GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS

SELECTED LETTERS


[Note: I have prepared such introductions as may be found here. The letters are in numerical order, as compared to the original publication (which includes some letters not edited here), where they are grouped by correspondent. JV]

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VII, IX, XII, XIII, XIV, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXXVII, XXXIX, LI, LII, LIII, LIV, LV, LXXII, LXXIII, LXXIV, LXXVI, LXXVII, LXXXI, LXXXVIII, CIV, CV, CVI, CXV, CXXI, CXXII, CXXIII, CXXIV, CXXVI, CXXXI, CXXXIX, CXL, CXLI, CXLII, CXLIII, CXLIV, CXLV, CXLVI, CLI, CLII, CLIII, CLIV, CLVII, CLXIII, CLXXXIII, CLXXXVI



LETTER VII

TO HIS BROTHER CAESARIUS

[Written during the brief period when Julian as emperor was at Constantinople in the winter of 361/2. Caesarius, who perhaps knew Julian at Athens, had become an important figure at Constantinople and tried to hang on to both his Christianity and his position, in the face of Julian's offer to permit him the second if he gave up the first. The situation, as this letter indicates, was causing the family some distress; in the end, Caesarius resigned his high position, reclaiming it during the reign of Valens, becoming Quaestor of Bithynia.]

I have had enough to blush for in you; that I was grieved, it is hardly necessary to say to him who of all men knows me best. But, not to speak of my own feelings, or of the distress with which the rumour about you filled me (and let me say also the fear), I should have liked you, had it been possible, to have heard what was said by others, both relations and outsiders, who are any way acquainted with us (Christians, I mean, of course) about you and me; and not only some of them, but everyone in turn alike; for men are always more ready to philosophize about strangers than about their own relations. Such speeches as the following have become a sort of exercise among them: Now a Bishop's son takes service in the army; now he covets exterior power and fame; now he is a slave of money, when the fire is being rekindled for all, and men are running the race for life; and he does not deem the one only glory and safety and wealth to be to stand nobly against the times, and to place himself as far as possible out of reach of every abomination and defilement. How then can the Bishop exhort others not to be carried along with the times, or to be mixed up with idols? How can he rebuke those who do wrong in other ways, seeing his own home takes away his right to speak freely? We have every day to hear this, and even more severe things, some of the speakers perhaps saying them from a motive of friendship, and others with unfriendly feelings. How do you think we feel, and what is the state of mind with which we, men professing to serve God, and to deem the only good to be to look forward to the hopes of the future, hear such things as these? Our venerable Father is very much distressed by all that he hears, which even disgusts him with life. I console and comfort him as best I can, by making myself surety for your mind, and assuring him that you will not continue thus to grieve us. But if our dear Mother were to hear about you (so far we have kept her in the dark by various devices), I think she would be altogether inconsolable; being, as a woman, of a weak mind, and besides unable, hrough her great piety, to control her feelings on such matters. If then you care at all for yourself and us, try some better and safer course. Our means are certainly enough for an independent life, at least for a man of moderate desires, who is not insatiable in his lust for more. Moreover, I do not see what occasion for your settling down we are to wait for, if we let this one pass. But if you cling to the same opinion, and everything seems to you of small account in comparison with your own desires, I do not wish to say anything else that may vex you, but this I foretell and protest, that one of two things must happen; either you, remaining a genuine Christian, will be ranked among the lowest, and will be in a position unworthy of yourself and your hopes; or in grasping at honours you will injure yourself in what is more important, and will have a share in the smoke, if not actually in the fire.

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 LETTER IX

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

[Written about 361, to his cousin, who was later to become bishop at Iconium, in support of another cousin Eulalius, who was not receiving the exemptions granted to clergy. See Letter XIV below]

Support a wellbuilt chamber with columns of gold, as Pindar says, and make yourself from the beginning known to us on the right side in our present anxiety, that you may buildyourself a notable palace, and shew yourself in it with a good fame. But how will you do this ? By honouring God and the things of God, than Whom there can be nothing greater in your eyes. But how, and by what act can you honour Him? By this one act, by protecting the servants of God and ministers of the altar. One of these is our fellow deacon Euthalius, on whom, I know not how, the officers of the Prefecture are trying to impose a payment of gold after his promotion to the higher rank. Pray do not allow this. Reach a hand to this deacon and to the whole clergy, and above all to me, for whom you care; for otherwise he would have to endure a grievous wrong, alone of men deprived of the kindness of the time and the privilege granted by the Emperor to the Clergy, and would even be insulted and fined, possibly on account of my weakness. It would be well for you to prevent this even if others are not well disposed.

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 LETTER XII

TO NICOBULUS

[Written about A.D. 365 to the husband of his niece Alypiana. This may be the first recorded instance of a man calling his wife 'the little woman.' Nicobulus had, about this time, some difficulties which Gregory brought to the attention of various officials; see Letter XIII below.]

You joke me about Alypiana as being little and unworthy of your size, you tall and immense and monstrous fellow both in form and strength. For now I understand that soul is a matter of measure, and virtue of Weight, and that rocks are more valuable than pearls, and crows more respectable than nightingales. Well, well! rejoice in your bigness and your cubits, and be in no respect inferior to the famed sons of Aloeus. You ride a horse, and shake a spear, and concern yourself with wild beasts. But she has no such work; and no great strength is needed to carry a comb, or to handle a distaff, or to sit by a loom, "For such is the glory of woman." And if you add this, that she has become fixed to the ground on account of prayer, and by the great movement of her mind has constant communion with God, what is there here to boast of in your bigness or the stature of your body? Take heed to seasonable silence: listen to her voice: mark her unadornment, her womanly virility, her usefulness at home, her love of her husband. Then you will say with the Laconian, that verily soul is not a subject for measure, and the outer must look to the inner man. If you look at the things in this way you will leave off joking and deriding her as little, and you will congratulate yourself on your marriage.

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 LETTER XIII

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

[Written about 365 in support of his niece's husband Nicobulus (on whom see Letter XII above), who was in some trouble or other. See further Letter XXI below. On Amphilochius, see on Letter IX above.]

I approve the statement of Theognis, who, while not praising the friendship which goes no further than cups and pleasures, praises that which extends to actions in these words, Beside a full wine cup a man has many friends: But they are fewer when grave troubles press. We, however, have not shared winecups with each other, nor indeed have we often met (though we ought to have been very careful to do so, both for our own sake, and for the sake of the friendship which we inherited from our fathers), but we do ask for the goodwill which shews itself in acts. A struggle is at hand, and a very serious struggle. My son Nicobulus has got into unexpected troubles, from a quarter from which troubles would least be looked for. Therefore I beg you to come and help us as soon as you can, both to take part in trying the case, and to plead our cause, if you find that a wrong is being done us. But if you cannot come, at any rate do not let yourself be previously retained by the other side, or sell for a small gain the freedom which we know from everybody's testimony has always characterized you.

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 LETTER XIV

TO HIS BROTHER CAESARIUS

[Written during the reign of Valens, on behalf of two cousins, Eulalius and Amphilochius, who later became bishops (Gregory's successor at Nazianzus and at Iconium, respectively). The letter is typical enough of ancient correspondence: one person asking another in high places for a favour for a relative and/or friend. The request seems to be renewed in Letter XXIII below.]

