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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 155, written in 409, is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. Obviously, Domitian asked a favor from Synesius in return for the request made in this letter: see Letter 156.

Letter 155: A Recommendation

To Domitian, the Jurist

I know quite clearly, from the facts themselves, that your greatest pleasure is to do good, and that you are always ready to hold out a helping hand to the needy. I appeal to you with this very purpose, thinking to turn, as they say, the horse to the plain.

My dear friend, you should now show more kindness than ever, inasmuch as the future beneficiary is in this case the more pitiable, for it is a woman that is in question, who has the misfortune to be a widow, and her sufferings have been shared with an orphan child. Who it is that has wronged her, in what way, and how, she herself will instruct your goodness.

I beg you, therefore, my friend, to come to her aid, because that would be a good deed, and one worthy of you, and I ask for my sake as well, for I too will share with you in whatever befalls her. She is a kinswoman of mine, and brought up virtuously under an honorable mother in our midst.
Online 2007
Revision: 17 August 2007
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