Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXIII: to Amphilochius the Younger

Description

Several letters of friendship to Amphilochius, mostly regarding vegetables.

Provenance

Amphilochius was acquitted of the charges made against him, referred to in former letters; but the result of the accusation on his own mind was such that he resigned his office, and retired to a sort of hermitage at a place called Ozizala, not far from Nazianzus, where he devoted his hours of labour to the cultivation of vegetables. The four letters which follow are of no special importance, and are only given as specimens of the lighter style which Gregory could use with his intimate friends.

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

EP. XXV.

I did not ask you for bread, just as I would not ask for water from the inhabitants of Ostracine. But if I were to ask for vegetables from a man of Ozizala it were no strange thing, nor too great a strain on friendship; for you have plenty of them, and we a great dearth. I beg you then to send me some vegetables, and plenty of them, and the best quality, or as many as you can (for even small things are great to the poor); for I am going to receive the great Basil, and you, who have had experience of him full and philosophical, would not like to know him hungry and irritated.

EP. XXVI.

What a very small quantity of vegetables you have sent me! They must surely be golden vegetables! And yet your whole wealth consists of orchards and rivers and groves and gardens, and your country is productive of vegetables as other lands are of gold, and

You dwell among meadowy leafage.

But corn is for you a fabulous happiness, and your bread is the bread of angels, as the saying is, so welcome is it, and so little can you reckon upon it. Either, then, send me your vegetables less grudgingly, or—I won't threaten you with anything else, but I won't send you any corn, and will see whether there is any truth in the saying that grasshoppers live on dew!

EP. XXVII.

You make a joke of it; but I know the danger of an Ozizalean starving when he has taken most pains with his husbandry. There is only this praise to be given them, that even if they die of hunger they smell sweet, and have a gorgeous funeral. How so? Because they are covered with plenty of all sorts of flowers.

EP. XXVIII.

In visiting the mountain cities which border on Pamphylia I fished up in the Mountains a sea Glaucus; I did not drag the fish out of the depths with a net of flax, but I snared my game with the love of a friend. And having once taught my Glaucus to travel by land, I sent him as the bearer of a letter to Your Goodness. Please receive him kindly, and honour him with the hospitality commended in the Bible, not forgetting the vegetables.

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.