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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 150 was written in 407. It is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 150: A Recommendation

To Pylaemenes

I think that even in your Heraclea nobody is ignorant of the name of our fellow-countryman, the philosopher Alexander, a man who acquitted himself with credit everywhere.

A dumb man is he who does not lend his tongue to Heracles.[1]

My own cousin, his son, will give you this letter. He wishes to follow in the footsteps of his father, in order to be like him, not in dress but in character. He is therefore going to war against evil men, to purify the city of them like another Heracles. He needed of course the protection of God and the arm of Heracles, but he needed also the co-operation and assistance of an Ioleos.

As to the favor of God, my cousin will neglect nothing to obtain it, and this he will gain by the virtue of his life and the piety of his heart, but I am endeavoring by this letter to find another Ioleos for him in you and your friendship. You will be for him all that you have been for me. When you have admitted this young man to your friendship, you will admit that I was not wrong in praising him.

Note 1:
Pindar, Pythian Hymn 9, 87.
Online 2007
Revision: 16 August 2007
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