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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.

Letters 118, 119, and 131, dated to c.406, are offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. The lawsuit is explained in Letter 131.

Letter 118: A Recommendation

To Troilus

If you have heard of the late Maximinianus (he spent a great deal of time at court), you are certainly aware that he was an honorable man. His son is my second cousin, and he will give you this letter. Many other people would perhaps pay deference to him on account of his good fortune, for he is one of those who have occupied a very important position. But Troilus is a philosopher; he will see in this young man his personal qualities alone, and he will value him for himself.

It is evident that you will be of great assistance to him in his present difficulties, for he is being attacked by the informers who unfortunately abound in Cyrene,

Unless you arm yourself with valor.[1]

Whatever you shall persuade Anthemius or any one of his colleagues to say in defense of us and the truth, will be entirely your own act, and you will have the credit of all that takes place.

By taking up this case of one man only and one affair only, I beg that you will make an effort to rid us of these obnoxious wild beasts, for the success that attends those who make the first attempt will incline many to emulate them.

Note 1:
HomerIliad, 9.231.
Online 2007
Revision: 15 August 2007
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