The historical interest and significance of the emperor Julian (d. 363), the last pagan Roman emperor, is not in doubt. His life and reign have generated many monographs, and continue to do so. Scholars are drawn to him in particular because of his reactionary religious project, to restore paganism and undermine Christianity, which his own uncle, Constantine the Great (d. 337), had done so much to promote. Studies of Julian are greatly enhanced by the wealth of literary source material that survive concerning the emperor, not least his own writings. Julian was highly educated and a prolific author, leaving a large corpus of work in a wide range of literary forms. Historians have utilised this material to create a narrative of Julian's life, to access his thought and to create a psychological profile of this fascinating individual.
What has not been done in sufficient detail, however, is to consider Julian as an author, to explore his writings as literary texts, and to place him and his writings in the broader context of the cultural milieu of the fourth-century Roman empire. The conference aims to address these concerns. In addition, the conference will also seek to remedy another neglected area of investigation, namely an analysis of the relationship between Julian's authorial profile and literary output, and his roles as Caesar and then Augustus : to consider the ways in which imperial authority defined Julian's literary interests and productions, but also to scrutinise the extent to which Julian's literary sensibilities determined the manner of his reign.
Over three days leading scholars in the field will deliver papers on the writings of Julian. Each scholar will focus on a particular text (or set of texts, e.g. Julian's letters). The conference will also embrace a chronological and thematic approach to Julian's writings. There will be sessions on his panegyrics, consolatory works, letters, hymns, satires and polemics, arranged largely following the sequence of his career from promotion to the Caesarship in 355, his acclamation as Augustus in 360, his acquisition of sole power in 361, and his premature death in 363. The conference will begin with a scene setting lecture on Julian in relation to his educational and cultural background, and will conclude with a paper assessing the findings of the speakers and their impact in the field.
In addition, the conference will also cover other forms of expression of Julian. There will be papers on his legislation, inscriptions, art and coinage, ensuring that the entire body of Julian's communication will be considered as a unit. Thus it is the objective of the conference to identify the major lacuna in Julian studies and address it, supplying a corrective but also stimulating further study.
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