Writings of Basil - The Letters
Of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsaria,
Translated with Notes by
The Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A.
Vicar of Saint Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King's College, London.
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,
Letter CCL. 
To Patrophilus, bishop of Ægæ.
There has been some delay in my receiving your answer to my former
letter; but it has reached me through the well-beloved Strategius, and
I have given thanks to the Lord for your continuance in your love to
me. What you have now been kind enough to write on the same subject
proves your good intentions, for you think as you ought, and you
counsel me to my gain. But I see that my words will be extending too
far, if I am to reply to everything written to me by your excellency.
I therefore say no more than this, that, if the blessing of peace goes
no further than the mere name of peace, it is ridiculous to go on
picking out here one and there another, and allow them alone a share
in the boon, while others beyond number are excluded from it. But if
agreement with mischievous men, under the appearance of peace, really
does the harm an enemy might do to all who consent to it, then only
consider who those men are who have been admitted to their
companionship, who have conceived an unrighteous hatred against me;
who but men of the faction not in communion with me. There is no need
now for me to mention them by name. They have been invited by them to
Sebasteia; they have assumed the charge of the Church; they have
performed service at the altar: they have given of their own bread to
all the people, being proclaimed bishops by the clergy there, and
escorted through all the district as saints and in communion. If one
must adopt the faction of these men, it is absurd to begin at the
extremities, and not rather to hold intercourse with those that are
their heads. If then we are to count heretic and shun no one
at all, why, tell me, do you separate yourself from the communion of
certain persons? But if any are to be shunned, let me be told by
these people who are so logically consistent in everything, to what
party those belong whom they have invited over from Galatia to join
them? If such things seem grievous to you, charge the separation on
those who are responsible for it. If you judge them to be of no
importance, forgive me for declining to be of the leaven of the
teachers of wrong doctrine. Wherefore, if you will, have no
more to do with those specious arguments, but with all openness
confute them that do not walk aright in the truth of the Gospel.
 Placed in 376.
 i.e. with Euzoius, Eudoxius, and the more pronounced Arians.
 ton heterodidaskalounton. cf. 1 Tim. i. 3. The Ben. note
compares Greg., Orat. xii. 203.
Letter CCLI. 
To the people of Evæsæ. 
1. My occupations are very numerous, and my mind is full of many
anxious cares, but I have never forgotten you, my dear friends, ever
praying my God for your constancy in the faith, wherein ye stand and
have your boasting in the hope of the glory of God. Truly nowadays it
is hard to find, and extraordinary to see, a Church pure, unharmed by
the troubles of the times, and preserving the apostolic doctrine in
all its integrity and completeness. Such is your Church shewn at this
present time by Him who in every generation makes manifest them that
are worthy of His calling. May the Lord grant to you the blessings of
Jerusalem which is above, in return for your flinging back at the
heads of the liars their slanders against me, and your refusal to
allow them entry into your hearts. I know, and am persuaded in the
Lord, that "your reward is great in heaven,"  even on account of
this very conduct. For you have wisely concluded among yourselves, as
indeed is the truth, that the men who are "rewarding me evil for good,
and hatred for my love,"  are accusing me now for the very same
points which they are found to have themselves confessed and
2. Their presenting you with their own signatures for an accusation
against me is not the only contradiction into which they have fallen.
They were unanimously deposed by the bishops assembled at
Constantinople. They refused to accept this deposition and
appealed to a synod of impious men,  refusing to admit the
episcopacy of their judges, in order not to accept the sentence passed
The reason alleged for their non-recognition was their being leaders
of wicked heresy. All this  happened nearly seventeen years
ago. The principal men of those who deposed them were Eudoxius,
Euippius, George,  Acacius, and others unknown to you. 
The present tyrants of the churches are their successors, some
ordained to fill their places, and others actually promoted by them.
3. Now let those who charge me with unsound doctrine tell me in what
way the men whose deposition they refused to accept were heretical.
Let them tell me in what way those promoted by them, and holding the
same views as their fathers, are orthodox. If Euippius was orthodox,
how can Eustathius, whom he deposed, be other than a layman? If
Euippius was a heretic, how can any one ordained by him be in
communion with Eustathius now? But all this conduct, this trying to
accuse men and set them up again, is child's play, got up against the
Churches of God, for their own gain.
When Eustathius was travelling through Paphlagonia, he overthrew the
altars  of Basilides of Paphlagonia,  and used to perform
divine service on his own tables. Now he is begging Basilides
to be admitted to communion. He refused to communicate with our
reverend brother Elpidius, because of his alliance with the Amasenes;
 and now he comes as a suppliant to the Amasenes, petitioning
for alliance with them. Even ye yourselves know how shocking were his
public utterances against Euippius: now he glorifies the holders of
Euippius's opinions for their orthodoxy, if only they will cooperate
in promoting his restitution. And I am all the while being
calumniated, not because I am doing any wrong, but because they have
imagined that they will thus be recommended to the party at Antioch.
The character of those whom they sent for last year from Galatia, as
being likely by their means to recover the free exercise of their
episcopal powers, is only too well known to all who have lived even
for a short time with them. I pray that the Lord may never allow me
leisure to recount all their proceedings. I will only say that they
have passed through the whole country, with the honour and attendance
of bishops, escorted by their most honourable bodyguard and
sympathizers; and have made a grand entry into the city, and held an
assembly with all authority. The people have been given over to
them. The altar has been given over to them. How they went to
Nicopolis, and could do nothing there of all that they had promised,
and how they came, and what appearance they presented on their return,
is known to those who were on the spot. They are obviously taking
every single step for their own gain and profit. If they say that
they have repented, let them shew their repentance in writing; let
them anathematize the Creed of Constantinople; let them separate from
the heretics; and let them no longer trick the simple-minded. So much
for them and theirs.
4. I, however, brethren beloved, small and insignificant as I am, but
remaining ever by God's grace the same, have never changed with the
changes of the world. My creed has not varied at Seleucia, at
Constantinople, at Zela,  at Lampsacus, and at Rome. My present
creed is not different from the former; it has remained ever one and
the same. As we received from the Lord, so are we baptized; as we are
baptized, so we make profession of our faith; as we make profession of
our faith, so do we offer our doxology, not separating the Holy Ghost
from Father and Son, nor preferring Him in honour to the Father, or
asserting Him to be prior to the Son, as blasphemers' tongues invent.
Who could be so rash as to reject the Lord's commandment, and
boldly devise an order of his own for the Names? But I do not call
the Spirit, Who is ranked with Father and Son, a creature. I do not
dare to call slavish that which is royal. And I beseech you
to remember the threat uttered by the Lord in the words, "All manner
of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy
against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, neither in this
world, neither in the world to come." Keep yourselves from
dangerous teaching against the Spirit. "Stand fast in the faith."
Look over all the world, and see how small the part is which
is unsound. All the rest of the Church which has received the Gospel.
from one end of the world to the other, abides in this sound and
unperverted doctrine. From their communion I pray that I may never
fall, and I pray that I may have part and lot with you in the
righteous day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shall come to give to
every one according to his conduct.
 Placed in 376.
 Euassai. Possibly Ptolemy's Seioua. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. A. M.
304. Now Yogounes, i.e. ;'Agios 'Ioannes.
 Matt. v. 12.
 Ps. cix. 5.
 i.e. in January 360. Soc. ii. 41-43; Soz. iv. 24.
 The Synod of Lampsacus in 365 is probably referred to, but
Socrates (v. 14) mentions several synods of the Homoiousians.
 i.e. the deposition.
 Of uncertain see.
 A ms. variety is "to me."
 thusiasteria .
 i.e.Basilides, bishop of Gangra. cf. Letter ccxxvi. p. 268.
 trapezon .
 i.e.the Arian bishop of Amasia, who was intruded into the place
of Eulalius. On the state of the Amasene church at his time, cf. Soz.
 cf. Letter ccxxvi. p. 268.
 cf. De Sp. S. chap. xii. p. 18.
 cf. Ps. li. 12, LXX.
 Matt. xii. 31, 32.
 1 Cor. xvi. 13.
Letter CCLII. 
To the bishops of the Pontic Diocese. 
The honours of martyrs ought to be very eagerly coveted by all who
rest their hopes on the Lord, and more especially by you who seek
after virtue. By your disposition towards the great and good among
your fellow servants you are shewing your affection to our common
Lord. Moreover, a special reason for this is to be found in the tie,
as it were, of blood, which binds the life of exact discipline to
those who have been made perfect through endurance. Since then
Eupsychius and Damas and their company are most illustrious among
martyrs, and their memory is yearly kept in our city and all the
neighbourhood, the Church, calling on you by my voice, reminds you to
keep up your ancient custom of paying a visit. A great and good work
lies before you among the people, who desire to be edified by you, and
are anxious for the reward dependent on the honour paid to the
martyrs. Receive, therefore, my supplications, and consent of your
kindness to give at the cost of small trouble to yourselves a great
boon to me. 
 Placed in 376.
 In the title the word dioikesis is used in its oldest
ecclesiastical sense of a patriarchal jurisdiction commensurate with
the civil diocese, which contained several provinces. cf. the IXth
Canon of Chalcedon, which gives an appeal from the metropolitan, the
head of the province, to the exarch of the "diocese." "The title
exarch is here applied to the primate of a group of provincial
churches, as it had been used by Ibas, bishop of Edema, at his trial
in 448; alluding to the `Eastern Council' which had resisted the
council of Ephesus, and condemned Cyril, he said, `I followed my
exarch,' meaning John of Antioch (Mansi vii. 237; compare Evagrius iv.
