Synesius, Letter 091

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.

Born in Side, this man was a well-known rhetorician. Synesius wrote letters 112, 123, 118, 111, 73, 91, and 26, and mentions him in Letter 47.

This letter, written in 411, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Ancient text

Letter 91: A Recommendation

[1] To Troilus

In days gone by when I conversed, or when I wrote to my friends, our intercourse was free from care. I lived in a sense with my books, and was quite out of touch with any city or political life. But now God has assigned me a definite spot to dwell in, and has ordered me to take a certain rank in the city, and to live amongst a limited number of men. I should like, therefore, to be useful to my colleagues, and to do as much good as possible to individuals in private as also to the city in public. In other words, I desire in this voyage of life, as one might call it, to see my shipmates in a pleasant light, and so to be seen by them.

[2] I would to you to recommend Matyrius.note If it be in your power to do him a good turn, be assured that you are doing me a kindness in the person of one who is my daily companion. I call our past discussions, so dear to us both, to witness that Matyrius is devoted to me. He often sits up even to the very last hour of the night, in order to keep me company.