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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. The text of Letter 10 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

It was written in 413, when Synesius was in great problems because he had a conflict with the governor Andronicus. Together with Letter 16 (also to Hypatia), this is the last piece of Synesius' correspondence.

Letter 10: Losing contact with the outer world

To the Philosopher [Hypatia]

I salute you, and I beg of you to salute your most happy comrades for me, august Mistress. I have long been reproaching you that I am not deemed worthy of a letter, but now I know that I am despised by all of you for no wrongdoing on my part, but because I am unfortunate in many things, in as many as a man can be.

If I could only have had letters from you and  learnt how you were all faring -I am sure you are happy and enjoying good fortune- I should have been relieved, in that case, of half of my own trouble, in rejoicing at your happiness. But  now your silence has been added to the sum of my sorrows.

I have lost my children, my friends, and the goodwill of everyone. The greatest loss of all, however, is the absence of your divine spirit. I had hoped that this would always remain to me, to conquer both the caprices of fortune and the evil turns of fate.
Online 2006
Revision: 26 Nov. 2006
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