Julian entertained the same sentiments as those above described towards all Christians, as he manifested whenever an opportunity was offered. Those who refused to sacrifice to the gods, although perfectly blameless in other respects, were deprived of the rights of citizenship, and of the privilege of participating in assemblies, and in the forum; and he would not allow them to be judges or magistrates, or to share in offices.
He forbade the children of Christians from frequenting the public schools, and from being instructed in the writings of the Greek poets and authors. He entertained great resentment against Apolinarius the Syrian, a man of manifold knowledge and philological attainments, against Basil and Gregory, natives of Cappadocia, the most celebrated orators of the time, and against other learned and eloquent men, of whom some were attached to the Nicene doctrines, and others to the dogmas of Arius. His sole motive for excluding the children of Christian parents from instruction in the learning of the Greeks, was because he considered such studies conducive to the acquisition of argumentative and persuasive power. Apolinarius, therefore, employed his great learning and ingenuity in the production of a heroic epic on the antiquities of the Hebrews to the reign of Saul, as a substitute for the poem of Homer. He divided this work into twenty-four parts, to each of which he appended the name of one of the letters of the Greek alphabet, according to their number and order. He also wrote comedies in imitation of Menander, tragedies resembling those of Euripides, and odes on the model of Pindar. In short, taking themes of the entire circle of knowledge from the Scriptures, he produced within a very brief space of time, a set of works which in manner, expression, character, and arrangement are well approved as similar to the Greek literatures and which were equal in number and in force. Were it not for the extreme partiality with which the productions of antiquity are regarded, I doubt not but that the writings of Apolinarius would be held in as much estimation as those of the ancients.
The comprehensiveness of his intellect is more especially to be admired; for he excelled in every branch of literature, whereas ancient writers were proficient only in one. He wrote a very remarkable work entitled |The Truth| against the emperor and the pagan philosophers, in which he clearly proved, without any appeal to the authority of Scripture, that they were far from having attained right opinions of God. The emperor, for the purpose of casting ridicule on works of this nature, wrote to the bishops in the following words: |I have read, I have understood, and I have condemned.| To this they sent the following reply, |You have read, but you have not understood; for, had you understood, you would not have condemned.|
Some have attributed this letter to Basil, the president of the church in Cappadocia, and perhaps not without reason; but whether dictated by him or by another, it fully displays the magnanimity and learning of the writer.