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Helene A. Guerber

The Roman Empire Divided

J ULIAN became emperor when Constantius II. died. As soon as the authority was entirely in his own hands, he ordered that the Christian churches and schools should all be closed, and encouraged the people to worship the old pagan gods.

All the soldiers in his army were forced to give up Christianity, under penalty of being dismissed; and he made an attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem so as to prove to the Christians that the prophecy of Christ was not to be believed. But an earthquake frightened his builders away from the work, and a war against the Persians prevented its ever being renewed.

During this campaign, Julian was mortally wounded, and he is said to have died exclaiming: "Thou hast conquered, Galilean!" The emperor's body was carried to Tarsus, and buried there; and, as Julian had appointed no successor, the army at once gave the empire to one of his officers, named Jovian.

A good man and a fervent Christian, Jovian quickly reestablished the Christian religion. His reign, however, was very brief, and he was succeeded by two brothers, Valentinian and Valens, who again divided the Roman world into two parts, intending to make a final separation between the empires of the East and the West (A.D. 364).

Valentinian kept back the northern barbarians as long as he lived, but after his death Valens was forced to allow the Goths to settle in Thrace. Here they found some of their brothers who had been converted to Christianity by the efforts of Ulfilas, a learned man, who wrote a translation of the Bible for them in their own Gothic language.

Valens failed to keep many of the promises which he had made to the Goths, and they became so angry that they revolted and killed him at Hadrianople.

The next emperor of the East was Theodosius. He was so good a general, and still so very just, that he soon succeeded in making peace with the Goths, many of whom entered his army and became Roman soldiers.

After years of continual warfare against the barbarians and the emperors of the West, Theodosius became sole ruler of the whole Roman Empire, and thus won the surname of Great. During his reign, he induced his subjects to renounce all the pagan gods except Victory, whom they would not consent to give up.

Many reforms were also made among the Christians, the Arians were again said to be heretics, and then the true Christians for the first time took the name of Catholics. Theodosius was the last Roman emperor whose sway extended over the whole empire; and when he died he left the rule of the East to his son Arcadius, and of the West to his son Honorius.