Many of our visitors have asked for further information about the Emperor Julian and ancient Paganism. Through an arrangement with Amazon.com we have gathered some of the best and most informative related books, and offer them here for your library. Both surviving ancient texts and more modern works are offered. If you would like to recommend any book for this collection, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Works of the Emperor Julian, Volume 1:
The first of three collected volumes of Julian's own writings. This
first volume contains Julian's two greatest Pagan religious works;
to King Helios and
Hymn to the Mother of the Gods. These two orations
set forth the spiritual background for Julian's ideals and efforts.
These Loeb Classical Library translations of the Emperor Julian's works
are by far the best primary resource on Julian's attempt to restore
Paganism and are HIGHLY recommended.
The Works of the Emperor Julian, Volume 2:
The second volume of Julian's collected writings. This work is also
filled with important religious writings, including the invaluable
Letter to a Priest where Julian sets out the mechanics of how Paganism
may be restored. Modern Paganism is extremely fortunate that the
instructions of the last great Pagan champion have been preserved in
The Works of the Emperor Julian, Volume 3:
The third volume of Julian's writings. This work contains other
important letters to Pagan priests and priestesses, as well as Julian's
famous refutation of Christianity;
Against the Gallileans. This work
exposes the weaknesses of Christianity as opposed to the strengths of
Paganism, and is a must have for anyone wishing to defend the ancient
On the Gods and the World by Sallustius:
A powerful manifesto of Pagan religion, written by one of Julian's
generals. This excellent ancient work is a
primer outlining what Pagan
religion is all about. This text was a powerful tool for the
preservation of Paganism in late antiquity, and it remains so in the
The Later Roman Empire : A.D. 354-378 by Ammianus Marcellinus: Another primary source written during the time of Julian's life. Ammianus was one of Julian's generals, and he chronicles many of the details of Julian's efforts. Particularly interesting are detailed accounts of the battles Julian won in the Western Empire.
Selected Works of Libanius, Volume 1: Yet another primary source, written by Julian's teacher in Philosophy! Julian sought out Libanius early in his career, and Libanius remained one of Julian's mentors throughout his life. Excellent religious/philosophical resource.
Selected Works of Libanius, Volume 2: The Second volume of Libanius, writings. He writes a most eloquent funeral oration after Julian's death, and chronicles the collapse of Paganism which followed Julian's death.
Autobiography and Selected Letters of Libanius: The Loeb Classical Library edition of Libanius, works. A Respected primary resource!
The Arguments of the Emperor Julian Against the Christians by Thomas Taylor: A different translation of a portion of Julian's religious writings; in this case all of Julian's commentary on Christianity. The Taylor versions of Julian's works are particularly well written and make excellent material to reference.
Two Orations of the Emperor Julian : One to the Sun and the Other to the Mother of the Gods: The second alternative translation of a portion of Julian's religious writings; this time Julian's two largest commentaries on Pagan religion. Another excellent primary Pagan source to quote from, perhaps more inspiring than the versions in the Loeb Classical Library volumes.
On The Mysteries by Iamblichus: Iamblichus was one of the greatest ancient Neoplatonist philosophers. He died a generation before the Emperor Julian's reign, but Julian was greatly inspired by his works. Julian studied this book for years, and used it as the basis for many of his religious writings. This text is one of the, if not THE most important surviving Pagan text from late antiquity. Highly recommended.
The Exhortation to Philosophy by Iamblichus: Another excellent surviving work by one of the writers who most inspired the Emperor Julian. In this work Iamblichus brings forth the virtues and benefits of (Pagan) Philosophy as a way of life. Another book that Julian is known to have read and referred to throughout his life.
The Chaldean Oracles by Julianus: Julianus was a theurgist who lived during the time of Marcus Aurelius. His work on theurgy, (the magic of the Gods) was considered by Iamblichus and the Emperor Julian to be one of the most important spiritual works in history. The Oracles given in this book are a step-by-step description of the workings of ancient magic and the Mysteries. Excellent for study, meditation and ritual.
The Ancient Mysteries : A Sourcebook : Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean World: This volume is the best overall collection of ancient primary source religious writings and inscriptions. Contains everything from ancient authors writing about the Mysteries of Eleusis (of which Julian was an initiate) the Mithraic Mysteries (of which Julian was also an initiate) the Mysteries of the Great Mother, etc. An invaluable addition to any Pagan library which lets the ancient Pagans speak for themselves.
Arcana Mundi, Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds by Georg Luck: Arcana Mundi is another good reference work which gives the translations from over 120 ancient religious and magical sources. In this book there are original spells from the Greek Magical Papyri, Pagan religious writings of Cicero and Apuleus, philosophical writings from Plotinus and much more. A valuable work that allows the ancients to speak directly of their religious and magical paths.
