Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.66 Letters XIII - XVI

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.66 Letters XIII - XVI

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.66 Letters XIII - XVI

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Letter XIII. To the Church at Nicomediahyperlink .

May the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who disposeth all things in wisdom for the best, visit you by His own grace, and comfort you by Himself, working in you that which is well-pleasing to Him, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ come upon you, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that ye may have healing of all tribulation and affliction, and advance towards all good, for the perfecting of the Church, for the edification of your souls, and to the praise of the glory of His name. But in making here a defence of ourselves before your charity, we would say that we were not neglectful to render an account of the charge entrusted to us, either in time past, or since the departure hence of Patricius of blessed memory; but we insist that there were many troubles in our Church, and the decay of our bodily powers was great, increasing, as was natural, with advancing years; and great also was the remissness of your Excellency towards us, inasmuch as no word ever came by letter to induce us to undertake the task, nor was any connection kept up between your Church and ourselves, although Euphrasius, your Bishop of blessed memory, had in all holiness bound together our Humility to himself and to you with love, as with chains. But even though the debt of love has not been satisfied before, either by our taking charge of you, or your Piety's encouragement of us, now at any rate we pray to God, taking your prayer to God as an ally to our own desire, that we may with all speed possible visit you, and be comforted along with you, and along with you show diligence, as the Lord may direct us; so as to discover a means of rectifying the disorders which have already found place, and of securing safety for the future, so that you may no longer be distracted by this discord, one withdrawing himself from the Church in one direction, another in another, and be thereby exposed as a laughing-stock to the Devil, whose desire and business it is (in direct contrariety to the Divine will) that no one should be saved, or come to the knowledge of the truth. For how do you think, brethren, that we were afflicted upon hearing from those who reported to us your state, that there was no return to better thingshyperlink ; but that the resolution of those who had once swerved aside is ever carried along in the same course; and-as water from a conduit often overflows the neighbouring bank, and streaming off sideways, flows away, and unless the leak is stopped, it is almost impossible to recall it to its channel, when the submerged ground has been hollowed out in accordance with the course of the stream,-even so the course of those who have left the Church, when it has once through personal motives deflected from the straight and right faith, has sunk deep in the rut of habit, and does not easily return to the grace it once had. For which cause your affairs demand a wise and strong administrator, who is skilled to guide such wayward tempers aright, so as to be able to recall to its pristine beauty the disorderly circuit of this stream, that the corn-fields of your piety may once again flourish abundantly, watered by the irrigating stream of peace. For this reason great diligence and fervent desire on the part of you all is needed for this matter, that such an one may be appointed your President by the Holy Spirit, who will have a single eye to the things of God alone, not turning his glance this way or that to any of those things that men strive after. For for this cause I think that the ancient law gave the Levite no share in the general inheritance of the land; that he might have God alone for the portion of his possession, and might always be engaged about the possession in himself, with no eye to any material object.

[What follows is unintelligible, and something has probably been lost.]

