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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 119: A Recommendation

To Trypho

Whatever you did for Diogenes, of all that it is in your nature to accomplish, you will have done nothing new, but will be adding another deed to those already achieved by you. He is from Cyrene, and that city owes its continued existence to you.[1] But you must benefit the citizens not only collectively but also individually.

As to the matter in which Diogenes is implicated, and for which he stands in need of friends to come to his aid, he will tell you all about this in conversation much better than I could do in writing, for nothing could be more eloquent than the man who has suffered.

Salute Marcian the philosopher for me; I mean the ex-governor of Paphlagonia. If he can do anything, and I fancy he can, I beg him to prevent my relative, my very own cousin, from becoming the victim of calumniating informers, who are the curse of the whole country.

I comment him to your care with this letter. Treat him like a son, for if we are only two brothers by blood, Euoptius and I, nevertheless, with Diogenes, we become three by the links of affection.


Note 1:
A reference to the siege of Cyrene in the preceding year.
Online 2007
Revision: 15 August 2007
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