Letters of Julian/Letter 39

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

39. To the citizens of Byzacium[1][edit]

[362, Probably from Antioch]

I have restored to you all your senators and councillors[2] whether they have abandoned themselves to the superstition of the Galilaeans or have devised some other method of escaping from the senate,[3] and have excepted only those who have filled public offices in the capital.


  1. Byzacium was in the district of Tunis. This is Cumont's conjecture for MS. title Τοῖς Βυζαντίνοις, To the Byzantines. Julian never calls Constantinople Byzantium. Gibbon suspected the title and conjectured that it was addressed to the town Bisanthe (Rodosto) in Thrace.
  2. The meaning of this word is not clear; Cumont translates "patroni" i.e. protectors, but we cannot be certain as to the functions of these local dignitaries in Africa.
  3. On the burden of being a Senator cf. Libanius, Oration 2; Ammianus 21. 12. 23; Julian, Misopogon 367d. It was one of Julian's most widespread reforms to enrol all wealthy men in the senates of their cities. By an edict of March 362 he deprived the Christian clerics of their immunities from such public offices which had been conferred on them by Constantine (cf. Sozomen 5. 5) and in the present case his edict is directed mainly against those who had become clerics in order to escape municipal service. Philostorgius 7. 4 says that this was part of Julian's malignant policy. The Emperor Valentinian restored their privileges to the clerics in 364.