For it is not lawful that the simple should meddle with that with which they have no concern, but which properly belongs to others. For you should each mind your own business, that so that which is most expedient may come about [and that your Church may again prosper], when those who have been dispersed have returned again to the unit of the one body, and spiritual peace is established by those who devoutly glorify God. To this end it is well, I think, to look out for high qualifications in your election, that he who is appointed to the Presidency may be suitable for the post. Now the Apostolic injunctions do not direct us to look to high birth, wealth, and distinction in the eyes of the world among the virtues of a Bishop; but if all this should, unsought, accompany your spiritual chiefs, we do not reject it, but consider it merely as a shadow accidentallyhyperlink following the body; and none the less shall we welcome the more precious endowments, even though they happen to be apart from those boons of fortune. The prophet Amos was a goat-herd; Peter was a fisherman, and his brother Andrew followed the same employment; so too was the sublime John; Paul was a tent-maker, Matthew a publican, and the rest of the Apostles in the same way-not consuls, generals, prefects, or distinguished in rhetoric and philosophy, but poor, and of none of the learned professions, but starting from the more humble occupations of life: and yet for all that their voice went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. "Consider your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the worldhyperlink ." Perhaps even now it is thought something foolish, as things appear to men, when one is not able to do much from poverty, or is slighted because of meanness of extractionhyperlink , not of character. But who knows whether the horn of anointing is not poured out by grace upon such an one, even though he be less than the lofty and more illustrious? Which was mere to the interest of the Church at Rome, that it should at its commencement be presided over by some high-born and pompous senator, or by the fisherman Peter, who had none of this world's advantages to attract men to himhyperlink ? What house had he, what slaves, what property ministering luxury, by wealth constantly flowing in? But that stranger, without a table, without a roof over his head, was richer than those who have all things, because through having nothing he had God wholly. So too the people of Mesopotamia, though they had among them wealthy satraps, preferred Thomas above them all to the presidency of their Church; the Cretans preferred Titus, the dwellers at Jerusalem James, and we Cappadocians the centurion, who at the Cross acknowledged the Godhead of the Lord, though there were many at that time of splendid lineage, whose fortunes enabled them to maintain a stud, and who prided themselves upon having the first place in the Senate. And in all the Church one may see those who are great according to God's standard preferred above worldly magnificence. You too, I think, ought to have an eye to these spiritual qualifications at this time present, if you really mean to revive the ancient glory of your Church. For nothing is better known to you than your own history, that anciently, before the city near youhyperlink flourished, the seat of government was with you, and among Bithynian cities there was nothing preeminent above yours. And now, it is true, the public buildings that once graced it have disappeared, but the city that consists in men-whether we look to numbers or to quality-is rapidly rising to a level with its former splendour. Accordingly it would well become you to entertain thoughts that shall not fall below the height of the blessings that now are yours, but to raise your enthusiasm in the work before you to the height of the magnificence of your city, that you may find such a one to preside over the laity as will prove himself not unworthy of youhyperlink . For it is disgraceful, brethren, and utterly monstrous, that while no one ever becomes a pilot unless he is skilled in navigation, he who sits at the helm of the Church should not know how to bring the souls of those who sail with him safe into the haven of God. How many wrecks of Churches, men and all, have ere now taken place by the inexperience of their heads! Who can reckon what disasters might not have been avoided, had there been aught of the pilot's skill in those who had command? Nay, we entrust iron, to make vessels with, not to those who know nothing about the matter, but to those who are acquainted with the art of the smith; ought we not therefore to trust souls to him who is well-skilled to soften them by the fervent heat of the Holy Spirit, and who by the impress of rational implements may fashion each one of you to be a chosen and useful vessel? It is thus that the inspired Apostle bids us to take thought, in his Epistle to Timothyhyperlink , laying injunction upon all who hear, when he says that a Bishop must be without reproach. Is this all that the Apostle cares for, that he who is advanced to the priesthood should be irreproachable? and what is so great an advantage as that all possible qualifications should be included in one? But he knows full well that the subject is moulded by the character of his superior, and that the upright walk of the guide becomes that of his followers too. For what the Master is, such does he make the disciple to be. For it is impossible that he who has been apprenticed to the art of the smith should practise that of the weaver, or that one who has only been taught to work at the loom should turn out an orator or a mathematician: but on the contrary that which the disciple sees in his master he adopts and transfers to himself. For this reason it is that the Scripture says, "Every disciple that is perfect shall be as his masterhyperlink ." What then, brethren? Is it possible to be lowly and subdued in character, moderate, superior to the love of lucre, wise in things divine, and trained to virtue and considerateness in works and ways, without seeing those qualities in one's master? Nay, I do not know how a man can become spiritual, if he has been a disciple in a worldly school. For how can they who are striving to resemble their master fail to be like him? What advantage is the magnificence of the aqueduct to the thirsty, if there is no water in it, even though the symmetrical disposition of columnshyperlink variously shaped rear aloft the pedimenthyperlink ? Which would the thirsty man rather choose for the supply of his own need, to see marbles beautifully disposed or to find good spring water, even if it flowed through a wooden pipe, as long as the stream which it poured forth was clear and drinkable? Even so, brethren, those who look to godliness should neglect the trappings of outward show, and whether a man exults in powerful friends, or plumes himself on the long list of his dignities, or boasts that he receives large annual revenues, or is puffed up with the thought of his noble ancestry, or has his mind on all sides cloudedhyperlink with the fumes of self-esteem, should have nothing to do with such an one, any more than with a dry aqueduct, if he display not in his life the primary and essential qualities for high office. But, employing the lamp of the Spirit for the searchhyperlink , you should, as far as is possible, seek for "a garden enclosed, a fountain sealedhyperlink ," that, by your election the garden of delight having been opened and the water of the fountain having been unstopped, there may be a common acquisition to the Catholic Church. May God grant that there may soon be found among you such an one, who shall be a chosen vessel, a pillar of the Church. But we trust in the Lord that so it will be, if you are minded by the grace of concord with one mind to see that which is good, preferring to your own wills the will of the Lord, and that which is approved of Him, and perfect, and well-pleasing in His eyes; that there may be such a happy issue among you, that therein we may rejoice, and you triumph, and the God of all be glorified, Whom glory becometh for ever and ever.


