Synesius, Letter 114

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 addressee of the letter that is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald, was Synesius' brother Euoptius, who lived in Ptolemais. About a quarter of the entire correspondence was directed to him: letters 51 (394), 55, 56, 54, 136, 135, 110 (all 396), the long letter 4 about a shipwreck in 397, 120, 104, 113 (401), 3, 35, 39, 32, 52, 65, 92, 106, 114, 109, 36 (all in 402), 127, 50, 18 (404), 125, 132 (405), 108, 107, 122, 95 (407), 53, 82, 84, 85, 86, 105 (409), 8, 87, 89 (411).

Letter 114: An Invitation

[1] To his Brother

Are you astonished that while you are dwelling in a parched place like the country of the Phycuntes,note you should shiver and poison should enter your blood? There would have been more cause for wonder had your body proved stronger than the heat there.

[2] Come to us, then, here. You could recover your health with God's help, once away from the infected air of the marshes, away from that salt, warm, and absolutely stagnate water, which one might call really dead. What charm can there be in lying down on the sand of the shore? That is the only pastime you have, for where could you wend your way?

[3] Here you can go under the shadow of a tree. If you are tired of one, you can go to another, even from one grove to another. You can step across a rivulet. How delightful is the zephyr which stirs the branches gently; there are the varied notes of birds, the colors of the flowers, the shrubs of the meadow; here the works of the husbandman, there nature's gifts. All things are fragrant with perfume, the aromas of a healthy soil. I will not praise the nymphs' grotto. It would need a Theocritus.note And there is something beyond all this.