Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Fathers of the Church

Epistle XVII: to Eusebius, Archbishop of Caesarea


Gregory replies to Eusebius that his last letter was written in a thoroughly respectful spirit (see Epistle XVI).


Gregory was the first Greek author to publish a collection of his letters; he did so at the request of Nicobulus, a grandson of his sister Gorgonia. Incidentally, he also sets forth a theory of epistolography; he demands that a good letter should have four characteristics: shortness, clearness, charm and simplicity. Although he refuses to present his own epistles as models, they are carefully written, in many cases not without humor, and most of them are brief and pointed. (Quasten)

In a letter (Epistle XIX) to his friend and mentor St. Basil the Great, Gregory suggests that they write to Bishop Eusebius. Below is the second of three such letters (XVI, XVII, XVIII).

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

I did not write in an insolent spirit, as you complain of my letter, but rather in a spiritual and philosophical one, and as was fitting, unless this too wrongs "your most eloquent Gregory." For though you are my Superior in rank, yet you will grant me something of liberty and just freedom of speech. Therefore be kinder to me. But if you regard my letter as coming from a servant, and from one who has not the right even to look you in the face, I will in this instance accept your stripes and not even shed a tear. Will you blame me for this also? That would befit anyone rather than your Reverence. For it is the part of a high-souled man to accept more readily the freedom of a friend than the flattery of an enemy.

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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