Synesius, Letter 028

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 letters 130, 24, and 28 was an officer who served in Cyrenaica, went to Constantinople and became one of the most important commanders in the Empire. He appears to have had an interest in Synesius' literary works.

This letter, a bishop's intervention in a juridicial process that was not uncommon in late Antiquity, is offered in a translation by A. Fitzgerald. It was probably written in 412.

Ancient text

Letter 28: A Request for a Pardon

[1] To Simplicius

God declares that we ought to cancel debts which are owing to us.note One man owes us a sum of money, another, payment of the penalty of justice.

[2] The man, therefore, who scorns to accept this penalty, is obedient unto God.