Synesius, Letter 098

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.

Written in 403, Synesius directed this letter (and letters 99, 97, 133, 148, 149, 96, and 45) to a wealthy Christian from Syria, who was a close friend and (probably) a fellow-student. It is offered in the translation of A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 98: Gratitude

[1] To Olympius

How do you think I received your pleasant letters, I who was thirsting to hear from you; and o'er what passage in them did not my heart melt? They inspired many different feelings, and I look forward to seeing again soon that Alexandria where there still lives a friend who is so dear to me. In taking so great an interest in Secundus, you have done my great honor, and in honoring him so in your letter you have attached us to yourself, and have made us yours entirely.

[2] As I am one of those men who walk humbly, I do not deem myself worthy of so great honor. For you do me a double honor, both by the greatness of what you have written, and by the zeal of your actions. I have already written frequently to my Lord the Count, but as in the letter I received through the young man you reproach me for not writing to him, I have entrusted my brother with a letter to him.

[3] Take care of your health, continue happy, give yourself up to philosophy, as it befits one to do who has cloven to her, led on by divine love. I am writing to you from my bed, holing myself up with difficulty to form the letters. Pray that the best things may be mine, whatso'er God may adjudge the best. If I recover, I am off to Alexandria at once.