Comparing The Moral Virtues Of Antony And Julian The Apostate

1103 words - 5 pages

Roman emperor Julian the Apostate and Christian leader Antony both exhibited many qualities of character during their existence. Both of them led very distinctive lives although shared several ethical values. Book 25 of “The Later Roman Empire” and the book “Early Christian Lives” show concrete evidence of this. In the following essay, I will argue how both leaders’ lives were devoted to their religious beliefs and their mutual cardinal virtues.

Regardless of the fact that Julian and Anthony did not practice the same religion, they both shared a particular devotion to their beliefs. From a very young age, Antony was exceptionally religious. As a child, he delighted in going to church to ...view middle of the document...

Although there was also maltreatment towards the Christians in Egypt, the Roman “persecutors of the Christians believed that the Christians’ refusal to give the many Gods of the Empire their due placed everyone in jeopardy, for they had breached the pax deorum”(Cambridge Illustrated History of the Roman World, p.287). The emperor made a law restraining the Christians’ freedom, “forbidding Christians to teach rhetoric or grammar unless they went over to the worship of the pagan Gods” (The Later Roman Empire, p.298) Julian’s beliefs were more so devoted to paganism and philosophy. During his time ruling the Roman Empire, he consulted with various philosophers concerning his life and the fate of his empire. This practice was very much inspired by the Greek way of life that the Romans were so fond of at the time. One of his favorite authors was the Greek poet Bacchylides. The poet stimulated his vows of chastity after the death of his wife. Julian believed that “chastity adds lustre to a life of high ideals just as good as painter enhances the beauty of a face” (The Later Roman Empire, p.296). He also stayed true to his commitment to better understanding life until his end. On his deathbed, Ammanius Marcellenus tells us that the dying emperor was having an rigorous conversation about the “nature of the soul” with the philosophers Maximus of Epheseus and Priscus of Epirus. (The Later Roman Empire, p. 295) Despite the fact that both leaders did not share the same faith, they both shared a firm devotion to it.

Ammianus Marcellenus explains that there are four cardinal virtues. These include self-control, wisdom, justice and courage. (The Later Roman Empire) In spite of the fact that the author is speaking of Julian in this book, these virtues are also applicable to Antony.

The Devil was “unable to stand such outstanding virtues” (Early Christian Lives, p.11) when he saw Antony. The Egyptian saint showed much self-control when he was fasting for days at a time. Every time the devil would try to tempt him, he would fast until his body was cleansed of impure thoughts. He was a very wise man. When he spoke people were left “in a joyful mood:...

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