BMCR 2000.01.04

Die beiden Satiren des Kaisers Julianus Apostata

, Die beiden Satiren des Kaisers Julianus Apostata (Symposion oder Caesares und Antiochikos oder Misopogon). Griechisch und deutsch mit Einleitung, Anmerkungen und Index. Palingenesia 66. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1998. 248. DM 88.

Friedhelm Müller is right in stressing the contradiction between the extraordinarily rich “Quellenlage” and the fact that Julian’s personality and especially his writings are nearly unread today (7). In Germany the last translations of both the Symposion and the Misopogon appeared in 1770 (bilingual, by G. Lasius) and 1788 ( Die Kaiser only, translated by Chr. G. Bardili), while we still have the philosophical works by R. Asmus (1908) and the outstanding bilingual edition of the epistles by B. K. Weis (1973). (A German translation of the Misopogon has been announced by Ph. Reclam Jun. publishers in 1999.) English and French readers are better off with the well-known editions by W. C. Wright ( LCL 1913) and J. Bidez / G. Rochefort / C. Lacombrade (1924-1964). There is no modern commentary on the Symposion at all; the edition of the Misopogon by C. Prato appeared twenty years ago with an “immerhin 80 S[eiten] Kommentierung umfassender Kommentar (von [D.] MICALELLA) … (für mich leider mit wenig wirklichem Gewinn)” (215). In this situation Müller (henceforth M.) sees the modest “Anliegen” (intention) of his book making accessible the two little works (22 and 28 pages respectively) by means of a German translation and “Erläuterungen” or “Anmerkungen”.

M., who has already published a similar edition of Eutropius in 1995 (Palingenesia 56) and of Herodian for 1999, and investigated Das Problem der Urkunden bei Thukydides (Palingenesia 63), now submits to a broader audience ” both the satires”, without reflecting too much on this conventional label (38 with note 93). In my opinion Julian himself sees the Kronia as a symposion, not at all as a satire (the Greek word for satura would be sillos, which Julian never uses), and the Antiochikos either as an iambos written in prose or as a psogos or paignion, influenced in style by the Pros heauton of Julian’s paragon Marcus.

The introduction on “Vita und Schriften” (9-37) is instructive but short and follows J. Bidez (1930) and other authors very closely. It seems strange that Gregory’s famous testimony ( or. 5.23) on Julian’s behavior as a student in Athens in 355 is not translated from the source but taken over from H. Rinn’s German version (1940) of J. Bidez, La vie de l’empereur Julien (17 adn. 22). M. does not delineate a consistent image of Julian’s complex and ingenious personality (I would prefer Bidez’ sensitive psychology and, now, D. Hunt in CAH xiii, Cambridge 1998, 44-77). After all, in M.’s eyes Julian remains the restless, somewhat entangled, excentric moralist, “dass man eigentlich über den weltfremden, ja fast doch absurden Versuch nur den Kopf schütteln mag” (51), and worse than this: “das Lächeln ‘gefriert’ dem Leser auf den versteinernden Gesichtszügen, wenn der kaiserliche (!) Autor in pure Geschmacklosigkeit abgleitet”, “‘dann hört der Spass auf’, möchte man ihm zurufen” (52). M.’s sympathy belongs to the Antiochenes: they must have been shocked by the radical behavior of the young man who was not a normal human being and lacked common sense (52f.). I think an interpreter is not obliged to love his author, but first of all he should try to understand his intentions, a task which M. more than once seems to decline.

Some minor inaccuracies: Nikomedeia is not situated “auf dem östlichen Bosporus-Ufer” (12), but more correctly at the Propontis (12 below). The name of Julian’s literature professor was Nikokles, not Nikolaos (14), his detractor was Marcellus, not Macellus (20). The note 54 (p. 26) on cases of premature death in Constantine’s family (“ein Segen ruhte gewiss nicht auf dieser Familie!”) is unnecessary. The Kronia were not written down at Christmas 362, “an den Weihnachtstagen selbst” (37), for according to John’s testimony in his Christmas homily of December 25, 386 ( PG 49. 351) this feast was known in Antiochia for less than ten years.

M. likes more or less casual expressions such as “einer dicken captatio benevolentiae” (25) and shows a preference for ‘gnomical’ or ironical inverted commas, and unusual German words like “Erwartbarkeit” (19), “unerwartbar” (24), “deïsiert” (40), “mit Schmähungen abreiben” (169).

There is a rich bibliography (67-73), in which I missed only R. Sardiello, La raffigurazione di Costantino nei Cesari di Giuliano imperatore (335 B), Rudiae. Ricerche sul mondo classico 5, 1993, 137-147.

