When Emperor Julian departed from Antioch in early 363 after eight months in the city, he left behind a biting satire that he had posted in its forum. That satire, the Misopogon, is the emperor’s response to the Antiochenes’ criticisms, which they composed in verse and sang through the city streets. He claims that what aroused the Antiochenes’ animosity most of all was his handling of the food shortage that afflicted the city during his stay. Julian details the measures he took to alleviate the shortage, yet despite generous measures he had undertaken, he claims Antiochenes were dissatisfied. He blames powerful citizens for undercutting the effect of his measures and exacerbating the shortage, and he belittles their distress by depicting it as the result of insatiable appetites rather than genuine deprivation. This article focuses neither on the nature nor cause of the shortage, nor on the accuracy of its depiction in the Misopogon. Instead, it draws upon the theory of crisis management that underpins Julian’s defense against accusations that he responded poorly to the shortages. Although explicit references to the food shortage constitute a small fraction of the Misopogon, an examination of the Misopogon’s conceptual dependence on Plato’s De legibus reveals that the text in its entirety contributes to Julian’s defense of his conduct. Julian’s allusions throughout the Misopogon to Plato’s De legibus works to absolve him of any responsibility for the distress caused by the food shortage. In brief, De legibus correlates virtue and vulnerability to crisis: the soul determines behavior, and the behavior of the political community determines its vulnerability to crisis. Virtue is the proper cognitive and emotional disposition of the soul. Besides making explicit the way virtue incites behavior that reduces risk and increases resiliency to crises, Plato’s De legibus also details how an individual’s lifestyle habits indicate their soul’s disposition. In this way, the De legibus provided the framework for Julian’s defense.
The food crisis in Antioch in 362/63 CE is among the best documented in the late Roman world, with four first-hand accounts. One of the most illuminating of the four is that of Emperor Julian, contained in his Misopogon, which presents and justifies his measures to redress the adverse conditions. This crisis, whose nature, causes, and severity have received thorough treatment in previous scholarship, often is cited in general discussions of subsistence crises in the Roman world, and the Misopogon—its characterization of the response of imperial officials, municipal authorities, and the urban populace—is frequently analyzed for the light it casts on governmental responses.1 Julian’s Misopogon has drawn equal attention for its peculiarity in the satirical depiction of himself and his relationship with the population of Antioch during his residence in the city. An ever-growing body of scholarship unpacks the spectrum of meanings Julian invites in the Misopogon’s rhetorical structure to reframe the animosity between himself and the Antiochenes in a more favorable light.2 While previous scholarship discusses the ways Julian’s account of the food shortage and the underlying virtue dichotomy within the text inform one another, more can be done to elucidate the extent of their interconnection and its import for a range of issues in both areas of focus.
This article shows how the virtue dichotomy in the Misopogon attempted to insulate Julian from criticism of his handling of the food shortage by blaming the Antiochenes as subjects rather than himself as ruler. Julian achieved this by situating his virtues and the Antiochenes’ vices on opposite sides of the spectrum of good and bad civic participation in crisis management practices, as can be seen outlined in Plato’s De legibus. The character traits and behaviors that Julian attributes to the citizenry in the Misopogon are those that Plato in De legibus identifies as contrary to the safety and well-being of a political community. When we are attuned to the Misopogon’s conceptual dependence on this dialogue, Julian’s narrative of the food crisis reads as an illustration of Plato’s teaching: the presence or lack of virtues in a political community determined both its vulnerability to, and its resilience from, crises. Thus, the Misopogon’s underlying engagement with De legibus develops an identifiable theory of crisis management, one that is entrenched in a polity’s broader social, political, and economic structures.
In situating Julian’s account of this crisis within a broader theory of crisis management for both imperial government and civic communities, my analysis broadens the scope beyond the question of immediate crisis response. In the ancient world, evidence of strategies to reduce risk is far more abundant than evidence about how these practices may have been conceptualized within broader frameworks for managing natural disasters and other crises. Literary sources often provide vivid accounts of the impact of crises in their immediate aftermath, but they provide fewer insights into ancient theories of risk and how to minimize it, and they reveal even less about how contemporaries regarded the interplay of wider social, political, and economic structures in the unfolding of such crises. Scholarship has consequentially foregrounded strategies of crisis response and relief measures. Consideration of crisis management is discussed most frequently in the context of subsistence crises where the role of these structures is clearer. In subsistence crises, natural and man-made causes intersect. The natural causes (droughts, floods, spoilage) that produce shortages do not always necessarily turn into subsistence crises.3 Human behaviors are most often at play in transforming a shortage into a subsistence crisis, or famine. In presenting a reading of the Misopogon that uncovers a normative account of crisis management, this article advances the understanding of the impact of crises by broadening the focus to a longer-term awareness of crises, their impact, and notions of how to avoid hazards and mitigate risk.
The following analysis is divided into five sections. The first section situates Julian’s reading of De legibus within later Platonic interpretive practices that underscore the unifying structure of the dialogue in which all aspects of political organization and association are tied to a single aim. I suggest that the concern expressed for, and the consideration given to, civic security in the proposed political program form a theory of “crisis management,” the conceptual framework of strategies to protect against misfortune. Strategies for promoting virtue are part of crisis management in De legibus insofar as virtue is understood to ensure effective participation in risk-reducing, coping, and recovery practices. Section two unpacks the virtue dichotomy in the Misopogon to show how deeply it informed Julian’s account of the food crisis. Emphasis is placed on laws and social institutions relating to the promotion of virtues that dispose citizens toward participation in intelligently designed practices for civic security. Section three shows how Julian’s account of the food crisis in Antioch is presented as the logical extension of the message sent through the conceptual dependence on De legibus as suggested in the first two sections of this article. Julian presents his actions as motivated and guided by virtue both in his response to the shortage and in his attempt to shape political, social, and economic conditions to increase civic security. The failure of his measures is attributed to the Antiochenes’ behavior, prompted by their badness of soul. Section four shifts from the Misopogon to an oration written in response by the famed Antiochene sophist Libanius that confirms the argument Julian makes in the Misopogon through the use of De legibus. This analysis not only extends the conceptualization of crisis management developed in the Misopogon, but it also provides some hint as to its wider reception, and therefore its revelatory value for the study of crisis in Late Antiquity. The fifth and final section draws out some conclusions from the analysis uncovering Julian’s notions about crisis management and the divergence between his and the Antiochenes’ view of reciprocal obligations in security practices.
In brief, because the cultural and social environment was integral to Julian’s understanding of crisis management, the following analysis more firmly situates our understanding of crises within the scholarship of urban studies. That is to say, the features of urban life and culture at the center of the Misopogon hint at the interrelationship between the particularity of civic identities and the extent—or perhaps the limits—of imperial rule. Moreover, because economic structures were likewise tied to the cultivation of virtue in ways that were understood either to perpetuate vulnerability or promote resiliency, Julian’s framing of the tension between him and the Antiochenes highlights the power dynamics behind the legitimation of the hierarchy of wealth and power within cities and the wider empire.
2. Plato’s De Legibus: Human Happiness and State Security
Julian expected at least some of the elites in Antioch and his wider educated audience to have recognized the Misopogon’s dependence on Plato’s De legibus. Beyond the countless conceptual parallels, Julian twice references De legibus directly and even remarks that he and seven others present in Antioch followed the prescriptions of De legibus.4 One of these seven men seems likely to have been Libanius: his written response to Julian’s Misopogon shows he certainly recognized Julian’s reliance on this text.5 Less certain is the precise impact that Julian imagined the Misopogon’s conceptual parallels to De legibus might have on other segments of its audience. What matters most for present purposes, however, is that a reading of the two texts in dialogue can broaden the horizon of meaning within the Misopogon and uncover an implicit theory of crisis management.
The reconstruction of Julian’s reading of De legibus presented here is based on established interpretive practices for reading Platonic dialogues.6 The significance of the skopos, the single underlying central theme of each dialogue that every individual aspect was subordinate to, is especially noteworthy.7 The skopos of De legibus was the political constitution of the adapted state (polīteia ex hypotheseos) where “certain laws and customs in the state are taken for granted.”8 The skopos was differentiated from its end or the good that derived from it.9 To my knowledge, the good deriving from De legibus’s skopos is not known.
Within the dialogue itself, however, the good at which the state’s arrangements aimed was explicit: making citizens as happy as humanly possible.10 Happiness in the fullest sense involves acquiring all goods, both human goods (health, beauty, strength, and rationally used wealth) and divine goods (the virtues of self-control, courage, justice, and wisdom).11 Because the proposed constitution aims at the maximal happiness of its citizens, each prescription for organizing the polity aims to make the community as free, friendly, and of one mind as far as possible, for that communal condition permitted all to become as happy as their individual natures allowed.12 In De legibus, Plato stresses that these seemingly diverse ends should be understood as advancing one single goal through mutually reinforcing aspects. This is part of a pattern in the entire dialogue, which presents fostering the philosophically ideal conditions of the polity as the most effective way to maximize the chances of obtaining and preserving all other desirable material, physical, and emotional conditions, and vice versa. The recommendations for how to organize the political community looked to improve the psychic condition of its inhabitants. At the same time, those psychic conditions also had tangible consequences for the material conditions.
Because Plato’s De legibus was intended to address “the right practices” in every sphere of life affecting happiness, protecting citizens against the misfortunes that punctuate human existence, and the material, physical, and emotional harm they cause receives extensive consideration.13 The dialogues’ unifying framework weaves disparate discussions concerning security from crisis into a coherent theory of crisis management within an expansive framework of measures designed to increase resiliency and reduce vulnerability. The strategies of crisis management charted in De legibus and implicit in the Misopogon resemble in outline the approach referred to as community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR).14 This approach prioritizes improving community participation in mitigating hazards and risk over external sources of relief measures to mitigate distress and damage after the fact. In short, the approach considers crisis management most successful when communities partake in practices that help to prevent avoidable disasters, to limit the impact of the unavoidable ones, and to recover from the physical and emotional impact of them all. Plato and Julian may not have conceived of crisis management in the same terms, but the main takeaways about how best to mitigate risk and increase the ability to cope and recover are in general alignment.15
Plato and Julian’s chief difference from CBDRR is in the behaviorism understood to motivate community participation, specifically their particular conception of virtue, the moral psychology grounding that conception, and the political conditions that best foster its cultivation. Human nature, as conceptualized in De legibus, contributed significantly to Plato’s prescriptions for political organization.16 Emphasis is placed on productively channeling impulses toward action arising from three needs and wants (food, drink, and sex) and aligning those impulses with the rational movements of the soul that move the body.17 This alignment was important both as a component of virtue, which the state sought to cultivate, and as the underlying motivational theory informing the state’s attempts to shape citizen behavior. The main factor in a community’s resilience is the ability and willingness of the entire community to participate in risk-reducing behaviors. For that reason, state security on the whole rested on the presence of virtue in the citizenry, since virtue ensured that every member of the political community was maximally willing and able to reduce risks and increase its coping and recovery.18 What we see in Julian and Plato is that virtue is a security factor, and its promotion is a strategy to reduce vulnerability and increase resiliency. In this way, Julian’s concern with promoting virtue as represented in the Misopogon was part of a wider strategy for crisis management as he understood it.
In De legibus, a secure community is free, friendly, and of one mind and comprises citizens who possess wisdom, justice, self-mastery, and courage; throughout the dialogue, Plato describes how the community becomes and stays thus through its laws (nomoi), practices (epitēdeumata), and property (ktēmata). Laws aimed at true goods properly ranked contain effective prescriptions for those ends and induce adherence through fear and right reason, both by persuading citizens of its benefits and stipulating punishment for disobedience.19 Social institutions (epitēdeumata) are organized with an eye to shaping the values and attitudes of individuals and the way they relate to one another, engendering fellowship (to koinon) and friendship (philia), that is, relationships characterized by like-mindedness (homónoia), within the community.20 The property (ktēmata) of private citizens and the state are organized with an eye to the health and fellowship of the entire community, ensuring access to the necessities of life for all and placing a limit on the accumulation of wealth.21 When arranged in the right way, these bring about all the conditions necessary for there to be wisdom and friendship, the qualities most directly associated with willing and capable participation in effective crisis management. Wisdom ensures intelligently designed practices based on empirical knowledge of local conditions to reduce hazards and increase capacity to cope. Friendship motivates participation in preventative practices as well as response in providing aid according to one’s capacity. In brief, the city described in De legibus could live with a greater sense of security, trusting that when disaster struck, its effects would be mitigated and the afflicted would find material assistance and moral support to help them cope in their suffering and to recover to previous conditions of prosperity. Thus, whenever Julian evokes De legibus in his portrayal of himself and the Antiochenes, he draws attention to the implications of virtue for participation in crisis management and thereby tacitly apportions blame for the food crisis.
3. The Misopogon and the Hazards of Badness
All the indicators of a happy political condition, which De legibus ties to increased resiliency and reduced risk in a community, are modeled by Julian’s self-representation and inverted in his characterization of the Antiochenes. Julian portrays the Antiochenes’ deficiencies in personal virtues and free, friendly, and rational one-minded civic relations by making explicit statements and even more by denoting their relationship to laws, social customs, and property that Plato links to the cultivation or corruption of these ideals. Julian’s characterization consciously evokes explicit explanations for how these characteristics promote behavior linked to vulnerability or resilience to crises with both natural and human causes, reinforced with specific examples. Therefore, viewed in the context of De legibus, it becomes clearer how the virtue dichotomy informs the theory of crisis management that can be seen to justify Julian’s behavior regarding the food shortage and condemn that of the Antiochenes.
