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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: Letter CCCXXXIV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter CCCXXXIV.

To a writer.

Write straight, and make the lines straight.  Do not let your hand go too high or too low.  Avoid forcing the pen to travel slantwise, like Æsop’s crab.  Advance straight on, as if following the line of the carpenter’s rule, which always preserves exactitude and prevents any irregularity.  The oblique is ungraceful.  It is the straight which pleases the eye, and does not allow the reader’s eyes to go nodding up and down like a swing-beam.  This has been my fate in reading your writing.  As the lines lie ladderwise, I was obliged, when I had to go from one to another, to mount up to the end of the last:  then, when no connexion was to be found, I had to go back, and seek for the right order again, retreating and following the furrow, 3265 like Theseus in the story following Ariadne’s thread. 3266   Write straight, and do not confuse our mind by your slanting and irregular writing.


Footnotes

320:3265

Of the use of this word to indicate the lines in mss., cf. Aristoph., Thesm. 782, and Anth., Pal. vi. 82.

320:3266

i.e. in the Labyrinth of Crete.

Ope virginea, nullis iterata priorum,

Janua difficilis filo est inventa relecto.

Ov., Metam. viii. 172.


Next: Basil to Libanius.

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