Synesius, Eulogy of Baldness (24)

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.

The Eulogy of Baldness shows Synesius' lighter side: he defends his baldness against the speech In Praise of Hair by the sophist-philosopher Dio Chrysostom ("tongue of gold").

The text is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. The green four-digit numbers are page numbers of the Migne edition.

Ancient text

Envoi

[1] [1205] I have therefore made a present of this discourse to philosophers, priests, and temperate men of every description. In it I have expressed all piety to the divine part, and have given good counsel towards men.

[2] If my work when once published is well thought of by the multitude, with the result that thereafter the wearers of long hair are put to shame and that they adopt at least a rather moderate and restrained cropping of their hair, and if it inclines them to congratulate those who need not the barber, they need not thank me for this. Let this only be the merit of my view of the case, that through it the merest tyro in speech appears to be somebody, although compared with the most brilliant man.

[3] If, on the other hand, I do not succeed in convincing these people by my discourse, then let them blame me, for actually failing, with all the facts in my favor, to withstand the simple grace of Dio.

May it also profit the multitude to have taken up this essay in their hands!