The short-lived Emperor Julian (331-363 CE) succeeded Constantine in 361 CE. He shocked the empire by renouncing Christianity, which earned him the title “the Apostate” by Church historians.
He issued an edict of religious freedom (which concerned those that didn’t even know the meaning of the term – the rabid murderous fanatics of Galilee and Judea and their followers). He rebuilt the Pagan temples, ended banishment of religious exiles, and eliminated special privileges for Christian officials. He founded the Neo-platonic school of philosophy. He spurned the decadent Byzantine palace, dressed simply, studied philosophy, promulgated tax reform, and fostered study of the humanities and arts.
However, his reign lasted only twenty months; he died in June of 363 in battle with the Persians, possibly at the hand of a Christian – a traitor within his own army.
Later historians, however, had a different title for him – “the Last Pagan”. And in a very narrow sense, they’re quite right. As he was indeed the last ruling Pagan of the Roman Empire, which at the time spanned almost half of our ancient homeland:
Julian sought to reverse the grave mistake of his predecessor to save the Empire from dissolution and perhaps more importantly – to save Romans and indeed all Europeans from evil, foreign ideology which so quickly corrupted Rome. He did so on every level and was recognized as a skilled administrator, social reformer, commander, theosophist and writer. Nevertheless his efforts were too little too late. The damage was done. The Empire already broken at its core and he was far too moderate in his actions.
He could neither avoid the dissolution of the Roman Empire, nor his own death at the hand of a sick, delusional individual.