Do a kindness to yourself and to me, of a kind that you will not often have an opportunity of doing, because opportunities for such kindnesses do not often occur. Undertake a most righteous protection of my dear cousins, who are worried more than enough about a property which they bought as suitable for retirement, and capable of providing them with some means of living; but after having completed the purchase they have fallen into many troubles, partly through finding the vendors dishonest, and partly through being plundered and robbed by their neighbours, so that it would be a gain to them to get rid of their acquisition for the price they gave for it, plus the not small sum they have spent on it besides. If, then, you would like to transfer the business to yourself, after examining the contract to see how it may be best and most securely done, this course would be most acceptable both to them and me; but if you would rather not, the next best course would be to oppose yourself to the officiousness and dishonesty of the man, that he may not succeed in gaining one advantage over their want of business habits, either by wronging them if they retain their property, or by inflicting loss upon them if they part with it. I am really ashamed to write to you on such a subject. All the same, since we owe it to them, on account both of their relationship and of their profession (for of whom would one rather take care than of such, or what would one be more ashamed of than of being unwilling to confer such a benefit?) do you either for your own sake, or for mine, or for the sake of the men themselves, or for all these sakes put together, by all means do them this kindness.

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 LETTER XX

TO HIS BROTHER CAESARIUS

[Written not long after Caesarius escaped an earthquake at Nicaea in 368, though he lost his house. Not much later, in 369, Caesarius died, leaving his property to the poor. Gregory, as executor, had some difficulty in arranging this, since the property somehow fell into the possession of others, and later wrote to Sophronius about his difficulties (Letter XXIX below).]

Even frights are not without use to the wise; or, as I should say, they are very valuable and salutary. For, although we pray that they may not happen, yet when they do they instruct us. For the afflicted soul, as Peter somewhere admirably says, is near to God; and every man who escapes a danger is brought into nearer relation to Him Who preserved him. Let us not then be vexed that we had a share in the calamity, but let us give thanks that we were delivered. And let us not shew ourselves one thing to God in the time of peril, and another when the danger is over, but let us resolve, whether at home or abroad, whether in private life or in public office (for I must say this and may not omit it), to follow Him Who has preserved us, and to attach ourselves to His side, thinking little of the little concerns of earth; and let us furnish a tale to those who come after us, great for our glory and the benefit of our soul, and at the same time a very useful lesson to all, that danger is better than security, and that misfortune is preferable to success, at least if before our fears we belonged to the world, but after them we belong to God. Perhaps I seem to you somewhat of a bore, by writing to you so often on the same subject, and you will think my letter a piece not of exhortation but of ostentation, so enough of this. You will know that I desire and wish especially that I might be with you and share your joy at your preservation, and to talk over these matters later on. But since that cannot be, I hope to receive you here as soon as may be, and to celebrate our thanksgiving together.

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 LETTER XXI

TO SOPHRONIUS, PREFECT OF CONSTANTINOPLE [notarius]

[Written in 365 on behalf of his sister's son-in-law and typical of letters in antiquity. In the manuscripts, the letter is addressed to Sophronius as prefect of Constantinople, but he was notarius in 365, magister officiorum about 369-373 and urban prefect perhaps in 381/2. For Nicobulus, see also Letter XIII above.]

Gold is changed and transformed into various forms at various times, being fashioned into many ornaments, and used by art for many purposes; yet it remains what it is--gold; and it is not the substance but the form which admits of change. So also, believing that your kindness will remain unchanged for your friends, although you are ever climbing higher, I have ventured to send you this request, because I do not more reverence your high rank than I trust your kind disposition. I entreat you to be favourable to my most respectable son Nicobulus, who is in all respects allied with me, both by kindred and by intimacy, and, which is more important, by disposition. In what matters, and to what extent ? In whatever he may ask your aid, and as far as may seem to you to befit your Magnanimity. I on my part will repay you the best I have. I have the power of speech, and of proclaiming your goodness, if not nearly according to its worth, at any rate to the best of my ability.

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 LETTER XXII.

TO SOPHRONIUS, PREFECT OF CONSTANTINOPLE [magister officiorum]

[Written in 369 on behalf of his cousin Amphilochius, on whom see the note to Letter XIV above, and also Letter XXIII and Letter XXV below. On Sophronius, see on Letter XXI above.]

As we know gold and stones by their look, so too we may distinguish good men from bad in the same way, and do not need a very long trial. For I should not have needed many words in pleading for my most honourable son Amphilochius with Your Magnanimity. I should rather have expected some strange and incredible thing to happen than that he would do anything dishonourable, or think of such a thing, in a matter of money; such a universal reputation has he as a gentleman, and as wiser than his years. But what must he suffer? Nothing escapes envy, for some word of blame has touched even him, a man who has fallen under accusation of crime through simplicity rather than depravity of disposition. But do not allow it to be tolerable to you to overlook him in his vexations and trouble. Not so, I entreat your sacred and great mind, but honour your country and aid his virtue, and have a respect for me who have attained to glory by and through you; and be everything to this man, adding the will to the power, for I know that there is nothing of equal power with Your Excellency.

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 LETTER XXIII

TO HIS BROTHER CAESARIUS

[See on Letter XIV above. For Amphilochius' troubles, see also Letter XXII above, and for his acquittal on the charges, Letter XXV below.]

Do not be surprized if I ask of you a great favour; for it is from a great man that I am asking it, and the request must be measured by him of whom it is made; for it is equally absurd to ask great things from a small man, and small things from a great man, the one being unseasonable, and the other mean. I therefore present to you with my own hand my most precious son Amphilochius, a man so famous (even beyond his years) for his gentlemanly bearing, that I myself, though an old man, and a Priest, and your friend, would be quite content to be as much esteemed. What wonder is it if he was cheated by a man's pretended friendship, and did not suspect the swindle? For not being himself a rogue, he did not suspect roguery, but thought that correction of language rather than of character was what was wanted, and therefore entered into partnership with him in business. What blame can attach to him for this with honest men? Do not then allow wickedness to get the better of virtue; and do not dishonour my grey hairs, but do honour to my testimony, and add your kindness to my benedictions, which are perhaps of some account with God before Whom we stand.

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 LETTER XXV

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

[Though Amphilochius was acquitted of the charges, he resigned his office and retired to Ozizala, where he grew vegetables. Gregory's letters about this reveal the lighter side of correspondence between friends in the fourth century.]

I did not ask you for bread, just as I would not ask for water from the inhabitants of Ostracine. But if I were to ask for vegetables from a man of Ozizala it were no strange thing, nor too great a strain on friendship; for you have plenty of them, and we a great dearth. I beg you then to send me some vegetables, and plenty of them, and the best quality, or as many as you can (for even small things are great to the poor); for I am going to receive the great Basil, and you, who have had experience of him full and philosophical, would not like to know him hungry and irritated.

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 LETTER. XXVI

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

What a very small quantity of vegetables you have sent me! They must surely be golden vegetables! And yet your whole wealth consists of orchards and rivers and groves and gardens, and your country is productive of vegetables as other lands are of gold, and

You dwell among meadowy leafage.

But corn is for you a fabulous happiness, and your bread is the bread of angels, as the saying is, so welcome is it, and so little can you reckon upon it. Either, then, send me your vegetables less grudgingly, or — I won't threaten you with anything else, but I won't send you any corn, and will see whether there is any truth in the saying that grasshoppers live on dew!

