Julian was a member of the Constantinian dynasty and a descendant of Constantine the Great. He was one of the few male members of his family who survived a massacre that was ordered by Constantinus III. Later while still a young man he was promoted to the rank of Caesar. In 355 AD he inflicted a series of defeats on
the Alamanni and Franks tribes. Most notable was his victory over a confederation of German tribes in 357 A.D. at the Battle of Argentoratum. He later after the death of Constantius III became the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. Unlike the other members of the Constantinian dynasty, he was a pagan. Julian was a philosopher, and under the influence of Neo-Platonist philosophy, he began to revere the Olympian Gods. He was brought up a Christian, but he believed that this religion was undermining the traditional Roman values’, and this was weakening the Empire <ref> Grant, Michael. The Roman Emperors (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1997), p. 254 </ref>. After assuming the purple, he marginalized the Christian Church and favored pagans, for example he restored many temples. Julian was careful not to persecute the Christians as he knew that previous persecutions had only strengthened that religion. The Christians hated him. Julian championed the ancient religion of Rome and Greece in a series of polemics. In his work Against the Galileans, he claims Christianity was a series of falsehoods. In one section of the work he claims ‘’ I was convinced that the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness’ <ref> Julian, "Against the Galileans", 143</ref>. There is some evidence that his efforts to promote paganism did have some impact. The Emperor also favored the Jews. However, the Christians remained as powerful as ever, despite the change in Imperial policy. Some argue that Julian did not want to destroy Christianity but wanted ultimately to see some the fusion of the Christian faith with the pagan polytheistic religion. Julian was a great administrator and he reformed the court, bureaucracy and granted more powers and privileges to the cities<ref> Grant, p. 255</ref>. In 363 AD the Emperor decided to launch a massive invasion of Persia. Many argue that there were sound strategic reasons for the proposed invasion. Persia under the Sassanian dynasty was a powerful enemy and had secured the strategic initiative on Rome’s Eastern Frontier. The pagan sources such as Ammianus, state that Julian invaded Persia to conquer the Persian Empire<ref> Ammianus, Histories, v.11</ref>. It is almost certain that Julian wanted to occupy large parts of Persia or to turn it into a puppet regime, as he brought a claimant to the Sassanian throne with him during his invasion. The second motive for Julian’s invasion was to emulate the achievement of Alexander the Great. The Emperor main goal was to re-establish the Roman religion as Emperor. Julian’s invasion of the Persian territories could be interpreted as an attempt to secure a victory that would persuade the Romans’ to return to their old gods and ways and abandon Christianity.
[[File: Julian two.jpg|200px|thumb|left|The acclamation of Julian as Caesar in Paris]]
==Invasion of Persia==
The Emperor Julian’s army with his Armenian allies invaded the Sassanian Empire in 363 A.D. This was the last major invasion of the Persian Empire by Rome. Julian prepared meticulously for the invasion of the Sassanian realms. He re-organized the legions of the East and turned them into formidable fighting units. Julian also brought with him experienced legionnaires from the west. Julian establish a flotilla of ships to carry his legions deep into Persian territory and to supply his forces<ref> Tougher, Shaun. Julian the Apostate. Edinburg, Edinburgh University Press. 2007), p. 27 </ref>. This was an innovative strategy. Julian conducted the early stages of the invasion very impressively. He had asked his ally Armenia to concentrate a large force on their mountainous border with Persia. This had convinced many in Persia that Rome would invade via the highlands of Armenia. Many previous Roman armies had followed this route. In this terrain, the Roman legionnaires had the advantage over the formidable Persian cavalry, especially the famed horse archers. In a daring move, Julian invaded through the Syrian desert and followed the route of the Euphrates River. The Persian Shah Shapur II had been deceived by Julian and was unprepared for the invasion. Julian dispatched a decoy force under Procopius into Persian territory to further confuse Shapur II and his court. Julian’s forces advanced rapidly, and he forced the Sassanian king to retreat. The transport fleet allowed a large body of troops to be provisioned. Julian feigned a march towards the Tigris, hoping to draw into a battle. At this time, he divided his forces and a large army under Procopius invaded Mesopotamia. Upon reaching Carrhae, the main Roman force under Julian turned south and rejoined the transport fleet to begin the main invasion and its goal was to capture of the Sasanian winter capital of Ctesiphon <ref> Tougher, p. 113</ref>. If Julian captured the city, he would have shown that paganism had restored Rome to greatness. It would also force the Sassanian Shah to the east and ensure that he could not attack the Roman frontier. Julian defeated a large Persian army on the outskirts of the city of Ctesiphon and he besieged it. However, he failed to take the city and quietly abandoned the siege and he burned his flotilla of ships and marched to meet up with the army of Procopius. Many argue that he should have retreated to Syria and abandoned Procopius, but Julian was an honorable man. He joined up with the other army and they made their way north to reach Armenia. The Persians constantly harried the Romans and inflicted heavy casualties <ref>Murdoch, Adrian, The Last Pagan (UK: Sutton Publishing Limited, 2003), p. 113 </ref>. It appeared that Julian’s army the largest possibly ever assembled, for an invasion of Persia was about to be destroyed. The two armies clashed at Samarra now in Northern Iraq, but the battle was inconclusive. However, Julian was wounded, and he died three days later. His successor Jovian saved the army with a dishonorable peace, and the new Emperor had to pay tribute to the Persians. Julian’s polices that favored paganism were quietly abandoned and within decades paganism was outlawed by Emperor Theodosius the Great.