Julian is most explicit in his critique of freedom and its implications for security. Julian characterizes the citizens of Antioch throughout the Misopogon with the single, prevailing desire to be free.22 The Antiochenes’ notion of freedom portrayed by Julian is not the “due proportion” of freedom that Plato identifies as the basis of civic security but rather the forms of freedom Plato ascribes to Athens and Persia,23 which he uses as examples of states exhibiting dangerous extremes leading to destruction, Athens exhibiting an excess and Persia a deficiency in freedom in the citizenry.24 Julian suggests the Antiochenes’ misunderstanding of freedom led them, like the Athenians, “to reject every form of slavery” to the extent that even “the name of slavery was unbearable to hear, whether it be slavery to the gods or the laws or to [Julian], the guardian of the laws.”25 Plato asserts that, above all, the safety of the city depends on obedience to the laws: “Where law is subordinated and is without authority, I see disaster at hand in a city of this sort.”26 Plato uses the Athenians to illustrate why. Because they gave excessive freedom to the citizens, they did not rely on laws and thus could not cooperate effectively to save their property, family, and neighbors.27 If state security resided in willing civic obedience to the laws, as Plato alleges, then disaster loomed for the Antiochenes who, according to Julian, showed “not only by [their] words but also [their] deeds that [they] despise the laws.”28
Julian, in contrast, represents himself as possessing and promoting the “due proportion” of freedom that Plato regarded as necessary for security. This freedom consists of the consensual rule of superiors over inferiors, with superior defined in reference to reason. Julian’s obedience to law extended so far as to influence the composition of the Misopogon. Its satirical character allowed him to illustrate his virtues without explicitly presenting them so as to praise himself, as he says at the very outset, is “forbidden by law.” In relating his obedience not only to the laws but also to the gods, his pedagogue, doctor, and relatives, Julian shows that he was not “ashamed to follow” any who knew better than he did and thus exemplifies his commitment to reason above all.29 In this, Julian defends his legitimacy on the principle that “the best servant is the best ruler,” while simultaneously foregrounding its security implications.30 The safety of the city depends “above all,” Plato alleges, on the obedience of its rulers to the laws: “where [law] is the master of rulers, and rulers are slaves of the law, I see safety [sōtēria], and there coming about all such goods that gods give.”31
This notion of freedom is intimately connected to self-control (sōphrosynē), the willing subjection of the lower parts of human nature to the higher rational parts.32 Plato describes education as the key to cultivating sōphrosynē in citizens, and thereby freedom in the political community. Proper education, he says, should lead the child to experience pleasures and pains in accordance with right reason, which is pronounced by law and confirmed as correct by the oldest and most just members of the community.33 Julian’s comparison of the type of education he received to that of the Antiochenes makes it clear that his produced sōphrosynē and led to freedom and that theirs did not. Only a strict education transforms boys into truly free men according to Plato, and according to Julian, because the Antiochenes’ failed to understand true freedom as the willing subjection of the inferior to the superior, they corrupted their children’s education.34 The Antiochenes’ education described in the Misopogon was reminiscent of the education of the Medes, which Plato attributes as a major factor in their destruction.35 Like the Misopogon’s Antiochenes, the Medes allowed women and eunuchs to oversee education, allowing the children to grow up in luxury.36 Julian intimates that it left them susceptible to bodily harm and psychic disturbance when he contrasts the style and result of his own upbringing.37 Because his education started from a young age, and “because he was given no choice,” he obeyed his pedagogue, thus forming his “disposition such that it could no longer be changed.”38 Julian foregrounds the benefits of his disposition, namely, his “delight in living moderately” and his resilience to physical stressors that would otherwise disturb his soul.39
The Antiochenes’ hedonist inclinations were likewise connected to education, which in De legibus is a lifelong process, and everything that triggers perceptions of pleasure and pain falls under its regulation, according to its definition as “the particular training …, which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate, and love what you ought to love.”40 Rather than seek to suppress appetites and desires linked with pleasure, the laws and institutions aimed to make virtue a hedonic experience.41 The security implications come from pleasure’s relationship with harmony. Without pleasure and desire aligned with reason, there can be no harmony. Plato asserts that wisdom cannot exist without harmony in the soul and that its lack makes one “anything besides the savior of the state.”42 Plato thus calls lack of harmony folly or ignorance, a condition characterized either by false beliefs about the rank of goods or misalignment of correct belief and desire.43 In either case, folly motivates seeking worse, lower goods over better, higher goods. For crisis management where cooperation in a wisely designed strategy for achieving a common goal is critical, desire for false goods, which deter cooperation and motivate seeking behaviors that exacerbate hazardous conditions, is especially problematic. When Julian compares his and the Antiochenes’ pleasures then, he underscores their respective folly and wisdom and the consequences for security.44
In De legibus, festivals with their various forms of civic entertainment are critical to harmonizing pleasure with reason, both within the individual and within community.45 Properly conducted, spectatorship aligns pleasures with the correct order of goods and incites imitation of individuals who are recognized for these goods.46 Plato insists that, for a city “to be secure, to prosper,” it is “absolutely necessary to make a correct allocation of public recognition and disgrace as far as is possible in human affairs,” which means recognizing first “good qualities of the soul,” then “what is beautiful in the body and good for it,” and then “the so-called goods to do with property and money.”47 Misalignment in the public recognition of goods shifts the motivational pull on the soul, inciting behavior that prioritizes the worse over the better, thereby increasing vulnerability.
In the context of Plato’s De legibus, the Antiochenes’ preferences in entertainment and their behavior at public performances and celebrations appear hazardous.48 The problem, Julian implies, was not that the “laughter-loving” Antiochenes delighted in “all sorts of spectacles” but that they did not delight in the right sort and in the right way.49 Julian’s portrayal again evokes Plato’s example of a dangerous excess of freedom and its causes. The descent of the Athenians into excess started with spectatorship at public performances of music and poetry.50 The right way of listening was in silence and not in whooping and clapping. Julian depicts the citizens of Antioch as comparable to the excessively free Athenians in their clapping.51 The implied danger of the Antiochenes’ behavior derives from the notion that public approval aligns beliefs about good and bad with perceptions of pleasures and pains. The Antiochenes’ spectacles, according to Julian, presented the best as the worst, and the worst as the best.52 Associating virtuous traits with objects of public ridicule induces spectators to shun the good and seek the bad, as Julian implies was evident when the Antiochenes ridiculed him, his moderation, and all the physical indications of his virtue.53 The sights on stage and in the streets that Julian describes led him to conclude that the Antiochenes “do not know what self-control (sōphrosynē) is” since, as Plato argues, one cannot know what one has not experienced, even indirectly. The Antiochenes, Julian says, “hear its name only, but do not see it performed.”54
Julian implies a lack of harmony and thereby reason also manifested in the comedic, abusive language that the Antiochenes directed at him. The ridicule of Julian’s self-control, and all of its physical markers, subverted the proper function of comedic displays, which Plato believed not only acquaints citizens to bad behavior on a rational rather than practical level but also shapes a collective identity in the citizen audience by cultivating a sense of otherness from those on the stage.55 The problem was that the Antiochenes composed abuse directed at Julian and sung the abuse publicly to the pleasure of all.56 The shared pleasure in the performance of his abuse had the desired effect in one respect, as Julian indicates when he relates his “pleasure at their homónoia” and “oneness” in the Antiochenes’ dishonor of and hatred of him.57 Unity in purpose is indeed critical in crisis management, at least if it is “rational” one-mindedness that correctly prioritizes goods.
Julian identifies his own entertainment preferences with “the most warlike Celts,” among whom he had spent the past few years, whose tastes, he suggests, were far different from those of the Antiochenes.58 Julian related how the Gauls, when they had once received dancers visiting from Antioch, were repulsed by the spectacle of men who seemed to dance as if “afflicted with nympholepsy.”59 In the theaters in Gaul, where there was no licentiousness, by contrast, there was no abuse, and none of its citizens could be found dancing “the cordax on the stage.”60 The style of communal dancing and singing that took place at festivals among them reflected their harsh and warlike character.61 In the same way, the style of dancing reflected the Antiochenes’ dispositions, showing the lack of harmony and the dominance of their appetites over reason.62 Besides harmonizing an individual’s passion with reason, community participation in music and dance was also described as conditioning citizens to feel, think, and act together as a cohesive whole.63 This in turn encouraged them to feel pleasures and pains as if a whole, and consequently, to perceive the fortune—and misfortune—of others as their own.64 Identifying one’s own good with the good of another promoted willing cooperation in proactive risk-reducing and reactive coping and recovery behaviors.
Julian’s description of the Antiochenes’ participation in religious life likewise underscores the consequences for its security. The Antiochenes’ delight in festivals did not extend to the “sacred” ones where it was “necessary to be moderate [sóphronein],”that is, to the ones that led to security and happiness.65 Participation in religious festivals as described in De legibus has two significant implications. First, religious festivals propitiated the most powerful civic patrons, the gods. Second, the festivals at which gods were worshipped also provided settings for civic socialization that cultivated friendship among members of the community, and even friendship with the gods.66 Julian’s criticism of the Antiochenes foregrounds these two issues. Even on the festival day established by the city’s founder to one of the city’s tutelary gods, “not one of the citizens offered sacrifices, privately, on one’s own behalf or on behalf of the city’s welfare, nor did the city offer a public sacrifice.”67 He also notes that many private citizens delightedly spent money on private dinners and feasts and “wasted much money on dinners during the May festival.”68 Even the poorest citizens had sufficient means to contribute to the safety and well-being of their city, as Julian signifies in saying it would be enough for the Antiochenes to “worship the gods with self-controlled souls.”69 The badness demonstrated by this behavior again signaled their vulnerability to misfortune. “The good,” Plato asserts, could live with a sense of security that “god will always, by what he gives, render any hardships that may befall [them] less severe than they might have been, and bring a change for the better in any current hardships.”70
Julian’s reverence for the gods sharply contrasts with the Antiochenes’.71 He worshipped the gods not only materially, in proportion to his wealth, but also with a self-controlled soul. Moreover, similarity in disposition was, according to Plato, a key to friendship, and friendship a promise of material benefactions, as Julian illustrates in relating the affection the Celts felt for him due to their similarity and how it led them to give him honors and material rewards.72 Moderate individuals are dear to god because “like is dear to like,” and the gods are moderate.73 The immoderate are dissimilar to the moderate individuals as well as other immoderate individuals.74 Therefore, the dissimilarity to others left the Antiochenes friendless, not only in relation to gods but to other humans as well.
In sum, the behavior Julian depicts throughout the Misopogon intimates that the citizens of Antioch lacked personal virtues, and consequently the citizen body lacked freedom, friendliness, and rational one-mindedness, the communal conditions that maximize citizens’ willingness and capacity for effective, community-wide participation in crisis management. Security depended on wisdom in the community to shape effective practices and on friendship to motivate participation in practices that aimed at the good of the community. Wisdom cannot exist without harmony. Friendship cannot exist without moderation. According to Julian, the Antiochenes lacked harmony and moderation, and consequently wisdom and friendship. In describing the Antiochenes’ relationship to laws, social institutions, and practices as antithetical to the conditions for human excellence and happiness, the Misopogon sent a consistent message: Antioch was bound for ruin.
There are indications that Julian moreover attempts to draw the reader’s attention to the direct consequences of the food shortage. One sign is the wordplay around dryness and wetness in Julian’s characterization of himself and the Antiochenes. This “free city,” he writes, cannot endure this “drought” (auchmon) of hair; auchmon is the same word he uses to refer to the drought causing the shortage of grain.75 And, the Antiochenes’ lifestyle is characterized as hygrotēs literally “moist,” although he uses it metaphorically to mean “wanton,” “flaccid,” or “lax.”76 Antioch’s fame for its exceptional water supply no doubt made a food shortage due to drought all the more poignant.77 These and other rhetorical choices seem to call the city’s drought and shortage to the reader’s mind, especially given the other noted literary influences on the Misopogon. Antioch’s water supply was most famously glorified by Libanius’s Antiochikos, a text that Julian seems to evoke to ironic effect more than once in the Misopogon.78 Indeed, this and other noted literary influences on the Misopogon reinforce the conceptual dependence on De legibus by illustrating its arguments with examples that draw specific attention to the situation in Antioch as Julian wished to present it.
Similarly, when the literary tropes in the Misopogon are read in dialogue with De legibus, their import for civic security can be uncovered. Julian’s references to his boorishness evokes the tropes of “Greek” and “barbarian”; the “country dweller” and the “city dweller” are one example. In cultivating this trope, Julian likens himself to “some country fellow who from his small means has to pay a tax or render tribute to a harsh master.”79 The analogy, which is embedded in his expressed dislike for the entertainment of the city, seems, perhaps, to point to a conscious effort to draw out the relationship between the vocal upset of the urban population at the center of the Misopogon and the comparative silence of the country dwellers (at least as is apparent within the sources).80 Julian suggests this contrast by locating the stasis in the theaters, the place where Antiochenes vented their distress. Julian’s association with the country dweller might also recall the foodways in the moralizing rhetoric. The “inferior” diet attributed to the barbarian or the country dweller in the sources was not, as often presented in the sources, a matter of choice.81 In the context of Plato’s De legibus, these connections with bearing on the food crisis are even more strongly suggested.82 The Athenian refers to the Cretan and Spartan interlocutors’ political organization as fit for those residing in “a military camp” not “city dwellers,” associating soldiers with the “boorish country dwellers,” who are usually placed in opposition to city dwellers.83 Plato characterizes their social institutions as deficient in correct pleasures, specifically musical pleasures, and then uses the example of appealing to “pleasure, correctness, and utility” when evaluating food and drink to illustrate his point. Transitioning from a discussion of proper pleasure in entertainment, to food according to the proper standard, to correct musical pleasure, forms a connection between Julian, who associated himself with his warlike soldiers from Gaul, and the warlike Cretan and Spartan and places them in opposition to the “urbane” Antiochenes. Moreover, the comparison evokes the moralizing rhetoric attributed to “boorish country dwellers” and its negative portrayal, and its more positive undertone is implied by both Julian and De legibus: the ability to tolerate disturbances to the ideal diet without undergoing acute distress, which otherwise could lead to civic strife.84
In short, the addition of Plato’s De legibus highlights the way these other literary influences form part of a more coherent political theory and allows each critique to be linked, on one end, to the philosophical ideal of a good condition of the soul and, at the other end, to prosperous material conditions. In doing so, it deepens the significance of each point for crisis management. When attuned to De legibus then, Julian’s description of the Antiochenes makes it appear inevitable that when Antioch met with some misfortune, its effects would be more damaging, and the distress of the afflicted would be more acute. And this was precisely what Julian indicates happened when droughts caused crops to fail. What ensued was not only a shortage of grain but a full market crisis, instigated and exacerbated, Julian implies, by the Antiochenes, the folly of the powerful, and the lack of self-control of the entire population.
4. Food Shortage and Crisis Management in Antioch: Julian’s Narrative
Exactly why the characteristics that Plato links to vulnerability in De legibus and that Julian attributes to the Antiochenes in the Misopogon is illustrated when Julian’s narrative turns to the “greatest thing from which [the city’s] hatred arose,” that is to say, his handling of the food shortage.85 Julian became aware of the problem the moment he arrived in the city in July, when shouts of “everything abundant, everything expensive” greeted him in the theater.86 The population had to wait until October to see Julian intervene directly.87 Recognizing the resentment caused by his perceived inaction, Julian attempted to correct the record in the Misopogon, relating that he had in fact responded to their pleas immediately. Julian explained that he met with “powerful (dynatoi) Antiochenes” the very next day to persuade them that it was “better to contemn unjust gain and to treat citizens and visitors well.”88 Because the powerful men he addressed “had promised to attend to the matter,” Julian explained that he did not immediately intervene in the city’s management of the shortage.89 He framed the choice to defer to the council as an attempt to give the Antiochenes the freedom that they wished for.90 Julian said that it was only after three months passed that he realized that those “powerful” Antiochenes that he afforded the freedom to manage the affair had “so negligently handled the matter that no one could have expected it.”91
It was at that point Julian claimed he realized his direct intervention was needed. He thus immediately stepped in to help alleviate the shortage, listing in the Misopogon his specific measures along with commentary signaling that, in each case, he was guided by his philosophical commitments, as outlined in De legibus. To begin with, Julian set out to ensure that the Antiochenes had the means to satisfy their moderate desires.92 A city that is moderate (sōphrōn), he said, “needed bread, wine, and olive oil only.”93 Accordingly, because Antioch already had “wine, olive oil, and the rest in abundance,” and because the grain shortage was caused by some misfortune, specifically a “dreadful bareness” resulting from droughts, Julian imported generous amounts of grain and sold it at a price far below normal market rates in Antioch.94 Julian was sure to mention the portion that came from his own personal property, drawing a contrast between himself, willingly giving according to his ability, and the wealthy Antiochenes, the other should-be contributors to crisis relief.95 In this way, Julian frames his response as prompted by a concern for the well-being of the population and guided by wise precepts for how to contribute to that end.
Julian differentiates the natural cause of the food crisis, the grain shortage due to drought and crop failure, and its amelioration by the abundance of imported grain from the artificially induced shortage and the response it required. While Julian maintained that “grain and bread were abundant and cheap” thanks to his imports, he admitted that few other food provisions were available and affordable.96 Julian “appointed a measured [metrion] price for everything, and made it clear to all,” believing the exorbitant prices were “due to the insatiate greed of the wealthy” instead of “any scarcity.”97 He perceived this shortage as a problem of availability tied to avoidable human behavior.98 Because Julian regarded it as his obligation to intervene and “assist the mass of the people who were being wronged, and the strangers who kept arriving in the city,” he compelled “the landowners and shopkeepers to do what was just,” stopping them from selling “necessary provisions at whatever price they wished.”99 Julian’s response to each cause of the shortage aligned with Plato’s guidelines, fulfilling the responsibilities of both state and citizenry by his dual role as a state agent and member of the political community regarding securing the food supply and dealing with shortages.
