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Fathers of the Church

Letter CCCXLIV: 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. (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. 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 dissuaded from writing often to you, learned as you are, by my timidity and my ignorance. But your persistent silence is different. What excuse can be offered for it? If any one takes into account that you are slow to write to me, living as you do in the midst of letters, he will condemn you for forgetfulness of me. He who is ready at speaking is not unprepared to write. And if a man so endowed is silent, it is plain that he acts either from forgetfulness or from contempt. I will, however, requite your silence with a greeting. Farewell, most honoured sir. Write if you like. If you prefer it, do not write.

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.