Synesius, Letter 016

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.

The text of Letter 16 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. It is addressed to his former teacher Hypatia of Alexandria,note to whom he also sent letters 33, 124, 15, 154, 81, 10. This is one of the last known letters of Synesius.

Letter 16: A farewell

[1] To the Philosophernote

I am dictating this letter to you from my bed, but may you receive it in good health, mother, sister, teacher, and withal benefactress, and whatsoever is honored in name and deed.

[2] For me bodily weakness has followed in the wake of mental sufferings. The remembrance of my departed children is consuming my forces, little by little. Only so long should Synesius have lived as he was still without experience of the evils of life. It is as if a torrent long pent up had bust upon me in full volume, and as if the sweetness of life had vanished. May I either cease to live, or cease to think of the tomb of my sons!

[3] But may you preserve your health and give my salutations to your happy¬†comrades in turn, beginning with father Theotecnus and brother Athanasius, and so to all! And if any one has been added to these, so long as he is dear to you, I must owe him gratitude because he is dear to you, and to that man give my greetings as to my own dearest friend. If any of my affairs interests you, you do well, and if any of them does not so interest you, neither does it me.