On the whole, Julian’s measures aligned with historical precedent for response to subsistence crises. It was often the city council and other local elites that were the first line of defense in dealing with shortages. Civic strategies differed according to local needs. Some created funds and mechanisms for redistributions in times of shortages, while others relied on aid from generous individuals within their communities, or sometimes neighboring communities, whose surplus was sold at more affordable prices.100 Despite Julian’s attempt to contrast his intervention with those of other emperors and portray it as a generous personal donation, his actions generally aligned with normal imperial response to subsistence crises, which included supplying food doles, fixing prices, and expelling visitors.101 Emperors occasionally intervened when circumstances were more dire than could be addressed locally, especially when the presence of the army made an impact on the food supply, which was the case on this occasion.102 Although not mentioned in the Misopogon, a law shows that Julian ordered all nonessential military personnel to leave Antioch.103 Most often, imperial intervention happened at the behest of patrons petitioning for aid on behalf of their city, and usually via the governor.104 Julian’s effort to regulate market prices was likewise a common response to shortages.105 Fixing prices during subsistence crises to check speculation is a more visible concern in the sources. Emperors also occasionally had to intervene to protect decurions from popular pressure to sell at unjustly low prices.106 Julian seems to have been conscious of both of these factors. A measured price can be taken as one that reflects supply and demand where supply has not been manipulated by venality. Julian describes setting a fair or measured (metrion) price for everything, noting the fluctuations of prices due to supply conditions, whether based on the season or location, suggesting to his audience that he took it into consideration. Moreover, although Julian emphasized that he acted as a benefactor setting prices well below market values for grain in the city when supply was at its highest and therefore priced the cheapest, and that this was the sort of behavior those with virtue and goodwill toward citizens would imitate, albeit on a scale commensurate with their respective resources, he by no means compelled the decurions to do anything beyond the limits of justice.
Although he eventually responded with measures a community might expect of an emperor in residence during a subsistence crisis, the Antiochenes remained displeased. Part of the reason was his approach to these more conventional measures. The citizens expected Julian to demonstrate his beneficence through a public show of response.107 Julian, however, intimates that his failure to respond was another marker of true freedom, which meant not needing to gratify his subjects, giving into what he believed irrational demands, specifically demands that aim at pleasure at the expense of health and higher goods. The tension points to a conflict between the understanding of euergetism and the way it suppresses civic strife, in practice, and how Julian believed it should function.108
Julian furthermore disaggregates the severity of the shortage from the distress that the shortage caused in suggesting that if the Antiochenes remained distressed because of market conditions, it was due to their immoderate appetites and sumptuous tastes, not to the availability of food provisions necessary for health. Despite what Julian considered generous provisions of grain, the Antiochenes were ungrateful and upset because, according to Julian, he did not see to the city’s provisions of seafood or poultry.109 Julian calls this luxury (tryphē) “beyond even the suitors of Ithaca.”110 The fact that they had the “leisure to compose anapests” against the “author of their prosperity [euthēnia]” is used as further proof that the cause of their distress was their sumptuous appetites and lack of self-control, not any true deprivation.111 Julian’s depiction of the decadence of Antioch throughout the Misopogon thus minimizes the distress from the deviation from normal conditions in which Antiochenes had ready access to these foodstuffs. Julian felt no obligation to help others cope with distress caused by luxurious tastes. The mandate given in De legibus is to direct impulses toward what is best, not what is regarded as most pleasant.112 In fact, Plato is explicit that there is no obligation to feed, or even pity, all who were hungry, only those who possess “self-control or some other share of virtue” and who are “hungry as the result of some misfortune.”113 Given that the Antiochenes were a far cry from his and Plato’s definition of virtuous, Julian implies that they should have been grateful for the grain he provided instead of ungrateful for the provisions he did not provide.114 It was, Julian argues, their own dissipated lifestyle and not his actions—or lack thereof—that was to blame for their distress over the scarcity of luxury items. Antioch, as Julian characterizes it throughout the Misopogon, was a city in poor civic health. While it remained in this condition, its citizens would be susceptible to crises, thrown into distress by even the slightest deviation from their accustomed lifestyle.
While Julian maintains that he secured enough grain for the city to prevent starvation, he admits that his price-fixing measures were less effective in relieving market shortages on the whole. Although tacitly acknowledging that his actions contributed to the problem, his account nevertheless sustains the placement of blame squarely on the Antiochenes. Julian further defends himself in this instance by casting blame for the issues of foodstuff availability on the greed of Antiochene merchants, which he attributes to a preference for unjust profits.115 As Julian has it, the wealthy Antiochenes not only undercut his contributions to the grain shortage by buying up the cheap grain and selling it outside the city at higher prices but also the merchants circumvented his price-fix by choosing to remove other goods from the market rather than sell them at Julian’s “measured” prices. He implies that he should have realized how immoderate they were when he saw “how many shops there were in the city” and therefore should have known they could not be governed according to the Platonic prescriptions he followed.116 They would not care that Julian acted on a principle of justice when he did not allow “vegetables and wine to be sold for gold.”117 The rich preferred unjust profits, and everyone else preferred to be treated unjustly if justice meant a lack of wine, meat, and seafood. Julian implies that he attempted to treat them as free men while the Antiochenes cared more about an excessively free market.118
The Antiochenes’ resistance to his attempts to regulate prices within the limits of justice could be attributed either to false beliefs about the value of wealth or a lack of harmony with beliefs and desires.119 Thus, the connection to Plato’s De legibus invites the Misopogon’s reader to see this as a particularly hazardous form of folly.120 Plato insists that no power be entrusted to individuals hampered by this sort of folly.121 The danger of allowing those who sell in the markets to have power in the state,122 as Plato warns, was illustrated by what happened in Antioch where “those who held office” in the city did so both as “landowners and as shopkeepers” and “enjoyed profits from both sources.”123 In a time of crisis, the more effective councilors are in providing relief and assisting recovery, the less they stand to profit privately from the crisis by exploiting public desperation and distress as landowners and merchants. Harmony in the soul between pleasures, desires, and reason removes the conflict of interest councilors encounter when decisions of public health and safety are at odds with private gain.
The acquisitiveness of the city’s magistrates, as Julian saw it, perpetuated the city’s vulnerabilities beyond the present situation.124 Civic health, Plato insists, depends on willing and able community members contributing to risk-reducing practices to promote security, not to mention conditions conducive to human happiness in full. Julian presents himself as generating revenue streams for the city—remitting taxes, increasing city lands, and expanding the register of city councilors—with the aim to empower the city to ensure that its population would have access to all necessities of life as well as institutions and arrangements that promote virtue, and thus to effectively reduce risk.125 Julian’s actions increased the financial resources of the city, both its treasury and the personal finances of those responsible for carrying out liturgies, thus empowering the council to provide healthier conditions and therefore the basis for human excellence, including resilience in the face of food shortages and crises of all sorts. Moreover, improvements would ease the personal financial burdens of councilors, allowing them to fulfill obligations, freeing them to carry out other benefactions more easily in ways that engender goodwill and friendship among citizens.126
Julian’s description suggests that the Antiochene councilor’s unhealthy relationship with wealth led them to squander these opportunities, placing the pursuit of private wealth over public well-being, thus perpetuating the city’s vulnerability. Julian relates that, in addition to remitting substantial sums of taxes in gold and silver, he made an effort to ensure Antioch had land that generated resources and revenue, reminding the Antiochenes that under his rule in the first place they had lost none of the lands they previously possessed.127 Neither he nor his travel companions (epitēdeiōn)128 purchased any property in the city, not even a field or a garden.129 This was, he implies, thanks to his moderation and self-control.130 In addition, Julian granted the city council lands that generated revenue and resources to better support the welfare of its citizens, including at times of crisis. He accused the councilors of instead taking advantage of the situation. Julian reports that the city council asked to take possession of uncultivated lands, and he assented to the request.131 He expresses his frustration that the city council took the land and distributed it all amongst themselves, specifically, to those who “did not need it.”132 It was not uncommon for city councilors to lease out civic lands. Julian’s problem with this appears to be that the councilors did not use it for public benefit where, as circumstances suggested, it was clearly needed. If droughts are a problem, a well-ordered city with virtuous magistrates, as Plato describes, manages these lands to minimize the damage of droughts and the bodily harm food shortages causes, since bodily health takes priority over other expenditures. The Antiochene councilors, however, as Julian signifies, did not operate according to the ranking of goods he and Plato considered true.133 They used the land neither to increase grain reserves nor municipal coffers but instead for personal financial gain.134
Julian reminded them of the land he allowed the city to hold, untaxed, to fund civic entertainment even after this malfeasance.The refusal of councilors to provide grain for sale at a fair price in light of all such measures added to Julian’s indignation, but none perhaps more than this one.135 By granting these lands to the city, Julian further offset the personal burdens of civic councilors, in effect, lessening the heaviest costs of civic financing, not to mention the most rewarding in terms of social capital.136 Julian notes the councilors’ extravagant spending on games for the sake of winning popularity, insinuating that the councilors preferred to gratify the people by providing false pleasures rather than true benefits.137 The fact that he allowed them this land to help fund chariot races, a form of entertainment Julian discouraged for its negative psychic impact, again emphasized the problem that in his eyes was the lack of proportion in prioritizing unhealthy over healthy benefactions.
Julian likewise spread out the financial burden incurred by individual councilors when he increased enrollment in the city council to 200. Julian’s intent, he explains, was “to make the city greater and more capable.”138 In this, Julian heeded Plato’s warning that even if “a well-organized city” with “well-laid laws” should add “unsuitable offices,” harm would follow.139 Julian stressed how far he went to ensure that Antioch’s officials were well-qualified and capable. He even granted the council permission to nominate exceptionally wealthy but previously exempt imperial financial officials whose personal wealth could be put to public use.140 The council, however, acted as “a city that was in no way well-governed” by nominating “the least capable” to the city council.141 In one instance, the Antiochenes nominated “a poor man, from the marketplace.”142 In another, they disregarded Julian’s nomination process and “thrust a liturgy” on a man without Julian’s approval.143 Julian considered these individuals utterly unfit for reasons Plato provides in De legibus.
Although the management of the city’s water supply is not mentioned explicitly, readers of the Misopogon attuned to De legibus would appreciate that Julian’s critiques of the city council had implications for its management.144 Julian attempted to ensure that the city’s councilors, those who oversaw the city’s water supply, were, as De legibus recommends, “capable [dynatous] individuals” who had time and resources to devote to this critical civil service.145 When the community’s water supply—including its rivers, streams, rainwater runoff, and irrigation—is managed effectively, Plato believed, it minimizes the hazards of droughts and maximized food production, so as to generate reserves that can more readily prevent full-out famine-level shortages whenever a city suffers drought.146 Without saying so explicitly then, Julian intimates that the Antiochene city council contributed to the severity of the shortages caused by the drought and that they were likely to mismanage the water supply in the future.
In all of these ways, Julian attempts to show that he strove to behave like one who “desires to benefit many people as far as possible.”147 Nevertheless, he acknowledges that he sometimes missed his mark.148 In the first place, Julian admits he erred when he entrusted the powerful men with the freedom to manage the shortage in their city, noting that he lacked the experience needed to make the judgment properly.149 Had he waited to witness all the characteristics he attributed to them in the Misopogon, Julian suggests he would have recognized it was a mistake to use persuasion, as Plato said was suitable for free men. Instead, he should have applied coercion, backed with threats of punishment, which was the method suitable for the type of people they actually emulated: slaves, women, and children.150 In thinking the Antiochenes could be ruled like moderate individuals, he also failed to check the immoderation of those buying up the grain. Julian admits he erred also in rewarding the city with favors and not punishing the injustices of city councilors as severely as they deserved.151 He reframes his beneficence and mildness as a failure to observe due proportion. Julian knew well from Plato’s De legibus that this sort of treatment “increases and fostered badness” and that, as he argues throughout the Misopogon, badness perpetuates a city’s vulnerability.152 In sum, Julian apologizes only for treating the Antiochenes as better people than they showed themselves to be, and more indulgently than was appropriate according to the philosophical principles outlined by Plato in De legibus.153 Julian thus validates his philosophical model of rulership by transferring blame to the people he attempted to rule.154
Julian signals that he had learned from these mistakes and so switched tactics to check the Antiochenes’ destructive impulses.155 The Antiochenes could not be persuaded, and their harmful behavior could not be corrected with arguments.156 Because he could not induce them to a rational belief that it is best to follow the laws, and he could not incite in them a desire to benefit their fellow citizens, Julian turned to the use of fear. Julian imbued in them a sense of fear that would incite the community to cooperate in service of a shared goal as well as to obey the laws, magistrates, and gods. It is precisely this sort of fear, according to Plato, that has saved cities in past times of crisis.157 To this same end, Julian wrote the Misopogon to bring the fear Plato called shame (aischynē).158 The Misopogon concludes with Julian vowing not to return after the war with Persia, punishing the city by denying it all the advantages that came with hosting an emperor and his court. Additionally, he appointed Alexander of Hierapolis as the sort of severe governor to incite the fear of punishment that he believed the city needed.
5. Reception of the Misopogon’s Theory of Crisis Management: Libanius’ Oration 15
The conceptual dependence on Plato’s De legibus reveals an unambiguous conception of crisis management underlying the Misopogon. Who and how many, beyond later Platonists with the same education, would have recognized and appreciated the conceptual dependence and its implications is a more difficult question to answer. That at least one individual was keenly aware is clear from Libanius’s first oration in response to the Misopogon. Libanius frames his “Embassy to Julian” as an appeal to the emperor on behalf of the city in an attempt to dissuade him from following through with his vow not to return to Antioch after his Persian campaign. Libanius confirms Julian’s presentation of himself in the Misopogon as embodying a host of virtues and thus behaving “how people should behave” and being “the sort of person one should be” in a community that is safe and secure as Plato describes.159 However, Julian implies that the vices of the Antiochenes, on the contrary, left Antioch at increased risk to crises of all sorts.
Yet Libanius argues that not returning to the city would be an unjust punishment according to the principles expounded in De legibus, that is, the same principles that Julian uses to defend himself in the Misopogon.160 Libanius refers to another key aspect of crisis management developed in De legibus that underscores how perilous Antioch’s condition was. Whenever some misfortune befell them, its effects would be more severe and the need of the citizens for aid more dire. They would be at the mercy of outside benefactors to render assistance. Libanius explains that, with the Misopogon, Julian made their base condition known to the entire empire, and this resulted in the loss of security for the whole city.161 The reason, Libanius explains, is that the advertisement of the city’s badness, magnified by the influence of the emperor’s personal condemnation, in effect removed from the entire city the only cure (pharmakon) for “famine, plagues, and earthquakes”: the willing assistance of neighbors.162 Libanius laments that “even if [Antioch] remains still standing, it is bound to decline, and if it meets with disaster, it will find none to aid it” as a result of the Misopogon.163 Rather than dispute Julian’s characterization of the city, Libanius doubles down on the significance Julian places on virtue for communal security to reveal the inconsistency between the Misopogon’s argument and the repercussions of its publication. Libanius implies that in publishing the Misopogon, Julian crossed the line between just punishment and unjust vengeance as drawn in De legibus.164 Libanius reasons that, although Julian refrained from “confiscations, exile, and executions,” the punishment he inflicted was worse because, according to the argument he advances in the Misopogon, it leads to a shameful life and inevitable, painful death.165 The severity of his punishment then exceeded the limits of justice, at least for those who, like the Antiochenes, show an ability to improve.166 Libanius reminds that Julian himself would have, or should have, acted differently if he had considered them irredeemable.167 Libanius’s oration further develops the theory of crisis management in Plato’s De legibus, which Julian drew from in the Misopogon. Virtue, especially self-control, is necessary for friendship. Friendship not only plays an important role within the community in inciting behaviors that increase resilience but outside the community as well in the form of willing assistance from neighboring communities. The Antiochenes, as Julian shows, could not rely on assistance from others within the community when misfortune strikes. Nor could they, because of the Misopogon, rely on any assistance from their neighbors.