11, using `patriarchs' and `exarchs' synonymously). Reference is here
made not to all such prelates, but to the bishops of Ephesus, Cæsarea
in Cappadocia, and Heraclea, if, as seems possible, the see of
Heraclea still nominally retained its old relation to the bishop of
Thrace." Bright, Canons of the First Four Gen. Councils, pp. 156,
157. The Pontic diocese was one of Constantine's thirteen civil
 cf. p. 184, n. cf. Proleg. Eupsychius, a noble bridegroom of
Cæsarea, was martyred under Julian for his share in the demolition of
the temple of Fortune. Soz. v. 11. cf. Greg. Naz., Ep. ad Bas.
lviii. September 7 was the day of the feast at Cæsarea.
Letter CCLIII. 
To the presbyters of Antioch. 
The anxious care which you have for the Churches of God will to some
extent be assuaged by our very dear and very reverend brother
Sanctissimus the presbyter, when he has told you of the love and
kindness felt for us by all the West. But, on the other hand, it will
be roused afresh and made yet keener, when he has told you in person
what zeal is demanded by the present position of affairs. All other
authorities have told us, as it were, by halves, the minds of men in
the West, and the condition of things there. He is very competent to
understand men's minds, and to make exact enquiry into the condition
of affairs, and he will tell you everything and will guide your good
will through the whole business. You have matter before you
appropriate to the excellent will which you have always shewn in your
anxiety on behalf of the Churches of God.
 Placed in 376.
 This and the three following letters are complimentary and
consolatory epistles conveyed by Sanctissimus on his return to Rome.
It does not appear quite certain whether they are to be referred to
the period of his return from his second journey to the East in 376,
or that of his earlier return in 374. cf. Letters cxx. and ccxxi.
Letter CCLIV. 
To Pelagius,  bishop of the Syrian Laodicea.
May the Lord grant me once again in person to behold your true piety
and to supply in actual intercourse all that is wanting in my letter.
I am behindhand in beginning to write and must needs make many
excuses. But we have with us the well beloved and reverend brother
Sanctissimus, the presbyter. He will tell you everything, both our
news and the news of the West. You will be cheered by what you hear;
but when he tells you of the troubles in which we are involved he will
perhaps add some distress and anxiety to that which already besets
your kindly soul. Yet it is not to no purpose that affliction should
be felt by you, able as you are to move the Lord. Your anxiety will
turn to our gain, and I know that we shall receive succour from God as
long as we have the aid of your prayers. Pray, too, with me for
release from my anxieties, and ask for some increase in my bodily
strength; then the Lord will prosper me on my way to the fulfilment of
my desires and to a sight of your excellency.
 Placed in 376.
 cf. Letter xcii. p. 177. On Pelagius bishop of the Syrian
Laodicea, see Theod., H.E. iv. 13 and v. 8. Philostorg., H.E. v. 1.
Sozomen, H.E. vi. 12, and vii. 9.
Letter CCLV. 
To Vitus, bishop of Charræ. 
Would that it were possible for me to write to your reverence every
day! For ever since I have had experience of your affection I have
had great desire to converse with you, or, if this be impossible, at
least to communicate with you by letter, that I may tell you my own
news and learn in what state you are. Yet we have not what we wish
but what the Lord gives, and this we ought to receive with gratitude.
I have therefore thanked the holy God for giving me an opportunity for
writing to your reverence on the arrival of our very well beloved and
reverend brother Sanctissimus, the presbyter. He has had considerable
trouble in accomplishing his journey, and will tell you with accuracy
all that he has learnt in the West. For all these things we ought to
thank the Lord and to beseech Him to give us too the same peace and
that we may freely receive one another. Receive all the brethren in
Christ in my name.
 Placed in 376.
 cf. Letter xcii. p. 177. Vitus of Charræ (Haran) was bishop of
Constantinople in 381. (Labbe, ii. 955.) cf. Sozomen, H.E. vi. 33.
Letter CCLVI. 
To the very well beloved and reverend brethren the presbyters Acacius,
Aetius, Paulus, and Silvanus; the deacons Silvinus and Lucius, and the
rest of the brethren the monks, Basil, the bishop. 
News has reached me of the severe persecution carried on against you,
and how directly after Easter the men who fast for strife and debate
 attacked your homes, and gave your labours to the flames,
preparing for you indeed a house in the heavens, not made with hands,
 but for themselves laying up in store the fire which they had
used to your hurt. I no sooner heard of this than I groaned over what
had happened; pitying not you, my brethren, (God forbid!) but the men
who are so sunk in wickedness as to carry their evil deeds to such an
extent. I expected you all to hurry at once to the refuge prepared
for you in my humble self; and I hoped that the Lord would give me
refreshment in the midst of my continual troubles in embracing you,
and in receiving on this inactive body of mine the noble sweat which
you are dropping for the truth's sake, and so having some share in the
prizes laid up for you by the Judge of truth. But this did not enter
into your minds, and you did not even expect any relief at my hands.
I was therefore at least anxious to find frequent opportunities of
writing to you, to the end that like those who cheer on combatants in
the arena, I might myself by letter give you some encouragement in
your good fight. For two reasons, however, I have not found this
easy. In the first place, I did not know where you were residing.
