Of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsaria,Translated with Notes by
The Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A.
Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London
Published in 1895 by T&T Clark, Edinburgh
Introduction to the Letters.Of Saint Basil the extant letters, according to popular ascription, number three hundred and sixty-six. Of these three hundred and twenty-five, or, according to some, only three hundred and nineteen are genuine. They are published in three chronological divisions, the 1st, (Letters 1-46) comprising those written by Basil before his elevation to the episcopate; the second (47-291) the Letters of the Episcopate; the third (292-366) those which have no note of time, together with some that are of doubtful genuineness, and a few certainly spurious. They may be classified as (a) historical, (b) dogmatic, (c) moral and ascetic, (d) disciplinary, (e) consolatory, (f) commendatory, and (g) familiar. In the historic we have a vivid picture of his age. The doctrinal are of special value as expressing and defending the Nicene theology. The moral and ascetic indicate the growing importance of the monastic institution which Athanasius at about the same time was instrumental in recommending to the Latin Church. The disciplinary, (notably 188, 199, and 217), to Amphilochius, illustrate the earlier phases of ecclesiastical law. The consolatory, commendatory, and familiar, have an immediate biographical value as indicating the character and faith of the writer, and may not be without use alike as models of Christian feeling and good breeding, and as bringing comfort in trouble to readers remote in time and place. The text in the following translation is that of Migne's edition, except where it is stated to the contrary. Of the inadequacy of the notes to illustrate the letters as they deserve no one can be more vividly conscious than myself. But the letters tell their own story.
Footnotes Fessler, Inst. Pat. i. 518.
Letter I. To Eustathius the Philosopher. 
Much distressed as I was by the flouts of what is called fortune, who always seems to be hindering my meeting you, I was wonderfully cheered and comforted by your letter, for I had already been turning over in my mind whether what so many people say is really true, that there is a certain Necessity or Fate which rules all the events of our lives both great and small, and that we human beings have control over nothing; or, that at all events, all human life is driven by a kind of luck. You will be very ready to forgive me for these reflexions, when you learn by what causes I was led to make them.
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Asia  I admired; but I hurried on to the capital of all that is best in it. When I arrived home, and did not find you,--the prize which I had sought so eagerly,--there began many and various unexpected hindrances. First I must miss you because I fell ill; then when you were setting out for the East I could not start with you; then, after endless trouble, I reached Syria, but I missed the philosopher, who had set out for Egypt. Then I must set out for Egypt, a long and weary way, and even there I did not gain my end. But so passionate was my longing that I must either set out for Persia, and proceed with you to the farthest lands of barbarism, (you had got there; what an obstinate devil possessed me!) or settle here at Alexandria. This last I did. I really think that unless, like some tame beast, I had followed a bough held out to me till I was quite worn out, you would have been driven on and on beyond Indian Nyssa,  or any more remote region, and wandered about out there. Why say more?
On returning home, I cannot meet you, hindered by lingering ailments. If these do not get better I shall not be able to meet you even in the winter. Is not all this, as you yourself say, due to Fate? Is not this Necessity? Does not my case nearly outdo poets' tales of Tantalus? But, as I said, I feel better after getting your letter, and am now no longer of the same mind. When God gives good things I think we must thank Him, and not be angry with Him while He is controlling their distribution. So if He grant me to join you, I shall think it best and most delightful; if He put me off, I will gently endure the loss. For He always rules our lives better than we could choose for ourselves.
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