The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by
Hans Deiter Betz: The most complete authentic ancient
spellbook in existence! This book is a scholarly translation of ancient
magical spells and formulas from the Greco-Roman world, dating from the
second to the fifth centuries AD. Although many of the spells contain
absurd ingredients, much of the information here is useful and provides
many ideas for modern use. Also included are a couple of rites including
Mithraic Ritual, invocations, etc. Truly a must for anyone looking
for the real surviving facts of ancient magic.
Hermetica : The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius by Brian P. Copenhaver: An excellent translation of one of the main ancient Hermetic texts. Hermeticism was one of the great ancient spiritual philosophies, akin to the Neo-Platonism which Julian followed, and was both hated and imitated by the later Christian church. A great primary source for spiritual thought in late Pagan antiquity.
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: The famous work of Stoic Philosophy, written by Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD. The thoughts for living a life of meaning and Virtue written here are one of the most famous works of Pagan thought. Julian regarded the Stoics highly, and surely studied this work throughout his life. Interestingly enough, the gold statue pictured on the cover of this edition has been recently thought to be a statue of the Emperor Julian rather than Marcus Aurelius!
Commentary on the Dream of Scipio by
Macrobius: One of the last works of Pagan thought and
religion. Macrobius, perhaps the last truly Pagan author, wrote this
commentary on the
Dream of Scipio as late as 410 AD. This book is full
of Neoplatonist teachings, and is a fascinating explanation of an
earlier Pagan metaphysical work written centuries earlier by Cicero.
The Hymns of Orpheus by Thomas Taylor: The Hymns of Orpheus are ancient poetic invocations to the Hellenistic Goddesses and Gods. Perhaps the best primary resource for ancient ritual invocation in existence. This translation gives a poems about the individual deities which are excellent for modern ritual. A must have for anyone working with the Greco-Roman Gods!
The Homeric Hymns: The divinely inspired poetry of Homer lays the foundation for all ancient Greek myth. Widely considered the most important of all Hellenistic cultural and religious documents. The Emperor Julian considered this text to be the basis for Greek religion itself.
The Hesiod - The second most valuable
ancient primary resource on Greek Myth. Hesiod,s work consists of two
books, (bound here in one volume)
Works and Days. These
volumes give the history and relationships of the Greek Goddesses and
Gods, and was also a volume considered important in the controversy
surrounding Christian vs. Pagan teaching that occurred during Julian's
Julian, by Gore Vidal: Excellent historical novel about the Emperor Julian's life. Gore Vidal really makes Julian's world live again, and gives an up close and personal view of the final struggles for the survival of Pagan religion. Inspiring!
A Chronicle of the Last Pagans: An excellent book which tells the complete story of the fall of Paganism through ancient Pagan texts. This masterful work both rich in detail and highly accurate. At last, the complete story of the rise of Christianity as seen from the Pagan side! Full details on Julian's effort to stem the tide, as well as a full account of what happened after the Emperor Julian's death. Info on Pagan survivals as late as 550 AD! Highly recommended.
Julian's Gods : Religion and Philosophy in the Thought and Action of Julian the Apostate: A monumental assessment of Julian's religious goals and practices written by Rowland Smith. Occasionally difficult to obtain, but well worth it!
Julian the Apostate: This work by a Catholic Abbot Giuseppe Ricciotti may be biased in places, but overall this is an informative work. Giuseppe makes the error of believing every scrap of propaganda ever written against Julian by Christian sources... yet he still manages to include a lot of good information from pagan sources. (Those, not surprisingly, the author tends to discount.) Overall the historical timeline is very good, and some interesting facts are snuck into the text. Ever know that the Emperor Julian named a town after his mother, who died when he was an infant? If you are a fan of the Emperor Julian you,ll want to read this book, even though you may not be able to read more than a few pages at a time without getting angry at the author,s point of view.
The Dictionary of Roman Religion:
An invaluable resource of ancient religion, deities and ritual by Adkins
& Adkins. This book has entries for every religion in the Classical
world, not just Rome. Celtic, German, Egyptian, Persian, etc. deities
and religion are mentioned. This book gives a sense of the
Paganism that Julian envisioned, as its entries clearly show how
cross-cultural most ancient religions became. A book you,ll refer to
constantly for good information.
Hermetic Magic: This book by
Stephen Flowers is a fascinating modern reconstruction of ancient Greek
magical texts. It has been written specifically for use, and includes
information on ritual, initiation, spells, and the interpretation of
dreams. This work is scholarly rather than
new agey in tone, and
remains faithful to the intent of the ancient
religious mix of late
antiquity. However, as it draws heavily on the text from the
Greek Magical Papyri, be prepared for complex names and involved
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon: An affordable and unabridged version of the great classic work on the end of Pagan antiquity. Julian's story is told with sweeping elegance here, as is the even later (but not as viable) final attempt to restore Paganism by the Eugenius, Caesar of the West in 395 AD. Gibbon isn,t a light read, but it is a beautiful work if you get into it, and certainly this book is an invaluable reference to have in your library.
