The Roman emperor Julian (331 or 332-363) was a member of the illustrious family of Constantine the Great, who was his grandfather. He was named Caesar of the western provinces by Emperor Constantius II in 355. Amazingly, he turned out to be a military leader of genius and cleared Gaul of the German threat.
In 360, Julian was proclaimed Augustus (emperor) of the entire Roman Empire by his troops in Gaul. Before Julan and Constantius could face each other in battle, however, Constantius died...after naming Julian as his rightful successor. In 363, Julian embarked on an ambitious campaign against the Sassanid Empire in Persia. Though initially successful, Julian was mortally wounded in battle and died shortly thereafter.
After gaining the purple, Julian started a religious reformation of the state, which was intended to restore the lost strength of the Roman state. As such, he supported the restoration of Hellenistic polytheism as the state religion. His laws tended to target wealthy and educated Christians, and his aim was not to destroy Christianity but to drive the religion out of the governing classes of the empire.
Gore Vidal's wonderful fictional account is very close to the actual events as chronicled by ancient historians. Vidal captures the dramatic tension in a world in which the familiar and traditional is melting away.
©1962 Estate of Gore Vidal (P)2014 Audio Connoisseur
"To the formidable task which Vidal sets himself, he brings an easy and fluent gift for narrative, a theatrical sense of scene and dramatic occasion, and a revealing eye and ear for character delineation - to say nothing of wide reading." (Newsweek)
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"An Old Favorite, Brought To Life"
The memories of when I first read it in print. It was nice to relive Julian's "life" and everything that led up to his fateful choice outside Ctesiphon, as well as Priscus and Libanius' passive-aggressive sniping.
Vidal's Burr. In both novels Vidal takes the known historical events and strings them together in a more or less faithful manner through the lens of a biased memoir, immersing one into the flavor of the times. In a way this is better than Burr, as the "outside" commentators don't run off into a lengthy and mostly irrelevant B-plot.
It can also be compared to the I, Claudius novels as both are about a Roman Emperor main character writing his secret life story while inadvertently revealing his character flaws. The primary difference is that Graves wrote his story in the style of a translated contemporary document, and this is a more modern first-person novel.
Not too much. In my experience, audiobooks range from being passionately acted to being read in a restrained manner, with the narrator careful not to enlarge the effects caused by the text. Both approaches have things that recommend them, but the second limits any special qualities the reader may add to the text. This reading is in the middle leaning toward restraint.
Of this type, I found Griffin's narration to be wholly competent. Unlike the other reviewer, I don't recall there being anything wrong with the (few) female characters.
Julian is the only thing that this should be named, as this book is first and foremost a look into the paradoxical nature of a fascinating character.
Vidal had such a way with words (and snark). I hope Audible gets more of his novels.
"A must-read for lovers of Greece and Rome"
Well-narrated and imaginative. Gives a good sense of the time it is set in. Important book for those who seek insight into the foundations of Western civilization and culture.
One of the best audiobooks out there. Griffin is exceptional as always. His performance is even better than in caesars commentaries. Story is most enjoyable. with respect to complaints against Christianity prejudice, it's without any merrits. Obviously these people did not get a context and subject matter of the book. Excelent educational material too.
An excellent book, and a mostly solid performance that is spoiled by this narrator's inability to do women's voices. Whenever he tries a female voice he sounds like Terry Jones and Graham Chapman arguing about SPAM.
"Listener beware but also entertained. "
The topic of this book could have been presented more philosophically. The crude anti christian polemics lowers its intellectual satisfaction. The novice reader should first listen to The Great Courses lecture The fall of the pagans and origins of medieval Christianity.
I do however, accuse the author of making up things he should not have done. For instance he has Julian state the life of the Nazarene was documented in Roman archives but were removed. Julian wrote a lot and I have never heard this before. Or the fire eruptions at his Jewish temple construction site has been reported as possible methane releases from known earthquakes. I have never heard Christians staged them.
One thing Julian wanted from his new pagan church - modelled on the christian hierarchy - was to assist the poor. He wrote: "These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agapae, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes." And one wonders how pagans would have responded to their own coerced ecumenical counsels which would have been a real hoot. The bishop of Dionysius? Pope Aphrodite? Might have been more riotous then anything at Nicea!
Julian screwed up his Persian campaign through vain glory and his murder by a Christian during the desperate withdrawal seems improbable given the dangerous disruption his death would and did interject.
Still this is a good listen but keep wikipedia and salt shaker readily at hand.
If you enjoy anti Christian rants and the babbling of old philosophers, then this book is for you. This part was vaguely amusing. However, if you are a military history buff, and want to learn how a bookish young man with no military experience at all, could against the odds restore Gaul to peace and prosperity, avoid this book. Julian interests me for his campaigns and not so much his philosophy. This book wastes much time on the philosophy and glosses over Julian's. campaigns, so for me it is a great disappointment.
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