Synesius of Cyrene
Mosaic depicting an angel. Museum of Ptolemais
(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
of the Roman world.
Letter 100 has been written in 402; the text is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.
Letter 100: An IntroductionTo Pylaemenes
Here at last is that Anastasius about whom I have so often spoken. If I had been introducing you to him, I should have praised you as I am praising him at this moment. You are both of you neighbors in my heart, and have been so for a long time past. Let your meeting, therefore, be an act of recognition. Embrace each other, and see in this, both of you, a means of doing me a little good.
Now leisure is the greatest good, a good of which one might say that, like a country bearing in abundance, it brings all noble things to the soul of the philosopher. This leisure I shall enjoy when I succeed in freeing myself from entanglement in the political life of the Romans; and that will be when I am released from these accursed curial functions.
So far as the Emperor is concerned, I am free of them, but I should justly blame myself and feel ashamed, if I were to take any profit from my personal activity. I shall accordingly make my defense to myself. For I shall appear to be fulfilling the duty of ambassador again, since my tongue is again an ambassador; nor will any one who praises Pythagoras contradict me, since he defined a friend as a second self.
In fact, Aristotle: Nicomachaean Ethics, 9.4.
Revision: 14 August 2007