Julian the Apostate’s religious policy and renovatio imperii morumque in the Res Gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus





Roman historiography, Ammianus Marcellinus, Julian the Apostate, religious policy, moral and political renewal


This article deals with Julian the Apostate’s religious policy and its relationship with the renewal of both the Roman state and the morals of Roman society during the emperor’s reign. Julian, who was a zealous follower of pagan religion, attempted to re-establish the old cultus deorum in the Christian-pagan society and to make paganism the Roman state religion. Ammianus, who witnessed Julian’s reign, shows in his Res Gestae that the emperor did his utmost to renew equally the morals of society and condition of the state. In this article the author argues that ‒ according to Ammianus ‒ Julian’s religious programme influenced neither his good moral conduct nor his secular policy. In the Res Gestae, the historian demonstrates that the imperial power as well as Julian’s virtues were sufficient means to renew the morals of society and to restore and strengthen the state, whereas religion only accompanied the emperor’s moves and did not influence them. This article was written with a view to presenting Ammianus’ standpoint on this matter as it emerges from the Res Gestae; one that may seem contrary to how some modern scholars tend to accentuate the role played by pagan religion in the secular policy of the Apostate.

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How to Cite

Mleczek, A. “Julian the Apostate’s Religious Policy and Renovatio Imperii Morumque in the Res Gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 23, Aug. 2020, pp. 77–116, doi:10.12797/CC.23.2020.23.04.



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