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 LETTER XXVII

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

You make a joke of it; but I know the danger of an Ozizalean starving when he has taken most pains with his husbandry. There is only this praise to be given them, that even if they die of hunger they smell sweet, and have a gorgeous funeral. How so? Because they are covered with plenty of all sorts of flowers.

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 LETTER XXVIII

TO AMPHILOCHIUS

[Word play, too, was a common feature of discourse among the educated in antiquity.]

In visiting the mountain cities which border on Pamphylia I fished up in the Mountains a sea Glaucus; I did not drag the fish out of the depths with a net of flax, but I snared my game with the love of a friend. And having once taught my Glaucus to travel by land, I sent him as the bearer of a letter to Your Goodness. Please receive him kindly, and honour him with the hospitality commended in the Bible, not forgetting the vegetables.

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 LETTER XXIX

TO SOPHRONIUS, PREFECT OF CONSTANTINOPLE [magister officiorum]

[Here, a short while after Caesarius' death, Gregory is asking for help from a influential official, of Cappadocian origin, in his efforts to collect his brother's estate and give it to the poor. On Sophronius, see on Letter XXI above.]

You see how matters stand with me, and how the circle of human affairs goes round, now some now others flourishing or the reverse, and neither prosperity nor adversity remaining constant with us, as the saying is, but ever changing and altering, so that one might trust the breezes, or letters written in the waters, rather than human prosperity. For what reason is this ? I think it is in order that by the contemplation of the uncertainty and anomaly of all these things we may learn the rather to have recourse to God and to the future, giving scanty thoughts to shadows and dreams. But what has produced this talk, for it is not without a cause that I thus philosophize, and I am not idly boasting?

Caesarius was once one of your not least distinguished friends; indeed, unless my brotherly affection deceives me, he was one of your most distinguished, for he was remarkably well informed, and for gentlemanly conduct was above the average, and was celebrated for the number of his friends; among the very first of these, as he always thought and as he persuaded me, Your Excellency held the first place. These are old stories, and you will add to them of your own accord in rendering honours to his memory; for it is human nature to add something to the praises of the departed. But now (that you may not pass over this story without a tear, or that you may weep to some good and useful purpose), he lies dead, friendless, solitary, pitiable, deemed worthy of a little myrrh (if even of so much), and of the last small coverings, and it is much that he has found even thus much compassion. But his enemies, as I hear, have fallen upon his estate, and from all quarters with great violence are plundering it, or are about to do so. O cruelty ! O savagery ! And there is no one to hinder them; but even the kindest of his friends only calls upon the laws as his utmost favour. If I may put it concisely, I am become a mere drama, who once was wont to be happy.Do not let this seem to you to be tolerable, but help me by sympathy and by sharing my indignation, and do right by the dead Caesarius. Yes, in the name of friendship herself; yes, by all that you hold dearest; by your hope (which may you make secure by shewing yourself faithful and true to the departed), I pray you do this kindness to the living, and make them of good hope. Do you think that I am grieved about the money ? It would have been a more intolerable disgrace to me if Caesarius alone, who thought he had so many friends, turned out to have none. Such is my request, and from such a cause does it arise, for perhaps my affairs are not altogether matters of indifference to you. In what you will assist me, and by what means, and how, the matter itself will suggest and your wisdom will consider.

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 LETTER XXXVII

TO SOPHRONIUS

[Written on behalf of the rhetorician Eudoxius, about 369. On Sophronius, see on Letter XXI above.]

To honour a mother is a religious duty. Now, different individuals have different mothers; but the common mother of all is our country. This mother you have honoured by the splendour of your whole life; and you will honour her again now by obtaining for me that which I entreat. And what is my request ? You certainly know Eudoxius the Rhetorician, the most learned of her sons. His son, to speak concisely, another Eudoxius both in life and learning, now approaches you through me. In order then to get yourself a yet better name, be helpful to him in the matters for which he asks your assistance, For it were a shame were you, who are the universal Patron of our Country, and who have done good to so many, and I will add, who will yet continue to do so, should not honour above all him who is most excellent in learning and in his eloquence, which you ought to honour, if for no other reason, because he uses it to praise your goodness.

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 LETTER XXXIX

TO SOPHRONIUS

[Written about 369 in support of Amazonius. On Sophronius, see on Letter XXI above.]

I wish well to all my friends. And when I speak of friends, I mean honourable and good men, linked with me in virtue, if indeed I myself have any claim to it. Therefore at the present time when seeking how I might do a kindness to my excellent brother Amazonius (for I was very much pleased with the man in some intercourse which has lately taken place between us), I thought I might return him one favour for all, — in your friendship and protection. For in a short time he shewed proof of an extensive education, both of the kind which I used once to be very zealous for, when I was shortsighted,mand of that for which I am zealous in its place since I have been able to contemplate the summit of virtue. Whether I in my turn have appeared to him to be worth anything in respect of virtue is his affair. At any rate I shewed him the best things I have, namely, my friends to him as my friend. Of these I reckon you as the first and truest, and want you to shew yourself so to him — as your common Country demands, and my desire and promise begs; for I promised him your patronage in return for all his kindness.

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 LETTER LI

TO NICOBULUS

[When Nicobulus, the husband of Gregory's niece (see Letter XII above) or his son, asked for a treatise on the art of writing letters, Gregory responded with this letter.]

Of those who write letters, since this is what you ask, some write at too great a length, and others err on the side of deficiency; and both miss the mean, like archers shooting at a mark and sending some shafts short of it and others beyond it; for the missing is the same though on opposite sides. Now the measure of letters is their usefulness: and we must neither write at very great length when there is little to say, nor very briefly when there is a great deal. What? Are we to measure our wisdom by the Persian Schoene, or by the cubits of a child, and to write so imperfectly as not to write at all but to copy the midday shadows, or lines which meet right in front of you, whose lengths are foreshortened and which show themselves in glimpses rather than plainly, being recognized only by certain of their extremities? We must in both respects avoid the want of moderation and hit off the moderate. This is my opinion as to brevity; as to perspicuity it is clear that one should avoid the oratorical form as much as possible and lean rather to the chatty: and, to speak concisely, that is the best and most beautiful letter which can convince either an unlearned or an educated reader; the one, as being within the reach of the many; the other, as above the many; and it should be intelligible in itself. It is equally disagreeable to think out a riddle and to have to interpret a letter. The third point about a letter is grace: and this we shall safeguard if we do not write in any way that is dry and unpleasing or unadorned and badly arranged and untrimmed, as they call it; as for instance a style destitute of maxims and proverbs and pithy sayings, or even jokes and enigmas, by which language is sweetened. Yet we must not seem to abuse these things by an excessive employment of them. Their entire omission shews rusticity, but the abuse of them shews insatiability. We may use them about as much as purple is used in woven stuffs. Figures of speech we shall admit, but few and modest. Antitheses and balanced clauses and nicely divided sentences, we shall leave to the sophists, or if we do sometimes admit them, we shall do so rather in play than in earnest. My final remark shall be one which I heard a clever man make about the eagle, that when the birds were electing a king, and came with various adornment, the most beautiful point about him was that he did not think himself beautiful. This point is to be especially attended to in letter -writing, to be without adventitious ornament and as natural as possible. So much about letters I send you by a letter; but perhaps you had better not apply it to myself, who am busied about more important matters. The rest you will work out for yourself, as you are quick at learning, and those who are clever in these matters will teach you.

