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Julianus Augustus at Vienne pretends to be a Christian, in order to win the favour of the populace; and on the day of a festival he prays to God in church among the Christians.

At Paris, when Julian, still a Caesar, was shaking his shield while engaged in various exercises [p. 99] in the field, 1 the sections of which the orb of the shield was fashioned fell apart and only the handle remained, which he held in the grasp of a strong hand. [2] And when all who were present were terrified by what seemed a direful omen, he said: “Let no man be afraid; I hold firmly what I was holding.” 2 Again at Vienne at a later time, when he went to sleep with a clear head, at night's dread mid a gleaming form appeared and recited to him plainly, as he lay almost awake, the following heroic verses, repeating them several times; and trusting to these, be believed that no difficulty remained to trouble him:
“When Zeus the noble Aquarius' bound shall reach, And Saturn come to Virgo's twenty-fifth degree, Then shall Constantius, king of Asia, of this life So sweet the end attain with heaviness and grief.” 3
[3] Accordingly, he continued to make no change in his present condition, merely with calm and tranquil mind attending to everything that came up and gradually strengthening his position, to the end that his increase in rank might be attended also with a growth in power. [4] And in order to win the favour of all men and have opposition from none, he pretended to be an adherent of the Christian religion, from which he had long since secretly revolted; and making a few men sharers in his secrets, he was given up to soothsaying and auguries, and to other [p. 101] practises which the worshippers of the pagan gods have always followed. [5] And in order temporarily to conceal this, on the day of the festival which the Christians celebrate in the month of January and call the Epiphany, 4 he went to their church, and departed after offering a prayer to their deity in the usual manner.

1 Practice in manœuvres with the shield was a regular part of military exercises; Vegetius, ii. 14, qui dimicare gladio, et scutum rotare doctissime noverit, qui omnem artem didicerit armaturae. The shield must not fall to the ground; cf. Martial, ix. 38, 1 f.: Summa licet velox, Agathine, pericula ludas, non tamen efficies ut tibi parma cadat.

2 Cf. Suet., Jul. 59, “teneo te, Africa.

3 The author of the verses is not known; they are quoted, with slight differences in the wording, by Zonaras, xiii. 11 c, and Zosimus, iii. 9.

4 It was celebrated on January 6th, to commemorate the appearance of Christ to the magi who came from the East with gifts. The Orientals for a long time believed that it was the date of His birth and baptism.

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