The History of the Remains of the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0383-8098 Pająkowska-Bouallegui Anna


Julian (Flavius Claudius Iulianus), called the Apostate, Roman emperor in the years 361–363, was one of the most intriguing rulers. From antiquity to the present day he invariably aroused great interest, both during his life and after his death. He was a just emperor, a wise commander, and a very talented writer. On 26 June 363 Julian the Apostate was mortally wounded during a battle with the Persians. He spent the last moments of his life discussing with philosophers Priskus and Maksimus the nobility of the soul, as we learn from the historian Ammianus Marcellinus. The ruler then showed, perhaps too ostentatiously, his greatest passion: love of virtue and fame. Julian the Apostate died at the age of thirty-two after only twenty months of his rule. Julian’s body, as Gregory of Nazianzus recalls, was transported from Nisibis to Tarsus in Cilicia, which took fifteen days. The subjects greeted the arrival of the body with a mournful lament or contemptuous insults, as the Father of the Church adds. Julian wanted to rest after death in Tarsus, in a mausoleum next to a small temple on the banks of the Cydnus River. Then, at an unspecified time, as the chronicler Zonaras recalls, the body of Emperor Julian the Apostate was transferred to Constantinople and buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles. Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his collection On the ceremonies of the imperial court (book II, chapter 42) mentions the grave of Julian. Today one of the porphyry sarcophagi, kept in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, is sometimes considered the Julian sarcophagus. The theme of this article is an attempt to determine the posthumous fate of Emperor Julian the Apostate’s body, i.e. when and in what circumstances it was transferred to Constantinople.


Julian the Apostate, Roman Empire in the 4th century AD, imperial burial, Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople


Ammianus Marcellinus, vol. I–III, trans. J.C. Rolfe, London 1950–1952 [= Loeb Classical Library, 300].

Anthologia graeca, ed. H. Beckby, München 1958.

Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De Ceremoniis aulae byzantinae, rec. J.J. Reiske, Bonnae 1829 [= Corpus scriptorum historiae byzantinae, 5].

Eutropii Breviarium ab Urbe condita, ed. C. Santini, Leipzig 1979.

Georgorius Cedrenus, Historiarum Compendium, ed. I. Bekker, Bonnae 1838 [= Corpus scriptorum historiae byzantinae].

Gregorius Nazianensis, Oratio, V, [in:] Patrologiae cursus completus, Series graeca, vol. XXXV, ed. J.-P. Migne, Paris 1857, col. 664–720.

The History of Zonaras. From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius the Great, trans. T. Banchich, E. Lane, preaf. T.M. Banchich, London 2009 [= Routledge Classical Translations].

Homer, Iliada, ed. J. Łanowski, trans. K. Jeżewska, Wrocław 1981.

Ioannis Zonarae Epitome historiarum libri XIII–XVIII, rec. T. Büttner-Wobst, Bonnae 1897.

Cesarz Juljan Apostata i jego satyra Symposion, trans. L. Ćwikliński, Poznań 1936.

Julian Apostata, Cesarze, trans. A. Pająkowska, Poznań 2013 [= Fontes Historiae Antiquae. Zeszyty Źródłowe Zakładu Historii Społeczeństw Antycznych, 27].

Julian Apostata, Listy, trans. W. Klinger, Wrocław 1962 [= Biblioteka Przekładów z Literatury Antycznej, 9].

Julian Apostata, List do filozofa Temistiosa, trans. A. Pająkowska, Poznań 2011 [= Fontes Historiae Antiquae. Zeszyty Źródłowe Zakładu Historii Społeczeństw Antycznych, 22].

Julian Apostata, List do rady i ludu ateńskiego, trans. A. Pająkowska, Poznań 2006 [= Fontes Historiae Antiquae. Zeszyty Źródłowe Zakładu Historii Społeczeństw Antycznych, 7].

Julian Apostata, Misopogon, czyli Nieprzyjaciel brody, trans. A. Pająkowska, Poznań 2009 [= Fontes Historiae Antiquae. Zeszyty Źródłowe Zakładu Historii Społeczeństw Antycznych, 13].

Julian Apostata, Przeciw Galilejczykom, trans. A. Pająkowska, Poznań 2012 [= Fontes Historiae Antiquae. Zeszyty Źródłowe Zakładu Historii Społeczeństw Antycznych, 24].

The Works of the Emperor Julian, vol. I–III, trans. W.C. Wright, London–Cambridge Mass. 1962–1969 [= Loeb Classical Library, 13; 29; 157].

Libanius, Selected Works, vol. I, The Julianic Orations, ed. et trans. A.F. Norman, London–Cambridge Mass. 1987 [= Loeb Classical Library, 451].

Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte, ed. J. Bidez, F. Winkelmann, Berlin 1981 [= Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte].

Sokrates, Kirchengeschichte, ed. G.C. Hansen, Berlin 1995 [= Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte. Neue Folge, 1].

Sozomenus, Kirchengeschichte, ed. J. Bidez, G.C. Hansen, Berlin 1995 [= Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte. Neue Folge, 4].

The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions, trans. et ed. C. Pharr, praef. C. Dickerman Williams, Princeton 1952.

Zosime, Histoire nouvelle, ed. et trans. F. Paschoud, vol. I–III, Paris 1979–2000.

