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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 38, dated to c.401, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. Aurelian was the powerful praetorian prefect in Constantinople.

Letter 38: A Recommendation

To Aurelian

I think your divine soul must have been sent down for this very thing, the common good of mankind; and also to be grateful to those who introduce you to such men as are seeking their rights, because they supply you with material well suited to your taste.

It is not because the young Herodes is my relative that I recommend him to your notice, but because he is seeking his rights. A man most distinguished by his ancestry and one who has inherited a family estate subject to taxation by the Senate, he maintains that since he has become an officer he is contributing taxes on the same scale as the newly appointed senators, and that he is now taxed twice, in the first instance because of his fortune, in the second because of the post he has occupied.

Online 2007
Revision: 13 August 2007
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