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 LETTER LII

TO NICOBULUS

[Written to accompany a copy of a collection of his letters, which Nicobulus had requested.]

You are asking flowers from an autumn meadow, and arming Nestor in his old age, in demanding from me now something clever in the way of language, after I have long neglected all that is enjoyable in language and in life. But yet (since it is not an Eurysthean or Herculean labour that you are imposing on me, but rather one which is very agreeable and quiet, to collect for you as many of my own letters as I can), do you place this volume among your books — a work not amatory but oratorical, and not for display so much as for use, and that for our own home. For different authors have different characteristics, greater or smaller. Mine is a tendency to instruct by maxims and positive statements wherever opportunity occurs. And as in a legitimate child, so also in language, the father is always visible, not less than parents are shewn by bodily characteristics. Mine are such as I have mentioned. You may repay me both by writing and by deriving profit from what I have written. I cannot ask for or request any better reward than this, either more profitable to the asker, or more becoming him who gives it.

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 LETTER LIII

TO NICOBULUS

[Gregory's explanation of why he put Basil's letters first in a collection of his and Basil's letters)

I have always preferred the Great Basil to myself, though he was of the contrary opinion; and so I do now, not less for truth's sake than for friendship's. This is the reason why I have given his letters the first place and my own the second. For I hope we two will always be coupled together; and also I would supply others with an example of modesty and submission.

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 LETTER LIV

TO NICOBULUS

On Laconicism. To be laconic is not merely, as you suppose, to write few words, but to say a great deal in few words. Thus I call Homer very brief and Antimachus lengthy. Why? Because I measure the length by the matter and not by the letters.

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 LETTER LV

TO NICOBULUS

An Invitation. You flee when I pursue you: perhaps in accordance with the laws of love, to make yourself more valuable. Come then, and fill up at last the loss I have suffered by your long delay. And if any home affairs detain you, you shall leave us again, and so make yourself more precious as an object of desire.

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 LETTER LXXII

TO GREGORY OF NYSSA

[Gregory had been unable to attend a council at Ancyra to try him on misdealings with church finances because of illness and refused attend a second synod at Nyssa itself on these charges. That refusal earned him his deposition, enforced by the Arian emperor Valens. His brother's good friend attemtps to comfort him. After the death of Valens, Gregory was abo\le to return to his see at Nyssa.]

Do not let your troubles distress you too much. For the less we grieve over things, the less grievous they are. It is nothing strange that the heretics have thawed, and are taking courage from the springtime, and creeping out of their holes, as you write. They will hiss for a short time, I know, and then will hide themselves again, overcome both by the truth and the times, and all the more so the more we commit the whole matter to God.

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 LETTER LXXIII.

TO GREGORY OF NYSSA

As to the subject of your letter, these are my sentiments. I am not angry at being overlooked, but I am glad when I am honoured. The one is my own desert, the other is a proof of your respect. Pray for me. Excuse this short letter, for anyhow, though it is short, it is longer than silence.

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 LETTER LXXIV

TO GREGORY OF NYSSA

Although I am at home, my love is expatriated with you, for affection makes us have all things common. Trusting in the mercy of God, and in your prayers, I have great hopes that all will turn out according to your mind, and that the hurricane will be turned into a gentle breeze, and that God will give you this reward for your orthodoxy, that you will overcome your opponents. Most of all I long to see you shortly, and to have a good time with you, as I pray. But if you delay owing to the pressure of affairs, at any rate cheer me by a letter, and do not disdain to tell me all about your circumstances, and to pray for me, as you are accustomed to do. May God grant you health and good spirits in all circumstances, — you who are the common prop of the whole Church.

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 LETTER LXXVI

TO GREGORY OF NYSSA

[In this letter of 379, Gregory explains why he was unable to attend the funeral of Basil, who died on the first day of the year.]

This, then, was also reserved for my sad life, to hear of the death of Basil, and the departure of that holy soul, which has gone from us that it may be with the Lord, for which he had been preparing himself all his life. And among all the other losses I have had to endure this is the greatest, that by reason of the bodily sickness from which I am still suffering and in great danger, I cannot kiss that holy dust, or be with you to enjoy the consolations of a just philosophy, and to comfort our common friends. But to see the desolation of the Church, shorn of such a glory, and bereft of such a crown, is what no one, at least no one of any feeling, can bear to let his eyes look upon, or his ear hearken to. But you, I think, though you have many friends and will receive many words of condolence, yet will not derive comfort so much from any as from yourself and your memory of him; for you two were a pattern to all of philosophy, a kind of spiritual standard, both of discipline in prosperity, and of endurance in adversity; for philosophy bears prosperity with moderation and adversity with dignity. This is what I have to say to Your Excellency. But for myself who write so, what time or what words shall comfort me, except your company and conversation, which our blessed one has left me in place of all, that seeing his character in you as in a bright and shining mirror, I may think myself to possess him also!

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 LETTER LXXVII

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

[Written in 379, after a church service at Constantinople in Gregory's church, with Theodore present, was broken up by some of his religious opponents pelting the clergy with stones. Theodore wanted to sue, but Gregory attempts to dissuade him. A native of Arianzus (see Letter CXXII below), thus Cappadocian, Theodore was a friend of Gregory; other letters to him include Letter CXV below and the series beginning with Letter CXXI below.]

I hear that you are indignant at the outrages which have been committed on us by the Monks and the Mendicants. And it is no wonder, seeing that you never yet had felt a blow, and were without experience of the evils we have to endure, that you did feel angry at such a thing. But we as experienced in many sorts of evil, and as having had our share of insult, may be considered worthy of belief when we exhort Your Reverence, as old age teaches and as reason suggests. Certainly what has happened was dreadful, and more than dreadful, — no one will deny it: that our altars were insulted, our mysteries disturbed, and that we ourselves had to stand between the communicants and those who would stone them, and to make our intercessions a cure for stonings; that the reverence due to virgins was forgotten, and the good order of monks, and the calamity of the poor, who lost even their pity through ferocity. But perhaps it would be better to be patient, and to give an example of patience to many by our sufferings. For argument is not so persuasive of the world in general as is practice, that silent exhortation.

We think it an important matter to obtain penalties from those who have wronged us: an important matter, I say, (for even this is sometimes useful for the correction of others) — but it is far greater and more Godlike, to bear with injuries. For the former course curbs wickedness, but the latter makes men good, which is much better and more perfect than merely being not wicked. Let us consider that the great pursuit of mercifulness is set before us, and let us forgive the wrongs done to us that we also may obtain forgiveness, and let us by kindness lay up a store of kindness.

Phineas was called Zelotes because he ran through the Midianitish woman with the man who was committing fornication with her, and because he took away the reproach from the children of Israel: but he was more praised because he prayed for the people when they had transgressed. Let us then also stand and make propitiation, and let the plague be stayed, and let this be counted unto us for righteousness. Moses also was praised because he slew the Egyptian that oppressed the Israelite; but he was more admirable because he healed by his prayer his sister Miriam when she was made leprous for her murmuring. Look also at what follows. The people of Nineve are threatened with an overthrow, but by their tears they redeem their sin. Manasses was the most lawless of Kings. but is the most conspicuous among those who have attained salvation through mourning.

