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Fathers of the Church

Epistle CXLVI: to Olympius


Gregory asks for Olympius' help and mercy in a situation regarding Nicobulus.


Olympius was Prefect of Cappadocia Secunda in 382, to whom Gregory wrote many letters recommending certain persons to his patronage.

by Gregory Nazianzen in Unknown | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

This is what I said as if by a sort of prophecy, when I found you favourable to every request, and was making insatiable use of your gentleness, that I fear I shall exhaust your kindness upon the affairs of others. For see, a contest of my own has come (if that is mine which concerns my own relations), and I cannot speak with the same freedom. First, because it is my own. For to entreat for myself, though it may be more useful, is more humiliating. And next, I am afraid of excess as destroying pleasure, and opposing all that is good. So matters stand, and I conjecture only too rightly. Nevertheless with confidence in God before Whom I stand, and in your magnanimity in doing good, I am bold to present this petition.

Suppose Nicobulus to be the worst of men:—though his only crime is that through me he is an object of envy, and more free than he ought to be. And suppose that my present opponent is the most just of men. For I am ashamed to accuse before Your Uprightness one whom yesterday I was supporting: but I do not know if it will seem to you just that punishment should be demanded for one man's crimes from another, though these were quite strange to him, and had not even his consent; from the man who has so stirred his household and been so upset as to have surrendered to his accuser more readily than the latter wished. Must Nicobulus or his children be reduced to slavery as his persecutors desire? I am ashamed both of the ground of the persecution and of the time, if this is to be done while both you are in power and I have influence with you. Not so, most admirable friend, let not this be suggested to Your Integrity. But recognizing by the winged swiftness of your mind the malice from which this proceeds, and having respect to me your admirer, shew yourself a merciful judge to those who are being disturbed—for to-day you are not merely judging between man and man, but between virtue and vice; and to this more consideration than by an ordinary man must be given by those who are like you in virtue and are skilful governors. And in return for this you shall have from me not only the matter of my prayers, which I know you do not, like so many men, despise; but also that I will make your government famous with all to whom I am known.

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. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.

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