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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 60, written in 410, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 60: Trying to Forget a Quarrel

To Auxentius

If I were to accuse you of being false to friendship, I should win my case before the tribunal of God and of all godlike men, for how did I become involved in your quarrel with my brother? Without my approval he took the side of Phaus, of blessed memory, against Sabbatius. You failed to persuade him by what you said on that occasion; you then turned your wrath against me, and did me as much harm as you could.

I accepted your declaration of war, for at the moment it was permissible. Today it is not permissible, nor do I desire to continue it. The advance of years in its bounty stifles the spirit of contention in me, and holy laws, they say, forbid it.

Then again, I well remember how we were brought up and educated together, and how we consorted in Cyrene, things which we ought to hold stronger than these quarrels over Sabbatius. Make a cult, then, of friendship, that excellent thing, and receive my greetings. I account the time of my silence as my punishment. Do you not think I was wounded at the time I allude to? Yet I persisted in my silence. Such is the evil of lasting enmity.
Online 2007
Revision: 17 August 2007
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