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Fathers of the Church

Letter XXI: to Leontius the Sophist

Description

Basil had a great longing for friendship and loyalty. Thus the letters addressed to friends for the exchange of ideas, for consolation, encouragement and advice are especially numerous. He is always anxious to hear from his friends and often asks them to write. (Quasten)

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

THE excellent Julianus seems to get some good for his private affairs out of the general condition of things. Everything nowadays is full of taxes demanded and called in, and he too is vehemently dunned and indicted. Only it is a question not of arrears of rates and taxes, but of letters. But how he comes to be a defaulter I do not know. He has always paid a letter, and received a letter—as he has this. But possibly you have a preference for the famous "four-times-as-much." For even the Pythagoreans were not so fond of their Tetractys, as these modern tax- collectors of their "four-times-as- much." Yet perhaps the fairer thing would have been just the opposite, that a Sophist like you, so very well furnished with words, should be bound in pledge to me for "four-times-as- much." But do not suppose for a moment that I am writing all this out of ill-humour. I am only too pleased to get even a scolding from you. The good and beautiful do everything, it is said, with the addition of goodness and beauty. Even grief and anger in them are becoming. At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than any one else flattering him. Do not then cease preferring charges like the last! The very charge will mean a letter; and nothing can be more precious or delightful to me.

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. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.