Letters of Julian/Letter 6

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Letters by Julian, translated by Emily Wilmer Cave Wright
6. To Alypius, brother of Caesarius

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

6. To Alypius, brother of Caesarius[1][edit]

[361 Before July, from Gaul]

Syloson,[2] it is said, went up[3] to Darius, reminded him of his cloak and asked him for Samos in return for it. Then Darius prided himself greatly on this, because he considered that he had given much for little; though after all it proved a grievous gift for Syloson.[4] Now consider my conduct compared with that of Darius. In the first place I think that I have behaved better than he in one point at any rate, I mean that I did not wait to be reminded by another. But after preserving the memory of your friendship so long undimmed, the first moment that the god granted me power I summoned you, not among the second but among the very first. So much for the past. Now with reference to the future, will you allow me — for I am a prophet[5] — to foretell something? I think that it will be far more prosperous than in the case I spoke of, only let not Adrasteia[6] take offence when I say so! For you need no king to help you to conquer a city,[7] while I on the other hand need many to help me to raise up again what has fallen on evil days. Thus does my Gallic and barbarian Muse jest for your benefit. But be of good cheer and come, and may the gods attend you.

Added with his own hand . There is good spoil of deer and hunting of small sheep in the winter quarters.[8] Come to your friend who valued you even when he could not yet know your merit.


  1. For Alypius see Introduction.
  2. The story of Syloson from Herodotus 3. 139, is told by Julian, Vol. 1. Oration 3. 117B. The "cloak of Syloson'" became a proverb for the overpayment of a benefit.
  3. i.e. to Susa. 16.
  4. The Persians devastated Samos before Syloson could benefit by the gift.
  5. An echo of Plato, Phaedrus 343b.
  6. Another name for Nemesis, cf. Vol. 2. Misopogon 370b.
  7. If the date assigned to the letter is correct this must be Constantinople which Julian was preparing to occupy in his march against Constantius.
  8. This is perhaps a veiled allusion to Julian's plot to defeat the adherents of Constantius.