Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 33(2), March-April 2016, 258-262


The emperor Julian's fatal wound and its miraculous interpretation

Ν. Stavrakakis
Laboratory of Pulmonary Function, Department of Pulmonology, "Venizelio-Pananio" General Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete

Julian (331–363 AD), the Roman emperor also known as Julian the Apostate because of his desire to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the cost of Christianity, was mortally wounded in battle against the Persians and died on 26 June 363 AD. According to contemporary sources, the emperor sustained a wound in a skirmish with Persian cavalry from a spear that pierced the lower lobe of his liver, the peritoneum and the intestines, and feces were found in his wound. Julian was carried in an unconscious state on his shield to his tent by his guards, where he was treated by his personal physician Orivasius. Some chroniclers report that the emperor died on the third day after being wounded, but most record that he died during the night following his injury. The wound was not immediately fatal, but Julian regained consciousness and took part in a philosophical discussion about the immortality of the soul, during which a hemorrhage occurred and the emperor died. Christian historians consider his death to be due to divine power in terms of divine justice. They refer to visions and visitations by prophets, and even confer supernatural dimensions on natural events in order to emphasize the instance of divine intervention to punish Julian the Apostate.

Key words: Byzantine emperors, Byzantine medicine, Julian.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine