Fathers of the Church

Letter CXLVIII: to Trajan

Description

Basil asks Trajan to look kindly on Maximus, who had his position and all his belongings stripped from him due to slanderous charges.

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

Even the ability to bewail their own calamities brings much comfort to the distressed; and this is specially the case when they meet with others capable, from their lofty character, of sympathizing with their sorrows. So my right honourable brother Maximus, after being prefect of my country, and then suffering what no other man ever yet suffered, stripped of all his belongings both inherited from his forefathers and collected by his own labours, afflicted in body in many and various ways, by his wanderings up and down the world, and not having been able to keep even his civil status free from attack, to preserve which freemen are wont to leave no labour undone, has made many complaints to me about all that has happened to him, and has begged me to give you a short description of the Iliad of woes in which he is involved.

And I, being quite unable to relieve him in any other way in his troubles, have readily done him the favour shortly to relate to your excellency a part of what I have heard from him. He, indeed, seemed to me to blush at the idea of making a plain tale of his own calamity. If what has happened shews that the inflicter of the wrong is a villain, at all events it proves the sufferer to be deserving of great pity; since the very fact of having fallen into troubles inflicted by Divine Providence, seems in a manner to shew that a man has been devoted to suffering. But it would he a sufficient comfort to him if you will only look at him kindly, and extend also to him that abundant favour which all the recipients of it cannot exhaust,—I mean your clemency. We are all of us convinced that before the tribunal your protection will be an immense step towards victory. He who has asked for my letter as likely to be of service is of all men most upright. May it be granted me to see him, with the rest, proclaiming aloud the praises of your lordship with all his power.

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.