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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: To Gregory my brother.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter LVIII. 2211

To Gregory my brother2212

How am I to dispute with you in writing?  How can I lay hold of you satisfactorily, with all your simplicity?  Tell me; who ever falls a third time into the same nets?  Who ever gets a third time into the same snare?  Even a brute beast would find it difficult to do so.  You forged one letter, and brought it me as though it came from our right reverend uncle the bishop, trying to deceive me, I have no idea why.  I received it as a letter written by the bishop and delivered by you.  Why should I not?  I was delighted; I shewed it to many of my friends; I thanked God.  The forgery was found out, on the bishop’s repudiating it in person.  I was thoroughly ashamed; covered as I was with the disgrace of cunning trickery and lies, I prayed that the earth might open for me.  Then they gave me a second letter, as sent by the bishop himself by the hands of your servant Asterius.  Even this second had not really been sent by the bishop, as my very reverend brother Anthimus 2213 has told me.  Now Adamantius has come bringing me a third.  How ought I to receive a letter carried by you or yours?  I might have prayed to have a heart of stone, so as neither to remember the past, nor to feel the present; so as to bear every blow, like cattle, with bowed head.  But what am I to think, now that, after my first and second experience, I can admit nothing without positive proof?  Thus I write attacking your simplicity, which I see plainly to be neither what generally becomes a Christian man, nor is appropriate to the present emergency; I write p. 160 that, at least for the future, you may take care of yourself and spare me.  I must speak to you with all freedom, and I tell you that you are an unworthy minister of things so great.  However, whoever be the writer of the letter, I have answered as is fit .  Whether, then, you yourself are experimenting on me, or whether really the letter which you have sent is one which you have received from the bishops, you have my answer.  At such a time as this you ought to have borne in mind that you are my brother, and have not yet forgotten the ties of nature, and do not regard me in the light of an enemy, for I have entered on a life which is wearing out my strength, and is so far beyond my powers that it is injuring even my soul.  Yet for all this, as you have determined to declare war against me, you ought to have come to me and shared my troubles.  For it is said, “Brethren and help are against time of trouble.” 2214   If the right reverend bishops are really willing to meet me, let them make known to me a place and time, and let them invite me by their own men.  I do not refuse to meet my own uncle, but I shall not do so unless the invitation reaches me in due and proper form. 2215



Placed in 371.


Three mss. give the title Γρηγορίω ἐπισκόπῳ καὶ ἀδελφῷ, but, as is pointed out by the Ben. Ed., the letter itself is hardly one which would be written to one with the responsibilities of a bishop.  Basil seems to regard his brother as at liberty to come and help him at Cæsarea.  Gregory’s consecration to the see of Nyssa is placed in 372, when his reluctance had to be overcome by force.  cf. Letter ccxxv.  On the extraordinary circumstance of his well meant but futile forgery of the name of his namesake and uncle, bishop of an unknown see, vide Prolegom.


Bishop of Tyana, estranged from Basil, cf. Letters cxx., cxxi., cxxii., and ccx.


Eccles. xl. 24.


Negat Basilius se adfuturum, nisi decenter advocetur, id est, nist mittantur qui eum in indictum locum deducant.  Erat Basilius, ut in ejus modi officiis exhibendis diligentissimus, ita etiam in reposcendis attentus.  Meletius Antiochenus et Theodorus Nicopolitanus, cum Basilium ad celebritatem quamdam obiter advocassent per Hellenium Nazianzi Peræquatorem, nec iterum misissent qui de visdem admoneret aut deduceret; displicuit Basilio perfunctoria invitandi ratio, ac veritus ne suspectus illis esset, adesse noluit.”  Note by Ben. Ed.

Next: To Gregory, his uncle.

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