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

Letter 89: Self-Pity

To his Brother

Up to this moment I had been happy. Then, as it were, a counter-waver of misfortune dashed against me, and both public and private affairs are now paining me. I live, not as a private citizen, in a country which is a prey to war, and I am bound continually to condole every one's misfortunes. Often in a month I have to rush to the ramparts, as if I received a stipend to take part in military service rather than to pray. I had three sons; only one remains to me. But if only you sail with a fair wind and live happily, fortune is not wounding me on all sides.
Online 2007
Revision: 13 August 2007
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