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Fathers of the Church

Epistle II

Description

Gregory wrote this in reply to a letter from Basil, who must have been teasing Gregory about the mud and bad weather of his town.

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 do not like being joked about Tiberina and its mud and its winters, O my friend, who are so free from mud, and who walk on tiptoe, and trample on the plains. You who have wings and are borne aloft, and fly like the arrows of Abaris, in order that, Cappadocian though you are, you may flee from Cappadocia. Have we done you an injury, because while you are pale and breathing hard and measuring the sun, we are sleek and well fed and not pressed for room? Yet this is your condition. You are luxurious and rich, and go to market. I do not approve of this. Either then cease to reproach us with our mud (for you did not build your city, nor we make our winter), or else for our mud we will bring against you your hucksters, and the rest of the crop of nuisances which infest cities.

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.