1 Euphrasius, mentioned in this Letter, had subscribed to the first Council of Constantinople, as Bishop of Nicomedia. On his death, clergy and laity proceeded to a joint election of a successor. The date of this is uncertain; Zacagni and Page think that the dispute here mentioned is to be identified with that which Sozomen records, and which is placed by Baronius and Basnage in 400, 401. But we have no evidence that Gregory's life was prolonged so far.

2 oudemia gegone twn efestwtwn epistrofh, literally, "no return from existing (or besetting) evils." The words might possibly mean something very different; "no concern shown on the part of those set over you" (H. C. O.).

3 The shadow may be considered as an accidental appendage to the body, inasmuch as it does not always appear, but only when there is some light, e. g. of the sun, to cast it (H. C. O.).

4 1 Cor. i. 26, 1 Cor. i. 27.

5 swmatoj dusgeneian, might possibly mean "bodily deformity;" but Jess probably (H. C. O.).

6 Reading efolkon: if efolkion, "a boat taken in tow," perhaps still regarding S. Peter as the master of a ship: or "an appendage;" Gregory so uses it in his De Animâ. Some suggest efodion, meaning "resource," but efolkon is simpler.

7 i. e. Nicaea. "The whirligig of time has brought about its revenge," and Nicomedia (Ismid) is now more important than Nicaea (Isnik). Nicomedia had, in fact, been the residence of the Kings of Bithynia; and Diocletian had intended to make it the rival of Rome (cf. Lactantius, De Mort. Persec. c. 7). But it had been destroyed by an earthquake in the year 368: Socrates, ii. 39.

8 Reading umwn for umin.

9 1 Tim. iii. 2.

10 S. Luke vi. 40. Cf. Gregory's Treatises On Perfection, What is the Christian name and profession, Sketch of the aim of True Asceticism.

11 h twn kionwn epallhloj qesij.

12 petason.

13 periautizetai.

14 For humility and spirituality required in prelates, cf. Origen, c. Cels. viii. 75. "We summon to the magistracies of these churches men of ability and good life: but instead of selecting the ambitious amongst these we put compulsion upon those whose deep humility makes them backward in accepting this general charge of the Church. Our best rulers then, are like consuls compelled to rule by a mighty Emperor: no other, we are persuaded, than the Son of God, Who is the Word of God. If, then, these magistrates in the assembly of God's nation rule well, or at all events strictly in accordance with the Divine enactment, they are not because of that to meddle with the secular law-making. It is not that the Christians wish to escape all public responsibility, that they keep themselves away from such things; but their wish to reserve themselves for the higher and more urgent responsibilities (anagkaiotera leitourgia) of God's Church."

15 Song of Songs, iv. 12.

Letter XIVhyperlink . To the Bishop of Melitene.

