The History, 21.2

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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2While Julian, still with the rank of Cæsar only, was at Paris one day, exercising himself in the camp-field, and moving his shield in various directions, the joints by which it was fastened gave way, and the handle alone remained in his hand, which he still held firmly, and when those present were alarmed, thinking it a bad omen, he said, “Let no one be alarmed, I still hold firmly what I had before.”

2And again, when one day after a slight dinner, he was sleeping at Vienne, in the middle of the darkness of the night a figure of unusual splendour appeared to him, and when he was all but awake, repeated to him the following heroic verses, reciting them over and over again; which he believed, so that he felt sure that no ill fortune remained for him:—

“When Jove has passed the water-carrier’s sign,
And Saturn’s light, for five-and-twenty days
Has lightened up the maid; the king divine
Of Asia’s land shall enter on the ways
That painful lead to death and Styx’s gloomy maze.”

3Therefore in the mean time he made no change in the existing condition of affairs, but arranged everything that occurred with a quiet and easy mind, gradually strengthening himself, in order to make the increase of his power correspond with the increase of his dignity.

4And in order, without any hindrance, to conciliate the goodwill of all men, he pretended to adhere to the Christian religion, which in fact he had long since secretly abandoned, though very few were aware of his private opinions, giving up his whole attention to soothsaying and divination, and the other arts which have always been practised by the worshippers of the gods.

5But to conceal this for a while, on the day of the festival at the beginning of January, which the Christians call Epiphany, he went into their church, and offered solemn public prayer to their God.

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