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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.

Letter 2, written in 407, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 2: An Insult

To Joannes

To be free from fear one must fear the law, but you have always been ashamed even to seem to fear them. At all events fear your enemies, and with them fear the judges if they are incorruptible. Nay, they are still to be feared even if they are open to bribery; for such ones, if your purse is not of the longest, are full of zeal to defend the laws once they have found a paymaster into the bargain.
Online 2007
Revision: 4 November 2007
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