Chapter XVII.—The Emperor preparing an Expedition against the Persians, arrives at Antioch, and being ridiculed by the Inhabitants, he retorts on them by a Satirical Publication entitled Misopogon, or the Beard-Hater.
The emperor having extorted immense sums of money from the Christians, hastening his expedition against the Persians, arrived at Antioch in Syria. There, desiring to show the citizens how much he affected glory, he unduly depressed the prices of commodities; neither taking into account the circumstances of that time, nor reflecting how much the presence of an army inconveniences the population of the provinces, and of necessity lessens the supply of provisions to the cities. The merchants and retailers 536 therefore left off trading, being unable to sustain the losses which the imperial edict entailed upon them; consequently the necessaries failed. The Antiochians not bearing the insult,—for they are a people naturally impatient with insult,—instantly broke forth into invectives against Julian; caricaturing his beard also, which was a very long one, and saying that it ought to be cut off and manufactured into ropes. They added that the bull which was impressed upon his coin, was a symbol of his having desolated the world. For the emperor, being excessively superstitious, was continually sacrificing bulls 537 on the altars of his idols; and had ordered the impression of a bull and altar to be made on his coin. Irritated by these scoffs, he threatened to punish the city of Antioch, and returned to Tarsus in Cilicia, giving orders that preparations should be made for his speedy departure thence. Whence Libanius the sophist took occasion to compose two orations, one addressed to the emperor in behalf of the Antiochians, the other to the inhabitants of Antioch on the emperors displeasure. It is however affirmed that these compositions were merely written, and never recited in public. Julian abandoning his former purpose of revenging himself on his satirists by injurious deeds, expended his wrath in reciprocating their abusive taunts; for he wrote a pamphlet against them which he entitled Antiochicus, or Misopogon, thus leaving an indelible stigma upon that city and its inhabitants. But we must now speak of the evils which he brought upon the Christians at Antioch.