O Ephraim what shall I do unto thee, saith God. What anger is here expressed — and yet protection is added. What is swifter than Mercy? The Disciples ask for flames of Sodom upon those who drive Jesus away, but He deprecates revenge. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus, one of those who outraged Him, but Jesus restores it. And what of him who asks whether he must seven times forgive a brother if he has trespassed, is he not condemned for his niggardliness, for to the seven is added seventy times seven? What of the debtor in the Gospel who will not forgive as he has been forgiven? Is it not more bitterly exacted of him for this? And what saith the pattern of prayer? Does it not desire that forgiveness may be earned by forgiveness?

Having so many examples let us imitate the mercy of God, and not desire to learn from ourselves how great an evil is requital of sin. You see the sequence of goodness. First it makes laws, then it commands, threatens, reproaches, holds out warnings, restrains, threatens again, and only when forced to do so strikes the blow, but this little by little, opening the way to amendment. Let us then not strike suddenly (for it is not safe to do so), but being selfrestrained in our fear let us conquer by mercy, and make them our debtors by our kindness, tormenting them by their conscience rather than by anger. Let us not dry up a fig tree which may yet bear fruit, nor condemn it as useless and cumbering the ground, when possibly the care and diligence of a skilful gardener may yet heal it. And do not let us so quickly destroy so great and glorious a work through what is perhaps the spite and malice of the devil; but let us choose to shew ourselves merciful rather than severe, and lovers of the poor rather than of abstract justice; and let us not make more account of those who would enkindle us to this than of those who would restrain us, considering, if nothing else, the disgrace of appearing to contend against mendicants who have this great advantage that even if they are in the wrong they are pitied for their misfortune. But as things are, consider that all the poor and those who support them, and all the Monks and Virgins are falling at your feet and praying you on their behalf. Grant to all these for them this favour (since they have sufferred enough as is clear by what they have asked of us) and above all to me who am their representative. And if it appear to you monstrous that we should have been dishonoured by them, remember that it is far worse that we should not be listened to by you when we make this request of you. May God forgive the noble Paulus his outrages upon us.

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 LETTER LXXXI.

TO GREGORY OF NYSSA

You are distressed by your travels, and think yourself unsteady, like a stick carried along by a stream. But, my dear friend, you must not let yourself feel so at all. For the travels of the stick are involuntary, but your course is ordained by God, and your stability is in doing good to others, even though you are not fixed to a place; unless indeed one ought to find fault with the sun, for going about the world scattering his rays, and giving life to all things on which he shines; or, while praising the fixed stars, one should revile the planets, whose very wandering is harmonious.

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 LETTER LXXXVIII

TO NECTARIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

[Gregory's response to the official letter announcing the election of Nectarius, who became Gregory's successor as bishop at the capital.]

It was needful that the Royal Image should adorn the Royal City. For this reason it wears you upon its bosom, as was fitting, with the virtues and the eloquence, and the other beauties with which the Divine Favour has conspicuously enriched you. Us it has treated with utter contempt, and has cast away like refuse and chaff or a wave of the sea. But since friends have a common interest in each other's affairs, I claim a share in your welfare, and feel myself a partaker in your glory and the rest of your prosperity. Do you also, as is fitting, partake of the anxieties and reverses of your exiles, and not only (as the tragedians say) hold and stick to happy circumstances, but also take your part with your friend in troubles; that you may be perfectly just, living justly and equally in respect of friendship and of your friends. May good fortune abide with you long, that you may do yet more good; yes, may it be with you irrevocably and eternally, after your prosperity here, unto the passage to that other world.

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 LETTER CIV

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

{Olympius was prefect of Cappadocia Secunda in 382; this and the next two letters were addressed to him by Gregory on behalf of various persons.]

All The Other favours which I have received I know to be due to your kindness; and may God reward you for them with His own mercies; and may one of these be, that you may discharge your office of prefect with good fame and splendour from beginning to end. In what I now ask I come rather to give than to receive, if it is not arrogant to say so. I personally introduce poor Philumena to you. to entreat your justice, and to move you to the tears with which she afflicts my soul. She herself will explain to you in what and by whom she has been wronged, for it would not be fight for me to bring accusations against any one. But this much it is necessary for me to say, that widowhood and orphanhood have a right to the assistance of all right-minded men, and especially of those who have wife and children, those great pledges of pity, since we — ourselves only men — are set to judge men. Pardon me that I plead with you for these by letter, since it is by ill health that I am deprived of seeing a ruler so kind and so conspicuous for virtue that even the prelude of your administration is more precious than the good fame of others even at the end of their term.

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 LETTER CV

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

The time is swift, the struggle great, and my sickness severer, reducing me almost to immovability. What is left but to pray to God, and to supplicate your kindness, the one, that He will incline your mind to gentler counsels, the other that you will not roughly dismiss our intercession, but will receive kindly the wretched Paulus, whom justice has brought under your hands, perhaps in order that it may make you more illustrious by the greatness of your kindness, and may commend our prayers (such as they are) to your mercy.

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 LETTER CVI

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

Here is another laying before you a letter, of which, if the truth may be said, you are the cause yourself, for you provoke them by the honour you do them. Here too is another petitioner for you, a prisoner of fear, our kinsman Eustratius, who with us and by us entreats your goodness, inasmuch as he cannot endure to be in perpetual rebellion against your government, even though a just terror has frightened him, nor does he choose to entreat you by anyone else than me, that he may make your mercy to him more conspicuous through his use of such intercessors, whom at all events you yourself make great by thus accepting their appeal. I will say one thing, and that briefly. All the other favours you conferred upon me; but this you will confer upon your own judgment, since once you purposed to comfort our age and infirmity with such honours. And I will add that you are continually rendering God more propitious to you.

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 LETTER CXV

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

[Written about Easter A.D. 382 and sent to Theodore with a copy of the Philocalia, or Chrestomathy of Origen's works edited by himself and Basil. On Theodore, see further Letter LXXVII above; also the series beginning with Letter CXXI below.]

You anticipate the Festival, and the letters, and, which is better still, the time by your eagerness, and you bestow on us a preliminary festival. Such is what Your Reverence gives us. And we in return give you the greatest thing we have, our prayers. But that you may have some small thing to remember us by, we send you the volume of the Philocalia of Origen, containing a selection of passages useful to students of literature. Deign to accept this, and give us a proof of its usefulness, being aided by diligence and the Spirit.

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 LETTER CXXI

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

[Written a little after Easter 382, as is the next series of letters to Theodore, on whom see Letter LXXVII above.]

We rejoice in the tokens of love, and especially at such a season, and from one at once so young a man, and so perfect; and, to greet you with the words of Scripture, stablished in your youth, for so it calls him who is more advanced in wisdom than his years lead us to expect. The old Fathers prayed for the dew of heaven. and fatness of the earth and other such things for their children, though perhaps some may understand these things in a higher sense; but we will give you back all in a spiritual sense. The Lord fulfil all thy requests, and mayest thou be the father of such children (if I may pray for you concisely and intimately) as you yourself have shewn yourself to your own parents, so that we, as well as every one else, may be glorified concerning you.

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 LETTER CXXII

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

You owe me, even as a sick man, tending, for one of the commandments is the visitation of the sick. And you also owe to the Holy Martyrs their annual honour, which we celebrate in your own Arianzus on the 23rd of the month which we call Dathusa. And at the same time there are ecclesiastical affairs not a few which need our common examination. For all these reasons then, I beg you to come at once: for though the labour is great, the reward is equivalent.

