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In 359 CE Constantius II appointed investigators into the fall of Amida, who confronted Ursicinus, a commander in the East, about the disaster. He refused to play along, answering them instead with a stirring outburst that predicted the imminent failure of the emperor unless he freed himself from his meddling eunuchs and his obsession with Amida. This assessment may be read as a metaliterary comment that reflects both forwards and backwards; up until that point, Constantius has been pulled along by the judgments of others, including his eunuchs, again and again. In contrast, Julian is presented as a bold and independent judge of people and events who actively carries out his responsibilities. As the narrative unfolds, Ursicinus’ prediction is borne out: Constantius never gets over the fall of Amida nor the influence of his eunuchs and eventually fails. The eclipse excursus that follows enhances the prophetic force of Ursicinus’ words as Julian is proclaimed Augustus and Constantius nervously dithers over what he should do. Ursicinus’ outburst is crucial to his narrative role and the important intratextual links that are drawn between the main individuals in Ammianus’ narrative of Constantius’ fall and Julian’s rise, including Gallus, Silvanus, Julian, Constantius, Eusebius, and Ammianus himself.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access