Synesius, Letter 082

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, 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 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86, all serve to recommend a man named Gerontius. It is remarkable that four of these five letters are directed to Synesius' brother Euoptius (the exception is Letter 83). One is left with the impression that Synesius was unsure about what to write and prepared several letters; not all of them were actually sent. The letters are here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.


Letter 82: A Recommendation

[1] To his Brother

Who, who should be admired by your peers? He that is prudent, orderly, well educated, and religious. In a word, such a man as Gerontius.

[2] Now you have the man together with the letter. When you have made his acquaintance, you will say that my praise was not unmerited.