Synesius, Letter 071

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.

This letter, written in 406, was sent to a close friend of Synesius, living in Constantinople. Pylaemenes also was the recipient of letters 61, 88, 152, 74, 100, 101, 103, 102, 129, 131, 134150, 151, 48, and 153.

Letter 71 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Ancient text

Letter 71: Trying to Reach a Friend

[1] To Pylaemenes

There are two letters in circulation addressed to you; for I am writing at the same time to Thrace and to Isauria, that I may in any case find you with one or other of the letters. The theme of both of them is a greeting to my dear friend Pylaemenes, the philosopher, for this is he, whether he wills it so or not.

[2] He can never completely get rid of his own natural bent. He will never succeed in extinguishing the spark of sacred fire, but some day when he has risen above his vain pursuits, it will shine forth again.