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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.

Letter31 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. It was written in 400 and somehow appears to be related to Aurelian's fall from (or return to) power, also the subject of The Egyptian Tale.

Letter 31: An Adhortation to Remain Just

To Aurelian

If cities have souls, as they must, divine guardians and spirits, you may be sure that they are grateful to you and remember your good works, those which you brought about for all nations during your great administration [as praetorian prefect]. Believe me that these divinities are at your side, at all times, as advocates and allies, and that they beg the universal God to grant you a becoming recompense for imitating Him to the utmost of your powers.

To do good actions is the only trait which God and men have in common. Imitation is an affinity which joins the imitation to that which is imitated. Wherefore consider that you have established an intimacy with God by a communion in the will to work righteousness. Cherish sweet hopes, hopes suited only to such a spirit as your own, you whom I honor as no other man. Yours is a rank which belongs to you alone, or at least very few share it with you. Give all my most affectionate messages to your son Taurus, the hope of the Empire. It is a great pleasure to me to communicate them to him by the mouth of a father so revered as yourself.
Online 2007
Revision: 12 August 2007
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