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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 41, written in 394 or 395 speaks for itself; it is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 41: Hiring a Ship

To a Friend

I have hired a ship for you furnished with a crew of sailors of good stock, sailors who trust more to skill than chance in navigation. These vessels of the Carpathians [1] have the reputation of being endowed with intelligence, as were the famed ships of the Phaeacians [2] before the wrath of the gods beat upon their island.

Note 1:
Inhabitants of the isle of Carpathus.

Note 2:
Cf. Homer, Odyssey, 8.555.
Online 2007
Revision: 4 August 2007
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