Letters of Julian/Letter 2

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From The Works of the Emperor Julian, volume III (1913) Loeb Classical Library.

2. To the Same[edit]

[358-359, from Gaul]

As regards a visit to me from your good self,[1] if you have it in mind, make your plans now, with the help of the gods, and exert yourself; for perhaps a little later I too shall have no time to spare. Hunt up for me all the writings of Iamblichus to his[2] namesake. Only you can do this, for your sister's son-in-law owns a thoroughly revised version. And, if I am not mistaken, while I was writing this sentence, a marvellous sign[3] was vouchsafed me. I entreat you not to let Theodorus[4] and his followers deafen you too by their assertions that Iamblichus, that truly godlike man, who ranks next to Pythagoras and Plato, was worldly and self-seeking. But if it be rash to declare my own opinion to you, I may reasonably expect you to excuse me, as one excuses those who are carried away by a divine frenzy. You are yourself an ardent admirer of Iamblichus for his philosophy and of his namesake for his theosophy. And I too think, like Apollodorus, that the rest are not worth mentioning compared with those two. As for your collection of the works of Aristotle, so much I will say, you have made me style myself your pupil, though I have no right to the title. For while Maximus of Tyre in six books was able to initiate me to some little extent into Plato's logic, you, with one book, have made me, perhaps I may even say, a complete initiate in the philosophy of Aristotle, but at any rate a thyrsus-bearer.[5] When you join me I can prove the truth of my words by the great number of works that I wrote in my spare time, during last winter.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Lit. "your goodness." For Julian's use of this and similar abstract words, see Letter 32.
  2. Bidez prefers "my namesake," and makes the writer refer to Julian the theurgist or Chaldean, whom we know from Suidas. More probably the younger Iamblichus is meant.
  3. Cf. Vol. 2, 284c, for a similar sign of approval given to Julian by Zeus.
  4. Theodorus of Asine was a disciple of the great Iamblichus; we know of no such polemics as are indicated here.
  5. Plato, Phaedo 69c, says that "many carry the thyrsus of Dionysus, but few are really inspired."