Synesius, Letter 106

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).

Ancient text

Letter 106: On Gardening

[1] To his Brother

I asked the young man who brought me some silphium from you, whether you had grown it yourself, or whether it was a present you had received, a share of which you were passing on to me. I learned from him that your own garden, which you take such care of, yielded you this excellent plant, together with every other sort of fruit.

[2] I am doubly rejoiced both on the account of the beauty of this product, and on the account of the reputation your estate enjoys. Go on, then, and make the most of such fertile soil. Never tire of watering your beloved garden beds, and may they never weary of the labors of birth, so that you may have enough for your own use, and may send me whatever the seasons bring forth.