Julian the Apostate

Ἐνταῦθα δὴ καὶ ποτοῦ καὶ τροφῆς οἱ στρατιῶται σπανίζοντες, καὶ τῆς πορείας ἡγεμόνας οὐκ ἔχοντες ἀλλ’ ἐν ἐρήμῳ χώρᾳ πλανώμενοι, τὴν τοῦ σοφωτάτου βασιλέως ἔγνωσαν ἀβουλίαν. ὀλοφυρόμενοι δὲ καὶ στένοντες εὗρον ἐξαπίνης κείμενον τὸν κατὰ τοῦ πεποιηκότος λυττήσαντα, καὶ τὸν Ἄρεα τὸν πολεμόκλονον ἐπίκουρον οὐ γενόμενον κατὰ τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν, καὶ τὸν Λοξίαν τὰ ψευδῆ μαντευσάμενον, καὶ τὸν τερπικέραυνον κατὰ τοῦ κτείναντος τοῖς κεραυνοῖς οὐ χρησάμενον, καὶ τὸν κόμπον τῶν ἀπειλῶν ἐρριμμένον εἰς ἔδαφος. τὸν μέντοι τὴν δικαίαν ἐκείνην ἐπενεγκόντα πληγὴν οὐδεὶς ἔγνω μέχρι καὶ τήμερον· ἀλλ’ οἱ μέν τινα τῶν ἀοράτων ταύτην ἐπενηνοχέναι φασίν, οἱ δὲ τῶν νομάδων ἕνα τῶν Ἰσμαηλιτῶν καλουμένων, ἄλλοι δὲ στρατιώτην τὸν λιμὸν καὶ τὴν ἔρημον δυσχεράναντα. ἀλλ’ εἴτε ἄνθρωπος εἴτε ἄγγελος ὦσε τὸ ξίφος, δῆλον ὡς τοῦτο δέδρακε τοῦ θείου νεύματος γενόμενος ὑπουργός. ἐκεῖνον δέ γέ φασι δεξάμενον τὴν πληγὴν εὐθὺς πλῆσαι τὴν χεῖρα τοῦ αἵματος καὶ τοῦτο ῥίψαι εἰς τὸν ἀέρα καὶ φάναι· “νενίκηκας Γαλιλαῖε”, καὶ κατὰ ταὐτὸν τήν τε νίκην ὁμολογῆσαι καὶ τὴν βλασφημίαν τολμῆσαι· οὕτως ἐμβρόντητος ἦν.
(Theodoret, Eccl. Hist. 3.25.4-7)

His* soldiers had not enough to eat and drink; they were without guides; they were marching astray in a desert land. Thus they saw the folly of their most wise emperor. In the midst of their murmuring and grumbling they suddenly found him who had struggled in mad rage against his Maker wounded to death. Ares who raises the war-din had never come to help him as he promised; Loxias had given lying divination; he who glads him in the thunderbolts had hurled no bolt on the man who dealt the fatal blow; the boasting of his threats was dashed to the ground. The name of the man who dealt that righteous stroke no one knows to this day. Some say that he was wounded by an invisible being, others by one of the Nomads who were called Ishmaelites; others by a trooper who could not endure the pains of famine in the wilderness. But whether it were man or angel who plied the steel, without doubt the doer of the deed was the minister of the will of God. It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, “Thou hast won, O Galilean.” Thus he gave utterance at once to a confession of the victory and to a blasphemy. So infatuated was he.

* The emperor Julian’s.

(tr. Blomfield Jackson)

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