Letters of Julian/Letter 75
75. To the Same
O Zeus, how can it be right that I should spend my time in the middle of Thrace and winter in the grain-pits here, while from charming Iamblichus, as though from a sort of spring in the East, letters come to me like swallows and I cannot yet go to him nor can he come to me? Who would be willing to put up with this unless he were some Thracian and as bad as Tereus?
"Lord Zeus do thou rescue the Achaeans from Thrace and make clear weather and grant us to see with our eyes" our own Hermes some day, and salute his shrine and embrace his statue as they tell us Odysseus did when after his wandering he beheld Ithaca. Nay, but he was still asleep when the Phaeacians unloaded him from their ship like a piece of freight and went their way; but as for me sleep can never lay hold on me till it be my lot to see you that are the benefactor of the whole world. And yet you say in jest that I and my friend Sopater have transported the whole East into Thrace. Yet, if I must speak the truth, Cimmerian gloom abides with me so long as Iamblichus is not here. And you demand one of two things, that I should go to you or that you yourself should come to me. To my mind one of these alternatives is both desirable and expedient, I mean that I should go to you and benefit by the blessings that you bestow, while the other surpasses all my prayers. But since this is impossible for you and inexpedient, do you remain at home and prosper and preserve the tranquillity that you enjoy, while I will endure with a brave spirit whatever God may send. For we are told that it is the proof of a good man to keep hoping for the best, to do his duty and follow his fate and the will of God.
- The phrase is borrowed from Demosthenes, On the Chersonese 45.
- Tereus was king of Thrace.
- Julian paraphrases Iliad 17. 645.
- Odyssey 13. 354.
- Cf. Oration 8. 243d for the same phrase, derived from Demosthenes, On the Crown 97.