Just as Libanius’s oration furthers the understanding of crisis management developed in the Misopogon, it also hints at the wider reception of the ideas. Libanius published this oration after Julian’s death, which suggests that Libanius believed others would see the brilliance of his approach in building his arguments on the ground that Julian had prepared in the Misopogon.168 This would mean that Libanius expected his audience to recognize the Misopogon’s conceptual dependence on De legibus as Libanius himself did. Recent scholarship has begun to recognize the influence of this dialogue on the political thought of not only later Platonists but also educated elites more generally.169 Even without having studied De legibus, the traditional literary education would have familiarized the elite with the values found in that dialogue.170 Indeed, as the abundance of previous scholarship on the Misopogon suggests, the values underlying Julian’s Misopogon could be found throughout classical Greek as well as imperial Roman literature.171 These values also featured prominently in the rhetorical exercises in which students learned to assess ends and deliberate about means according to many of the same principles outlined in De legibus.172 Moreover, the social values of De legibus represent the morality of Plato’s lifetime that remained popular up to the Roman imperial period of Julian’s time, especially in the cities of the Greek east.173 Many of the topics in De legibus also featured prominently in fourth-century intellectual debates.174 Even the uneducated urban inhabitants encountered the same articulation of values in public venues and visual media: inscriptions that articulated praise for civic virtues, the visual culture that projected a shared mythic past that cultivated a civic identity, speeches of sophists, theatric renditions of the classics like Homer, and comedies that took as subjects Plato and other philosophers.175
6. Conclusions: Julian’s Vision of Community-Based Risk Reduction
Julian’s Misopogon provides his personal account of a specific crisis. This article set out not to adjudicate his portrayal of that crisis but to reveal the rationalization of his behavior in reference to how emperors, municipal council members, and regular citizens alike ought to behave in situations where shortages of food threaten the physical and emotional well-being of the population. I have argued that Julian regarded it as an obligation of government to provide necessities for the physical well-being of citizens and, as far as possible, peace of mind with the assurance of aid should misfortune strike. As emperor, Julian was outside of the civic community of Antioch and part of it as the head of the political community of all Roman citizens. We see him projecting his role in crisis management in this way and shaping his behavior in the food crisis accordingly. As a member of the community, Julian contributed aid in proportion to his ability in the aftermath of the crisis. Julian recognized that the measures normally undertaken in times of food shortage—expelling visitors, supplying food doles, setting maximum prices, and the rest—could mitigate the impact of food shortages. However, Julian also believed that assurance of aid from powerful, generous benefactors was not enough. Even when effective, these measures alone were merely palliative and left communities vulnerable to future shortages, and hazards of all sorts. The imperial administrative system was the last line of defense that could mobilize resources across the empire and reallocate them where aid was most needed. Focusing on relief without taking any action to remedy the structures that perpetuate vulnerability was neither an effective way to address the negative effects of crises on the happy condition Julian aimed to provide. Nor was it sustainable. Allocating resources to remedy the symptoms of avoidable or mitigatable human-induced crises inhibited the ability to effectively distribute aid to those suffering from more severe and unavoidable crises.
In sum, the community-based approach set out in De legibus and adapted in the Misopogon shifts the emphasis from external assistance aimed solely at reversing adverse conditions and mitigating distress after the fact to empowering communities in security practices. The most effective means to decrease vulnerability and increase resiliency was through broad participation on a community-wide level in practices that reduced risk and increased the ability to cope and recover. Therefore, Julian attempted to show that he also considered it his obligation to empower the communities to make structural changes to increase security. Julian presented himself as empowering communities to provide for the community’s basic needs and to improve social institutions that would make citizens better, civic ties stronger, and thus the community more willing and able to participate in security practices.
For an outline of this food shortage and an overview of the relevant sources and scholarship, see Dionysios Stathakopoulos, Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire: A Systematic Survey of Subsistence Crises and Epidemics (London: Routledge, 2016), 194–97. The most thorough treatment of the shortage and the economic circumstances surrounding it remains Hans-Ulrich Wiemer, Libanios und Julian: Studien zum Verhältnis von Rhetorik und Politik im vierten Jahrhundert nach Christus (Munich: Beck, 1995), 269–355.
For a recent overview of scholarship regarding the source of conflict, see Claudia Tiersch, “A Dispute—About Hellenism? Julian and the Citizens of Antioch,” in Antioch II: The Many Faces of Antioch: Intellectual Exchange and Religious Diversity, CE 350–450, ed. Silke-Petra Bergjan and Susanna Elm (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), 103–36 at 103–108. For a recent overview of scholarship focused on rhetorical aspects of the Misopogon, see Joshua Hartman, “Invective Oratory and Julian’s Misopogon,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 57 (2017): 1032–57.
Peter Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply in the Graeco-Roman World: Responses to Risk and Crisis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 43–87; Stathakopoulos, Famine and Pestilence, 35–53.
Julian, Misopogon 354b–c, claims that he alone with seven others practiced one of Plato’s laws: Μόνῳ οὖν μοι, μᾶλλον δὲ ξὺν ὀλίγοις ἐπιτηδεύοντι νῦν τοῦτο (i.e., ἕτερος τῶν Πλάτωνος νόμων)…Ἑπτὰ γάρ ἐσμεν οἵδε παρ’ ὑμῖν ξένοι νεήλυδες. Greek text in Iuliani Augusti opera, ed. Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Berlin, Munich, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015). Except for where otherwise noted, translations are my own.
Julian, Misopogon 354c, describes the one citizen of Antioch among the seven as “dear to Hermes and to me, a true craftsman of literature” (εἷς δὲ καὶ πολίτης ὑμέτερος, Ἑρμῇ ϕίλος καὶ ἐμοί, λόγων ἀγαθὸς δημιουργός).
For a fuller methodological discussion of these practices’ influence on Julian’s reading of Plato’s De legibus, see Jamie Marvin, “Reading Julian Progymnastmatically and Prolegomenally,” chapter 1 in “Caring for Souls, Curing Folly: Ruling and Reforming the Roman Empire in the Reign of Emperor Julian (361–363 CE),” (PhD diss., University of California San Diego, expected 2023).
Dirk Baltzly, “The Skopos Assumption: Its Justification and Function in the Neoplatonic Commentaries on Plato,” International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 11 (2017): 173–95 at 173, has shown the significance of the skopos in Neoplatonic interpretative practice, arguing that Neoplatonists believed “every [Platonic] dialogue has a single skopos and that every aspect of the dialogue can be seen as sub-serving that skopos.”
In the Anonymous Prolegomena 10.26.37–45, De legibus’s skopos is identified as the constitution of the adapted state in De legibus (περι δε του εξ ὐποθἐσεως εν τοις Νομοις), that is, the establishment of a political constitution “when certain laws and customs in the state are taken for granted” (ὅταν ὑποκειμένους νόμους ποιῶσι καὶ ἤθη τινὰ ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν). L. G. Westerink, trans., Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1962), 48.
E.g., Proclus, In Alcibiadem 10.1–3: ἄλλο γὰρ ἦν τὸν σκοπὸν γνῶναι τοῦ διαλόγου καὶ τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἄλλο τὸ ἐκ τῆς τοιαύτης προθέσεως. Olympiodorus, In Gorgiam 3.17–20: ϕαμὲν τοίνυν ὅτι σκοπὸς αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν ἀρχῶν τῶν ἠθικῶν διαλεχθῆναι τῶν ϕερουσῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν πολιτικὴν εὐδαιμονίαν.
Happiness as the acquisition of external goods and the cultivation of goods of the body and soul: Plato, De legibus 626–30, 853b. Plato, De legibus 631b, speaking specifically about laws, claims they are true laws when they provide happiness (ἔχουσιν γὰρ ὀρθῶς, τοὺς αὐτοῖς χρωμένους εὐδαίμονας ἀποτελοῦντες). Happiness is then linked to the production of all goods: πάντα γὰρ τἀγαθὰ πορίζουσιν. Greek text in Platonis opera, ed. John Burnet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903). Translations are adapted from R. G. Bury, trans., Plato: Laws, books 1– 6 and books 7–12, Loeb Classical Library 187 and 192 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926 and 1927). See Marcus Folch, The City and the Stage: Performance, Genre, and Gender in Plato’s Laws (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 33–35, for a fuller discussion of the political aim set out in De legibus.
Plato, De legibus 631b–d, sets out division of twofold goods, human and divine. Human goods: ἔστι δὲ τὰ μὲν ἐλάττονα ὧν ἡγεῖται μὲν ὑγίεια, κάλλος δὲ δεύτερον, τὸ δὲ τρίτον ἰσχὺς εἴς τε δρόμον καὶ εἰς τὰς ἄλλας πάσας κινήσεις τῷ σώματι, τέταρτον δὲ δὴ πλοῦτος οὐ τυϕλὸς ἀλλ᾽ ὀξὺ βλέπων, ἄνπερ ἅμ᾽ ἕπηται ϕρονήσει. Divine goods: ὃ δὴ πρῶτον αὖ τῶν θείων ἡγεμονοῦν ἐστιν ἀγαθῶν, ἡ ϕρόνησις, δεύτερον δὲ μετὰ νοῦ σώϕρων ψυχῆς ἕξις, ἐκ δὲ τούτων μετ᾽ ἀνδρείας κραθέντων τρίτον ἂν εἴη δικαιοσύνη, τέταρτον δὲ ἀνδρεία.
The point of political association was to make citizens as virtuous as possible, not merely to protect the city and to acquire possessions. Plato, De legibus 707d: οὐ τὸ σῴζεσθαί τε καὶ εἶναι μόνον…τὸ δ᾽ ὡς βελτίστους γίγνεσθαί. Plato, De legibus 770c–e, goes so far as to say that it is necessary to ensure that all can become perfect men, even if it means the destruction of the city. See Catherine Zuckert, “On the Implications of Human Mortality: Legislation, Education, and Philosophy in Book 9 of Plato’s Laws,” in Plato’s Laws: Force and Truth in Politics, ed. Gregory Recco and Eric Sanday (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 169–88 at 171– 72.
On awareness of and concern for misfortunes and distress: Plato, De legibus 644b–45c, 680d, 682b–c, 677e, 708e.
Mihir R. Bhatt and Tommy Reynolds, “Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction: Realizing the Primacy of Community,” in Disaster Risk and Vulnerability: Mitigation through Mobilizing Communities and Partnerships, ed. David Etkin and Chowdhury Emdadul Haque (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012), 71–90.
Plato emphasizes the role of engagement of all segments of the society in the practices, ensuring that all develop the sort of “local expertise and knowledge” identified as especially effective and that all consider themselves stakeholders in the welfare of the community.
Plato, De legibus 636d–e, emphasizes the importance of the state ensuring that citizens draw from the founts of pleasure and pain at the right time and in due proportion. Plato, De legibus 732e, later describes pleasures, pains, and desires as especially human (ἔστιν δὴ ϕύσει ἀνθρώπειον μάλιστα ἡδοναὶ καὶ λῦπαι καὶ ἐπιθυμίαι), and as such they must be discussed. Plato, De legibus 896e–97a, situated these among the other rational motions of the soul that move the body.
Plato, De legibus 782d–83a, stressed the necessity that the three νοσήματα (needs and wants on which all humans hang) “be directed toward what is best, and not toward the so-called most pleasant, by using the three greatest goods—fear, law, and true reason—as well as the muses and the gods of games to restrain them.”
Plato, De legibus 688b, reiterates that laws must “look to the whole of virtue, and first and above all to pay regard to the principal virtue of the four, which is wisdom, reason, and opinion, together with the love and desire that accompany them.”
Plato, De legibus 722d–23e.
Plato, De legibus 638b–39a, describes the right way to determine the value (χρηστὸν) of practices, stressing the need to assess each according to its function (τὴν ἐργασίαν), that is, the good at which it aims and the proper administration (τὴν προσϕοράν) for that function. For an overview of Plato’s use of the term epitēdeumata, see Alfonso Moreno and Rosalind Thomas, “Introduction,” in Patterns of the Past: Epitēdeumata in the Greek Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 1–22 at 4–8.
Plato, De legibus 774c, states that a “lack of resources” would not affect the poor people’s lifelong health in Magnesia because the necessities of life are freely available to everybody. Plato, De legibus 848a, stipulates that a third of all the resources produced are liable to compulsory sale to ensure that even the foreigners visiting the state are able to have necessary nourishment (τροϕῆς ἀναγκαίου δεόμενοι).
For the explicit references to freedom: Julian, Misopogon 343d, 349c, 345b, 355b, 355b, 371b.
Plato, De legibus 693b–99d, argues that friendliness and wisdom in the political community are only possible when there is a due measure of freedom; excessive despotism removes friendship and fellowship, and excessive freedom removes wisdom.
Plato’s third book of De legibus reflects on the evolution of past states and their political constitutions to understand what brought about their destruction. Plato, De legibus 683a–b, considers the various modes of settlements just previously discussed and then switches to consider what kept them safe or led to their ruin, and what changes affected their happiness. Plato, De legibus 688c–d, concludes that what ruined them all was badness, especially ignorance concerning the greatest human interests. Plato, De legibus 699d–e, prescribes the constitutional composition that best balances the freedom, based on the cautionary tales of Athens and Persia.
Julian, Misopogon 343c: οὐκ ἀνεχομένους ἀκούειν πρῶτον ὄνομα δουλείας οὔτε πρὸς θεοὺς οὔτε πρὸς νόμους· ἡδὺ γὰρ ἐν πᾶσι τὸ ἐλεύθερον”. Julian, Misopogon 356d: “Ἔνθεν οἶμαι συμβαίνει μάλα ὑμῖν εὐδαίμοσιν εἶναι πᾶσαν ἀρνουμένοις δουλείαν, ἀπὸ τῆς εἰς τοὺς θεοὺς πρῶτον, εἶτα τοὺς νόμους καὶ τρίτον τοὺς νομοϕύλακας ἡμᾶς; Plato, De legibus 698b–c, describes the Athenian state before it devolved into excessive freedom, when reverence induced willing subjection to the laws, and he identifies this as the cause of their perseverance against the threat of Persia.
Plato, De legibus 715d: ἐν ᾗ μὲν γὰρ ἂν ἀρχόμενος ᾖ καὶ ἄκυρος νόμος, ϕθορὰν ὁρῶ τῇ τοιαύτῃ ἑτοίμην οὖσαν.
Plato, De legibus 699b–d, relates that only when faced with destruction, the Athenians saw “one hope of salvation” and “realized that their safety lay with themselves alone and their gods,” which “produced in them a feeling of friendship toward one another” and a feeling of fear that “sprang from their laws in those early days, and whose origin lay in their enslavement to those early laws, and which we have several times during the previous discussion described as a sense of shame.”
Plato, De legibus 689a–c, 699c–d, 715c–d, 967c–e, connects disobedience to the laws, gods, and an excess or deficiency of freedom and makes it a contributory cause of crisis.
