Letters of Julian/Letter 66

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

66. To George, a Revenue Official[1][edit]

Well, let us grant that Echo is a goddess, as you say she is, and a chatterbox, and, if you like, the wife of Pan[2] also; for I shall not object. And even though nature would fain inform me that Echo is only the sound of the voice answering back when the air is struck, and bent back upon that which is opposite the ear that hears it, nevertheless, since I put my faith in the account given by men both ancient and modern,[3] and in your own account no less, I am abashed into admitting that Echo is a goddess.[4] What, in any case, would that matter to me, if only, in my expressions of friendship towards you, I excel Echo in a considerable degree? For she does not reply to all the sounds that she hears, but rather to the last syllables uttered by the voice, like a grudging sweetheart who returns her lover's kisses with the merest touch of her lips. I, on the other hand, in my correspondence with you, lead off sweetly, and then again, in reply to your challenge, I return you like for like as though I threw back a ball. Therefore you cannot be too quick in recognising that your letters put you in default, and that it is yourself, since you receive more and give back very little, whom you consign to the similitude of the figure, and not me, since I am eager to score off you in both ways.[5] However, whether you give in just the same degree as you receive, or not, whatever I am permitted to receive from you is a boon, and is credited as sufficient to balance the whole.[6]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Otherwise unknown. The title Catholicus (cf. our "General") was used of officials in charge of the collection of tribute, especially in Africa; it is equivalent to procurator fisci. George was probably a sophist. This and the following letter are rejected by Schwarz, Cumont and Geffcken, because of their sophistic mannerisms.
  2. Moschus, Idyl 6.
  3. For this conventional phrase, often used by Julian, cf. To Hecebolius, Letter 63, and To Sarapion, Letter 80.
  4. George had evidently used the figure of Echo, and accused Julian of imitating her.
  5. i.e. both in sending and receiving letters.
  6. Perhaps the last two sentences are a playful allusion to George's profession as a financier.