And, secondly, but few of our people travel in your direction. Now
the Lord has brought us the very well beloved and reverend brother
Sanctissimus, the presbyter. By him I am able to salute you, and I
beseech you to pray for me, rejoicing and exulting that your reward is
great in heaven,  and that you have freedom with the Lord to
cease not day and night calling on Him to put an end to this storm of
the Churches; to grant the shepherds to their flocks, and that the
Church may return to her proper dignity. I am persuaded that if a
voice be found to move our good God, He will not make His mercy afar
off, but will now "with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye
may be able to bear it." Salute all the brethren in Christ in
 Placed in 376.
 Maran (Vit. Bas. xxxvi. 5) remarks that the Acacius heading
this list is probably the Acacius who in 375 had invited Basil in the
name of the Church of Beroea, and was afterwards famous alike for his
episcopate at Beroea and his hostility to St. Chrysostom. cf. Letter
ccxx. p. 260.
 Is. lviii. 4.
 2 Cor. v. 1.
 Matt. v. 12.
 1 Cor. x. 13.
Letter CCLVII. 
To the monks harassed by the Arians.
1. I have thought it only right to announce to you by letter how I
said to myself, when I heard of the trials brought upon you by the
enemies of God, that in a time reckoned a time of peace you have won
for yourselves the blessings promised to all who suffer persecution
for the sake of the name of Christ. In my judgment the war that is
waged against us by our fellow countrymen is the hardest to bear,
because against open and declared enemies it is easy to defend
ourselves, while we are necessarily at the mercy of those who are
associated with us, and are thus exposed to continual danger. This
has been your case. Our fathers were persecuted, but by idolaters
their substance was plundered, their houses were overthrown, they
themselves were driven into exile, by our open enemies, for Christ's
name's sake. The persecutors who have lately appeared, hate us no
less than they, but, to the deceiving of many, they put forward the
name of Christ, that the persecuted may be robbed of all comfort from
its confession, because the majority of simpler folk, while admitting
that we are being wronged, are unwilling to reckon our death for the
truth's sake to be martyrdom. I am therefore persuaded that the
reward in store for you from the righteous Judge is yet greater than
that bestowed on those former martyrs. They indeed both had the
public praise of men, and received the reward of God; to you, though
your good deeds are not less, no honours are given by the people. It
is only fair that the requital in store for you in the world to come
should be far greater.
2. I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to
be revived by God's love, and to add daily to your zeal, knowing that
in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the
Lord will find when He cometh on the earth. Even if bishops are
driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen
from among the very clergy  themselves, let not this undermine
your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and
purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the
attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised
the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the
word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but
the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of
the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters
of the sea. If but one be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide
in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord
will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ
from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.
 Placed in 376.
 Maran conjectures an allusion to Fronto.
Letter CCLVIII. 
To Epiphanius the bishop. 
1. It has long been expected that, in accordance with the prediction
of our Lord, because of iniquity abounding, the love of the majority
would wax cold. Now experience has confirmed this
expectation. But though this condition of things has already obtained
among us here, it seems to be contradicted by the letter brought from
your holiness. For verily it is no mere ordinary proof of love, first
that you should remember an unworthy and insignificant person like
myself; and secondly, that you should send to visit me brethren who
are fit and proper ministers of a correspondence of peace. For now,
when every man is viewing every one else with suspicion, no spectacle
is rarer than that which you are presenting. Nowhere is pity to be
seen; nowhere sympathy; nowhere a brotherly tear for a brother in
distress. Not persecutions for the truth's sake, not Churches with
all their people in tears; not this great tale of troubles closing
round us, are enough to stir us to anxiety for the welfare of one
another. We jump on them that are fallen; we scratch and tear at
wounded places; we who are supposed to agree with one another launch
the curses that are uttered by the heretics; men who are in agreement
on the most important matters are wholly severed from one another on
some one single point. How, then, can I do otherwise than admire him
who in such circumstances shews that his love to his neighbour is pure
and guileless, and, though separated from me by so great a distance of
sea and land, gives my soul all the care he can?
2. I have been specially struck with admiration at your having been
distressed even by the dispute of the monks on the Mount of Olives,
and at your expressing a wish that some means might be found of
reconciling them to one another. I have further been glad to hear
that you have not been unaware of the unfortunate steps, taken by
certain persons, which have caused disturbance among the brethren, and
that you have keenly interested yourself even in these matters. But I
have deemed it hardly worthy of your wisdom that you should entrust
the rectification of matters of such importance to me: for I am not
guided by the grace of God, because of my living in sin; I have no
power of eloquence, because I have cheerfully withdrawn from vain
studies; and I am not yet sufficiently versed in the doctrines of the
truth. I have therefore already written to my beloved brethren at the
Mount of Olives, our own Palladius,  and Innocent the Italian,
in answer to their letters to me, that it is impossible for me to make
even the slightest addition to the Nicene Creed, except the ascription
of Glory to the Holy Ghost, because our Fathers treated this point
cursorily, no question having at that time arisen concerning the
Spirit. As to the additions it is proposed to make to that Creed,
concerning the incarnation of our Lord, I have neither tested nor
accepted them, as being beyond my comprehension. I know well
that, if once we begin to interfere with the simplicity of the Creed,
we shall embark on interminable discussion, contradiction ever leading
us on and on, and shall but disturb the souls of simpler folk by the
introduction of new phrases. 
