shape in the summer of 1998. At the time, I was immersed in research for a project on the relevance of slavery for the formulation of late Roman Christian notions of leadership: that is, for the role of the bishop. Gregory of Nazianzus’s second oration soon emerged as a central source, and I was already working on a number of papers devoted to it when Martin...

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pp. 1-14

...This is a book about two powerful, enduring, and competing visions of universalism in the fourth century: Christianity and the Roman Empire. Yet, I will argue that these visions were in fact one, since Christianity was essentially Roman. Christianity’s universalism lasted because it was, fromthe beginning, deeply enmeshed in the foundational ideologies granting Rome’s supremacy...

Part One

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1. Nazianzus and the Eastern Empire, 330–361

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pp. 17-59

...Gregory’s treatise on the nature of Christian leadership had a profound and lasting impact, for example on John Chrysostom, another member of that elite and bishop of Constantinople.Chrysostom’s work on the priesthood, based on Gregory’s, then influenced another bishop in an imperial residence, Ambrose ofMilan, throughwhomit gained purchase in theWest. Rufinus’s Latin...

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2. Julian, from Caesar to Augustus

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pp. 60-87

...comparatively insignificant city when it appeared on the historical map in 362 or 363, had not remained unscathed by the seismic shifts accompanying the end of Constantius’s reign and the beginning of Julian’s. Indeed, Nazianzus owed its appearance on that map in no small measure to Julian’s reign and his effect on both the emerging formulations of Christianity...

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3. Philosopher, Leader, Priest

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pp. 88-144

...into Constantinople crystallized and projected the central tenets of his inaugural letters to the Athenians and to Themistius and thus to the Constantinopolitan senate: as his military victories demonstrated, Julian came as one chosen by the gods to alter Constantius’s legacy. The new emperor, though acknowledging his dynastic connections to the mighty house...

Part Two

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4. On the True Philosophical Life and Ideal Christian Leadership

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pp. 147-181

...During the summer of 362 Julian crossed Cappadocia en route from Constantinople to Antioch.The journeywas the first phase of a daunting military campaign against the Persians under Shapur, the archenemy of the Romans.Thus the emperor, as part of his preparation, intensified his efforts, his...

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5. The Most Potent Pharmakon

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pp. 182-212

...incorrectly, they destroyed souls and annihilated all hope of salvation (Or. 2.36).Hence, it was incumbent on Gregory as true philosopher to provide the touchstones for identifying true and false philosophers and tainted mixtures of the Trinity, and “to give to each at the right moment the right ration of the Word, and to...

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6. Armed like a Hoplite

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pp. 213-266

...Gregory faced amonumental task as philosopher–physician of the soul and as armed combatant, engaged in the war within himself as preparation for both the civil war that divided his kin inside and the attack of the enemy outside. Gregory’s doubts and hesitations as he considered the dangers are poignant, even though they conformto the ritual of recusatio—the protestations expected from one chosen...

Part Three

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7. A Health-Giving Star Shining on the East

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pp. 269-335

...I left Julian, the beast threatening Gregory and his church from the outside, in early summer of 362 en route from Constantinople to Antioch. The emperor and his court, including Caesarius, passed Nazianzus shortly after Julian issued an imperial letter declaring those who denied the true gods’ inspiration of men such as Homer, Hesiod, Plato, and Aristotle unfit to teach and comment on their writings...

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8. The Making of the Apostate

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pp. 336-377

...By early August Jovian had been elected the new emperor by the army, still in Persian territory. To control theworst effects of the rumors, Jovian sent messengers to Illyricum and Gaul “to announce the death of Julian and [his own] elevation, after Julian’s demise, to the rank ofAugustus.”Themessengers, passing through Antioch by mid-August, also conveyed Jovian’s instructions to the mints...

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9. A Bloodless Sacrifice ofWords to theWord

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pp. 378-432

...The nexus between the gods and the philosophy proper to them, the appropriate way to venerate the Greek and Roman gods, and following god as instituted by the ancients stood at the center of Julian’s imperial endeavor, because for him too piety had been the highest virtue. As Plato had demanded in his Laws, Julian as legislator served the gods at all times in their hierarchical...

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10. Gregory’s Second Strike, Oration 5

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pp. 433-478

...to alert his audience to what is to come. But in fact Gregory’s opening sentence encapsulates everything he represents.Thecontext of the seemingly innocuous remark Gregory quotes from Homer—my first strike is complete—is the brief pause before Odysseus’s second and final attack on the suitors who were still alive...

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pp. 479-488

...This book, about the power of words to fashion a world and about the radical consequences of small differences, also addresses the corollary: that words can be so powerful and the consequences of small differences so radical because of profound similarities. All the principals of this book were intellectual twins, affiliated...


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pp. 489-528


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pp. 529-554

E-ISBN-13: 9780520951655
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520269309

Page Count: 558
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Transformation of the Classical Heritage
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 777375644
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church

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Subject Headings

  • Church history -- Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600
  • Gregory, of Nazianzus, Saint.
  • Julian, Emperor of Rome, 331-363.
  • Church and state -- Rome.
  • Rome -- History -- Julian, 361-363.
  • Rome -- Religion.
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