Synesius, Letter 100

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.

This letter, written in 402, was sent to a close friend of Synesius, living in Constantinople. Pylaemenes also was the recipient of letters 61, 88, 152, 74101, 103, 102, 129, 131, 134, 71, 150, 151, 48, and 153.

Letter 100 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Letter 100: An Introduction

[1] To Pylaemenes

Here at last is that Anastasiusnote about whom I have so often spoken. If I had been introducing you to him, I should have praised you as I am praising him at this moment. You are both of you neighbors in my heart, and have been so for a long time past. Let your meeting, therefore, be an act of recognition. Embrace each other, and see in this, both of you, a means of doing me a little good.

[2] Now leisure is the greatest good, a good of which one might say that, like a country bearing in abundance, it brings all noble things to the soul of the philosopher. This leisure I shall enjoy when I succeed in freeing myself from entanglement in the political life of the Romans; and that will be when I am released from these accursed curial functions.

[3] So far as the Emperor is concerned, I am free of them, but I should justly blame myself and feel ashamed, if I were to take any profit from my personal activity. I shall accordingly make my defense to myself. For I shall appear to be fulfilling the duty of ambassador again, since my tongue is again an ambassador; nor will any one who praises Pythagoras contradict me, since he defined a friend as a second self.note