Julian presiding at a conference of Sectarians
(Edward Armitage, 1875)
Priscus: This is simply not true. From certain things both Julian and Maximus said to me, I know that they were busy plotting to make Julian emperor. Maximus was not about to waste his time on a minor prince, nor was Oribasius—even though his friendship with Julian was genuine, or as genuine as anyone’s relations can ever be with a prince.
I have been told of at least one séance where Maximus was advised by one of his invisible friends that Julian was destined to become emperor. I also know that Sosipatra and a number of other magicians were secret partisans. Of course, after Julian became emperor, every magician in Asia claimed to have had a band in his success. I can’t think why Julian wanted to deny what so many of us know to have been true. Perhaps to discourage others from plotting against him, as he plotted against Constantius.
Libanius: “Plotted” is the wrong word, though of course Julian is disingenuous in his narrative. I agree with Priscus that Maxim and Oribasius were already looking forward to the day when their friend would be, if not Augustus, at least Caesar. I am also perfectly certain that Maximus consulted forbidden oracles, and all the rest. Sosipatra told me as much a few years ago: “The goddess Cybele always favored Julian, and said so. We were all so grateful to her for her aid.”
But I strongly doubt that there was any political plot. How could there be? Julian had very little money. He was guarded by a detachment of household troops whose commander was directly answerable to the Grand Chamberlain. Also, I do not believe that Julian at this point wanted the principate. He was a devoted student. He was terrified of the court. He had never commanded a single soldier in war or peace. How could he then, at the age of twenty, dream of becoming emperor? Or rather he might “dream”—in fact we know that he did—but he could hardly have planned to take the throne.