Julian, Misopogon 337b, 346, presents himself willingly subjected to the laws; 352d, 361a, to the gods; 351b, to his pedagogue; 342a, to his doctor; 355a–b, to his relatives. Plato, De legibus 731e–32b, 736–37, claims self-love makes humans mistake their folly for wisdom, thus creating a false shame that prevents them from following others who know better.
Plato, De legibus 762e, asserts that only a good slave can be a good ruler, and it is more honorable to serve well than it is to rule well (τῷ καλῶς δουλεῦσαι μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ καλῶς ἄρξαι).
Plato, De legibus 715d: ἐν ᾗ δὲ ἂν δεσπότης τῶν ἀρχόντων, οἱ δὲ ἄρχοντες δοῦλοι τοῦ νόμου, σωτηρίαν καὶ πάντα ὅσα θεοὶ πόλεσιν ἔδοσαν ἀγαθὰ γιγνόμενα καθορῶ.
Julian, Misopogon 343a: Εἰ δὲ ὁποῖον σὺ νῦν ἐπιτηδεύεις ἐστίν, ἐπίστασθαι μὲν ὅτι θεοῖς χρὴ δουλεύειν καὶ νόμοις; Plato, De legibus 696b, argues that sophrosynē is a precondition for all other virtues.
Plato, De legibus 659d.
Julian, Misopogon 356b–c: εἴργειν καὶ κολάζειν τῶν νέων τὸ ἀκόλαστον· παραιρεῖ|σθαι γάρ ἐστι καὶ ἀποθραύειν τῆς ἐλευθερίας τὸ κεϕάλαιον, εἴ τις ἀϕέλοιτο τοῦ λέγειν καὶ πράττειν ὅ τι βούλονται τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. Ὀρθῶς οὖν ὑμεῖς τοῦτο εἰδότες, ὅτι δεῖ τὰ πάντα ἐλευθέρους εἶναι, πρῶτον ἐπετρέψατε ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἄρχειν αὑτῶν, ἵνα ὑμῖν ὦσι λίαν ἐλεύθεραι καὶ ἀκόλαστοι, εἶτα ἐκείναις ξυνεχωρήσατε ἀνάγειν τὰ παιδία, μή ποτε ὑμῖν ἀρχῆς πειρώμενα τραχυτέρας ἔπειτα ἀποϕανθῇ | δοῦλα καὶ γενόμενα μειράκια πρῶτον αἰδεῖσθαι διδαχθῇ τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς οὕτω κακῆς συνηθείας εὐλαβέστερα γένηται πρὸς τοὺς ἄρχοντας, καὶ τέλος οὐκ εἰς ἄνδρας, ἀλλ’ εἰς ἀνδράποδα τελέσαντες καὶ γενόμενοι σώϕρονες καὶ ἐπιεικεῖς καὶ κόσμιοι λάθωσι διαϕθαρέντες παντάπασι. Plato, De legibus 635d, claims this education alone makes brave, free, and complete men; Plato, De legibus 716c–17b, 716a–b, describes these qualities as the key to one avoiding “bring[ing] ruin to himself, his household, and his country.”
Plato, De legibus 694d–95b, says that Cyrus allowed women to raise children so they never faced any adversity and were praised for everything they did or said regardless of its merit and that this “ruined” or “destroyed” their education (διεϕθαρμένην παιδείαν). Because it also led them to educate the children poorly, Plato calls the conditions that provided the Medes luxury, so-called happiness: διεϕθαρμένην δὲ παιδείαν ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης εὐδαιμονίας τὴν Μηδικὴν περιεῖδεν ὑπὸ γυναικῶν τε καὶ εὐνούχων παιδευθέντας αὑτοῦ τοὺς ὑεῖς, ὅθεν ἐγένοντο οἵους ἦν αὐτοὺς εἰκὸς γενέσθαι, τροϕῇ ἀνεπιπλήκτῳ τραϕέντας. Julian, Misopogon 359c, furthers the contrast in suggesting that in his own education, he read Plato and Aristotle, whose λόγων οὐδαμῶς ἐπιτηδείῳ δήμοις ἐντυγχάνειν καὶ ὑπὸ τρυϕῆς εὐδαιμονεστάτῳ εἶναι.
Julian, Misopogon 356c–d, claims they were educated by women who induced them to reverence the same things as the women through pleasure.
Julian, Misopogon 353c–d.
Julian, Misopogon 353b–c: Ὀνόματα ἥκει πρὸς ὑμᾶς πολλάκις κωμῳδούμενα, Πλάτων καὶ Σωκράτης καὶ Ἀριστοτέλης καὶ | Θεόϕραστος· ἐκείνοις ὁ γέρων οὗτος πεισθεὶς ὑπὸ ἀϕροσύνης, ἔπειτα ἐμὲ νέον εὑρών, ἐραστὴν λόγων, ἀνέπεισεν ὡς, εἰ τὰ πάντα ἐκείνων ζηλωτὴς γενοίμην, ἀμείνων ἔσομαι τῶν μὲν ἄλλων ἀνθρώπων ἴσως οὐδενός – οὐ γὰρ εἶναί μοι πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὴν ἅμιλλαν –, ἐμαυτοῦ δὲ πάντως. Ἐγὼ δὲ – οὐ γὰρ εἶχον ὅ τι ποιῶ – πεισθεὶς οὐκέτι δύναμαι μεταθέσθαι.
Plato, De legibus 633c, 942c–e, recommends the practices to which Julian, Misopogon 340b– 42a, accustomed himself: wintering cold, sleeping on the hard ground, putting up with scanty food and drink. These practices make harder times (including when at war) less unpleasant and thereby increase overall mild pleasures.
Plato, De legibus 653b–c. See Julian, In Cynicos ineruditos, 183d.
Plato, De legibus 688a–b, asserts that laws must not look only to excellence in war but also to all the virtues, especially “the chief among them, wisdom, reason, and opinion together with the love and desire that accompany them.” On making virtue a “hedonic experience,” as the aim of education in Plato’s De legibus, see Folch, City and the Stage, 52.
Plato, De legibus 689d–e, diagnoses this as a form of ignorance, the most dangerous kind, which he claimed was most to blame for the fall of states. Plato, 688c–d, claims that what ruined all previous states was badness, especially ignorance concerning the greatest human interests. Plato, 691a, claims this ignorance brought the Greek world to ruin. Plato, 689b–c, defines this ignorance as the opposition to the ruling principles, whether by masses in the city or the noble part of the soul.
Julian, Misopogon 342d–43a, imagines a fictional Antiochene to address him as “most ignorant” and ask if his little soul is so “foolish” that he thought he would “harmonize” with the Antiochenes: Τὴν δὴ σὴν ἀγροικίαν καὶ ἀπανθρωπίαν καὶ σκαιότητα τούτοις ἁρμόσειν ὑπέλαβες; οὕτως ἀνόητόν ἐστί σοι καὶ ϕαῦλον, ὦ πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἀμαθέστατε καὶ ϕιλαπεχθημονέστατε, τὸ λεγόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγεννεστάτων σῶϕρον τουτὶ ψυχάριον, ὃ δὴ σὺ κοσμεῖν καὶ καλλωπίζειν σω|ϕροσύνῃ χρῆναι νομίζεις.
Julian, Misopogon 371b, underscores this as a key issue when he sarcastically declares that it was his folly, not their freedom, that was the cause of the animosity: Ἀνοίας οὖν ἐστι τῆς ἐμῆς τοῦτο καὶ οὐ τῆς ὑμετέρας ἐλευθερίας.
Plato, De legibus 653d, spoke of festivals as inextricable from education. He moved directly from the definition of one to the origin and social function of the other.
Plato, De legibus 659b, declares that judges must sit as “teachers” of good pleasures and oppose those who offer spectators pleasure in a way that is unseemly and wrong. Plato, 659c, sees presenting characters superior to that of the audience as a means to improve the standard of pleasure. Plato, 660a–b, stresses that a lawgiver must persuade or compel the poet to portray harmony in gestures, rhythm, virtues, and goodness in tunes and harmonies. Plato, 664a, says a lawgiver must ask what would do the state the most good and then devise all possible means to ensure that the whole community constantly pronounces the same things in songs, stories, and discourses as far as possible.
Plato, De legibus 696e–97, connects importance of appropriate distribution according to the priorities of goods for state security: 691c, 715c–d, 727e–28a, 870a, 831c–32a.
Plato, De legibus 803d–e, recommends that citizens be able to “pass through life playing at the noblest of pastimes…spending the whole of life at play, sacrificing, singing, and dancing.”
Julian, Misopogon 345d–46a: δεικνύειν πάντα | τῷ δήμῳ τῷ ϕιλογέλωτι τῷδε θεάματα Folch, City and the Stage, 159, argues that Plato in De legibus defines genres of theatrical productions “as opportunities to incorporate within the city the unique roles, duties, pleasures, and anxieties associated with each type of performance.”
Plato, De legibus 700b–c, after concluding that it was a lack or excess of freedom in the cases of Persia and Athens that led to the destruction or put them in danger (only fear united them in the end), goes on discuss the starting point of their devolution from states of proper proportion of freedom.
Julian, Misopogon 342c, 344b.
Plato, De legibus 727e–28a, insists that comedy must take place on stage and be enacted by noncitizens so that citizens do not risk the danger of mimesis. This prompts the reader of the Misopogon 342c, 353b–c, 366d, to infer that the Antiochenes gave more recognition to their body than soul, thus transgressing what Plato, 696e–97, claimed a city’s security relies on.
Julian, Misopogon 364a–c, refers to “free speech” but presents it as forbidden public ridicule. Plato, De legibus 934e–35d, asserts that no ridicule must take place, especially publicly, neither in a “holy place, or at any public sacrifice—nor again at the games, nor in the marketplace, the law courts, or any public meeting.” Julian, 345a–b, says that when they were not abusing him, they were “flattering” him in the temples. Julian rebuked them for this, explaining that they should have been honoring gods temperately: Ἐπαινεῖτε γὰρ ἀντὶ τῶν θεῶν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, μᾶλλον δὲ ἀντὶ τῶν θεῶν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἡμᾶς κολακεύετε. Κάλλιστον | δέ ἐστιν οἶμαι μηδὲ ἐκείνους κολακεύειν, ἀλλὰ θεραπεύειν σωϕρόνως.
Julian, Misopogon 343a: οὐκ ὀρθῶς, ὅτι πρῶτον μὲν ἡ σωϕροσύνη ὅ τι ποτ’ ἐστὶν οὐκ ἴσμεν, ὄνομα δὲ αὐτῆς ἀκούοντες μόνον ἔργον οὐχ ὁρῶμεν.
Plato, De legibus 816d–e, says the comedic movements of bodies should only be presented by slaves and noncitizens. Julian, Misopogon 353b–c, adds that “Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Theophrastus” were held up as objects of ridicule on the stage in comedies, and he implies that the Antiochenes cultivated an identity in opposition to these men. In Lucia Praucello, Performing Citizenship in Plato’s Laws (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 5 explores this topic.
Julian, Misopogon 364a–c, describes the Antiochenes ridicule of him, which transgresses the regulations given by Plato, De legibus 816d–17a, 935c–36b. Julian, 337b, frames his “self- abuse” as a loophole to the law forbidding him to make jests in verse in response to the Antiochenes whose anapests against him contravened the laws that Plato, 816e, 935d–36b, sets out against criticizing citizens in verse, whether in jest or seriously.
Julian, Misopogon 356a: Ταύτης ὑμῖν ἐγὼ τῆς ὁμονοίας συνήδομαι, καὶ εὖ γε ποιεῖτε μία δὴ πόλις ὄντες τὰ τοιαῦτα. See also Julian, 370d.
Julian seems to place the Celts, whom he associates himself with, on the opposite side of the mean of virtue, perhaps to avoid praising himself, as he says the law forbade. Julian, Misopogon 359c–d, invites comparison of the Celts to the partially virtuous Cretan and Spartan interlocutors in Plato’s De legibus. At best, the soldiers from Gaul, as Julian describes them, exhibited partial virtue, like those of Sparta and Crete, who are described as having partial virtue insofar as their states were excellent in war and courage but their institutions did not look to all the virtues, or even all the courage, which must necessarily include endurance of nonrational pleasures as well pains. Plato, De legibus 635c–d, stresses the importance of training to withstand the natural inclination toward bad pleasures.
Julian, Misopogon 360b: εἴασαν οἰόμενοι τοῖς νυμϕολήπτοις αὐτοὺς ἐοικέναι.
Julian, 360b: ἀσέλγεια δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τοῖς θεάτροις οὐδὲ ὕβρις, οὔτε ἕλκει τις εἴσω τῆς σκηνῆς τὸν κόρδακα.
Plato, De legibus 814d–e, discusses the types of dances that are acceptable, namely peaceful and warlike ones. Peaceful dances in which the movements are rhythmic and orderly correspond to the condition of a well-ordered soul are considered best, since war’s sole purpose is to provide and ensure peace. Peaceful dancing both conditions and reflects the individual’s physiological and psychological relationship with pleasure. And, as a collective act, peaceful dancing is taken to harmonize the components of a community in the same way it harmonizes the components of one’s human nature. Plato, 803c–e, asserts that participating in festivals will make it “so that [a citizen] can win the favor of the gods and protect himself from enemies and conquer them in battle.”
Barbara Kowalzig, “Broken Rhythms in Plato’s De legibus: Materialising Social Time in the Chorus,” in Performance and Culture in Plato’s Laws, ed. Anastasia–Erasmia Peponi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 171–211 at 173–74, notes that “studies of Greek song-culture take it for granted that choreia is aimed at civic integration, but how exactly choral dancing operates in the service of social accord in the polis has received less attention.”
Plato, De legibus 653c–54a, provides a definition of education; 732e–33d describes enjoyment of music and dance as a part of the natural predisposition to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Plato, 800d–e, describes musical education’s aim to produce self-control. Folch, City and the Stage, 90–91, explores Plato’s views on αἴσθησιν μεθ' ἡδονῆς, the joy of watching and participating in performances in De legibus.
Julian, Misopogon 346a: Οὔτι μὰ Δία τὰς ἱεράς, ἐν αἷς χρὴ σωϕρονεῖν. Plato, De legibus 775b–c, claims drinking to excess is never seemly (πρέπει) except during feasts for Dionysius, yet it was never safe (ασϕαλές) for anyone. Julian, 355d, draws from a slightly more recent example from Roman history when he relates that Tarentum paid the penalty after they insulted the Roman ambassadors while drunk at the festival of Dionysus. He calls the Antiochenes “more fortunate than the citizens of Tarentum” because the Antiochenes submitted themselves “to pleasure throughout the whole year, instead of for a few days.” Tarentum was destroyed when they insulted the Roman ambassador. The Antiochenes were more fortunate, Julian implies, in that that their same behavior would not lead to the same outcome, at least not at his hands. Nevertheless, when the story is considered in the context in De legibus 3, it is clear that a military disaster was just one threat of drunkenness, and drunkenness was only one hazard that could trigger destruction.
Plato, De legibus 738c–e, presents sacrifices as a way of strengthening friendship, kinship, and familiarity and therefore, at 771d–e, prescribes two sacrifices a month for the purposes of obtaining the gods’ blessings, promoting religious observance, and for one’s own benefit, encouraging companionship and familiarity.
Julian, Misopogon 362d: ὑπὲρ δὲ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν καὶ τῆς σωτηρίας τῆς πόλεως οὐδεὶς θύει οὔτε ἰδίᾳ τῶν πολιτῶν οὔτε ἡ πόλις κοινῇ. Translation adapted from Wilmer C. Wright, trans., Julian, vol. 2, Loeb Classical Library 29 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1913).
