(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Caesar Constantius

Caesar Constantius (SEE-zur kon-STAN-shee-uhs), emperor of Rome, who rose to power through assassination.

Julian Flavius

Julian Flavius (JEW-lee-uhn FLAY-vee-uhs), cousin of Constantius, a young man learned in the pagan philosophies. At twenty, he travels to Asia Minor as a Christian monk, and he is secretly won over to paganism. Later, he fights a successful campaign as a general in Gaul and is hailed as emperor. He becomes embittered when his wife leaves him to become a nun, and he denounces Christianity and reinstates paganism in the Roman Empire. He is ridiculed for his scholarly studies and undertakes a campaign against Persia, believing a victory will win respect for him and for paganism. He is mortally wounded in battle and dies saying that Christ has defeated him.

Gallus Flavius

Gallus Flavius (GA-luhs), Julian’s younger brother, an effeminate young man. He is made co-regent with Constantius for a brief time before he is assassinated.


Arsinoë (ahr-SIH-noh-ee), a young woman who delights in paganism. She tells Julian that he must believe in himself rather than in any gods. Later, she disappoints Julian by becoming a Christian. Although he wants to make her his empress, she refuses Julian’s offer of love and marriage. Just before Julian dies, Arsinoë visits him and tries unsuccessfully to win him back to Christianity.

Publius Porphyrius

Publius Porphyrius (PEW-blee-uhs pohr-FIH-ree-uhs), who takes Julian to a wrestling arena to watch the ancient Greek games. There he sees Arsinoë, a young pagan, for the first time.