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Flavius Claudius Julianus, known as Julian the Apostate, was a Roman emperor who ruled from 361 to 363, as well as the son of a half-brother of Constantine I.

Julian is called "The Apostate" because he reverted from Christianity to Paganism, and wished to roll back the persecution of pagans and destruction of temples that had followed Constantine I's official encouragement of Christianity. (During his earlier years, while studying at Athens, he became acquainted with two men who later became both bishops and saints: Gregory Nazianzus and Basil the Great.) Constantine had not yet made Christianity the official state religion, which would not happen until Theodosius I in the 380s, but he and his immediate successors had prohibited the upkeep of pagan temples, and many temples were destroyed and pagan worshippers killed during the reign of Constantine and his successors. The extent to which the emperors approved or commanded these destructions and killings is disputed, but they certainly did not prevent them. Julian advocated a policy of equal taxation and religious tolerance.

Julian's religious status is a matter of considerable dispute; he did not practice normative civic paganism of the earlier empire, but a kind of magical approach to classical philosophy sometimes identified as theurgy. Whatever his personal practices, they were not Christian. According to Socrates Scholasticus, Julian believed himself to be Alexander the Great in another body via transmigration of souls, as taught by Plato and Pythagoras (Book III, Chapter XXI of his writings). The Orthodox Church retells the story concerning two of his bodyguards, who were Christians, that when Julian came to Antioch gave orders to sprinkle all the food in the marketplace and the water wells with blood from idol-worship. This would have left the Christians in that town with nothing to eat or drink without violating their beliefs. The two bodyguards opposed the edict, and were executed at Julian's command. The Orthodox Church remembers them as Saints Juventinus and Maximos.

Sources state that he died in battle while fighting the Persians; he was so confident of victory that he was not wearing armour, and received a fatal wound from a dart. There were rumors at the time that he was killed by one of his own soldiers, a Christian who resented his beliefs.

Preceded by:
Constantius II (337-361)
Roman emperors
Followed by:
Jovian (363-364)

Julian is an alpine town in San Diego County, California, renowned for its apple pie.

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