Theurgy and the Soul-The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus: An excellent book by Gregory Shaw which explains Neoplatonism and Theurgy (the magic of the divine). Julian considered himself to be a Neoplatonist, and a practitioner of Theurgy. This book contains excellent primary information as well as insightful and detailed commentary. Helpful in understanding the religious and magical knowledge which inspired Julian's Pagan efforts.
The Egyptian Hermes : A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind by Garth Fowden : Hermes was perhaps the last culture-hero of the Pagan world. Much literature was attributed to this ancient mythical figure, and through Hermetic tradition much Pagan thought was preserved through the centuries. This scholarly work covers both the history and concepts of Hermeticism.
The Greek Qabalah By Kieren Barry: This new and groundbreaking work deals with Greco-Roman alphabetic mysticism and numerology, the Classical counterpart to the Hebrew Qabalah. The author even makes a case for a Greek origin to the Qabalah itself. Whether one accepts that theory or not, this work is accurate and informative, with much primary text information. Included are chapters on Neoplatonism and other Greek philosophy.This work is written as a practical guide for modern use as well as historical information.
The Wisdom of the Pagan Philosophers
by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy: One of the most
small books you,ll ever see. Only 61 pages, with wonderful
design and illustrations, this work is a touching introduction to Pagan
philosophy and thought. I wish it had been one of my first Pagan books,
and have given copies of it away as gifts. The authors did an amazing
job of organizing just the right major concepts in just the right way,
making this book a real treasure!
Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the
Ancient World by John G. Gager: A fascinating
archaeological/scholarly work on spells and magical offerings from the
ancient Greco-Roman world. This book is one of the most detailed
everyday magic and ritual as practiced in antiquity.
Dozens of translations of ancient spells, curses and offerings to
deities are given... all recovered from archaeological works at ancient
sacred sites. A
new text, but with lots of great primary ancient
material that can be helpful for reconstructing rites and offerings.
Death of the Gods by Dmitri Merezhkovski: Another (lesser) novel about the Emperor Julian's life. Some interesting pieces, but a much more difficult read. Not as vibrant as Vidal,s work, since this book was originally written in Russian, back in the 1800,s.
The Roman Cult of Mithras - the God and His Mysteries by Manfred Clauss: By far the best book on the Mysteries of Mithras in print today! This excellent work stands head and shoulders above anything else currently in print. Iconographic and archaeological evidence are presented with excellent practical theories. If you buy one book on Mithraism for your shelves, this is the one.
The Mysteries of Mithra by Franz Cumont: The Emperor Julian was an initiate of Mithraism, an ancient Mystery religion which was one of the greatest early rivals to Christianity. Mithras is a Sun god who is also a Saviour deity; he presides over a path of religious Mysteries which bring spiritual salvation. This work by Cumont is the very foundation of modern Mithraic knowledge, and is a must-read by anyone interested in ancient Mystery traditions.
The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by Dr. David Ulansey: This work is an interesting exploration of cosmological origins to the Mithraic Mysteries. While Ulansey,s theory may be debated as a complete package, there is no doubt that much of Mithraism ed on both astrology and astronomy. Some interesting facts are included about this religion of which the Emperor Julian was rumored to be an initiate.
Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered by D. Jason Cooper: A look at Mithraism through the experience a modern Pagan. While there have been many complaints about Cooper,s accuracy and thoughts about some aspects of Mithraism, this book is a pleasant and easy read. There aren,t many books on Mithraism in print, and new discussion can be inspirational.
Inside a Magical Lodge by John Michael
Greer: What? A book on modern magical subjects, from
Llewellyn, no less, appearing on the Julian Society website!? No, we
gone native... this one,s a gem and worth checking out. While
this book doesn,t relate specifically to Julian, it does provide many
excellent ideas for building organizations along historical/religious
lines. Hopefully this book will provide a good foundation for those
wishing to express the Emperor Julian's ideals in participatory group
Old Stones, New Temples by Drew Campbell: Without a doubt the best modern Pagan reconstructionist book available today. Drew Campbell has provided a great ,how to, book that is actually correct from a historical standpoint! All information is verified from primary resources wherever possible. An invaluable work for anyone wanting to do reconstructed rites and rituals. (There is little doubt that the Emperor Julian would have been proud of this book!)
Mysteries of Demeter - Rebirth of the Pagan Way: A modern Pagan text by Jennifer Reif exploring the rituals of and rites of Demeter,s Mysteries. Although not a strict reconstructionist work, this volume has some useful ideas regarding structure and presentation of Hellenistic Religion, as well as some useful rituals.
