Fathers of the Church

Letter CCCXLVIII: 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

If gripi'zein is the same thing as to gain, and this is the meaning of the phrase which your sophistic ingenuity has got from the depths of Plato, consider, my dear sir, who is the more hard to be got from, I who am thus impaled by your epistolary skill, or the tribe of Sophists, whose craft is to make money out of their words. What bishop ever imposed tribute by Iris words? What bishop ever made his disciples pay taxes? It is you who make your words marketable, as confectioners make honey-cakes. See how you have made the old man leap and bound! However, to who make such a fuss about your declamations, I have ordered as many rafters to be supplied as there were fighters at Thermopylae, all of goodly length, and, as Homer has it, "long-shadowing," which the sacred Alphaeus has promised to restore.

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.