3. As to the Church at Antioch (I mean that which is in agreement in
the same doctrine), may the Lord grant that one day we may see it
united. It is in peril of being specially open to the attacks of the
enemy, who is angry with it because there the name of Christian first
obtained. There heresy is divided against orthodoxy, and
orthodoxy is divided against herself. My position, however,
is this. The right reverend bishop Meletius was the first to speak
boldly for the truth, and fought that good fight in the days of
Constantine. Therefore my Church has felt strong affection towards
him, for the sake of that brave and firm stand, and has held communion
with him. I, therefore, by God's grace, have held him to be in
communion up to this time; and, if God will, I shall continue to do
so. Moreover the very blessed Pope Athanasius came from Alexandria,
and was most anxious that communion should be established between
Meletius and himself; but by the malice of counsellors their
conjunction was put off to another season. Would that this had not
been so! I have never accepted communion with any one of those who
have since been introduced into the see, not because I count them
unworthy, but because I see no ground for the condemnation of
Meletius. Nevertheless I have heard many things about the brethren,
without giving heed to them, because the accused were not brought face
to face with their accusers, according to that which is written, "Doth
our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?"
I cannot therefore at present write to them, right honourable
brother, and I ought not to be forced to do so. It will be becoming
to your peaceful disposition not to cause union in one direction and
disunion in another, but to restore the severed member to the original
union. First, then, pray; next, to the utmost of your ability,
exhort, that ambition may be driven from their hearts, and that
reconciliation may be effected between them both to restore strength
to the Church, and to destroy the rage of our foes. It has given
great comfort to my soul that, in addition to your other right and
accurate statements in theology, you should acknowledge the necessity
of stating that the hypostases are three. Let the brethren at Antioch
be instructed by you after this manner. Indeed I am confident that
they have been so instructed; for I am sure you would never have
accepted communion with them unless you had carefully made sure of
this point in them.
4. The Magusæans,  as you were good enough to point out to me
in your other letter, are here in considerable numbers, scattered all
over the country, settlers having long ago been introduced into these
parts from Babylon. Their manners are peculiar, as they do not mix
with other men. It is quite impossible to converse with them,
inasmuch as they have been made the prey of the devil to do his will.
They have no books; no instructors in doctrine. They are brought up
in senseless institutions, piety being handed down from father to
son. In addition to the characteristics which are open to general
observation, they object to the slaying of animals as defilement, and
they cause the animals they want for their own use to be slaughtered
by other people. They are wild after illicit marriages; they consider
fire divine, and so on. No one hitherto has told me any
fables about the descent of the Magi from Abraham: they name a
certain Zarnuas as the founder of their race. I have nothing more to
write to your excellency about them.
 Placed in 377.
 The learned and saintly bishop of Salamis in Cyprus. About
this time he published his great work against heresy, the Panarion,
and also travelled to Antioch to reconcile the Apollinarian Vitalis to
Paulinus. On the failure of his efforts, and the complicated state of
parties at Antioch at this time, cf. Epiphan., lxxvii. 20-23; Jerome,
Epp. 57, 58, and Soz., H.E. vi. 25.
 cf. Matt. xxiv. 12.
 This Palladius may possibly be identified with the Palladius of
Cæsarea of Athanasius, Ep. ad Pall. Migne, Pat. xxvi. 1167, and in
the Ath. of this series, p. 580.
 The Ben. note remarks "Cum nonnulli formulæ Nicenæ aliquid de
Incarnatione adderent ad comprimendos Apollinaristas, id Basilius nec
examinaverat," etc. I rather understand the present prosuphainomena
to refer to the proposals of Innocent to Palladius.
 Yet Basil will admit an addition which he holds warranted, in
the case of the glorification of the Spirit, and would doubtless have
acquiesced in the necessity of the additions finally victorious in
 cf. note on Theodoret in this series, p. 320.
 In 377 Meletius was in exile, and Paulinus the bishop of the
"old Catholics," or Eustathians (Soc., H.E. iv. 2, v. 5) opposing
Vitalius, who was consecrated to the episcopate by Apollinaris. On
the confusion resulting from these three nominally orthodox claimants,
vide Jerome's Letter xvi. in this series, p. 20.
 John vii. 51.
 From Magusa in Arabia, cf. Plin., Nat. Hist. vi. 32.
 With the statements of Basil may be compared those of
Bardesanes in Eusebius, Præp. Evan. vi. 275, and of Epiphanius in his
Exp. Cathol. Fid.
Letter CCLIX. 
To the monks Palladius and Innocent.
