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Synesius of Cyrene


Mosaic depicting an angel. Museum of Ptolemais. Photo Marco Prins.
Mosaic depicting an angel. Museum of Ptolemais
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.

Hymn 6 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Hymn 6: To Christ

In union with the Holy Self-engendered Fountain
that surpasseth the unspeakable unities,
I will crown with wise garlands of hymns,
God, the glorious Son of the eternal God,
One Offspring that leapt forth from the Father,
Whom the indescribable birthpang of the Fatherly Will
has made manifest, A Son out of His unknowable Bosom,
the birth-pang which has displayed the fruits of the Father's begetting,
and, in bringing them to light, has been revealed Mind, fixed in the medial.

And so there remain in the Fountain, poured round about,
the wisdom of the Father's Mind, the splendor of His beauty.

To Thee, the Engendered, the Father has granted to engender.
Thou art the hidden Seed of the Father;
for the Father gave Thee to universes as their beginning,
that forms might be brought down to material bodies
from the entities of Mind.

Thou guidest the wise vault of heaven,
and ever leadest to their pasturage the flock of stars.
Thou rulest, O King, the choir angelic
and the company of the spirits,
and Thou dost dance around perishable nature.

Thou returnest to its fountain-head what was already been bestowed,
releasing mortals from the necessities of death.

Be propitious to these garlands of songs to Thee,
and grant calm life to a poet of hymns.
Stay Thou the changing mouth of the channels,
and dry up the destructive billows of matter.

Keep disease far from my mind and limbs.
Calm the fatal onslaught of passion,
keep off from me the dooms of poverty and of riches alike,
give renowned glory to my deeds,
spread abroad my good fame amongst the peoples,
adorn me with the fairest garland of gently-worded persuasion,
that my mind may calmly gather leisure,
and that I may not groan under earthly cares,
but from Thy lofty channels through the birth-passage of wisdom
may I inundate my mind.
Online 2007
Revision: 21 August 2007
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