How beautiful are the likenesses of beautiful objects, when they preserve in all its clearness the impress of the original beauty! For of your soul, so truly beautiful, I saw a most clear image in the sweetness of your letter, which, as the Gospel says, "out of the abundance of the heart" you filled with honey. And for this reason I fancied I saw you in person, and enjoyed your cheering company, from the affection expressed in your letter; and often taking your letter into my hands and going over it again from beginning to end, I only came more vehemently to crave for the enjoyment, and there was no sense of satiety. Such a feeling can no more put an end to my pleasure, than it can to that derived from anything that is by nature beautiful and precious. For neither has our constant participation of the benefit blunted the edge of our longing to behold the sun, nor does the unbroken enjoyment of health prevent our desiring its continuance; and we are persuaded that it is equally impossible for our enjoyment of your goodness, which we have often experienced face to face and now by letter, ever to reach the point of satiety. But our case is like that of those who from some circumstance are afflicted with unquenchable thirst; for just in the same way, the more we taste your kindness, the more thirsty we become. But unless you suppose our language to be mere blandishment and unreal flattery-and assuredly you will not so suppose, being what you are in all else, and to us especially good and staunch, if any one ever was,-you will certainly believe what I say; that the favour of your letter, applied to my eyes like some medical prescription, stayed my ever-flowing "fountain of tears," and that fixing our hopes on the medicine of your holy prayers, we expect that soon and completely the disease of our soul will be healed: though, for the present at any rate, we are in such a case, that we spare the ears of one who is fond of us, and bury the truth in silence, that we may not drag those who loyally love us into partnership with our troubles. For when we consider that, bereft of what is dearest to us, we are involved in wars, and that it is our children that we were compelled to leave behind, our children whom we were counted worthy to bear to God in spiritual pangs, closely joined to us by the law of love, who at the time of their own trials amid their afflictions extended their affection to us; and over and above these, a fondly-lovedhyperlink home, brethren, kinsmen, companions, intimate associates, friends, hearth, table, cellar, bed, seat, sack, converse, tears-and how sweet these are, and how dearly prized from long habit, I need not write to you who know full well-but not to weary you further, consider for yourself what I have in exchange for those blessings. Now that I am at the end of my life, I begin to live again, and am compelled to learn the graceful versatility of character which is now in vogue: but we are late learners in the shifty school of knavery;hyperlink so that we are constantly constrained to blush at our awkwardness and inaptitude for this new study. But our adversaries, equipped with all the training of this wisdom, are well able to keep what they have learned, and to invent what they have not learned. Their method of warfare accordingly is to skirmish at a distance, and then at a preconcerted signal to form their phalanx in solid order; they utter by way of preludehyperlink whatever suits their interests, they execute surprises by means of exaggerations, they surround themselves with allies from every quarter. But a vast amount of cunning invincible in powerhyperlink accompanies them, advanced before them to lead their host, like some right-and-left-handed combatant, fighting with both hands in front of his army, on one side levying tribute upon his subjects, on the other smiting those who come in his way. But if you care to inquire into the state of our internal affairs, you will find other troubles to match; a stifling hut, abundant in cold, gloom, confinement, and all such advantages; a life the mark of every one's censorious observation, the voice, the look, the way of wearing one's cloak, the movement of the hands, the position of one's feet, and everything else, all a subject for busy-bodies. And unless one from time to time emits a deep breathing, and unless a continuous groaning is uttered with the breathing, and unless the tunic passes gracefully through the girdle (not to mention the very disuse of the girdle itself), and unless our cloak flows aslant down our backs-the omission of anyone of these niceties is a pretext for war against us. And on such grounds as these, they gather together to battle against us, man by manhyperlink , township by township, even down to all sorts of out-of-the-way places. Well, one cannot be always faring well or always ill, for every one's life is made up of contraries. But if by God's grace your help should stand by us steadily, we will bear the abundance of annoyances, in the hope of being always a sharer in your goodness. May you, then, never cease bestowing on us such favours, that by them you may refresh us, and prepare for yourself in ampler measure the reward promised to them that keep the commandments.


1 To Otreius, Bishop of Melitene (in eastern Cappadocia, on or near the tipper Euphrates), to whose successor Letoius Gregory addressed his Canonical Epistle about Penitents (Cod. Medic.). Written when Gregory was in exile under Valens. Zacagni thinks that the "war," and the carping criticisms here complained of, refer to the followers of Eustathius of Sebasteia or of Macedonius, who had plenty to find fault with, even in the gestures and dress of the Catholics (of. Basil, De Spirit. S., end).

2 kexaritwmenoj.

3 This passage is very corrupt, and I have put the best sense 1 could on the fragmentary words preserved to us (H. C. O.).

4 prologizontaj. But proloxizontaj would suit the context better; i. e. "they lay an ambush wherever their interests are concerned" (H. C. O.).