From your affection for me you ought to be able to conjecture my
affection for you. I have always desired to be a herald of peace,
and, when I fail in my object, I am grieved. How could it be
otherwise? I cannot feel angry with any one for this reason, because
I know that the blessing of peace has long ago been withdrawn from
us. If the responsibility for division lies with others, may the Lord
grant that those who cause dissension may cease to do so. I cannot
even ask that your visits to me may be frequent. You have therefore
no reason to excuse yourselves on this score. I am well aware that
men who have embraced the life of labour, and always provide with
their own hands the necessities of life, cannot be long away from
home; but, wherever you are, remember me, and pray for me that no
cause of disturbance may dwell in my heart, and that I may be at peace
with myself and with God.
 Placed in 377.
Letter CCLX. 
To Optimus the bishop. 
1. Under any circumstances I should have gladly seen the good lads,
on account of both a steadiness of character beyond their years, and
their near relationship to your excellency, which might have led me to
expect something remarkable in them. And, when I saw them approaching
me with your letter, my affection towards them was doubled. But now
that I have read the letter, now that I have seen all the anxious care
for the Church that there is in it, and the evidence it affords of
your zeal in reading the divine Scriptures, I thank the Lord. And I
invoke blessings on those who brought me such a letter, and, even
before them, on the writer himself.
2. You have asked for a solution of that famous passage which is
everywhere interpreted in different senses, "Whosoever slayeth Cain
will exact vengeance for seven sins." Your question shews
that you have yourself carefully observed the charge of Paul to
Timothy,  for you are obviously attentive to your reading. You
have moreover roused me, old man that I am, dull alike from age and
bodily infirmity, and from the many afflictions which have been
stirred up round about me and have weighed down my life. Fervent in
spirit as you are yourself, you are rousing me, now benumbed like a
beast in his den, to some little wakefulness and vital energy. The
passage in question may be interpreted simply and may also receive an
elaborate explanation. The simpler, and one that may occur to any one
off hand, is this: that Cain ought to suffer sevenfold punishment for
For it is not the part of a righteous judge to define requital on the
principle of like for like, but the originator of evil must pay his
debt with addition, if he is to be made better by punishment and
render other men wiser by his example. Therefore, since it is
ordained that Cain pay the penalty of his sin sevenfold, he who kills
him, it is said, will discharge the sentence pronounced against him by
the divine judgment. This is the sense that suggests itself to us on
our first reading the passage.
3. But readers, gifted with greater curiosity, are naturally inclined
to probe into the question further. How, they ask, can justice be
satisfied seven times? And what are the vengeances? Are they for
seven sins committed? Or is the sin committed once and are there
seven punishments for the one sin? Scripture continually assigns
seven as the number of the remission of sins. "How often," it is
asked, "shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?" (It is
Peter who is speaking to the Lord.) "Till seven times?" Then comes
the Lord's answer, "I say not unto thee, until seven times, but, until
seventy times seven." Our Lord did not vary the number, but
multiplied the seven, and so fixed the limit of the forgiveness.
After seven years the Hebrew used to be freed from slavery. 
Seven weeks of years used in old times to make the famous jubilee,
 in which the land rested, debts were remitted, slaves were set
free, and, as it were, a new life began over again, the old life from
age to age being in a sense completed at the number seven. These
things are types of this present life, which revolves in seven days
and passes by, wherein punishments of slighter sins are inflicted,
according to the loving care of our good Lord, to save us from being
delivered to punishment in the age that has no end. The expression
seven times is therefore introduced because of its connexion with this
present world for men who love this world ought specially to be
punished in the things for the sake of which they have chosen to live
wicked lives. If you understand the vengeances to be for the sins
committed by Cain, you will find those sins to be seven. Or if you
understand them to mean the sentence passed on him by the Judge, you
will not go far wrong. To take the crimes of Cain: the first sin is
envy at the preference of Abel; the second is guile, whereby he said
to his brother, "Let us go into the field:" the third is
murder, a further wickedness: the fourth, fratricide, a still greater
iniquity: the fifth that he committed the first murder, and set a bad
example to mankind: the sixth wrong in that he grieved his parents:
the seventh, his lie to God; for when he was asked, "Where is Abel thy
brother?" he replied, "I know not." Seven sins were therefore
avenged in the destruction of Cain. For when the Lord said, "Cursed
is the earth which has opened to receive the blood of thy brother,"
and "groaning and trembling shall there be on the earth," Cain said,
"If thou castest me out to-day from the earth, then from thy face
shall I be hid, and groaning and trembling shall I lie upon the earth,
and every one that findeth me shall slay me." It is in answer to this
that the Lord says, "Whosoever slayeth Cain will discharge seven
vengeances." Cain supposed that he would be an easy prey to
every one, because of there being no safety for him in the earth (for
the earth was cursed for his sake), and of his being deprived of the
succour of God, Who was angry with him for the murder, and so of there
being no help for him either from earth or from heaven. Therefore he
said, "It shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay
me." Scripture proves his error in the words, "Not so;" i.e. thou
shalt not be slain. For to men suffering punishment, death is a gain,
because it brings relief from their pain. But thy life shall be
prolonged, that thy punishment may be made commensurate with thy
sins. Since then the word ekdikoumenon may be understood in two
senses; both the sin for which vengeance was taken, and the manner of
the punishment, let us now examine whether the criminal suffered a
4. The seven sins of Cain have been enumerated in what has been
already said. Now I ask if the punishments inflicted on him were
seven, and I state as follows. The Lord enquired `Where is Abel thy
brother?' not because he wished for information, but in order to give
Cain an opportunity for repentance, as is proved by the words
themselves, for on his denial the Lord immediately convicts him
saying, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me." So the
enquiry, "Where is Abel thy brother?" was not made with a view to
God's information, but to give Cain an opportunity of perceiving his
sin. But for God's having visited him he might have pleaded that he
was left alone and had no opportunity given him for repentance. Now
the physician appeared that the patient might flee to him for help.
