Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

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 151 was written in 407 and it is offered on this page in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. Pylaemenes appears to have been difficult to reach (cf. Letter 71) and this letter seems to be some sort of general salute to a man who was slipping out of reach.

Letter 151: A Salute

To Pylaemenes

To me, do you stand firm in philosophy, that Pylaemenes whom I left behind, the soul newly initiated, the offspring divine? I fear the time which has passed since that birth; I fear still more the intercourse of the market-place, the absorption in many situations and affairs; and that these may soil that most holy temple, your divine intellect, one of the few I deem entirely worthy to receive God.

I know that one of my dearest wishes was to be able to celebrate with you the mysteries of philosophy, but since patriotism is stronger in your heart, I pray that wherever in the world you may be, you will cultivate philosophy as much as possible. So I embrace your dear head. I embrace it again and again, whether I am silent or speaking, whether I write or do not write.

Note 1:
Pindar, Pythian Hymn 9, 87.
Online 2007
Revision: 16 August 2007
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other