View Full Version : Emperor and Galilean - Countercurrents

04-10-2009, 07:06 PM
Ibsen spent eight years writing the double play he regarded as his seminal work, Emperor and Galilean (1873), dramatizing the last decade of the erudite Julian, nephew of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great. In 361 AD, the 30-year-old pristine Julian succeeds the murderous Constantius II as Roman emperor. Emperor Julian, labelled the Apostate, dies three years later in a Persia from a spear wound.


Shocking is the transition of Julian from lone man of integrity - in a Christian empire crippled by mediocrity and corruption - to deified tyrant. But more shocking is the transition of Christianity from impotent complacency to vigorous and compassionate fervour under Julian's escalating persecution. Ibsen's subtext is fascinating.