Cain, however, not only fails to hide his sore, but makes another one
in adding the lie to the murder. "I know not. Am I my brother's
keeper?" Now from this point begin to reckon the punishments.
"Cursed is the ground for thy sake," one punishment. "Thou shalt till
the ground." This is the second punishment. Some secret necessity
was imposed upon him forcing him to the tillage of the earth, so that
it should never be permitted him to take rest when he might wish, but
ever to suffer pain with the earth, his enemy, which, by polluting it
with his brother's blood, he had made accursed. "Thou shalt till the
ground." Terrible punishment, to live with those that hate one, to
have for a companion an enemy, an implacable foe. "Thou shalt till
the earth," that is, Thou shalt toil at the labours of the field,
never resting, never released from thy work, day or night, bound down
by secret necessity which is harder than any savage master, and
continually urged on to labour. "And it shall not yield unto thee her
strength." Although the ceaseless toil had some fruit, the labour
itself were no little torture to one forced never to relax it. But
the toil is ceaseless, and the labours at the earth are fruitless (for
"she did not yield her strength") and this fruitlessness of labour is
the third punishment. "Groaning and trembling shalt thou be on the
earth." Here two more are added to the three; continual groaning, and
tremblings of the body, the limbs being deprived of the steadiness
that comes of strength. Cain had made a bad use of the strength of
his body, and so its vigour was destroyed, and it tottered and shook,
and it was hard for him to lift meat and drink to his mouth, for after
his impious conduct, his wicked hand was no longer allowed to minister
to his body's needs. Another punishment is that which Cain disclosed
when he said, "Thou hast driven me out from the face of the earth, and
from thy face shall I be hid." What is the meaning of this driving
out from the face of the earth? It means deprivation of the benefits
which are derived from the earth. He was not transferred to another
place, but he was made a stranger to all the good things of earth.
"And from thy face shall I be hid." The heaviest punishment for men
of good heart is alienation from God. "And it shall come to pass that
every one that findeth me shall slay me." He infers this from what
has gone before. If I am cast out of the earth, and hidden from thy
face, it remains for me to be slain of every one. What says the
Lord? Not so. But he put a mark upon him. This is the seventh
punishment, that the punishment should not be hid, but that by a plain
sign proclamation should be made to all, that this is the first doer
of unholy deeds. To all who reason rightly the heaviest of
punishments is shame. We have learned this also in the case of the
judgments, when "some" shall rise "to everlasting life, and some to
shame and everlasting contempt." 
5. Your next question is of a kindred character, concerning the words
of Lamech to his wives; "I have slain a man to my wounding, and a
young man to my hurt: if Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly
Lamech seventy and sevenfold." Some suppose that Cain was
slain by Lamech, and that he survived to this generation that he might
suffer a longer punishment. But this is not the case. Lamech
evidently committed two murders, from what he says himself, "I have
slain a man and a young man," the man to his wounding, and the young
man to his hurt. There is a difference between wounding and hurt.
And there is a difference between a man and a young man. "If
Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold."
It is right that I should undergo four hundred and ninety punishments,
if God's judgment on Cain was just, that his punishments should be
seven. Cain had not learned to murder from another, and had never
seen a murderer undergoing punishment. But I, who had before my eyes
Cain groaning and trembling, and the mightiness of the wrath of God,
was not made wiser by the example before me. Wherefore I deserve to
suffer four hundred and ninety punishments. There are, however, some
who have gone so far as the following explanation, which does not jar
with the doctrine of the Church; from Cain to the flood, they say,
seven generations passed by, and the punishment was brought on the
whole earth, because sin was everywhere spread abroad. But the sin of
Lamech requires for its cure not a Flood, but Him Who Himself takes
away the sin of the world. Count the generations from Adam to
the coming of Christ, and you will find, according to the genealogy of
Luke, that the Lord was born in the seventy-seventh.
Thus I have investigated this point to the best of my ability, though
I have passed by matters therein that might be investigated, for fear
of prolonging my observations beyond the limits of my letter. But for
your intelligence little seeds are enough. "Give instruction," it is
said, "to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser."  "If a
skilful man hear a wise word he will commend it, and add unto it."
