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23. To Ecdicius, Prefect of Egypt[1]Edit

[362 end of January, Constantinople]

Some men have a passion for horses, others for birds, others, again, for wild beasts; but I, from childhood, have been penetrated by a passionate longing[2] to acquire books. It would therefore be absurd if I should suffer these to be appropriated by men whose inordinate desire for wealth gold alone cannot satiate, and who unscrupulously design to steal these also. Do you therefore grant me this personal favour, that all the books which belonged to George be sought out. For there were in his house many on philosophy, and many on rhetoric; many also on the teachings of the impious Galilaeans. These latter I should wish to be utterly annihilated, but for fear that along with them more useful works may be destroyed by mistake, let all these also be sought for with the greatest care. Let George's secretary[3] take charge of this search for you, and if he hunts for them faithfully let him know that he will obtain his freedom as a reward, but that if he prove in any way whatever dishonest in the business he will be put to the test of torture. And I know what books George had, many of them, at any rate, if not all; for he lent me some of them to copy, when I was in Cappadocia,[4] and these he received back.


  1. See Introduction, under Ecdicius.
  2. A proverbial phrase; cf. Vol. 1, Oration 4. 130c, Vol. 2, Oration 8. 251d; Plato, Menexenus 245d. For Julian's love of books, Vol. 1, Oration 3. 123d. foll.
  3. Perhaps to be identified with Porphyrius, to whom Julian wrote the threatening Letter 38.
  4. i.e. when he was interned for six years by Constantius at Macellum in Cappadocia. George was then at Caesarea near Macellum.