The Greek text of both works — “nur als Kontrollmöglichkeit” appended to the translation on the facing pages (179) — follows that of Lacombrade, corrected now and then by Cobet or others. The title of the first one is given as ” Symposion oder Caesares” on the title-leaf and as ” Caesares oder Symposion” (75), only above the text (77), following the manuscripts, as ” Symposion oder Saturnalien“. Antiochikos is absent from the heading of the Misopogon (122f.), translated as usual “Der Barthasser” (but in the annotation [216] we are instructed that this translation is wrong, the right one being “der verhasste Bart”, a grammatical absurdity).

The translation, upon which M. lays the main emphasis, as a rule is correct and helpful, but there are some exceptions.


306 A παχύς”steif”: rather ‘stupid’;

310 B δῆθεν”doch tatsächlich”: ‘supposedly’;

311 A παίζειν”sich begnügen” (defended p. 185 as “on purpose somewhat ambiguous”): ‘enjoy’, i.e. ‘sich vergnügen’;

311 C τρόπαια are not “Triumphe”;

311 D (and 312 B, 315 C) πολυπραγμονῶν”sich einmischen”: ‘search for’;

313 A τῶν ἱερῶν … περιβόλων is not “aus dem Umkreis der heiligen Opfer”, with a misleading annotation (188), correctly 317 D “in den höhren Kreis”; “obwohl du so alt bist”, but Alexander Severus was only 27 years old;

314 B “verspotten”: ‘criticize’;

314 C “dass die Ärzte, wenn sie bittere Medizin anrühren müssen, sie mit Honig versüsst verabreichen”: ‘that the doctors mix the bitter medicines with a mixture of honey and (milk) to administer them’;

315 C “er wurde auch nicht ins Syssition der Kaiser aufgenommen”: ‘the company of the emperors did not admit him’;

320 A “denen es sogar lieb war”: ‘who were content’;

321 D αὐτόθεν”von dort”: ‘immediately’;

328 A “man … weiss” is not in the text;

330 C “Dialektik”: more exactly, ‘equivocations’;

330 D “selbst sich zu besiegen und zu unterliegen … heisst doch dasselbe” is nonsense, made worse by the annotation p. 210;

332 B “ganz gewiss nicht zufällig”: ‘by no means the slightest’; D “Vieles und zwar solches, das wahrhaft rettender Götter Leistungen bedarf, hat sich … ausgedacht”: ‘he has collected many achievements which really do need divine salvation’;

335 A (and 354 B) “ich vergass mich selbst”: ‘unnoticed, I’; C “dass sowohl der Sieger sich freuen darf als auch der Unterlegene keinen Tadel einstecken muss” misses a crucial distinction, the second verb meaning ‘is not allowed to complain’.


337 B “böswillig”: ‘hostile’;

338 C “Liebe und Geliebtwerden”: ‘to kiss and to be kissed’;

339 C “Unverbesserlichkeit”: ‘silliness’; “Thyméle (= the altar of Dionysus)”: ‘stage’;

341 A “Feigen”: ‘fig-trees’;

341 C “sich selbst”: ‘myself’;

344 B “Siehe da” seems obsolete;

350 B “Du aber meinst sie hinreichend zu unterhalten, wenn du ihnen genug zu essen gibst”: ‘But you by giving them plenty of grain think you support them sufficiently’;

350 C “der erste Schritt zum Luxus”: ‘more than luxury’; “einer Schwelgerei, wie sie nicht einmal die Freier auf Ithaka besassen”: for the last word read ‘betrieben’;

353 D τίμιος με, the Greek text quotes Pl. Lg. 730 D, a misprint for τίμιος μεν, leading to the mistranslation “Ehrbar dünkt mich”;

355 C “ganz selbstverständlich”: ‘moderately’;

357 C “Wieso glaubt ihr also, ich sei verstimmt”: ‘why do you think that you offend me’;

358 C “Anführer”: ‘gymnasiarch’;

359 A “vermeinte”: ‘wished’;

363 A “aus dieser Gottlosigkeit”, but as always Christianity is meant;

364 A “solche Gunst zu erweisen”: ‘to make such jests’;

364 D “meines Strebens nach besonnener Zurückhaltung”: ‘the temperance of my friends’ (correct on p. 239);

365 A “haben wir euch Schirm-Patronate gewidmet” is hardly understandable without consulting the Greek text;

366 B “Dieses zu erleiden, hüte ich mich, sowohl meine bäurische Art zu verlieren als auch eure Feinheit zu verfehlen”: ‘I fear lest the same thing happen to me, that I miss both rusticity and dexterity’;

367 C “Kinder der Griechen”: ‘Greeks’; D “Senat, Senatoren”: ‘ curia, curiales‘;

368 A “schobt ihr ihm hoheitliche Aufgaben zu”: ‘you subjected the man to a liturgy’;

369 A “infolge einer schrecklichen Missernte Mangel an Brotgetreide hatten wegen der vorherigen Dürre”: ‘there was a shortage of grain after a bad harvest caused by the preceding droughts’;

369 B “zum Verbrauch”: ‘I spent’ accepting Hertlein’s conjecture; D “Bohnen”: ‘vegetables’;

370 B “zu einem anderen Volk (translating ethnos‘province’) und zu einer anderen Bevölkerung (translating demos‘township’)”.

