Synesius, Letter 085

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 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 85: A Recommendation

[1] To his Brother

Receive with the living letter also the lifeless one. The one is the charming Gerontius, the other these written lines. They are written to you rather that I may conform to custom, than from any necessity for communicating with you.

[2] I live with you always in memory. This is what the young man will tell you with a much more powerful voice than ten thousand letters.