Fathers of the Church

Letter CCCXXXVII: 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

Lo and behold, yet another Cappadocian has come to you; a son of my own! Yet my present position makes all men my sons. On this ground he may be regarded as a brother of the former one, and worthy of the same attention alike from me his father, and from you his instructor—if really it is possible for these young men, who come from me, to obtain any further favours. I do not mean that it is not possible for your excellency to give anything more to your old comrades, but because your services are so lavishly bestowed upon all. It will be sufficient for the lad before he gets experience if he be numbered among those who are intimately known to you. I trust you may send him back to me worthy of my prayers and of your great reputation in learning and eloquence. He is accompanied by a young man of his own age, and of like zeal for instruction; a youth of good family, and closely associated with myself. I am sure be will be in every way as well treated, though his means are smaller than is the case with the rest.

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.