Presenter: Nicola Holm (Thesis review seminar)

The emperor Julian (AD 361-363) is well known as Rome’s last pagan emperor and for his attempt to wind back the pro-Christian reforms of his uncle Constantine. However, unlike the bloody persecutions of his Tetrarchic and third-century predecessors, Julian opted for a bloodless approach to his anti-Christian policies. In many respects Julian was a traditional ruler, who sought to address the administrative and religious ‘problems’ of the empire in a manner similar to many of his ‘good’ predecessors. In particular, Julian sought to emulate the rule of Marcus Aurelius, whom he declared in his Caesars to be the best of all emperors (Julian, Caesars 335C). However, Julian’s role as the last persecutor of the Christians often overshadows this, with many of his approaches to Christianity understood as solely innovative in their nature. This paper will argue that a number of the religious policies and actions of Julian appeared to be traditional in their form and purpose, while additionally being a covert vehicle for promoting his austere, philosophical agenda. These policies include Julian’s infamous school law, the return of blood sacrifice, and the recall of exiled bishops. In all three cases I will demonstrate that Julian’s polices combined elements of traditionalism and innovation in an attempt to win the widest possible support for his reforms.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at