Letters of Julian/Letter 76

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

76. To the Same[edit]

I confess that I had paid a full and sufficient penalty for leaving you, not only in the annoyances that I encountered on my journey, but far more in the very fact that I have been away from you for so long, though I have indeed endured so many and various fortunes everywhere, that I have left nothing untried. But though I have undergone the alarms of war, the rigour of a siege, the wandering of exile and all sorts of terrors, and moreover the extreme cold of winter, the dangers of disease and countless mischances of many kinds in my journey from Upper Pannonia till I crossed the Chalcedonian straits,[1] I may say that nothing so painful or so distressing has happened to me as the fact that after I left the East I have not, for so long a time, seen you, the universal blessing of the Hellenes. So do not be surprised if I say that a sort of mist and thick cloud overshadows my eyes. For only then will a clear atmosphere and the brilliant light of the sun, and, so to speak, the fairest and truest springtime of my life, encompass me when I can embrace you, the delight and glory of the whole world, and, like the true son of a noble father who when hope is given up is seen returning from war, it may be, or from the stormy billows of the sea,[2] can proceed to recount to you all that I have suffered and what dangers I have been through, and as I, so to speak, ride safely on a sacred anchor,[3] can find at last a sufficient consolation for my misfortunes. For naturally it is a consolation and lightens the weight of sorrow when one unburdens one's experiences to others and shares with them the knowledge of one's sufferings in the intercourse of speech. Meanwhile, however, with what means I have I will, so far as I can approach you; and indeed I shall not cease, for the whole period of our separation, to conciliate you with letters by way of a token. And if I only receive the like from you, I shall be somewhat more submissive and shall hold converse with your letters, regarding them as a sort of symbol that you are safe and well. Do you, then, graciously accept what arrives from me, and show yourself still more gracious in making requital, since every noble utterance of yours, every written word, is reckoned by me as equivalent to the voice of Hermes the god of eloquence, or to the hand of Asclepius.[4]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. The reference is probably to Constantine's march in from Pannonia to Nicomedia by way of the Dardanelles.
  2. For a similar idea cf. Julian, To the Athenians, Vol. 2, Wright, 285c, p. 285.
  3. Cf. ancoram sacram (or ultimam) solvere, a proverb implying the use of what has been kept in reserve.
  4. See Letter 79.