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 LETTER CXXIII

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

I reverence your presence, and I delight in your company; although otherwise I counselLed myself to remain at home and philosophize in quiet, for I found this of all courses the most profitable for myself. And since the winds are still somewhat rough, and my infirmity has not yet left me, I beg you to bear with me patiently for a little while, and to join me in my prayers for health; and as soon as the fit season comes I will attend upon your requests.

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 LETTER CXXIV

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

You call me? And I hasten, and that for a private visit. Synods and Conventions I salute from afar, since I have experienced that most of them (to speak moderately) are but sorry affairs. What then remains? Help with your prayers my just desires that I may obtain that for which I am anxious.

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 LETTER CXXVI

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

[Gregory explains that illness had prevented him from seeing Olympius and asks his correspondent to release Nicobulus, the son of his niece (see Letter LI above), from certain duties imposed on him. On Olympius, see further Letter CIV above.]

I was happy in a dream. For having been brought as far as the Monastery to obtain some comfort from the bath, and then hoping to meet you, and having this good fortune almost in my hands, and having delayed a few days, I was suddenly carried away by my illness, which was already painful in some respects and threatening in others. And, if one must find some conjecture to account for the misfortune, I suffered in the same way as the polypods do, which if torn by force from the rocks risk the loss of the suckers by which they attach themselves to the rocks, or carry off some portion of the latter. Something of this kind is my case. And what I should have asked Your Excellency for had I seen you, I now venture to ask for though I am absent. I found my son Nicobulus much worried by the care of the Post, and by close attention to the Monastery. He is not a strong man, and has great distaste for solitude. Make use of him for anything else you please, for he is eager to serve your authority in all things; but if it be possible set him free from this charge, if for no other reason, at any rate to do him honour as my Hospitaller. Since I have asked many favours from you for many people, and have obtained them, I need also your kindness for myself.

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 LETTER CXXXI

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

[A further explanation for his refusal to travel to Constantinople to attend a synod, after his initial refusal was met with a more urgent plea by Olympius and Icarius. The letter to Icarius does not survive.]

It is more serious to me than my illness, that no one will believe that I am ill, but that so long a journey is enjoined upon me, and I am pushed into the midst of troubles from which I rejoiced to have withdrawn, and almost thought that I ought to be grateful for this to my bodily affliction. For quiet and freedom from affairs is more precious than the splendour of a busy life. I wrote this yesterday to the Most Illustrious Icarius, from whom I received the same summons: and I now beg your Magnanimity also to write this for me, for you are a very trustworthy witness of my ill health. Another proof of my inability is the loss which I have now suffered in having been unable even to come and enjoy your society, who are so kind a Governor, and so admirable for virtue that even the preludes of your term of office are more honourable than the good fame which others can earn by the end of theirs.

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 LETTER CXXXIX

TO THEODORE

[Written to an unknown Theodore, about his consent to stay a little longer after the decision to retire from the see of Nazianzus. On the retirement and his replacement by his cousin Eulalius, with not a little difficulty, see Letter CLII below.]

He Who raised David His servant from the Shepherd's work to the Throne, and Your Reverence from the flock to the Work of the Shepherd: He that orders our-affairs and those of all who hope in Him according to His own Will: may He now put it into the mind of Your Reverence to know the dishonour which I have suffered at the hands of my Lords the Bishops in the matter of their votes, in that they have agreed to the Election, but have excluded us. I will not lay the blame on Your Reverence, because you have but recently come to preside over our affairs, and are, as is to be expected, for the most part unacquainted with our history. This is quite enough: for I have no mind to trouble you further, that I may not seem burdensome at the very beginning of our friendship. But I will tell you what suggests itself to me in taking counsel with God. I retired from the Church at Nazianzus, not as either despising God, or looking down on the littleness of the flock (God forbid that a philosophic soul should be so disposed); but first because I am not bound by any such appointment: and secondly because I am broken down by my ill health, and do not think myself equal to such anxieties. And since you too have been heavy on me, in reproaching me with my resignation, and I myself could not endure the clamours against me, and since the times are bard, threatening us with an inroad of enemies to the injury of the commonwealth of the whole Church, I finally made up my mind to suffer a defeat which is painful to my body, but perhaps not bad for my soul. I make over this miserable body to the Church for as long as it may be possible, thinking it better to suffer any distress to the flesh rather than to incur a spiritual injury myself or to inflict it upon others, who have thought the worst of us, judging from their own experience. Knowing this, do pray for me, and approve my resolution: and perhaps it is not out of place to say, mould yourself to piety.

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 LETTER CXL

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

[On behalf of Aurelius]

Again I write when I ought to come: but I gain confidence to do so from yourself, O Umpire of spiritual matters (to put the first thing first), and Corrector of the Commonweal — and both by Divine Providence: who have also received as the reward of your piety that your affairs would prosper to your mind and that you alone should find attainable what to every one else is out of reach. For wisdom and courage conduct your government, the one discovering what is to be done, and the other easily carrying out what has been discovered. And the greatest of all is the purity of your hands with which all is directed. Where is your ill-gotten gold? There never was any; it was the first thing you condemned to exile as an invisible tyrant. Where is illwill? It is condemned. Where is favour? Here you do bend somewhat (for I will accuse you a little), but it is in imitating the Divine Mercy, which at the present time your soldier Aurelius entreats of you by me. I call him a foolish fugitive, because he has placed himself in our hands, and through ours in yours, sheltering himself under our gray hair and our Priesthood (for which you have often professed your veneration) as if it were under some Imperial Image. See, this sacrificing and unbloodstained hand leads this man to you; a hand which has written often in your praise, and will I am sure write yet more, if God continue your term of government — yours, I mean, and that of your colleague Themis.

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 LETTER CXLI

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

[For some unknown reason, the civic rights of Nazianzus, called by its Latin name Diocaesarea in the letter, had been taken away. This was serious, since it had all kinds of tax implications in antiquity. Olympius himself had signed the order and threatened to destroy the city when its youth revolted. Gregory successfully intervened, with this and the following letters, to stop the destruction.]

Again an opportunity for kindness: and again I am bold enough to commit to a letter my entreaty about so important a matter. My illness makes me thus bold, for it does not even allow me to go out, and it does not permit me to make a fitting entrance to you. What then is my Embassy? Pray receive it from me gently and kindly. The death of a single man, who to-day is and to-morrow will not be and will not return to us is of course a dreadful thing. But it is much more dreadful for a City to die, which Kings rounded, and time compacted, and a long series of years has preserved. I speak of Diocaesarea, once a City, a City no longer, unless you grant it mercy. Think that this place now falls at your feet by me: let it have a voice, and be clothed in mourning and cut off its hair as in a tragedy, and let it speak to you in such words as these:

Give a hand to me that lie in the dust: help the strengthless: do not add the weight of your hand to time, nor destroy what the Persians have left me. It is more honourable to you to raise up cities than to destroy those that are distressed. Be my founder, either by adding to what I possess, or by preserving me as I am. Do not suffer that up to the time of your administration I should be a City, and after you should be so no longer: do not give occasion to after times to speak evil of you, that you received me numbered among cities, and left me an uninhabited spot, which was once a city, only recognizable by mountains and precipices and woods.

