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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 46, written in 412, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 46: A Reproach

To Anastasius

It was not generous of Amasis to steel his heart against tears over the misfortunes of Polycrates, misfortunes which he had forseen. He sent a herald to him while he was still prosperous, to announce the breaking off of the friendship, thus making it evident that he would have also lamented with him had the misfortune preceded this act of rupture.

You also stood by us as long as we did not incur the disfavor of Fortune, then later on you disappeared with her. For the story is circulated by those who have come from Thrace, that you neither say nor think any good of me. This is clearly not to renounce friendship: it is to announce enmity. It was quite enough in any case not to share my sorrow, but to add to these sorrows still further surpasses harshness, and is worthy neither of Amasis nor even of a man.

No doubt you had an eye for your own interests. Do what you must, so long as you do it rejoicing, for it would only be half an evil, if even by the ills I suffer I could bring pleasure to my friends.
Online 2007
Revision: 20 August 2007
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