A few words of the text have not been translated:

318 B ἐν θεοῖς; 346 C ὀρχουμένους; 365 B καλῶς (but for “schon” read ‘schön’); 367 C ὡς ἐνδέχετό μοι.

Some words have been translated twice:

316 D ἀγωνιῶν (‘fearing’) “setzte er sich … in der Befürchtung ein”; 334 A “möglichst vielen im höchsten Mass”: the last three words should be deleted; 357 B πολλῶν”so zahlreichen Römern … viele Leute wie Constantius”.

Sometimes M. shows a certain preference for redundance:

308 A “Pracht und Schönheit”, 308 B “Rang und Würde”, 313 D “andächtige Bewunderung”, 316 D “chauvinistischer Eigenliebe”, 333 A “beschämt und blamiert”, 335 B “Äusserung und Erklärung”.

Text and translation are followed by “Anmerkungen” (179-243). As a rule the contents of each chapter are paraphrased and many problems discussed. Now and then M. argues following the pattern (189) “ist hier wahrscheinlicher mit Absicht als mit Versehen zu erklären (aber nicht zwingend), zumal nicht völlig auszuschliessen ist, dass …” or (220) “… lasse ich dahingestellt, ohne es zu bestreiten; allerdings …” or (234) “Das akzeptiere ich, da ich etwas Einleuchtenderes und Überzeugenderes nicht anzuführen weiss”. New solutions of the many questions inherent to the difficult texts and their interpretation are not offered. The reader, therefore, often remains helpless. Of course this is not compensated for by references to modern civilisation like “alle die luxuriösen Laster von Völlerei und Trunksucht und Sex (die ein untrügliches Zeichen degenerierter Kulturen sind, was gewiss nicht erst O. SPENGLER erkannte” (235) or “einer im materiellen Konsum verwahrlosten Wohlstands- und Urlaubs- und Freizeitgesellschaft” (238). In vain the reader looks for parallels to the proverbial ἐν καρῶν μοίρᾳ (Jul. or. 2.56 C) 320 D, for the Scythians and Thracians 326 C, for Ismenias 338 A (51 ann. 155 is not sufficient), for Maximus as part of the emperor’s title 339 D, for Menander’s Dyskolos 342 A, for the feasts 346 B, for the proverbial ‘one Mykonos’ 349 D, for the “Kanzler” 365 B (the entry “Anatolius” in the Index nominum does not suffice), for the details in 368 AB. At the end of the Symposion Constantine, finding no example of his course of life among the gods, takes shelter with Truphe and Asotia; this recalls the rhetorical transformations of the famous myth ‘Hercules before the choice’, but Julian’s point is that Jesus hangs around with the ladies preaching remission of sins for murderers and all criminals. Here a word should be said about the pagan rendering (see Eunapius) of the conversion of Constantine. “(Plutarch) den man prahlerisch den Philosophen zurechnen könne” (M. 235) misunderstands the text.

In my opinion a general error in the annotations concerns the structure of the Misopogon. M. sees in the publication a sort of fictitious dialogue with no fewer than five sections that Julian “den Antiochenern selbst in den Mund legt” (221): paragraphs 9-10, 11, 13-15, 20, 26. Several times M. notes that Julian thwarts this ‘poetical illusion’ by using the “Ich-Form” or his peculiar mode of expression (224, 228). I see in Julian’s work rather a sort of internal monologue following Marcus’ example. Let us take the beginning of paragraph 9 (342 D): ‘Did you think your rusticity, unsociability and awkwardness would suit these people [ i.e. the inhabitants of Antiochia ]?’ Here and in the following sentences Julian, addressing himself in the second person, uses the same self-irony as before in ‘my akwardness and … unsociability’ (341 C) and passim. It would be quite formal and unnatural to think of these sentences as put into the mouth of the Antiochenes. After the so-called “third speach” of the Antiochenes (13-15) Julian goes on (346 D): ‘When I contemplate this …’, not ‘When I hear this of you …’ (A different case is the oratio recta 362 B-363 C addressed by Julian to the Antiochenes in August 362 and repeated by him from memory.)

M. fulfills his task diligently and reliably, but sometimes in the same hurry with which he so often reproaches Julian.