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Fathers of the Church

Letter CCCXXXV: Basil to Libanius

Description

Among the letters of recommendation that Basil wrote are his communications with Libanius of Antioch. Basil's missives to Libanius introduce young Cappadocian students to the distinguished Greek sophist and rhetorician; Libanius' letters to Basil are notes of thanks. The entire correspondence is interesting for the history of the personalities involved as well as for the fact that such an exchange between a priest and a pronounced pagan was at all possible.

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. Always ready to help, Basil addressed a great number of letters to high authorities and wealthy persons in order to recommend the poor and oppressed, to intercede for cities and towns, for relatives and friends. (Quasten)

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

I AM really ashamed of sending you the Cappadocians out by one. I should prefer to induce all our youths to devote themselves to letters and learning, and to avail themselves of your instruction in their training. But it is impracticable to get hold of them all at once, while they choose what suits themselves. I therefore send you those who from time to time are won over; and this I do with the assurance that I am conferring on them a boon as great as that which is given by those who bring thirsty men to the fountain. The lad, whom I am now sending, will be highly valued for his own sake when he has been in your society. He is already well known on account of his father, who has won a name among us both for rectitude of life and for authority in our community. He is, moreover, a close friend of my own. To requite him for his friendship to me, I am conferring on his son the benefit of an introduction to you—a boon well worthy of being earnestly prayed for by all who are competent to judge of a man's high character.

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.