Julian, Misopogon 362c–d: Ὑμῶν δὲ ἕκαστος ἰδίᾳ μὲν εἰς τὰ δεῖπνα καὶ τὰς ἑορτὰς χαίρει δαπανώ|μενος, καὶ εὖ οἶδα πολλοὺς ὑμῶν πλεῖστα εἰς τὰ δεῖπνα τοῦ Μαϊουμᾶ χρήματα ἀπολέσαντας. It was little wonder to Julian that a city, which had abandoned the goddess of fortune, suffered a misfortune. From its Hellenistic foundation, Antioch boasted a strong civic cult of Tyche. Andrea U. De Giorgi, Ancient Antioch: From the Seleucid Era to the Islamic Conquest (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 51–52, notes that Tyche “appeared on all available ephemera (coins, bullae, statuettes, and the like)” and was frequently associated in her imagery with the grain harvest. See also Noel Lenski, “Constantine and the Tyche of Constantinople,” in Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD, ed. Johannes Wienand (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 330–52 at 336, on Tyche of Antioch’s distinctive features compared to the cult in Constantinople.
Plato, De legibus 716c–e; Julian, Misopogon 345b.
Plato, De legibus 716a–b, says one who prides himself on lower goods over higher goods and thinks that he knows best is abandoned and will come to “pay the penalty to justice when he brings ruin to himself, his household, and his country.” Plato, 716b–c, describes how to avoid this: “follow in the steps of god.” The elaboration of what this entails lines up with what Julian, in the Misopogon, shows himself doing.
Julian, Misopogon 360c: Κελτοὶ μὲν γὰρ οὕτω με δἰ ὁμοιότητα τρόπων ἠγάπησαν, ὥστε ἐτόλμησαν οὐχ ὅπλα μόνον ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ λαβεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ χρήματα ἔδωκαν πολλά, καὶ παραιτούμενον ὀλίγου καὶ ἐβιάσαντο λαβεῖν, καὶ πρὸς πάντα ἑτοίμως ὑπήκουσαν.
Plato, De legibus 716d: καὶ κατὰ τοῦτον δὴ τὸν λόγον ὁ μὲν σώϕρων ἡμῶν θεῷ ϕίλος, ὅμοιος γάρ, ὁ δὲ μὴ σώϕρων ἀνόμοιός τε καὶ διάϕορος καὶ ὁ ἄδικος, καὶ τὰ ἄλλ᾽ οὕτως κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον ἔχει.
Plato, De legibus 716c–e: ὅτι τῷ μὲν ὁμοίῳ τὸ ὅμοιον ὄντι μετρίῳ ϕίλον ἂν εἴη, τὰ δ᾽ ἄμετρα οὔτε ἀλλήλοις οὔτε τοῖς ἐμμέτροις.
Julian, Misopogon 349c: Πόλει γὰρ προσιὼν ἐλευθέρᾳ, τὸν αὐχμὸν τῶν τριχῶν οὐκ ἀνεχομένῃ.
Julian, Misopogon 351a: Ἐμὲ δὲ ὑγρὸν βλέπειν | ῥιπτοῦντα πανταχοῦ τὰ ὄμματα 351A κατόπιν, ὅπως ὑμῖν καλός οὔτι τὴν ψυχήν, ἀλλὰ τὸ πρόσωπον ὀϕθείην; Ἔστι γάρ, ὡς ὑμεῖς κρίνετε, ψυχῆς ἀληθινὸν κάλλος ὑγρότης βίου.
For a succinct account of Libanius’s presentation in light of real-life conditions and in the context of other Roman imperial metropolises, see Catherine Saliou, “Libanius’s Antiochius, Mirror of a City?” in Antioch II: The Many Faces of Antioch: Intellectual Exchange and Religious Diversity, CE 350–450, ed. Silke-Petra Bergjan and Susanna Elm (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), 35–52 at 37–39.
Compare, Libanius, Antiochikos 130–80, on the character of the city councilors and the urban and rural populations, with Julian’s account presented in section 4.
Julian, Misopogon 339c–d: Ἐμοὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἀπόχρη τὸ σῶμα εἶναι τοιοῦτο, πρὸς δὲ καὶ δίαιτα παγχάλεπος ἐπιτηδεύεται· Εἴργω τῶν θεάτρων ἐμαυτὸν ὑπ’ ἀβελτηρίας, οὐδὲ εἴσω τῆς αὐλῆς παραδέχομαι τὴν θυμέλην ἔξω τῆς νεομηνίας τοῦ ἔτους ὑπ’ ἀναισθησίας, ὥσπερ τινὰ ϕόρον ἢ δασμὸν εἰσϕέρων καὶ ἀπο|διδοὺς ἄγροικος ὀλίγα ἔχων οὐκ ἐπιεικεῖ δεσπότῃ· καὶ τότε δὲ εἰσελθὼν τοῖς ἀϕοσιουμένοις ἔοικα.
In emphasizing the public setting of his interaction with the Antiochenes, Julian shifts focus away from his failure to engage in the form of ritualized communication they expected of him by drawing comparisons between his and the Antiochenes’ selections of pleasures to accentuate, through help of De legibus, their inherent danger. See Lieve Van Hoof and Peter Van Nuffelen, “Monarchy and Mass Communication: Antioch A.D. 362/3 Revisited,” Journal of Roman Studies 101 (2011): 166–84, who argue that the actual source of resentment was Julian’s failure to communicate.
Garnsey, Food and Society in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 63, suggests, as some realized, that the deprecated diet of the “non-urbane Greeks” was not necessarily a choice, that they were “forced to do so by food shortage, which was aggravated, we are permitted to infer, by the demands of city-dwellers.”
Plato, De legibus 666e–67c.
Plato, 666e: στρατοπέδου γὰρ πολιτείαν ἔχετε ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐν ἄστεσι κατῳκηκότων.
Plato views food deficiency as a problem for the distress it causes to the individual’s internal condition and the actions subsequently stemming from it, particularly in creating civic unrest. Plato, De legibus 736a, suggests that when a population increase puts pressure on the city’s food supply, and consequentially on friendly civic relations, the problem should be solved by expelling citizens, although giving it the euphemism emigration. Plato, 736d–e, suggests that this type of civic strife caused would ideally be avoided by those who “possess abundance of land and have many persons in their debt, and who are kind enough to wish to give a share of these things to those of them who are in want, partly by remissions and partly by distributions.”
Julian, Misopogon 368c: Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἦν τῶν μικρῶν πάνυ καὶ οὔπω δυνάμενα τὴν πόλιν ἐκπολεμῶσαι· τὸ δὲ δὴ μέγιστον, ἐξ οὗ τὸ μέγα ἤρθη μῖσος.
Julian, Misopogon 368c: Ἀϕικομένου μου πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὁ δῆμος ἐν τῷ θεάτρῳ, πνιγόμενος ὑπὸ τῶν πλουσίων, ἀϕῆκε ϕωνὴν πρῶτον ταύτην· ‘Πάντα γέμει, πάντα πολλοῦ’. On Julian’s arrival, see Libanius, Orationes 1.120, 15.19, 18.195; Ammianus, Res gestae 22.9.4.
See Van Hoof and Van Nuffelen, “Monarchy and Mass Communication,” 166–84.
Julian, Misopogon 368c–d: Τῆς ἐπιούσης διελέχθην ἐγὼ τοῖς δυνατοῖς ὑμῶν, ἐπιχειρῶν πείθειν ὅτι κρεῖττόν ἐστιν ὑπεριδόντας ἀδίκου κτήσεως εὖ | ποιῆσαι πολίτας καὶ ξένους.
Julian, Misopogon 368d: οἱ δὲ ἐπαγγειλάμενοι τοῦ πράγματος ἐπιμελήσεσθαι.
Plato, De legibus 718a–b, says persuasion should be used for free men, or if habits do not permit, forcible and just chastisement. For a thorough and nuanced treatment of the relationship between freedom and persuasion, see Christopher Bobonich, “Persuasion, Compulsion and Freedom in Plato’s De legibus,” Classical Quarterly 41, no. 2 (1991): 365–88.
Julian, Misopogon 368d: μηνῶν ἑξῆς τριῶν ὑπεριδόντος μου καὶ περιμείναντος, οὕτως ὀλιγώρως ἔσχον τοῦ πράγματος, ὡς οὐδεὶς ἂν ἤλπισεν.
Plato, De legibus 737d, states that a city should have enough land to feed moderate citizens, but no more: γῆ μὲν ὁπόση πόσους σώϕρονας ὄντας ἱκανὴ τρέϕειν. Plato, 719e, 861c–d, says when legislating, a lawgiver must provide specific definitions for qualifiers like moderate or involuntary so that the law is applicable in different circumstances.
Julian, Misopogon 350c: ἄρτου καὶ | οἴνου καὶ ἐλαίου τῇ σώϕρονι πόλει δεῖν ϕάμενος. Bread, wine, and olive oil, along with cash, were the goods most frequently distributed as benefactions. Arjan Zuiderhoek, The Politics of Munificence in the Roman Empire: Citizens, Elites and Benefactors in Asia Minor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 31, 72 figure 5.
Julian, Misopogon 369a: Ἐπεὶ δὲ ἦν τὰ μὲν ἄλλα παρ’ αὐτοῖς πολλὰ πάνυ – καὶ γὰρ ἦν οἶνος καὶ ἔλαιον καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ πάντα –, σίτου δὲ ἐνδεῶς εἶχον, ἀϕορίας δεινῆς ὑπὸ τῶν ἔμπροσθεν αὐχμῶν γενομένης. Plato, De legibus 936b–c, asserts that pity ought to be shown to hungry individuals who demonstrate a share of virtue when they suffer some misfortune: οἰκτρὸς δ᾽ οὐχ ὁ πεινῶν ἤ τι τοιοῦτον πάσχων, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ σωϕρονῶν ἤ τινα ἀρετὴν ἢ μέρος ἔχων ταύτης, ἄν τινα συμϕορὰν πρὸς τούτοις κεκτῆται. Julian, 369d, claims that the price he set was low for the city, even when grain was available in abundance.
Julian, Misopogon 369a–b: εἰσήγαγον ὑμῖν…πάντας οἴκοθεν ἔχων; 370c: τρέϕομεν ὑμᾶς οἴκοθεν. The reference to oikothen and the portrayal of the atypical personal nature of his benefactions compared to that of past emperors suggests that these came from the domus divina, the emperor’s personal household estates, a subsection of the res privata. The emphasis placed on the source of his contributions, then, frames his gifts of grain as a personal benefaction, analogous to those given by private citizens, albeit on a far different scale. Julian, In Cynicos ineruditos, 289d–90d, implies there was naturally an incommensurability of the benefactions of an emperor and of private citizens in terms of magnitude, yet he still stresses that the principle guiding those benefactions was analogous. Plato, De legibus 735c–36d, considers the willingness of individuals to share with those in a spirit of fairness, as Julian did here, to be the foundation for political stability.
Julian, Misopogon 369c–d: καὶ οὐχ ἡ πόλις μόνον ἐπὶ τοῦτο συρρεῖ, | οἱ πλεῖστοι δὲ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν συντρέχουσιν, ὃ μόνον ἐστὶν εὑρεῖν πολὺ καὶ εὔωνον, ἄρτους ὠνούμενο.
Julian, Misopogon 369a: ἔταξα μέτριον ἑκάστου | τίμημα καὶ δῆλον ἐποίησα πᾶσιν; 368d–69a: Ἐπεὶ δὲ ἑώρων ἀληθῆ τὴν τοῦ δήμου ϕωνὴν καὶ τὴν ἀγορὰν οὐχ ὑπὸ ἐνδείας, ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἀπληστίας τῶν κεκτημένων στενοχωρουμένην; Plato, De legibus 719e: σοὶ δὲ οὐχ οὕτω ῥητέον ὡς νῦν εἶπες μέτριον εἰπών, ἀλλὰ τί τὸ μέτριον καὶ ὁπόσον ῥητέον, ἢ τὸν τοιοῦτον λόγον.
Plato, De legibus 917b–c, forbids same-day price changes and haggling on the grounds of fair dealings. Julian suggests an ambivalence about fluctuations in price in the longer term according to availability of grain, throughout the year and from place to place. For Julian’s price-fixing measures in the context of imperial precedents, see Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 230. For prices of grain in Antioch relative to other areas of the empire and at different times, see Richard W. Burgess, “Overlooked Evidence for Grain Prices in Antioch, A.D. 333,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 120 (1998): 295–98.
Julian, Misopogon 350a: σὺ δὲ ἀπεχθάνῃ τοῖς καπήλοις οὐ ξυγχωρῶν ὁπόσου βούλονται πωλεῖν αὐτοῖς τῷ δήμῳ τὰ ἐπιτήδεια καὶ τοῖς ἐπιδημοῦσιν; 370b: τῷ γὰρ ἀδικουμένῳ πλήθει βοηθεῖν ᾠόμην χρῆναι καὶ τοῖς ἀϕικνουμένοις ξένοις ἐμοῦ τε ἕνεκα καὶ τῶν συνόντων ἡμῖν ἀρχόντων.
Famines may have been rare, but shortages due to drought were frequent, and most cities dealt with them in similar ways. Cities had continued practices started from Hellenistic foundations and adopted Roman practices for safeguarding against shortages. These strategies included food doles for citizens and grain funds managed by city councils, or alimentary schemes like Trajan created. For an overview of responses to food shortages taken by local and imperial authorities, see Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 271–72.
Garnsey, 247, suggests that even when emperors are known to have stepped in, inscriptions show that local benefactors “were kept busy absorbing the shocks.” Zuiderhoek, Politics of Munificence, 32, considers Garnsey’s assessment slightly overstated.
Codex Theodosianus 6.24.1: “quinquagenis iussis in praesenti esse, iuxta morem debere praestari ceteris, qui ultra numerum in praesenti esse voluerint, neque annonarias neque capitum esse mandandum, sed omnes cogendos ad plurimos suos ac terras redire.” This measure was taken one month after his arrival, and prior to his intervention in the council’s management of the shortage. The fact that Julian neglected to mention this measure in the Misopogon was likely due in part to realizing the impact of his army on food prices, and the fact that, according to Ammianus, Res gestae 22.12.6, many of his soldiers were gorging themselves on sacrificial meat and wine. Julian limited the number of household guards (domestici) to fifty, forbade all others not ordered to be in the city from receiving the customary personal sustenance of six animal rations and expelled them from the city.
E.g., Codex Theodosianus 11.17.1–2.
Elio Lo Cascio, “Market Regulation and Transaction Costs,” in Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World, ed. Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, and Arjan Zuiderhoek (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 128, describes imperial policy aiming at a free market within bounds: “price is formed through the encounter of supply and demand, as the mechanism that must be regulated but not suppressed.” Cf. Arjan Zuiderhoek, The Ancient City: Key Themes in Ancient History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 184, on the question of the imperial intervention in trade and distribution of wheat and oil.
Lo Cascio, “Market Regulation and Transaction Costs,” 121, interprets a law of Marcus Aurelius and Verus as protecting decurions from the compulsion to sell grain in a shortage at lower than fair market value, determined by supply and demand, by the threats of a population. Plato, De legibus 917e–18a, defines the role of market wardens in consulting experts in each trade before setting down regulations to ensure fairness.
The Antiochenes were perhaps hoping for something more ostentatious. Libanius, Orationes 26.5, 27.13, for example, relates that a city councilor was beaten by the order of the governor— at the prompting of the crowd in the theater—for failing to heat the baths adequately. See Van Hoof and Van Nuffelen, “Monarchy and Mass Communication,” 175–76.
