Synesius, Letter 008

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 addressee of the letter that is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald, was Synesius' brother Euoptius, who lived in Ptolemais. About a quarter of the entire correspondence was directed to him: letters 51 (394), 55, 56, 54, 136, 135, 110 (all 396), the long letter 4 about a shipwreck in 397, 120, 104, 113 (401), 3, 35, 39, 32, 52, 65, 92, 106, 114, 109, 36 (all in 402), 127, 50, 18 (404), 125, 132 (405), 108, 107, 122, 95 (407), 53, 82, 84, 85, 86, 105 (409), 8, 87, 89 (411).

Letter 8: A Reproach

[1] To his Brother

You will not tell me, I am sure, that you were ignorant of the departure of the messenger who carries the Paschal letters. Rather was it that, seeing him, you took no notice of him, and it did not seem to you worth your while to call your brother to mind, and to send a letter to let him know how you were, and the state of your affairs in general.

[2] Whatever concerns you is always a matter of interest to me; for, as I am in trouble about all my own affairs, I would fain rejoice in yours; but you deprive me even of this consolation. You should not have treated me thus, let alone the fact that we are born of the same parents, were brought up together, and have had our education in common.

[3] What indeed has not been given in common to both of us? Everything has combined to unite us in every way to each other. Truly, adversity is a terrible thing to face, or so they say, and when disastrous times come to any one, all things in this world, the sentiments of brothers and friends included, are put to the test.

[4] I shall be quite content, however, to have some news of you, even though it be from others. Only let God be the dispenser of good things, for I desire to hear some such good tidings concerning you.