The Thebans thus escaped and he went on to Athens, expecting that he would easily take that city because it was too vast to be defended by its inhabitants, and also that the besieged would soon surrender because, moreover, the Piraeus was short of provisions. These were Alaric’s hopes, but this ancient city won some divine protection for itself despite contemporary impiety and thus escaped destruction. And I should not pass over in silence the reason for the city’s miraculous preservation, because it will excite piety in all who hear of it. When Alaric and his whole army came to the city, he saw the tutelary goddess Athena walking about the wall, looking just like her statue, armed and ready to resist attack, while leading their forces he saw the hero Achilles, just as Homer described him at Troy when in his wrath he fought to avenge the death of Patroclus. (tr. Ronald T. Ridley)
Julian was at this time staying at Parisium, a little town in Germany. The soldiers, ready to march, were supping late at night near the imperial quarters. They were totally unaware of the plot against Caesar* until certain military tribunes discovered the truth about the designs against him and unobtrusively distributed anonymous notes among the troops. In these they described how Caesar, whose generalship had enabled virtually everyone to win victories against the barbarians, and who always fought like a private soldier without privilege, was in grave danger from the emperor**, who was gradually stealing away his troops, unless they combined to prevent the soldiers’ departure. When some of the soldiers read the notes and informed the rest of what was happening, all were inflamed with rage. Thereupon they rose from their drinking in uproar, and going to the imperial quarters with the cups still in their hands, they burst open the doors without ceremony and led Caesar forth. Raising him aloft on a shield, they declared him Imperator Augustus and forced a crown onto his head. Julian was indeed distressed at what had happened, but realised there was no safety in undoing it, since Constantius did not abide by oaths or agreements or any other human pledge. Nevertheless, he decided to try him, so he sent ambassadors saying that his elevation had been contrary to his own wishes and judgement, and that if he would pardon him, he was content to have the honour of Caesar alone and to put aside his diadem. Constantius flew into such a fit of rage and arrogance that he told the ambassadors that, if Julian wanted to
live, he must renounce the rank of Caesar as well as the emperorship, and, thus degraded to private rank, submit himself to the emperor’s pleasure: only in this way would he escape the terrible punishment his audacity deserved. When Julian heard this from the envoys, he openly showed his religious opinions by declaring outright in the hearing of all that he would rather entrust himself and his life to the gods than to Constantius’ assurances. Henceforth Constantius’ enmity to Julian was clear to everyone and he prepared for a civil war. Julian, however, was displeased at how things had turned out, realising that if he fought the man who had given him the position of Caesar, he would gain a reputation with many people for being ungrateful. While he was thus engrossed in considering every possibility in his anxiety to avoid a civil war, the gods revealed the future to him in a dream; for while staying at Vienna he dreamed that the Sun showed him the stars and spoke these verses:
‘When Jupiter reaches the edge of noble Aquarius, and
Saturn comes to Virgo’s twenty-fifth degree, then emperor Constantius, king of Asia, will reach the hateful, painful end of sweet life.’
Heartened by this dream, he devoted himself as usual to public business, and since it was winter time, took the necessary precautions with the barbarians, so that if he should have to undertake any other business, Gaul would be quite secure; at the same time, while Constantius was still in the East, he prepared to anticipate his attack.
Now that the whole empire had fallen into the hands of Constantine, he no longer concealed his evil disposition and vicious inclinations, but acted as he pleased, without controul. He indeed used the ancient worship of his country; though not so much out of honour or veneration as of necessity. Therefore he believed the soothsayers, who were expert in their art, as men who predicted the truth concerning all the great actions which he ever performed. But when he came to Rome, he was filled with pride and arrogance. He resolved to begin his impious actions at home. For he put to death his son Crispus, stiled (as I mentioned) Caesar, on suspicion of debauching his mother-in-law Fausta, without any regard to the ties of nature. And when his own mother Helena expressed much sorrow for this atrocity, lamenting the young man’s death with great bitterness, Constantine under pretence of comforting her, applied a remedy worse than the disease. For causing a bath to be heated to an extraordinary degree, he shut up Fausta in it, and a short time after took her out dead. (tr. W. Green & T. Chaplin)