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Synesius, Letter 059

Synesius of Cyrene (c.370-c.413) was a Neo-Platonic philosopher who became bishop of Ptolemais in the Cyrenaica. He left behind a small corpus of texts that offer much information about daily life in Late Antiquity, and about the christianization of the Roman world.

Letter 59, written in 412, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. It is the last of seven letters to Anysius, a Roman general, active in the Cyrenaica in 411-412, for whom Synesius felt great admiration, especially after the soldier had defeated the Libyan nomads. The bishop praised Anysius in the Constitutio and sent him several letters to him: 37, 94, 77, 78, 6, 14, and 59 (this one).

Letter 59: A Recommendation

[1] To Anysius

The man to whom I have entrusted this letter is at heart a philosopher, but by profession a pleader at the bar. As long as Anysius was with us, and as long as Pentapolis existed, he continued to practice this profession in our country. The times since your departure have betrayed us to our enemies, and have brought a spell of tranquility in the law courts; so he has made up his mind to sail to another law court where a venal tongue, the pleader's stock-in-trade, makes the pleader known.

[2] Try to win for him the friendliness of a provincial governor. I call to witness the divinity who presides over our friendship, that anyone to whom your recommend him will be grateful to you, when he returns after making trial of him.