5 Or "accompanies their power:" th dunamei may go with omartei, or with akatagwniotoj (H. C. O.).

6 kat andraj, kai dhmouj, kai esxatiaj. But the Latin, having "solitudines," shows that erhmouj was read for dhmouj. We seem to get here a glimpse of Gregory's activity during his exile (376-78). Rupp thinks that Macrina's words to her brother also refer to this period: "Thee the Churches call to help them and correct them." He moved from place to place to strengthen the Catholic cause; "we," he says in the longer Antirrhetic, "who have sojourned in many spots, and have had serious conversation upon the points in dispute both with those who hold and those who reject the Faith." Gregory of Nazianzum consoles him during these journeys, so exhausting and discouraging to one of his spirit, by comparing him to the comet which is ruled while it seems to wander, and of seeing in the seeming advance of heresy only the last hiss of the dying snake. His travels probably ended in a visit to Palestine: for his Letter On Pilgrimages certainly presupposes former visits in which he had learnt the manners of Jerusalem. His love of Origen, too, makes it likely that he made a private pilgrimage (distinct from the visit of 379) to the land where Origen had chiefly studied.

Letter XV. To Adelphius the Lawyerhyperlink

I Write you this letter from the sacred Vanota, if I do not do the place injustice by giving it its local title:-do it injustice, I say, because in its name it shows no polish. At the same time the beauty of the place, great as it is, is not conveyed by this Galatian epithet: eyes are needed to interpret its beauty. For I, though I have before this seen much, and that in many places, and have also observed many things by means of verbal description in the accounts of old writers, think both all I have seen, and all of which I have heard, of no account in comparison with the loveliness that is to be found here. Your Helicon is nothing: the Islands of the Blest are a fable: the Sicyonian plain is a trifle: the accounts of the Peneus are another case of poetic exaggeration-that river which they say by overflowing with its rich current the banks which flank its course makes for the Thessalians their far-famed Tempe. Why, what beauty is there in any one of these places I have mentioned, such as Vanota can show us of its own? For if one seeks for natural beauty in the place, it needs none of the adornments of art: and if one considers what has been done for it by artificial aid, there has been so much done, and that so well, as might overcome even natural disadvantages. The gifts bestowed upon the spot by Nature who beautifies the earth with unstudied grace are such as these: below, the river Halys makes the place fair to look upon with his banks, and gleams like a golden ribbon through their deep purple, reddening his current with the soil he washes down. Above, a mountain densely overgrown with wood stretches with its long ridge, covered at all points with the foliage of oaks, worthy of finding some Homer to sing its praises more than that Ithacan Neritus, which the poet calls "far-seen with quivering leaveshyperlink ." But the natural growth of wood, as it comes down the hill-side, meets at the foot the planting of men's husbandry. For forthwith vines, spread out over the slopes, and swellings, and hollows at the mountain's base, cover with their colour, like a green mantle, all the lower ground: and the season at this time even added to their beauty, displaying its grape-clusters wonderful to behold. Indeed this caused me yet more surprise, that while the neighbouring country shows fruit still unripe, one might here enjoy the full clusters, and be sated with their perfection. Then, far off, like a watch-fire from some great beacon, there shone before our eyes the fair beauty of the buildings. On the left as we entered was the chapel built for the martyrs, not yet complete in its structure, but still lacking the roof, yet making a good show notwithstanding. Straight before us in the way were the beauties of the house, where one part is marked out from another by some delicate invention. There were projecting towers, and preparations for banqueting among the wide and high-arched rows of trees crowning the entrance before the gateshyperlink . Then about the buildings are the Phaeacian gardens; rather, let not the beauties of Vanota be insulted by comparison with those Homer never saw "the apple with bright fruithyperlink " as we have it here, approaching to the hue of its own blossom in the exceeding brilliancy of its colouring: he never saw the pear whiter than new-polished ivory. And what can one say of the varieties of the peach, diverse and multiform, yet blended and compounded out of different species? For just as with those who paint "goat-stags," and "centaurs," and the like, commingling things of different kind, and making themselves wiser than Nature, so it is in the case of this fruit: Nature, under the despotism of art, turns one to an almond, another to a walnut, yet another to a "Doracinushyperlink ," mingled alike in name and in flavour. And in all these the number of single trees is more noted than their beauty; yet they display tasteful arrangement in their planting, and that harmonious form of drawing-drawing, I call it, for the marvel belongs rather to the painter's art than to the gardener's. So readily does Nature fall in with the design of those who arrange these devices, that it seems impossible to express this by words. Who could find words worthily to describe the road under the climbing vines, and the sweet shade of their cluster, and that novel wall-structure where roses with their shoots, and vines with their trailers, twist themselves together and make a fortification that serves as a wall against a flank attack, and the pond at the summit of this path, and the fish that are bred there? As regards all these, the people who have charge of your Nobility's house were ready to act as our guides with a certain ingenuous kindliness, and pointed them out to us, showing us each of the things you had taken pains about, as if it were yourself to whom, by our means, they were showing courtesy. There too, one of the lads, like a conjuror, showed us such a wonder as one does not very often find in nature: for he went down to the deep water and brought up at will such of the fish as he selected; and they seemed no strangers to the fisherman's touch, being tame and submissive under the artist's hands, like well-trained dogs. Then they led me to a house as if to rest-a house, I call it, for such the entrance betokened, but, when we came inside, it was not a house but a portico which received us. The portico was raised up aloft to a great height over a deep pool: the basement supporting the portico of triangular shape, like a gateway leading to the delights within, was washed by the water. Straight before us in the interior a sort of house occupied the vertex of the triangle, with lofty roof, lit on all sides by the sun's rays, and decked with varied paintings; so that this spot almost made us forget what had preceded it. The house attracted us to itself; and again, the portico on the pool was a unique sight. For the excellent fish would swim up from the depths to the surface, leaping up into the very air like winged things, as though purposely mocking us creatures of the dry land. For showing half their form and tumbling through the air, they plunged once more into the depth. Others, again, in shoals, following one another in order, were a sight for unaccustomed eyes: while in another place one might see another shoal packed in a cluster round a morsel of bread, pushed aside one by another, and here one leaping up, there another diving downwards. But even this we were made to forget by the grapes that were brought us in baskets of twisted shoots, by the varied bounty of the season's fruit, the preparation for breakfast, the varied dainties, and savoury dishes, and sweetmeats, and drinking of healths, and wine-cups. So now since I was sated and inclined to sleep, I got a scribe posted beside me, and sent to your Eloquence, as if it were a dream, this chattering letter. But I hope to recount in full to yourself and your friends, not with paper and ink, but with my own voice and tongue, the beauties of your home.