Zuiderhoek, Politics of Munificence, 129, discusses the importance of public acknowledgement, often in theaters or other area public areas, to legitimize oligarchy by approval of the generosity of benefactors. For background on how the system actually functioned and how Julian hoped it would function: Arjan Zuiderhoek, “Benefactors and the Poleis in the Roman Empire: Civic Munificence in the Roman East in the Context of the Longue Durée,” in Benefactors and the Polis: The Public Gift in the Greek Cities from the Homeric World to Late Antiquity, ed. Marc Domingo Gygax and Arjun Zuiderhoek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 222–42; Tazuko Angela Van Berkel, The Economics of Friendship: Conceptions of Reciprocity in Classical Greece, Mnemosyne Supplements 429 (Leiden: Brill, 2020).
Plato, De legibus 806d, 842c–e, repeatedly recommends that the city source its produce from its own land, and explicitly not from sea and trade. The taste for shellfish, especially, is also contrary to the city described in Plato, 823a–e, which receives its living from farming its land and which prohibits its citizens from the “lazy” types of hunting from the sea or air. Plato, 763b– c, considers hunting with dogs an acceptable form of entertainment, because the practice had the added benefit of familiarizing the citizens with the features of the land. He considers “detailed knowledge of [one’s] own country a subject of study, second to none,” notably because it was critical for effective strategies that protect against hostile peoples and the detrimental forces of nature; 763d–e: on the management of the water supply.
Julian, Misopogon 350c: τὸ γὰρ καὶ ἰχθύων καὶ ὀρνιθίων λόγον ποιεῖσθαι πέρα τρυϕῆς εἶναι καὶ ἧς οὐδὲ τοῖς ἐν Ἰθάκῃ μνηστῆρσι μετῆν ἀσελγείας.
Julian, Misopogon 365b: ὃν οὕτως ἐποιήσαμεν τρυϕᾶν, ὥστε ἄγων σχολὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐνδεί|ας τοὺς ἀναπαίστους εἰς τοὺς αἰτίους αὑτῷ τῆς εὐθηνίας ξυνέθηκεν – οὐδὲ ἐπεγράψαμεν χρυσίον οὐδὲ ᾐτήσαμεν ἀργύριον οὐδὲ ηὐξήσαμεν ϕόρους. Translation adapted from Wright, Julian. Julian’s word choice in euthēnia, and its association with the annona, underscores the connection to the food shortage and Julian’s distributions of grain.
Plato, De legibus 783a–b, argues that the three human impulses (for food, drink, and sex) need to be turned “toward what is best, away from what is so-called most pleasant” (τρέποντα εἰς τὸ βέλτιστον παρὰ τὸ λεγόμενον ἥδιστον). Plato, 638c–d, considers what is “best” concerning healthy food. Julian, Oration 5: Hymn to the Mother of the Gods, 177d–78a, similarly argues that when it comes to food, the first priority should be what is allowed by the power of the body (πρῶτον μὲν ἡ τοῦ σώματος συγχωρεῖ δύναμις), then what is available in abundance (εἶτά τις περιουσία συντρέχει), and then what is personal preference (καὶ τρίτον ἡ προαίρεσις). For a more general overview of ancient perspective on the healthiness of grain and other foodstuffs, see Garnsey, Food and Society, 36–42, who draws heavily from the writings of Galen.
Plato, De legibus 936c: οἰκτρὸς δ᾽ οὐχ ὁ πεινῶν ἤ τι τοιοῦτον πάσχων, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ σωϕρονῶν ἤ τινα ἀρετὴν ἢ μέρος ἔχων ταύτης, ἄν τινα συμϕορὰν πρὸς τούτοις κεκτῆται.
For Julian to have done so would have been a disproportionate distribution, a contributing factor to badness and thereby to the city’s destruction. See previous discussion on Plato, De legibus 691c, 715c–d.
Peter F. Bang, The Roman Bazaar: A Comparative Study of Trade and Markets in a Tributary Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 143–44, discusses the power dynamics in Antioch that influenced the behavior of the more modest merchants.
Julian, Misopogon 350a, imagines the taunts of a fictional Antiochene who asks him: οὐχ ὁρᾷς ὁπόσα μὲν ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ καπηλεῖα. The intended irony comes out in Plato, De legibus 842c–e, where the discussion of laws that a city with a limited variety of occupations and limited mercantilism required are called “more appropriate for people who are free.”
Julian, Misopogon 369d–70a: ὅτι τὸν οἶνον ὑμῖν οὐκ ἐπέτρεψα καὶ τὰ λάχανα καὶ τὰς ὀπώρας ἀποδόσθαι χρυσοῦ, καὶ τὸν ὑπὸ τῶν πλουσίων ἀποκεκλεισμένον ἐν ταῖς ἀποθήκαις | σῖτον ἄργυρον αὐτοῖς καὶ χρυσὸν ἐξαίϕνης παρ’ ὑμῶν γενέσθαι.
Julian no doubt heard and likely was reacting to requests of the sort made by Libanius, Epistulae 1379.2, who asked Rufinus to ease the restrictions set in place after Julian’s departure, calling Rufinus’s intent “worthy of Rome,” but says that Antioch is better if its markets are left autonomous: τὰ δ’ αὖ περὶ τὸν σῖτον σὺ μὲν καὶ ταῦτα ἄξια τῆς Ῥώμης τετόλμηκας, ἡμῖν δὲ ἔδοξεν ἄμεινον εἶναι καὶ ταύτῃ τὴν ἀγορὰν αὐτόνομον ἀϕεῖναι· κρεῖττον γὰρ πονῆσαι μικρὸν ἢ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐν ἐγκλήμασιν εἶναι καὶ ζητεῖν ὑπὲρ τῶν αἰτιῶν λόγους; in Libanii opera, ed. Richard Förster, vol. 10, letters 1–839 (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1963). On market regulation and market integration by the imperial government, see Peter F. Bang, “Imperial Bazaar: Towards a Comparative Understanding of Markets in the Roman Empire,” in Ancient Economies, Modern Methodologies: Archaeology, Comparative History, Models and Institutions, ed. Peter F. Bang, Mamoru Ikeguchi, and Harmut G. Ziche (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006): 93–115 at 71–72.
Plato, De legibus 743c–e, in discussing wealth’s rank among goods, reiterates the goal to make citizens as happy and friendly as possible (ὅπως ὡς εὐδαιμονέστατοι ἔσονται καὶ ὅτι μάλιστα ἀλλήλοις ϕίλοι) before arguing that it is therefore important to ensure citizens are not engaged in making money in such a way that it compels them to neglect the soul and body, which money exists for in the first place (καὶ τούτων ὁπόσα μὴ χρηματιζόμενον ἀναγκάσειεν ἀμελεῖν ὧν ἕνεκα πέϕυκε τὰ χρήματα: ταῦτα δ᾽ ἐστὶ ψυχὴ καὶ σῶμα). Plato, 733e–34: “It is either ignorance or weakness of will (or both) that causes the mob of humanity in general to lead lives lacking in self-control.”
On greed, injustice, and destruction, Plato, De legibus 727e–28a, 728e–29a, 906a–b. Plato depicts acquisitiveness as ignorance or folly concerning the relative value of money and the soul. Julian, Misopogon 368b, suggests individuals place the last of the goods before the first, “exchanging gold for rubbish”: παρ’ ὑμῖν δὲ διὰ περιττὴν ϕρόνησιν ἀμειβομένων πρὸς χρυσίον συρϕετῶν, ἀποροῦντα μετρίας οὐσίας εἵλεσθε κοινωνόν.
Plato, De legibus 919d–20a, argues that few individuals were so resolutely moderate to withstand the temptation to make unjust gains every time opportunities presented themselves, as they frequently did for those in moneymaking professions.
Libanius, Oratio 15.21.
Julian, Misopogon 350a–b: Οἱ δὲ ἐν τέλει τῆς πόλεως ἀμϕοῖν μετέχοντες ταῖν ζημίαιν – ὥσπερ, οἶμαι, πρότερον ἔχαιρον διχόθεν καρπούμενοι τὰς ὠϕελείας, καὶ | ὡς κεκτημένοι καὶ ὡς καπηλεύοντες – τὰ νῦν εἰκότως λυποῦνται δι’ ἀμϕοτέρων ἀϕῃρημένοι τὰς ἐπικερδείας. Julian remarks that they were doubly annoyed because previously they “enjoyed profits from both sources, both as landowners and as shopkeepers” and were then likewise “deprived of the profits of both sources.” It is worth noting that Julian uses the language of distribution of punishment and rewards (ζημίαιν, λυποῦνται, ἔχαιρον, ὠϕελείας) throughout De legibus and summed up at 862d–e, describing it as means to engender correct emotional responses and to direct pleasures and pains to align with beliefs that lead individuals to “love, or at least not hate justice.”
Plato, De legibus 729, 832c–d, 962a, describes love of money as incompatible with freedom because it makes citizens subject to one another, that is, incites them to shameful behavior for the sake of profit.
Julian, Misopogon 367d–68a; Codex Theodosianus 5.13.3.
Julian, 367d: πολὺ μὲν ἀνῆκα χρυσίον, πολὺ δὲ ἀργύριον, ϕόρους δὲ παμπληθεῖς ἰδίᾳ παρὰ τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις.
The significance of this can be gleaned from Libanius, Oratio 48.37, who complains about unjust purchases of curial land. Cf. Libanius, 32.8, 49.8. A further indication comes from Codex Theodosianus 12.3.1 (CE 386), which refers to those who buy up land from decurions and then refuse to take on any sort of curial function.
Julian, Misopogon 364d: τῆς ἐμῆς μετριότητος καὶ τῶν ἐμῶν ἐπιτηδείων τῆς σωϕροσύνης. Julian’s word choice in ἐπιτηδείων again suggests he intended this claim to be read as relevant to his discussion of the food shortage. In this context, it is clearly used here as a substantiative to mean “close friends.” More frequently, as Julian says elsewhere in Misopogon 350a, it is used, especially in the neuter plural, to refer to necessary provisions, or more generally things that are necessary or useful for specific ends.
Julian, Misopogon 365a–b: Ἡμῶν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ἀγρὸν οὐ|δὲ κῆπον ἐπρίατο παρ’ ὑμῖν οὐδὲ οἰκίαν ᾠκοδόμησεν. Julian continues listing what he and his “moderate” companions refrained from, including οὐδὲ ἐνειμάμεθα τὰς προστασίας οὐδὲ παραδυναστεύειν ἡμῖν ἠνεσχόμεθά τινας τῶν ἐν τέλει. The specificity of Julian’s list of things he did not do suggests he intended to draw a comparison between himself and his “immoderate and unjust” predecessors. A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964), 131–32, details some of the abuses under Constantius that necessitated Julian’s intervention in the management of imperial and civic lands, in particular “the immense growth of petitio or in other words the lavish grant of lands to the emperor’s comites and palatini” (i.e., those with exemptions from curial duties).
Julian, Misopogon 364d: τῆς ἐμῆς μετριότητος καὶ τῶν ἐμῶν ἐπιτηδείων τῆς σωϕροσύνης. Julian refers to the moderation and self-control of his close friends. Plato, De legibus 850b, in discussing regulations for metics, says they should not be asked to pay any tax except self- control (πλὴν τοῦ σωϕρονεῖν). The fuller context of the passage invites a comparison of the behavior of Julian and the Antiochenes to that of the ideal described in De legibus for the interactions of visitors and citizens, and it seems intentional.
Julian, Misopogon 370d–71b: γῆς κλήρους οἶμαι τρισχιλίους ἔϕατε ἀπόρους εἶναι καὶ ᾐτήσασθε λαβεῖν, λαβόντες δὲ ἐνείμασθε πάντες οἱ μὴ δεόμενοι· τοῦτο ἐξετασθὲν ἀνεϕάνη σαϕῶς. Ἀϕελόμενος δὲ αὐτοὺς ἐγὼ τῶν ἐχόντων οὐ δικαίως, καὶ πολυπραγμονήσας οὐδὲν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἔμπροσθεν, ὧν ἔσχον ἀτε|λεῖς, οὓς μάλιστα ἐχρῆν ὑποτελεῖς εἶναι, ταῖς βαρυτάταις ἔνειμα λειτουργίαις αὐτοὺς τῆς πόλεως· καὶ νῦν ἀτελεῖς ἔχουσιν οἱ καθ’ ἕκαστον ὑμῖν ἐνιαυτὸν ἱπποτροϕοῦντες γῆς κλήρους ἐγγὺς τρισχιλίους, ἐπινοίᾳ μὲν καὶ οἰκονομίᾳ τοῦ θείου τοὐμοῦ καὶ ὁμωνύμου, χάριτι δὲ ἐμῇ, ὃς δὴ τοὺς πανούργους καὶ κλέπτας οὕτω κολάζων εἰκότως ὑμῖν ϕαίνομαι τὸν κόσμον ἀνατρέπειν. Εὖ γὰρ ἴστε ὅτι πρὸς τοὺς τοιούτους ἡ | πρᾳότης αὔξει καὶ τρέϕει τὴν ἐν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις κακίαν.
Julian, Misopogon 370d: λαβόντες δὲ ἐνείμασθε πάντες οἱ μὴ δεόμενοι.
It is unclear from the different manuscript readings whether the land was not suited for cultivation (ἀπόρους) or simply was currently uncultivated (ἄσπορος). J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, Antioch: City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 149–50, on Antioch’s civic land.
On the use and misuse of civic lands, see J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, Decline and Fall of the Roman City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 175–78.
Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 272, notes that the elite often avoided “regular tax payments to the civic treasury” in favor of more ostentatious benefactions.
Sofie Remijsen, The End of Greek Athletics in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 301–2, discusses Julian’s land tax exemption for “the hippotrophoi, the liturgists paying for horse races,” as a part of a broader pattern of civic financing of games through municipal lands. This discussion is contained in a helpful section, 298–309, on financing agones in times of crisis. Julian again implies that he provided conditions for human excellence, in this case leisure. Plato, De legibus 831c, asserts that good choruses and contests (defined at 667b–69b) are largely missing from states for two reasons: lust for money and lack of leisure. Since Julian procured leisure for the city, the implication is that their lust for money led them to use their time to compose their anapestic verses directed at him instead of proper choruses.
Julian, Misopogon 342b–c: Ὡς δὲ ἐπὶ τούτοις εὐϕραινόμενοι δῆλον ποιεῖτε πολλαχοῦ μέν, οὐχ ἥκιστα δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς καὶ ἐν τοῖς θεάτροις, ἀπὸ μὲν τῶν κρότων καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς βοῆς ὁ δῆμος, οἱ δὲ ἐν τέλει τῷ γνωριμώτεροι μᾶλλον εἶναι καὶ ὀνομάζεσθαι παρὰ πᾶσιν ἀϕ’ ὧν εἰς τὰς τοιαύτας ἑορτὰς ἐδαπάνησαν ἢ Σόλων ὁ Ἀθηναῖος ἀπὸ τῆς πρὸς Κροῖσον τὸν Λυδῶν βασιλέα συνουσίας.
Julian, Misopogon 367d: ἔπειτα τοῦ βουλευτηρίου τὸν κατάλογον διακοσίοις βουλευταῖς ἀνεπλήρωσα ϕεισάμενος οὐδενός· ἐσκόπουν γὰρ ὅπως ἡ πόλις ὑμῶν ἔσται μείζων καὶ δυνατωτέρα. Plato, De legibus 698b, notes that the Athenians in their prime had a fourfold grading of magistrates. Plato, 755b–c, proposes four classes of citizen participation in Magnesia. Libanius relates that Julian added a fourth class to the Antiochenes’ city council.
