Observation of portraits of Julian the Apostate
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This research paper discussed some of the portraits of the last pagan Roman emperor, Julian, who reigned from A.D. 361 to 363. While proposing new comparisons and observations, the author analyzed images representing Julian in three different statuses: Caesar, Augustus, and the vanquished emperor. This paper describes his portraits in four aspects. Firstly, with his typical and documented long beard, his portrait now in Athens showed how his image as Augustus followed the portraits of bearded emperors of the second century A.D., commencing with Hadrian, and how his pagan beliefs were revealed in this sculpture by a specific crown. Secondly, as Caesar between A.D. 355–360, Julian borrowed the beardless iconography of the Constantinian Dynasty for his portraits, similar to representations of Emperor Constantius II and Gallus, Julian’s older half-brother, who was Caesar before him. Thirdly, acclaimed as Augustus by his soldiers in A.D. 360 while in Gaul, he still presented himself on some coins to be beardless using a heavenward gaze. However, the beard was finally displayed in sculptures in Paris as a pagan priest, Thasos, and at the Hermitage Museum. Fourthly, after Julian died in A.D. 363 in the battle against the Sasanian kings, his slain corpse was carved at Taq-e Bostan I in Iran with a striking spiritual gesture that can be noticed in the sculptures in Paris and at the Hermitage Museum.
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