Letters of Julian/Letter 42

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42. To Callixeine[1][edit]

[362, Antioch]

"Time alone proves the just man,"[2] as we learn from men of old; but I would add the god-fearing and pious man also. However, you say, the love of Penelope for her husband was also witnessed to by time. Now who would rank a woman's piety second to her love for her husband without appearing to have drunk a very deep draught of mandragora?[3] And if one takes into account the conditions of the times and compares Penelope, who is almost universally praised for loving her husband, with pious women who not long ago hazarded their lives; and if one considers also that the period was twice as long, which was an aggravation of their sufferings; then, I ask, is it possible to make any fair comparison between you and Penelope? Nay, do not belittle my praises. All the gods will requite you for your sufferings and for my part I shall honour you with a double priesthood. For besides that which you held before of priestess to the most venerable goddess Demeter, I entrust to you the office of priestess to the most mighty Mother of the gods in Phrygia at Pessinus, beloved of the gods.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Otherwise unknown. Julian visited Pessinus in Phrygia on his way to Antioch. See Introduction.
  2. Sophocles, Oedipus Rex 614.
  3. To drink mandragora (mandrake), is a proverb for sluggish wits; but mandrake was used also as a stimulus to love.