Plato, De legibus 751b–c: παντί που δῆλον τὸ τοιοῦτον, ὅτι μεγάλου τῆς νομοθεσίας ὄντος ἔργου, τοῦ πόλιν εὖ παρεσκευασμένην ἀρχὰς ἀνεπιτηδείους ἐπιστῆσαι τοῖς εὖ κειμένοις νόμοις, οὐ μόνον οὐδὲν πλέον εὖ τεθέντων, οὐδ᾽ ὅτι γέλως ἂν πάμπολυς συμβαίνοι, σχεδὸν δὲ βλάβαι καὶ λῶβαι πολὺ μέγισται ταῖς πόλεσι γίγνοιντ᾽ ἂν ἐξ αὐτῶν. See also Plato, 763c.
Julian, Misopogon 367d–68a: Δέδωκα οὖν ὑμῖν καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐπιτροπευσάντων τοὺς θησαυροὺς τοὺς | ἐμοὺς καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐργασαμένων τὸ νόμισμα τοὺς πλουσιωτάτους ἑλομένοις ἔχειν. Jones, Later Roman Empire, 435; Ronald Delmaire, Largesses sacrées et res privata: L’aerarium impérial et son administration du IVe au VIe siècle (Rome: l’École Française, 1989), 497–500, on the status of monatarii, who were previously ineligible for city council. See also Roger Pack, “Ammianus Marcellinus and the Curia of Antioch,” Classical Philology 48, no. 2 (1953): 80–85 at 81.
Julian, Misopogon 368a: ὑμεῖς δὲ ἐκείνων μὲν οὐ τοὺς δυναμένους εἵλεσθε, λαβόμενοι δὲ τῆς ἀϕορμῆς εἰργάσασθε παραπλήσια πόλει μὲν οὐδαμῶς εὐνομουμένῃ, πρέποντα δὲ ὑμῶν ἄλλως τῷ τρόπῳ.
Julian, Misopogon 368b: ἄλλον ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς εἱλκύσατε πένητα καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἁπανταχοῦ μὲν ἀπολελειμμένων. Translation adapted from Wright, Julian. He goes on to say, παρ’ ὑμῖν δὲ διὰ περιττὴν ϕρόνησιν ἀμειβομένων πρὸς χρυσίον συρϕετῶν, ἀποροῦντα μετρίας οὐσίας εἵλεσθε κοινωνόν. Although not forbidden by law, merchants and tradesmen were rarely part of town councils throughout Roman imperial history up to this point. The profession was frowned on for similar reasons to those given in De legibus. A. H. M. Jones, The Roman Economy: Studies in Ancient Economic and Administrative History, ed. P. A. Brunt (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974), 41. Julian could not have gone so far even if he wanted to. It would have been far outside what Plato, De legibus 919c, calls “the limits of what is practicable.”
Julian, Misopogon 368a: βουλευτὴν ὀνομάσαντες, πρὶν προσγραϕῆναι τῷ καταλόγῳ, μετεώρου τῆς δίκης οὔσης, ὑπεβάλετε λειτουργίᾳ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. The abuse prompted Julian to issue Codex Theodosianus 12.1.53, recalling decurions enrolled after September 362 CE.
On Julian’s allusions to dryness and wetness in the characterization of himself and the citizens of Antioch, see section 3. While more costly water infrastructure projects (aqueducts, baths, etc.) were funded increasingly by imperial officials, the city councilors were still tasked with their upkeep. Jones, Later Roman Empire, 725. On water rights in the Roman Empire: Dylan Κ. Rogers, Water Culture in Roman Society, Brill Research Perspectives in Ancient History (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 17. For background on the water supply of Antioch: Jesse Casana, “The Archaeological Landscape of Late Roman Antioch,” in Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch, ed. Isabella Sandwell and Janet Huskinson (Havertown: Oxbow, 2015), 102–25 at 106–10.
Plato, De legibus 763d–e: δεῖ δὴ καὶ τούτους δυνατούς τε εἶναι καὶ σχολάζοντας τῶν κοινῶν ἐπιμελεῖσθαι: διὸ προβαλλέσθω μὲν πᾶς ἀνὴρ ἐκ τῶν μεγίστων τιμημάτων ἀστυνόμον ὃν ἂν βούληται. On the management of the water supply, see Plato, 760e–61, 763d–e, 883e–44b, 845d–e. Plato, 883e–44b, gives the water supply as an example of a topic of law that “any old lawgiver could deal with” since “excellent and long-established regulations already exist for farmers.” Plato focuses therefore on the importance of its management. Thus, in De legibus, the focus on the water supply is placed on the importance of magistrates that would oversee the regulation, on distribution to temples, and on its role in the production of food for common meals designed to foster friendship and fellowship.
Marguerite Ronin, “The Funding of Irrigation: Between Individual and Cooperative Investment,” in Capital, Investment and Innovation in the Roman World, ed. Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, and Arjan Zuiderhoek (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 225–52, discusses the community-based practices surrounding irrigation. Especially in regions where water was scarce, “irrigation communities” came together and enacted collective interests, formulating clear rules for communal contributions of capital and manpower toward the proper functioning of the water technology that they all relied on.
Julian, Misopogon 366d: ἐπιθυμοῦντα μετὰ τοῦ δυνατοῦ πολλοὺς εὖ ποιεῖν ἀνθρώπους.
Plato, De legibus 727b–c, stresses that one must blame oneself and not others for faults in honoring one’s soul properly.
Julian, Misopogon 367c, blames himself for not waiting for experience before judging them, as would be proper: Καὶ δὴ πρῶτον ἐπῄνουν ὑμᾶς ὡς ἐνεδέχετό μοι ϕιλοτίμως, οὐκ ἀναμείνας τὴν πεῖραν οὐδὲ ὅπως ἕξομεν πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἐνθυμηθείς. Plato, De legibus 650b–c, claims that knowing the natures and dispositions of the souls (τὸ γνῶναι τὰς ϕύσεις τε καὶ ἕξεις τῶν ψυχῶν) would rank as one of the most useful aids in the art of taking care of them (θεραπεύειν). Plato, 642e, helps to mitigate Julian’s mistake in not waiting by noting the affection that is naturally inherited from forefathers.
Julian, Misopogon 339a: Ὑμεῖς δὲ καὶ ἐν τῷ γήρᾳ ζηλοῦντες τοὺς ὑμῶν αὐτῶν υἱέας καὶ τὰς θυγατέρας ὑπὸ ἁβρότητος βίου καὶ ἴσως ἁπαλότητος τρόπου λεῖον ἐπιμελῶς ἐργάζεσθε. Plato, De legibus 808c–d, asserts children, slaves, and grazing animals ought not to live without masters; 777e–78a sets out the correct way to punish slaves and compares it to the punishment of free men.
Julian, Misopogon 367b–c, 370c–71a. When found out, Julian took the land, reallocated it, and punished the councilors by assigning them the heaviest liturgies (ταῖς βαρυτάταις ἔνειμα λειτουργίαις αὐτοὺς τῆς πόλεως).
Julian, Misopogon 371a: ὃς δὴ τοὺς πανούργους καὶ κλέπτας οὕτω κολάζων εἰκότως ὑμῖν ϕαίνομαι τὸν κόσμον ἀνατρέπειν. Εὖ γὰρ ἴστε ὅτι πρὸς τοὺς τοιούτους ἡ | πρᾳότης αὔξει καὶ τρέϕει τὴν ἐν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις κακίαν. Plato, De legibus 691c, warned would happen if one gives the greater to the lesser (ἐάν τις μείζονα διδῷ τοῖς ἐλάττοσι…ἀνατρέπεταί που πάντα).
Plato, De legibus 697a–b: λέγομεν τοίνυν ὅτι πόλιν, ὡς ἔοικεν, τὴν μέλλουσαν σῴζεσθαί τε καὶ εὐδαιμονήσειν εἰς δύναμιν ἀνθρωπίνην δεῖ καὶ ἀναγκαῖον τιμάς τε καὶ ἀτιμίας διανέμειν ὀρθῶς.
Plato, De legibus 742e: τούτων δὲ τὰ μὲν δυνατά ἐστιν γίγνεσθαι, τὰ δ᾽ οὐ δυνατά: τὰ μὲν οὖν δυνατὰ βούλοιτ᾽ ἂν ὁ διακοσμῶν, τὰ δὲ μὴ δυνατὰ οὔτ᾽ ἂν βούλοιτο ματαίας βουλήσεις οὔτ᾽ ἂν ἐπιχειροῖ.
Plato, De legibus 782d, 783a.
Plato, De legibus 717b–c, argues that in order to make a city blessed and happy (μακαρίαν τε καὶ εὐδαίμονα), a lawgiver must use persuasion, or on those whose disposition (τῶν ἠθῶν) persuasion is ineffective, force and just chastisement (βίᾳ καὶ δίκῃ κολάζουσα).
Plato, De legibus 699c–d.
Plato, 647a: δὴ καὶ καλοῦμεν τὸν ϕόβον ἡμεῖς γε, οἶμαι δὲ καὶ πάντες, αἰσχύνην.
Plato, 732d–33a: νῦν οὖν δὴ περὶ μὲν ἐπιτηδευμάτων, οἷα χρὴ ἐπιτηδεύειν, καὶ περὶ αὐτοῦ ἑκάστου, ποῖόν τινα χρεὼν εἶναι.
Libanius, Oratio 15.23, admits, “We did wrong, we confess. We have been too slow in obeying your will. In supervising the bakers we were, some of us, too careless, or fast asleep, or eager for more cash. Admitted—but what then.” A. F. Norman, trans., Libanius: Selected Works 1 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), 148–207.
Libanius, Oratio 15.60, implies that the Antiochene vices Julian depicted marked them as bad (kakoi) citizens and therefore signaled to Julian that he agreed no government intervention could have counteracted the effects of the food crisis.
Libanius, Oratio 15.60: καὶ οὔπω τοσοῦτον τὸ κατ᾿ ὀλίγων τῶν ἑτέρωσε ἐόντων γενησόμενον, ἀλλ᾿ ὅλῃ γε ἀνάγκη τῇ πόλει τὴν ἀσϕάλειαν ἀπολωλέναι. εὐτυχεῖν μὲν γὰρ διηνεκῶς ὄντας ἀνθρώπους ἀμήχανον, ἀλλὰ καὶ λιμὸς καὶ λοιμὸς καὶ τὰ ἔτι δεινότερα, τὰ | ἀπὸ τῶν σεισμῶν λυμαίνεται τὰς πόλεις. ἐν δὲ τοῖς τοιούτοις καιροῖς ἓν ϕάρμακον τοῖς πληγεῖσιν, ἡ παρὰ τῶν προσχώρων προθυμία.
Plato, De legibus 697c–e, argues that when you hate, you are hated, and therefore, no one is willing to help: “there is no salvation”; Libanius, Oratio 15.59, asserts the Antiochenes will suffer the fate of Callixnus, starvation, since all hate them.
The Misopogon directly quoted Plato, De legibus 730, a passage that abuts one of the discussions of just punishment that Libanius drew his defense from. Libanius implored Julian to do as Plato, 731d, says and pity those whose badness is remedial. The other discussion of punishment focuses on the death penalty and is brought up in the discussion of homicide, where Libanius seems to evoke this part in penance of murders. Plato, 862e, asserts that the death penalty was suitable only for the irremediable, in which case it was better for the individual and for society. Libanius protests that Julian could not claim to have let the city off lightly because he did not fine, imprison, or harm them.
Plato, De legibus 926d, calls psogos a punishment more grievous than any monetary fine for a person of sense.
Libanius goes on to rebuke Julian for expecting the city to have been any different. Given the significance of education expounded in De legibus, Julian points out in the Misopogon that to think otherwise was foolish. The citizenry’s current debauched condition was only to be expected after so many years under such bad teachers, as he implies anyone familiar with Plato’s De legibus would know. Moreover, the Antiochenes could in fact be improved by a good and just ruler, such as Julian so clearly shows himself to be in the Misopogon. Had they been reared under the educational system outlined in Plato’s De legibus, then Julian would be right, according to Plato, 935, in deeming them irredeemable.
Libanius acknowledges the punishment of appointing Alexander and claims that it achieved its intended effects. Libanius, Oratio 15.73: ἔσωσε μὲν Ἀλέξανδρος τὴν πόλιν, ἔσωσεν, οὐκ ἂν ἄλλως ϕαίην.
Libanius composed two orations in response to the Misopogon, one addressed to Julian, the other to the citizens of Antioch. Oration 15 clearly shows what has already been noted by A. F. Norman, “The Library of Libanius,” Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 107 (1964), 158–75 at 159, namely that the “literary influence of Plato is observable throughout [Libanius’s] works” with vocabulary taken even “from comparatively recondite works such as the Laws.”
Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner, “Plato and the Theodosian Code,” Early Medieval Europe 27 (2019): 35–60 at 49, argues there is “no doubt that Plato’s Laws were known to the educated elite of the late empire and that the work was read with an interest in its political and legal theory.” On the influence of Plato’s De legibus on Julian and others in the fourth century, see also Jill Harries, “Superfluous Verbiage? Rhetoric and Law in the Age of Constantine and Julian,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 19, no. 3 (2011): 345–74; Jeremey M. Schott, “Founding Platonopolis: The Platonic πολιτεία in Eusebius, Porphyry, and Iamblichus,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11, no. 4 (2003): 501–31. Russell Gimirkin, Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible (London; New York: Routledge, 2017), who argues that Plato’s De legibus influenced the creation of the Hebrew bible, demonstrates the dialogue’s ideas are not contained to the Platonic philosophical tradition.
E.g., Libanius, Declamationes 35: “Plousios en limō threpsein hypischneito tēn polin, ei ekdidoiē ton echthron autō. hē men ouk edōken, ho de axioi apothanein kata ton touto didonta nomon.”
The rhetoric in the Misopogon not only coheres with fourth-century CE rhetorical conventions, but as Joshua Hartman, “Invective Oratory and Julian’s Misopogon,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 57 (2017): 1032–57 at 1056, among others have noted, “commonplaces of Attic oratory.” This is another thread that can be tied back to De legibus. As Lucia Praucello, Performing Citizenship in Plato’s Laws (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 226, notes, there is a strong connection to Attic oratory and the rhetoric about rulers giving law strength.
E.g., Julian’s use of the comparison of the “boorish, country-dwelling individual” to the counterpart, the “refined, city-dweller,” and the inversion was a prominent theme in both Plato’s De legibus, Greek and Latin literature, and Greek literary exercises. On the country-city comparison in literature, see Ziuderhoek, Ancient City, 41. On its use in Plato’s De legibus, see section 2. On its use in literary exercises, see Libanius, Progymnasmata: Synkrisis 5; Aeneas of Gaza, Ep. 2.
Note, for example, Constantine’s use of the same concern for the state to provide life necessities and the behavior that stems from it: Codex Theodosianus 11.17.1–2. Plato, De legibus 919b–c; Julian, Oratio 1, 15c–d.
The theme of freedom in the Misopogon, for example, was central to Julian’s defense as grounded by Plato’s De legibus. Susanna Elm, “Gregory of Nazianzus: Mediation between Individual and Community,” in Group Identity and Religious Individuality in Late Antiquity, ed. Jörg Rüpke, Éric Rebillard (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2015), 89– 110 at 90, notes that there were ongoing philosophical debates in the fourth century CE over the “right balance between submission, even enslavement, to a higher order and personal agency, choice, and free will.”
On shaping identity according to the literary values depicted in visual culture, see De Giorgi, Ancient Antioch, 163–74.