Posted by: ken98 | January 4, 2010

Julian becomes a Man and a General, I become a Blogger.

Day 115 – Ken here (M)(1-4-2010)
(DEF v.2, ch.19, pp.710-720)

Well, even though this is appearing the 4th day of the New Year, I’m writing on the 1st day of the New Year (couple of days ago) and so I find myself wool-gathering instead of working right now, thinking of new beginnings and the dead baggage of the past (when I should be writing my summary of the “The Story” and doing research for this day’s blog).

Its been a wild, wild year for me – lots of changes in health, career, relationships, and the changes don’t seem to be slowing down yet.

Doing this blog (to slip into cliches) has saved my life in many ways. It sprang out of a (hokey) desire to follow in the footsteps of Julie Powell of the Julie/Julia Project (as well as the movie Julie/Julia) – and see if a conscientious effort to thoughtfully follow a book all the way through would be life-changing. Well…3 months into it I have to say…yes (one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to say “yes” more often to life – but that’s another story – and the influence of another movie (The Yes Man) – I seem to be easily moved in the cinematic department).

The discipline of being forced to write and the pure joy of mixing, intersecting, cross-referencing, hinting, finding parallels, etc between the 21st century U.S., 18th century Europe/Britain, and 1,400 years of Roman Imperial history leaves me satisfied at day’s-end with my blog-work. I feel like I’m making progess towards something, although I can’t quite see what, where, how, or why yet. But that really doesn’t bother me as much as it used to (not sure if that’s a good or bad thing – probably (for me) a good thing – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

I’d forgotten how passionate I could be about history, and forgotten the incredible high you can get from goal-less critical thinking – it rocks! And writing about it – even if no one else is really reading it still feels good. It’s all good (I’m just brimming over with cliches this afternoon).

but onto Gibbons…

We last saw the Persians in Roman Mesopotamia sacking city after border city. The emperor Constantius had just killed his nephew Gallus (who HAD been responsible for keeping the peace in the East), and was busy listening to rumors about the future emperor Julian (whom he had brought out of prison and into public life again) and thinking “Julian, treason, Julian, treason“. So Constantius sends Julian to Gaul to test him, sound him out, and see if he fails to make the big leap from twenty-something academic philosopher to hard-bitten Roman field general.

I’m thinking he kind of hopes Julian will fail. But Constantius doesn’t have long to live, the East is in turmoil, and as we will see, the West is being invaded once again big-time. How will the Roman empire cope with another horrible half-century of invasion, recession, and civil war? (It won’t actually – at least not in the West – it will turn into something else entirely – but that’s in the future and 400 pages away in volume 3 for now).

The Story
Julian in Gaul – Invasions of Franks and Alemanni

  • Franks invade and sack 45 cities in Gaul – sounds like old times – like the bad old times of the 200’s all over again
  • Julian sent to Gaul, learns to be a general. His ascetic, stoic, philosophic manner of life becomes the simple life of a soldier – but he is without experience, undermanned, and (apparently) doomed to fail. He laments “Oh Plato, Plato, What a life for a philosopher!”
  • He begins to gather friends about him (officer/philosopher Sallust (Sallustius))
    Julian’s Campaigns

  • 1st Campaign (356): with 300 archers – Constantius commands Julian to deliver the city of Autun – Julian gathers more troops from Rheims, attacks too soon, loses, advances to ruins of Cologne, winter-camps at Sens, is beseiged by Alemanni, but breaks the seige – Gaul/Germania still overrun by marauding Frank/Alemanni (356)
  • 2nd Campaign (357): Marcellus – Master General of Cavalry in Gaul stands aside, does nothing, allows Julian to struggle alonef at Sens over the winter (poss. from orders of Const.). Julian’s patroness (the wife of Constantius, Eusebia) intervenes and another friendly general (friendly to Julian that is) Severus replaces Marcellus as Master of Cavalry. Another general, Barbatio, advances from Milan with a sizeable force, but (on orders from Const?) does not help Julian, and eventually retreats back to Italy.
  • (2nd Campaign cont) Battle of Strasbourg (8-357). (Huge article in Wiki here and on 4th cent. warfare in general). Alemanni king Chnodomar with 6 kings underneath him and 35,000 men sets out to take out Julian and his 13,000 troops. Initially victorious, the Alemanni are trounced by Julian, and Chnodomar is sent back to Const. in chains
  • 3rd Campaign (358). Against the massive Frankish invasion of northern Gaul, Julian beseiges a fortress (Meuse) for 54 days, takes it, then rapidly moves across the countryside harassing and outracing his own supply lines in a very un-roman-like way. He forces the Franks to retreat to their own homeland again
  • Campaigns beyond the Rhine (during 1st, 2nd, 3rd Campaigns) (356,357,358). Wanting to outdo Caesar 400 years earlier (who harried the barbarians across the Rhine 2 times), Julian makes forays, ransacking 10-20 miles across the Rhine into German territory 3 times in 3 years.
  • Movie Poster for Jule and Julia - one of the major influences in getting me started writing this blog - and I suppose a mark of how easily influenced I am in a fundamental way by mass media

    Blu-Ray Disc Cover for Julie and Julia - one of the major influences in getting me started writing this blog - and I suppose a mark of how easily influenced I am in a fundamental way by mass media

    Movie Poster for The Yes Man  - yet another major cinematic influence that <em>changed</em> my life in 2009.  Just call me <em>media-malleable-Ken</em>

    Blu Ray Disc Cover for The Yes Man - yet another major cinematic influence that changed my life in 2009. Just call me media-malleable-Ken

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