Fathers of the Church

Epistle I: to Basil His Comrade

Description

Gregory expresses his desire to join Basil in a life of philosophy", stating that he is unable to do so completely because of familial obligations.

Provenance

Gregory was the first Greek author to publish a collection of his letters; he did so at the request of Nicobulus, a grandson of his sister Gorgonia. Incidentally, he also sets forth a theory of epistolography; he demands that a good letter should have four characteristics: shortness, clearness, charm and simplicity. Although he refuses to present his own epistles as models, they are carefully written, in mnay cases not without humor, and most of them are brief and pointed. (Quasten)

Gregory opens one of his letters addressed to St. Basil with the sentence: "From the first I have taken you, and I take you still, for my guide of life and my teacher of dogma." With these words Gregory himself acknowledges his obligation to the great bishop of Caesarea. (Quasten) The two were friends from their youth, and maintained an active correspondence throughout most of their adult lives.

by Gregory Nazianzen in 357-358 | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

I have failed, I confess, to keep my promise. I had engaged even at Athens, at the time of our friendship and intimate connection there (for I can find no better word for it), to join you in a life of philosophy. But I failed to keep my promise, not of my own will, but because one law prevailed against another; I mean the law which bids us honour our parents overpowered the law of our friendship and intercourse. Yet I will not fail you altogether, if you will accept this offer. I shall be with you half the time, and half of it you will be with me, that we may have the whole in common, and that our friendship may be on equal terms; and so it will be arranged in such a way that my parents will not be grieved, and yet I shall gain you.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.