Greek Folk Religion by Nilsson and Nock: An excellent work that both provides good information on the ancient Greek cults, but also traces their survivals into later periods. There,s little that,s ,folksy, about this book; it combines good scholarship and info with an interesting format that expresses some of the timeless value of the Hellenistic path.
Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age by Antonia Tripolitis: An overview of Hellenistic religion and its interaction with the other Classical religions of its age. Good information on the various cults is presented, making this volume a worthwhile addition to any Classical library.
Hellenistic Religions - An Introduction by Luther H. Martin: This work is titled as an introduction, but it goes into excellent depth regarding the various religious cults of the ancient Greek world. Some useful information that is not easy to find in print.
Hellenistic Mystery Religions - Their Basic Ideas and Significance by Richard, Reitzenstein: An excellent study of the Mystery Cults of ancient Greece. The Mysteries played a special role in the ancient Classical world. This volume explores the ancient Greek Mysteries in a worthwhile and detailed manner.
Greek Nymphs - Myth, Cult, Lore by Jennifer Larson: An excellent book focusing on one of the lesser yet more common aspects of ancient Greek religion - the Nymphs thought to sacred places of water. This sort of work is very valuable in that it goes into an aspect of religion that usually goes ignored. Most volumes focus on the great Olympian pantheon - yet Nymphs were spiritual beings that the ancients were in touch with just as often in the course of daily events. There ought to be more books exploring specific subjects like this.
Religion in the Ancient Greek City by Zaidman, Pantel, Carledge: A work exploring the urban cults of ancient Greece. A work that has significance to Pagans in a world where so many of us live in urban areas. Good information on the cults, temples and festivals of the ancient Greek cities.
Religions of the Ancient Greeks by Simon Price: Another good book dealing with the various parts of Greek religion in its entirety. Information is given on specific cults and deities, making this both a useful introduction and general resource.
Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion by Jane Ellen Harrison: A pity about the difficult title to this work (when was the last time you used ,prolegomena, in a sentence?) - this book is really quite valuable and a good read. Great information that is difficult to find elsewhere, and a good approach to the various cults.
Dionysos by Kerenyi & Manheim: Another valuable focus work giving in-depth information on one aspect of Greek religion. This book gives great information on Dionysos, his cult, his mythological significance, and more. Valuable for specific ritual info as well as general background.
Eleusis by Carl Kerenyi: A very good book giving an impressive amount of information about the ancient Mysteries of Eleusis. Certainly the best work on the subject available. The Emperor Julian was said to have been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries while studying in Athens!
Gods of the Greeks by Carl Kerenyi: A useful work giving the history and mythology of the Gods and Goddesses of the Greek Pantheon. This work is both a good in-depth study of the Gods, and a useful resource.
Daily Life of the Greek Gods by Sissa, Detienne & Lloyd: A fascinating and excellent approach to providing information about the Gods! This work does a great job of providing detailed information about the deities and their powers, aspects, titles, etc... by presenting their ,lives, in a linear and familiar way. This sort of approach has been done to good effect with the deities of other pantheons, and works well for the Greek deities as well. A very good resource!
Hekate in Greek Religion by Rob Von Rudloff: An in depth study about the Goddess Hekate, and how her cult changed over the centuries in ancient Greece. Hekate,s role in Greek religion changed greatly from the early to the later periods - this work traces that change and gives valuable information from all periods.
Hekate Soteira - A Study of Hekate,s Roles in the Chaldean Oracles by Sarah Iles Johnston: An interesting work regarding some of the more mystical aspects of Hekate in regard to the Chaldean Oracles. If you own a copy of the Oracles, this book is an excellent companion giving further detail into this Goddess, role.
Orpheus and Greek Religion by L. Alderlink: An excellent overview of the Orphic Mysteries. This book provides some good mythology as well, but is one of the few volumes to have good information on the subject of Orphism in general.
Religion and the Gods by Robert E. Hull: Another excellent overview of Hellenistic religion in general. Good information on both the various religious cults and the Greek Goddesses and Gods. This work contains some information and insight not available elsewhere, making this a good addition to any library
Medea by Sarah Iles Johnston:
A fascinating work about the most famous
witch in Classical History!
This work explores the story of Medea, both from a religious and
mythological standpoint. Medea was an archetypal example of the ,darker,
side of feminine power, and this work explores that in a balanced and
The Early Greek Concept of the Soul by Jan M. Bremmer: This work explores ancient Greek religion, myth and philosophy to give insight into what the Greek path thought about the eternal soul. Far from being a purely philosophical work, this volume gives good information about the religion and religious thought of the ancient Hellenes.
In the Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks by
MacDonald and Antram : This is not one
of your average
daily life books in spite of the title - this work
deals with daily religion and everyday religious tradition of the
ancient Greeks. This work provides some valuable hints as far as common
practice of Greek religion in the everyday world. A useful volume that
helps to bring insight into daily practice of Hellenistic spirituality.