Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Carlos Galvao-Sobrinho

Committee Members

Carlos Galvao-Sobrinho, Martha Carlin, Elisabetta Cova


Christianization, Church and State, Death, Julian the Apostate, Late Antiquity


This thesis addresses an intriguing question concerning the death of emperor Julian, known throughout history as "the Apostate." Although Julian ruled for less than two years, his reign and death were the center of debate for centuries. Ancient writers composed different death narratives for the last "pagan" emperor, elaborating upon certain details in the narratives and adding portions, probably fictionalized, of the story where they thought necessary. It is my view that these different death narratives were used as literary loci to discuss the growing power of the church and the relations between church and state. Analysis of these narratives, written by Gregory Nazianzus, Libanius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and the ecclesiastical historians of the fifth century (Socrates of Constantinople, Sozomen of Gaza, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus) allows the historians a more nuanced view of the religious and political history of late antiquity, specifically concerning Christianization in the empire and relations between bishop and emperor, church and state. This thesis will argue that the narratives of Julian's death, written in the fourth and fifth centuries, were colored by these two political and religious concerns of the period.