Zosimus, New History, trans. R.T. Ridley, Canberra 1982 [= Byzantina Australiensia, 2].

Arce J., La tumba del Emperador Juliano, “Lucentum. Anales de la Universidad de Alicante. Prehistoria, Arqueología e Historia Antigua” 3, 1984, p. 181–191.

Athanassiadi P., Giuliano. Ultimo degli imperatori pagani, Genova 1994.

Athanassiadi P., Julian. An Intellectual Biography, London–New York 1992.

Bidez J., La vie de l’Empereur Julien, Paris 1930.

Bielas L., Apostazja cesarza Juliana w świadectwach antycznych pisarzy i w nowożytnej historiografii, Kraków 2002.

Bowersock G.W., Julian the Apostate, London 1978.

Braun R., Richer J., L’empereur Julien. De l’histoire a la légende, Paris 1978.

Bringmann K., Kaiser Julian. Der letzte heidnische Herrscher, Darmstadt 2004.

Browning R., The Emperor Julian, Los Angeles 1978.

Ceran W., Kościół wobec antychrześcijańskiej polityki cesarza Juliana Apostaty, Łódź 1980 (= “Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Historica” 1).

Conduché D., Ammien Marcellin et la mort de Julien, “Latomus” 24, 1965, p. 359–380.

Downey G., The Tombs of the Byzantine Emperors at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, “Journal of Hellenic Studies” 79, 1959, p. 27–51.

Drabik A., Ktezyfont 363, Warszawa 2016.

Farrokh K., Maksymiuk K., Gracia J.S., The Siege of Amida (359 CE), Siedlce 2018.

Fornara C.W., Julian’s Persian Expedition in Ammianus and Zosimus, “Journal of Hellenic Studies” 111, 1991, p. 1–15.

Grierson P., Mango C., Ševčenko I., The Tombs and Obits of the Byzantine Emperors (337–1042), “Dumbarton Oaks Papers” 16, 1962, p. 1–63.

Hahn I., Der ideologische Kampf um den Tod Julians des Abtrünnigen, “Klio. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte” 38, 1960, p. 225–232.

Harrel J.S., Wojna o Nisibis. Obrona rzymskiej wschodniej granicy 337–363, trans. A. Paradziński, Oświęcim 2019.

Jaczynowska M., Imitatio Alexandri. Parę uwag na temat perskiej wyprawy cesarza Juliana, “Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici. Historia” 29, 1996, p. 133–148.

Jerphagnon L., Julien dit l’Apostat, Paris 2008.

Johnson M.J., Observations on the Burial of the Emperor Julian in Constantinople, “Byzantion. Revue internationale des études byzantines” 77, 2008, p. 254–260.

Kuranc J., Zgon cesarza Juliana Apostaty w świetle relacji współczesnych pisarzy pogańskich, “Roczniki Humanistyczne” 14, 1966, p. 73–86.

Maio M. Di, The Transfer of the Remains of the Emperor Julian from Tarsus to Constantinople, “Byzantion. Revue internationale des études byzantines” 48, 1978, p. 43–50.

Marcone A., Giuliano, Roma 2018.

Negri G., L’imperatore Giuliano Apostata, Milano 1901.

Olszaniec S., Julian Apostata jako reformator religijny, Kraków 1999.

Pająkowska A., Historyk Ammianus Marcellinus o śmierci cesarza Juliana Apostaty, “Studia Classica et Neolatina” 7, 2005, p. 9–21.

Ramos P., La veritable histoire de Julien, Paris 2012.

Ricciotti G., L’imperatore Giuliano l’Apostata secondo i documenti, Verona 1962.

Ridley R.T., Notes on Julian’s Persian Expedition (363), “Historia. Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte” 22, 2, 1973, p. 317–330.

Rosen K., Julian. Kaiser, Gott und Christenhasser, Stuttgart 2006.

Sińczak T., Wojny Cesarstwa Rzymskiego z Iranem Sasanidów w latach 226–363, Oświęcim 2016.

Smith R., Julian’s Gods. Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Apostate, London–New York 1995.

Spinelli M., Giuliano l’Apostata. Anticristo o cercatore di dio?, Roma 2017.

Szeląg T., Amida 359, Warszawa 2012.

Szeląg T., Kampanie galijskie Juliana Apostaty. Argentoratum 357, Zabrze 2007.

Teitler H.C., The Last Pagan Emperor. Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity, Oxford 2017.

Vasiliev A.A., Imperial Porphyry Sarcophagi in Constantinople, “Dumbarton Oaks Papers” 4, 1948, p. 1–26.

Wolski J., Julian Apostata. Życie i twórczość, [in:] Julian Apostata, Listy, trans. W. Klinger, Wrocław 1962 [= Biblioteka Przekładów z Literatury Antycznej, 9], p. V–XVII.

Woods D., Gregory of Nazianzus on the Death of Julian the Apostate (Or. 5.13), “Mnemosyne: a Journal of Classical Studies” 68, 2015, p. 297–303.

Woods D., On the Alleged Reburial of Julian the Apostate in Constantinople, “Byzantion. Revue internationale des études byzantines” 76, 2006, p. 364–371.

First Page


Last Page