1 sxolastikoj, or possibly "student," but the title of logisthj, afterwards employed of the person to whom the letter is addressed, rather suggests the profession of an "advocate," than the occupation of a scholar.

2 Cf. Horn. Odyss. ix. 22.

3 The text is clearly erroneous, and perhaps otefanousi is the true reading: it seems clearer in construction than stefanousai suggested by Caraccioli.

4 Cf. Horn. Od. vii. 115.

5 The word seems otherwise unknown. It may he a Graecizing of the Latin "duracinus," for which cf. Plin. XV. xii. 11.

Letter XVI. To Amphilochius.

I Am well persuaded that by God's grace the business of the Church of the Martyrs is in a fair way. Would that you were willing in the matter. The task we have in hand will find its end by the power of God, Who is able, wherever He speaks, to turn word into deed. Seeing that, as the Apostle says, "He Who has begun a good work will also perform ithyperlink ", I would exhort you in this also to be an imitator of the great Paul, and to advance our hope to actual fulfilment, and send us so many workmen as may suffice for the work we have in hand.

Your Perfection might perhaps be informed by calculation of the dimensions to which the total work will attain: and to this end I will endeavour to explain the whole structure by a verbal description. The form of the chapel is a cross, which has its figure completed throughout, as you would expect, by four structures. The junctions of the buildings intercept one another, as we see everywhere in the cruciform pattern. But within the cross there lies a circle, divided by eight angles (I call the octagonal figure a circle in view of its circumference), in such wise that the two pairs of sides of the octagon which are diametrically opposed to one another, unite by means of arches the central circle to the adjoining blocks of building; while the other four sides of the octagon, which lie between the quadrilateral buildings, will not themselves be carried to meet the buildings, but upon each of them will be described a semicircle like a shellhyperlink , terminating in an arch above: so that the arches will be eight in all, and by their means the quadrilateral and semicircular buildings will be connected, side by side, with the central structure. In the blocks of masonry formed by the angles there will be an equal number of pillars, at once for ornament and for strength, and these again will carry arches built of equal size to correspond with those withinhyperlink . And above these eight arches, with the symmetry of an upper range of windows, the octagonal building will be raised to the height of four cubits: the part rising from it will be a cone shaped like a top, as the vaultinghyperlink narrows the figure of the roof from its full width to a pointed wedge. The dimensions below will be,-the width of each of the quadrilateral buildings, eight cubits, the length of them half as much again, the height as much as the proportion of the width allows. It will be as much in the semicircles also. The whole length between the piers extends in the same way to eight cubits, and the depth will be as much as will be given by the sweep of the compasses with the fixed point placed in the middle of the sidehyperlink and extending to the end. The height will be determined in this case too by the proportion to the width. And the thickness of the wall, an interval of three feet from inside these spaces, which are measured internally, will run round the whole building.

