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The remarkable bestseller about the fourth-century Roman emperor who famously tried to halt the spread of Christianity, Julian is widely regarded as one of Gore Vidal’s finest historical novels.

Julian the Apostate, nephew of Constantine the Great, was one of the brightest yet briefest lights in the history of the Roman Empire. A military genius on the level of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, a graceful and persuasive essayist, and a philosopher devoted to worshipping the gods of Hellenism, he became embroiled in a fierce intellectual war with Christianity that provoked his murder at the age of thirty-two, only four years into his brilliantly humane and compassionate reign. A marvelously imaginative and insightful novel of classical antiquity, Julian captures the religious and political ferment of a desperate age and restores with blazing wit and vigor the legacy of an impassioned ruler.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781543696820
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Gore Vidal (1925–2012) was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was 19 years old and serving in the army, appeared in the spring of 1946. He wrote 23 novels, five plays, many screenplays, short stories, well over 200 essays, and a memoir.


La Rondinaia, a villa in Ravello, Italy; and Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 3, 1925

Place of Birth:

West Point, New York


Attended St. Albans. Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, 1943. No college.

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Julian 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Vidal's novel is on the ascension and fall of Julian the Apostate, Constantine the Great's nephew and emperor of Rome: the last pagan emperor. A unique and powerful historical narrative depicting the clash of paganism in its decline vs. Christianity in its rise. The triple narrative technique is brilliantly executed by allowing the expression of several historical norms and points of view that are not always in agreement. In the story, Julian's pseudo memoirs are interspersed with correspondence and commentaries by two of his acquaintances: a philosopher and a rhetorician. The philosopher is a neo-platonist while the sophist is agnostic. The narrative reflects on the ascension of Christian thought and its effect on traditional institutions and values. Julian is portrayed as a hostage of Christian teaching who ultimately rebels against the hippocricy of its institutions by embracing the glorious yet fading pagan traditions. Despite Vidal's obvious anti-Christian views, this narrative structure gives the novel a strong sense of impartiality and legitimacy since the commentators lament and concede the fact that paganism and traditional philosophies are rapidly being assimilated and changed into Christian thought throughout the book. Not only does the narrative allow for strong character development, the reader is also drawn and plunged into the religious turmoil of the day. With this context well established and explored by Vidal, Julian's actions and attitudes are better understood by the reader. As with 'I Claudius' by Robert Graves, the book is primarily a social and political analysis of the period with strong character development as its medium. This results in the book having only summary reviews of Julian's military exploits. Altogether a brilliant work as worthy of praise as Grave's 'I Claudius.' This one of Vidal's best historical novels and is worth reading. Again, for those who are primarily interested in historical novels for battles or campaigns, this may not be their cup of tea: for such readers I would recommend Stephen Pressfield's novels or those of other similar writers.
MarysGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finished this while on vacation in Italy working on an archaeology site of a Roman villa. Loved it! The structure is clever. Julian "The Apostate", Emperor of Rome is dead and a philosopher friend of his wants to edit and publish his memoirs in spite of pressure from the new Christian Emperor. The book opens with correspondence between two philosophers - one who has the much coveted papers and the other who wants them - bickering over the price of making copies. The book continues with the the first person account of Julian with "notes" by the one philosopher and additional comments on the "notes" by the other so we get a comprehensive look at the life of one of the most controversial Emperors of Rome - the man who wanted to turn back the clock on Christianity and restore the old gods. Vidal does a wonderful job of lampooning the early Christians and their beliefs with the foil of Julian.
scvlad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It must be difficult to write a fictionalized biography. I'd imagine you pretty much have to work within the actual events of the primary character's life. I would think it would be very difficult, therefore, to maintain drive and energy throughout an entire novel. I think Vidal, at least, does not quite manage to do it here.The subject is certainly interesting. Julian was emperor of the Roman Empire in the late 4th century CE when Christianity was becoming, though it had not yet become, the dominant religion of the empire. Julian struggled to stop its spread and return the empire to the religious forms of most of its history. Vidal spends some time describing this struggle, and the reasons why Julian and other 'Hellenists' believed that Christianity was a threat, both to stability and morality. Many of the arguments are still relevant and one gets the impression that Vidal is not a traditional Christian, and is probably an atheist (I believe he is). He certainly strongly implies that religions routinely ignore inconvenient contradictions in their beliefs despite recognizing them in others.The strengths of the novels are good writing, strongly written, well-developed characters, and the interest of the historical period. The major weakness is the lack of a driving plot. Vidal tries to add some tension in the final pages by creating mystery around Julian's death, but this is not very successful and doesn't make up for the lack of tension in most of the novel. In general, worth reading if you are interested in the period and in the rise to prominence of the Christian church, but maybe not so much if you are looking for a strong, driving story.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christians today honor Emperor Constantine for "converting Rome" to Christianity; fewer would know of Constantine's nephew Julian, a committed Hellenist who did his best to un-convert the empire and allow freedom of religion (with some minor badgering, if not persecution, for Christians). Julian's reign is very well-documented considering how far back in history we must go - the documents on which Vidal relies are obviously extant 1600 years later. The book follows Julian from his youth, when his father is killed by a jealous Constantine and Julian and his brother are basically kept in captivity. Julian is bookish, primed as a monk but with a passion for philosophy - hardly an obvious choice for emperor. But his unique passion and charisma work in his favor. Julian's memoir is often full of wit and sometimes wry affection for his subjects. He seems like such a wonderful leader and person, clever and likeable and unique, and the book is excellent and engaging because of it.
starkravingmad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insightful historical novel that has the reader feeling as if we were there to witness events.
worldsedge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the sort of work that makes me glad I'm literate. How much is fictionalized and how much is acutal history I have no idea, but this life of Julian the Apostate has everything a good novel (particularly an historical one) needs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer_Malin More than 1 year ago
I had never read Gore Vidal before but picked this up because I'm on an ancient-Rome kick. It's a fictionalized memoir of Julian, the last pagan Roman emperor. Nephew of Constantine, Julian suffered his father's murder by his cousin and spent his youth closely guarded, expecting he'd also be killed at any time. Early in his life, he planned to go into the priesthood, but reading Greek philosophy--combined with the bad examples of his Christian relatives--turned his views to the "old ways." This is a fascinating account that shows Julian's transformation from a scared boy to a thoughtful and brave man to a clever emperor who, inevitably, reaches too far. After a little bit of a slow start, the book fascinated me.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who does not read this book will be missing out! This book is on par with, if not better than, 'I, Claudius' and for me to say that means a lot since I also loved that book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was outstanding in every respect. I read it for a Roman class and had a hard time putting it down. I plan on giving this book as a gift to lots of friends now that it is back in print.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book probably drew arrows from both academicians and from modern-day galileans, either for slight innacuracies or for blasphemy. Vidal is a bright light in our dark age, when christian fright-fodder like 'Left Behind' are the popular books of the day. Julian is an excellent story; next stop: 'I, Clavdivs.'