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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: Basil to Libanius.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter CCCXXXV.

Basil to Libanius3267

I am really ashamed of sending you the Cappadocians one by one.  I should prefer to induce all our youths to devote themselves to letters and learning, and to avail themselves of your instruction in their training.  But it is impracticable to get hold of them all at once, while they choose what suits themselves.  I therefore send you those who from time to time are won over; and this I do with the assurance that I am conferring on them a boon as great as that which is given by those who bring thirsty men to the fountain.  The lad, whom I am now sending, will be highly valued for his own sake when he has been in your society.  He is already well known on account of his father, who has won a name among us both for rectitude of life and for authority in our community.  He is, moreover, a close friend of my own.  To requite him for his friendship to me, I am conferring on his son the benefit of an introduction to you—a boon well worthy of being earnestly prayed for by all who are competent to judge of a man’s high character.


Footnotes

320:3267

Basilii et Libanii epistolæ mutuæ, quas magni facit Tillemontius, probatque ut genuinas, maxime dubiæ videntur Garnier, in Vit. Bas. cap. 39, p. 172, seqq., is tamen illas spartim edidit.…Schroeckh Garn. dubitationi deomnium illarum epist. mutuarum νοθεί& 139· quædam opponit.”  Fabricius. Harles., Tom. ix.

Maran (Vit. Bas. xxxix. 2) thinks that the Libanian correspondence, assuming it to be genuine, is to be assigned partly to the period of the retreat, partly to that of the presbyterate, while two only, the one a complaint on the part of Libanius that bishops are avaricious, and Basil’s retort, may perhaps have been written during the episcopate.  He would see no reason for rejecting them on the ground merely of the unlikelihood of Basil’s corresponding with a heathen philosopher, but he is of opinion that the style of most of them is unworthy both of the sophist and of the archbishop.  Yet there seems no reason why they should have been invented.  It is intelligible enough that they should have been preserved, considering the reputation of the writers; but they suggest no motive for forgery.  The life of Libanius extended from 314 to nearly the end of the fourth century.  J. R. Mozley, in D.C.B. (iv. 712) refers to G. R. Siever (Das Leben des Libanius, Berlin, 1868) as the fullest biographer.


Next: Libanius to Basilius.

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