I have troubled your Excellency with this serious trifling, with this intention, that by the thickness of the walls, and by the intermediate spaces, you may accurately ascertain what sum the number of feet gives as the measurement; because your intellect is exceedingly quick in all matters, and makes its way, by God's grace, in whatever subject you will, and it is possible for you, by subtle calculation, to ascertain the sum made up by all the parts, so as to send us masons neither more nor fewer than our need requires. And I beg you to direct your attention specially to this point, that some of them may be skilled in making vaultinghyperlink without supports: for I am informed that when built in this way it is more durable than what is made to rest on props. It is the scarcity of wood that brings us to this device of roofing the whole fabric with stone; because the place supplies no timber for roofing. Let your unerring mind be persuaded, because some of the people here contract with me to furnish thirty workmen for a stater, for the dressed stonework, of course with a specified ration along with the stater. But the material of our masonry is not of this sorthyperlink , but brick made of clay and chance stones, so that they do not need to spend time in fitting the faces of the stones accurately together. I know that so far as skill and fairness in the matter of wages are concerned, the workmen in your neighbourhood are better for our purpose than those who follow the trade here. The sculptor's work lies not only in the eight pillars, which must themselves be improved and beautified, but the work requires altar-like base-mouldingshyperlink , and capitals carved in the Corinthian style. The porch, too, will be of marbles wrought with appropriate ornaments. The doors set upon these will be adorned with some such designs as are usually employed by way of embellishment at the projection of the cornice. Of all these, of course, we shall furnish the materials; the form to be impressed on the materials art will bestow. Besides these there will be in the colonnade not less than forty pillars: these also will be of wrought stone. Now if my account has explained the work in detail, I hope it may be possible for your Sanctity, on perceiving what is needed, to relieve us completely from anxiety so far as the workmen are concerned. If, however, the workman were inclined to make a bargain favourable to us, let a distinct measure of work, if possible, be fixed for the day, so that he may not pass his time doing nothing, and then, though he has no work to show for it, as having worked for us so many days, demand payment for them. I know that we shall appear to most people to be higglers, in being so particular about the contracts. But I beg you to pardon me; for that Mammon about whom I have so often said such hard things, has at last departed from me as far as he can possibly go, being disgusted, I suppose, at the nonsense that is constantly talked against him, and has fortified himself against me by an impassable gulf-to wit, poverty-so that neither can he come to me, nor can I pass to himhyperlink . This is why I make a point of the fairness of the workmen, to the end that we may be able to fulfil the task before us, and not be hindered by poverty-that laudable and desirable evil. Well, in all this there is a certain admixture of jest. But do you, man of God, in such ways as are possible and legitimate, boldly promise in bargaining with the men that they will all meet with fair treatment at our hands, and full payment of their wages: for we shall give all and keep back nothing, as God also opens to us, by your prayers, His hand of blessing.


1 Cf. Phil. i. 6.

2 Reading kogxoeidwj.

3 That is, on an inner line; the upper row having their supports at the angles of the inscribed octagon, and therefore at a point further removed from the centre of the circle than those of the lower tier, which correspond to the sides of the octagon. Or, simply, "those inside the building," the upper tier showing in the outside view of the structure, while the lower row would only be visible from the interior. There is apparently a corresponding row of windows above the upper row of arches, carrying the central tower four cubits higher. This at least seems the sense of the clause immediately following.

4 Reading eilhsewj, of which this seems to be the meaning.

5 i. e. of the side of the octagon.

6 Reading eilhsin.

7 i. e. not dressed stone.

8 The speira is a moulding at the base of the column, equivalent to the Latin torus.

9 Cf. S. Luke xvi. 26.