This let the City of my imagination do and say to your mercy. But deign to receive an exhortation from me as your friend: certainly chastise those who have rebelled against the Edict of your authority. On this behalf I am not bold to say anything, although this piece of audacity was not, they say, of universal design, but was only the unreasoning anger of a few young men. But dismiss the greater part of your anger, and use a larger reasoning. They were grieved for their Mother's being put to death; they could not endure to be called citizens, and yet to be without political rights: they were mad: they committed an offence against the law: they threw away their own safety: the unexpectedness of the calamity deprived them of reason. Is it really necessary that for this the city should cease to be a city? Surely not. Most excellent, do not write the order for this to be done. Rather respect the supplication of all citizens and statesmen and men of rank — for remember the calamity will touch all alike — even if the greatness of your authority keeps them silent, sighing as it were in secret. Respect also my gray hair: for it would be dreadful to me, after having had a great city, now to have none at all, and that after your government the Temple which we have raised to God, and our love for its adornment, is to become a dwelling for beasts. It is not a terrible thing if some statues were thrown down — though in itself it would be so — but I would not have you think that I am speaking of this, when all my care is for more important things: but it is dreadful if an ancient city is to be destroyed with them — one which has splendidly endured, as I, who am honoured by you, and am supposed to have some influence, have lived to see. But this is enough upon such a subject, for I shall not, if I speak at greater length, find anything stronger than your own reasons, by which this nation is governed — and may more and greater ones be governed by them too, and that in greater commands. This however it was needful that Your Magnanimity should know about those who have fallen before your feet, that they are altogether wretched and despairing, and have not shared in any disorder with those who have broken the law, as I am certified by many who were then present. Therefore deliberate what you may think expedient, both for your own reputation in this world, and your hopes in the next. We will bear what you determine — not indeed without grief — but we will bear it: for what else can we do? If the worse determination prevail, we shall be indignant, and shall shed a tear over our City that has ceased to be.

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 LETTER CXLII

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

Though my desire to meet you is warm, and the need of your petitioners is great, yet my illness is invincible. Therefore I am bold to commit my intercession to writing. Have respect to our gray hair, which you have already often reverenced by good actions. Have respect also to my infirmity, to which my labours for God have in part contributed, if I may swagger a little. For this cause spare the citizens who look to me because I use some freedom of speech with you. And spare also the others who are under any care. For public affairs will suffer no damage through mercy, since you can do more by fear than others by punishment. May you, as your reward for this, obtain such a Judge as you shew yourself to your petitioners and to me their intercessor.

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 LETTER CXLIII

TO OLYMPIUS, PREFECT OF CAPPADOCIA SECUNDA

[On behalf of Leontius]

What does much experience, and experience of good do for men? It teaches kindness, and inclines them to those who entreat them. There is no such education in pity as the previous reception of goodness. This has happened to myself among others. I have learned compassion by the things which I have suffered. And do you see my greatness of soul when I myself need your gentleness in my own affairs? I intercede for others, and do not fear lest I should exhaust all your kindness on other men's concerns. I am writing thus on behalf of the Presbyter Leontius — or, if I may so describe him, the ex-Presbyter. If he has suffered sufficiently for what he has done, let us stop there, lest excess become injustice. And if there is still any balance of punishment due, and the consequences of his crime have not yet equalled his offence, yet remit it for our sake and God's, and that of the sanctuary, and the general assembly of the priests, among whom he was once numbered, even though he has now shewn himself unworthy of them, both by what he has done and by what he has suffered. If I can prevail with you it will be best; but if not, I will bring to you a more powerful intercessor, her who is the partner both of your rule and of your good fame.

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FOR LETTERS CXLIV TO OLYMPIUS AND CXLV TO VERANIUS ABOUT THE DIVORCE OF VERANIUS' DAUGHTER, SEE GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS ON DIVORCE

 

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 LETTER CXLVI

TO OLYMPIUS

[Another letter on behalf of Nicobulus, his sister's grandson; see Letter CXXVI above.]

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.

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 LETTER CLI

TO NECTARIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

[Written about 382, on behalf of George, a deacon at Nazianzus who had fallen into difficulties, to his successor as bishop; see on Letter LXXXVIII above.]

People in general make a very good guess at your disposition — or rather, they do not conjecture, but they do not refuse to believe me when I pride myself on the fact that you deem me worthy of no small respect and honour. One of these people is my very precious son George, who having fallen into many losses, and being very much overwhelmed by his troubles, can find only one harbour of safety, namely, to be introduced to you by us, and to obtain some favour at the hands of the Most Illustrious the Count of the Domestics. Grant them this favour, either to him and his need, or else, if you prefer it, to me, to whom I know you have resolved to grant all favours; and facts also persuade me that this is true of you.

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 LETTER CLII

TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

[After Gregory resigned, under duress, his post at Constantinople, Theodore of Tyana and Bosporius of Colonia asked him to resume his duties at Nazianzus. Soon, Gregory found that illness was making this difficult and sought to retire, as he writes to the metropolitan bishop in this letter and to Bosporius in the next, Letter CLIII.]

It is time for me to use these words of Scripture, To whom shall I cry when I am wronged? Who will stretch out a hand to me when I am oppressed? To whom shall the burden of this Church pass, in its present evil and paralysed condition? I protest before God and the Elect Angels that the Flock of God is being unrighteously dealt with in being left without a Shepherd or a Bishop, through my being laid on the shelf. For I am a prisoner to my ill health and have been very quickly removed thereby from the Church, and made quite useless to everybody, every day breathing my last, and getting more and more crushed by my duties. If the Province had any other head, it would have been my duty to cry out and protest to it continually. But since Your Reverence is the Superior, it is to you I must look. For, to leave out everything else, you shall learn from my fellow-priests, Eulalius the Chorepiscopus and Celeusius, whom I have specially sent to Your Reverence, what these robbers who have now got the upper hand, are both doing and threatening. To repress them is not in the power of my weakness, but belongs to your skill and strength; since to you, with His other gifts God has given that of strength also for the protection of His Church. If in saying and writing this I cannot get a hearing, I shall take the only course remaining to me, that of publicly proclaiming and making known that this Church needs a Bishop, in order that it may not be injured by my feeble health. What is to follow is matter for your consideration.

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 LETTER CLIII

TO BOSPORIUS, BISHOP OF COLONIA

[Gregory's response to Bosporius who urged him not to retire.]

Twice I have been tripped up by you, and have been deceived (you know what I mean), and, if it was justly, may the Lord smell from you an odour of sweet savour; if unjustly, may the Lord pardon it. For so it is reasonable for me to speak of you, seeing we are commanded to be patient when injuries are inflicted on us. But as you are master of your own opinions, so am I of mine. That troublesome Gregory will no longer be troublesome to you. I will withdraw myself to God, Who alone is pure and guileless. I will retire into myself. This I have determined; for to stumble twice on the same stone is attributed by the proverb to fools alone.

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 EP. CLIV.

