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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 7, written in c.395 and addressed to Synesius' sister Stratonice and her husband,  is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 7: A False Rumor

To Theodorus and his Sister

How do you think I felt in my heart's depths when the rumor was spread about town that you were struggling with a dangerous or even worse than dangerous attack of ophthalmia, and that you were threatened with the loss of your eyesight?

Soon, however, the story was proved false. I suppose some downright rascal took advantage of the word ophthalmia in order grossly to exaggerate the report and to make out a tragic situation. May all the he said falsely about you return upon his own head! God be praised that he has granted us to hear better news of you!

But after all, do you expect us, as the proverb goes, to read news of you in the stars? Or to find out what rumor has to say? We ought indeed to have you with us, but failing that, we might at least be favored with letters from you, and learn about your own affairs from yourself. You really neglect us too much. Perchance it is God that so wills it.

Online 2007
Revision: 4 August 2007
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