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

Letter 80: Nicaeus

To Theophilus

I was ready to place my hand and my judgement at the service of your paternal command. However, I do not think that Andronicus would have provided better for his own profit than did Nicaeus for his own loss; nor do I clearly understand why he first went away, nor why he came back again, nor why he is once again away from home.

How could I? for I did not see him, nor was anything reliable reported about him. Quite another person brought me the letter written by your sacred hand, and asked me for this answer; but Nicaeus had already weighed anchor, and I missed seeing him.

No doubt the commander saw or heard something of him. As to that man, he neither saw nor heard anything. Now, how can Nicaeus win his case, if he lives abroad in the country? It is true, he has plenty of good things in compensation, as many as the seasons bring to husbandmen, but there would have been still more of them if he had won the maternal inheritance also. 
Online 2007
Revision: 20 August 2007
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