TO OLYMPIUS

To me you are Prefect even after the expiry of your term of office — for I judge things differently from the run of men — because you embrace in yourself every prefectoral virtue. For many of those who sit on lofty thrones are to me base, all those whose hand makes them base and slaves of their subjects. But many are high and lofty though they stand low, whom virtue places on high and makes worthy of greater government. But what have I to do with this? No longer is the great Olympius with us, nor does he bear our rudder-lines. We are undone, we are betrayed, we have become again the Second Cappadocia, after having been made the First by you. Of other men's matters why should I speak? but who will cherish the old age of your Gregory, and administer to his weakness the enchantment of honours, and make him more honourable because he obtains kindness for many from you? Now then depart on your journey with escort and greater pomp, leaving behind for us many team, and carrying with you much wealth, and that of a kind which few Prefects do, good fame, and the being inscribed on all hearts, pillars not easily moved. If you preside over us again with greater and more illustrious rule, (this is what our longing augurs), we shall offer to God more perfect thanks.

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 LETTER CLVII

TO THEODORE, ARCHBISHOP OF TYANA

[Gregory hoped to be succeeded by his cousin Eulalius, but certain of his colleagues wanted to take away his vote on the issue. In the end, Eulalius (on whom, see Letter IX above) was elected, though not without some difficulty after the fact; see Letter CLXXXIII. In the present letter, he accepts his lack of a vote and asks Theodore to look out for the interests of the sons of Nicobulus (the dead husband of his niece; see Letter XII above).]

Our spiritual affairs have reached their limit: I will not trouble you any further. Join together: take your precautions: take counsel against us: let our enemies have the victory: let the canons be accurately observed, beginning with us, the most ignorant of men. There is no ill-will in accuracy; only do not let the rights of friendship be impeded. The children of my very honoured son Nicobulus have come to the city to learn shorthand. Be kind enough to look upon them with a fatherly and kindly eye (for the canons do not forbid this), but especially take care that they live near the Church. For I desire that they should be moulded in character to virtue by continual association with Your Perfectness.

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 EP. CLXIII

TO THEDORE, BISHOP OF TYANA

[Written to inform the metropolitian bishop of the change of view he had engendered in the layman George of Paspasus, possibly after his retirement. At the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, this letter almost gained the status of a canon.]

God grant you to the Churches, both for our glory, and for the benefit of many, being as you are so circumspect and cautious in spiritual matters as to make us also more cautious who are considered to have some advantage over you in years. Since, however, you have wished to take us as partners in your spiritual inquiry (I mean about the oath which George of Paspasus appears to have sworn), we will declare to Your Reverence what presents itself to our mind. Very many people, as it seems to me, delude themselves by considering oaths which are taken with the sanction of spoken imprecations to be real oaths, but those which are written and not verbally uttered, to be mere matter of form, and no oaths at all. For how can we suppose that while a written schedule of debts is more binding than a verbal acknowledgment, yet a written oath is something other than an oath? Or to speak concisely, we hold an oath to be the assurance given to one who asked for and obtained it. Nor is it sufficient to say that he suffered violence (for the violence was the Law by which he bound himself), nor that afterwards he won the cause in the Law Court — for the very fact that he went to law was a breach of his oath. I have persuaded our brother George of this, not to pretend excuses for his sin, and not to seek out arguments to defend his transgression, but to recognize the writing as an oath, and to bewail his sin before God and Your Reverence, even though he formerly deceived himself and took a different view of it. This is what we have personally argued with him; and it is evident that if you will discourse with him more carefully, you will deepen his contrition, since you are a great healer of souls, and having treated him according to the Canon for as long a time as shall seem right, you will afterwards be able to confer indulgence upon him in the matter of time. And the measure of the time must be the measure of his compunction.

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 LETTER CLXXXIII

TO THEODORE

[When Helladius of Caesarea argued that Eulalius' election to the see at Nazianzus was not valid and accused Bosporius of Colonia (see Letter CLII above) of heresy, Gregory wrote the following letter to a Theodore whose identity is unknown, but was perhaps the metropolitan of a neighbouring province to whom Theodore of Tyana (on behalf of Bosporius; on Theodore of Tyana, see Letter LXXVII above) and/or Helladius, as metropolitans of Cappadocia Secunda and Cappadocia Prima respectively, had appealed.]

Envy, which no one easily escapes, has got some foothold amongst us. See, even we Cappadocians are in a state of faction, so to speak — a calamity never heard of before, and not to be believed — so that no flesh may glory in the sight of God, but that we may be careful, since we are all human, not to condemn each other rashly. For myself, there is some gain even from the misfortune (if I may speak somewhat paradoxically), and I really gather a rose out of thorns, as the proverb has it. Hitherto I have never met Your Reverence face to face, nor conversed with you by letter, but have only been illuminated by your reputation; but now I am of necessity compelled to approach you by letter, and I am very grateful to him who has procured me this privilege. I omit to write to the other Bishops about whom you wrote to me, as the opportunity has not yet arisen. Moreover my weak health makes me less active in this matter; but what I write to you I write to them also through you. My Lord the God-beloved Bishop Helladius must cease to waste his labour on our concerns. For it is not through spiritual earnestness, but through party zeal, that he is seeking this; and not for the sake of accurate compliance with the canons, but for the satisfaction of anger, as is evident by the time he has chosen, and because many have moved with him unreasonably, for I must say this, and not trouble myself about it. If I were physically in a condition to govern the Church of Nazianzus, to which I was originally appointed, and not to Sasima as some would falsely persuade you, I should not have been so cowardly or so ignorant of the Divine Constitutions as either to despise that Church, or to seek for an easy life in preference to the prizes which are in store for those who labour according to God's will, and work with the talent committed to their care. For what profit should I have from my many labours and my great hopes, if I were ill advised in the most important matters? But since my bodily health is bad, as everyone can plainly see, and I have not any responsibility to fear on account of this withdrawal, for the reason I have mentioned, and I saw that the Church through cleaving to me was suffering in its best interests and almost being destroyed through my illness, I prayed both before and now again my Lords the God-beloved Bishops (I mean those of our own Province) to give the Church a head, which they have done by God's Grace, worthy both of my desire and of your prayers. This I would have you both know yourself, most honourable Lord, and also inform the rest of the Bishops, that they may receive him and support him by their votes, and not bear heavily on my old age by believing the slander. Let me add this to any letter. If your examination finds my Lord the God-beloved Priest Bosporius guilty concerning the faith — a thing which it is not lawful even to suggest — (I pass over his age and my personal testimony) judge him so yourselves. But if the discussion about the dioceses is the cause of this evil report and this novel accusation, do not be led away by the slander, and do not give to falsehoods a greater strength than to the truth, I beg you, lest you should cast into despair those who desire to do what is right. May you be granted good health and spirits and courage and continual progress in the things of God to us and to the Church, whose common boast you are.

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 LETTER CLXXXVI

TO NECTARIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

[Written on behalf of a female relative, to his successor as bishop; see on Letter LXXXVIII above.]

What would you have done if I had come in person and taken up your time? I am quite certain you would have undertaken with all zeal to deliver me from the slander, if I may take as a token what has happened before. Do me this favour, then, through my most discreet kinswoman who approaches you through me, reverencing first the age of your petitioner, and next her disposition and piety, which is more than is ordinarily found in a woman; and besides this, her ignorance in business-matters, and the troubles now brought upon her by her own relations; and above all, my entreaty. The greatest favour you can do me is speed in the benefit for which I am asking. For even the unjust judge in the Gospel shewed kindness to the widow, though only after long beseeching and importunity. But from you I ask for speed, that she may not be overwhelmed by being long burdened with anxieties and miseries in a foreign land; though I know quite well that Your Piety will make that alien land to be a fatherland to her.

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Last modified 26 February 1998