6. About the words of Simeon to Mary, there is no obscurity or
variety of interpretation. "And Simeon blessed them, and said unto
Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising
again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
(yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,) that the
thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Here I am
astonished that, after passing by the previous words as requiring no
explanation, you should enquire about the expression, "Yea, a sword
shall pierce through thy own soul also." To me the question, how the
same child can be for the fall and rising again, and what is the sign
that shall be spoken against, does not seem less perplexing than the
question how a sword shall pierce through Mary's heart.
7. My view is, that the Lord is for falling and rising again, not
because some fall and others rise again, but because in us the worst
falls and the better is set up. The advent  of the Lord is
destructive of our bodily affections and it rouses the proper
qualities of the soul. As when Paul says, "When I am weak, then I am
strong,"  the same man is weak and is strong, but he is weak in
the flesh and strong in the spirit. Thus the Lord does not give to
some occasions of falling and to others occasions of rising. Those
who fall, fall from the station in which they once were, but it is
plain that the faithless man never stands, but is always dragged along
the ground with the serpent whom he follows. He has then nowhere to
fall from, because he has already been cast down by his unbelief.
Wherefore the first boon is, that he who stands in his sin should fall
and die, and then should live in righteousness and rise, both of which
graces our faith in Christ confers on us. Let the worse fall that the
better may have opportunity to rise. If fornication fall not,
chastity does not rise. Unless our unreason be crushed our reason
will not come to perfection. In this sense he is for the fall and
rising again of many.
8. For a sign that shall be spoken against. By a sign, we properly
understand in Scripture a cross. Moses, it is said, set the serpent
"upon a pole." That is upon a cross. Or else a sign 
is indicative of something strange and obscure seen by the simple but
understood by the intelligent. There is no cessation of controversy
about the Incarnation of the Lord; some asserting that he assumed a
body, and others that his sojourn was bodiless; some that he had a
passible body, and others that he fulfilled the bodily oeconomy by a
kind of appearance. Some say that his body was earthly, some that it
was heavenly; some that He pre-existed before the ages; some that He
took His beginning from Mary. It is on this account that He is a sign
that shall be spoken against.
9. By a sword is meant the word which tries and judges our thoughts,
which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of
the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of our thoughts. 
Now every soul in the hour of the Passion was subjected, as it were,
to a kind of searching. According to the word of the Lord it is said,
"All ye shall be offended because of me." Simeon therefore
prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the cross, and
beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the
witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine
conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel
about her soul a mighty tempest. The Lord was bound to taste
of death for every man--to become a propitiation for the world and to
justify all men by His own blood. Even thou thyself, who hast been
taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shalt be reached
by some doubt. This is the sword. "That the thoughts of many hearts
may be revealed." He indicates that after the offence at the Cross of
Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the
disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in
Him. In the same way we saw Peter, after he had been offended,
holding more firmly to his faith in Christ. What was human in him was
proved unsound, that the power of the Lord might be shewn.
 Placed in 377.
 Bishop of Antioch in Pisidia. Soc. vii. 36; Theod. v. 8.
 Gen. iv. 15, LXX.
 cf. 1 Tim. iv. 13.
 Matt. xviii. 21, 22.
 Deut. v. 12.
 Lev. xxv. 10.
 Gen. iv. 8.
 Gen. iv. 9.
 Gen. iv. 11, 12, 14, 15, LXX.
 Dan. xii. 2.
 Gen. iv. 23, 24.
 LXX. molops, i.e. weal.
 John i. 29.
 Prov. ix. 9.
 Ecclus. xx. 18.
 Luke ii. 34, 35.
 2 Cor. xii. 10.
 Num. xxi. 8.
 semeion, LXX.
 cf. Heb. iv. 12.
 Matt. xxvi. 3.
 The Ben. note strongly objects to this slur upon the constancy
of the faith of the Blessed Virgin, and is sure that St. Basil's error
will not be thus corrected without his own concurrence. It supposes
this interpretation of the passage in question to be derived from
Origen, Hom. xxvii. In Lucam, and refers to a list of commentators who
have followed him in Petavius, De Incar. xiv. 1.
Letter CCLXI. 
To the Sozopolitans. 
I have received the letter which you, right honourable brethren, have
sent me concerning the circumstances in which you are placed. I thank
the Lord that you have let me share in the anxiety you feel as to your
attention to things needful and deserving of serious heed. But I was
distressed to hear that over and above the disturbance brought on the
Churches by the Arians, and the confusion caused by them in the
definition of the faith, there has appeared among you yet another
innovation, throwing the brotherhood into great dejection, because, as
you have informed me, certain persons are uttering, in the hearing of
the faithful, novel and unfamiliar doctrines which they allege to be
deduced from the teaching of Scripture. You write that there are men
among you who are trying to destroy the saving incarnation  of
our Lord Jesus Christ, and, so far as they can, are overthrowing the
grace of the great mystery unrevealed from everlasting, but manifested
in His own times, when the Lord, when He had gone through  all
things pertaining to the cure of the human race, bestowed on all of us
the boon of His own sojourn among us. For He helped His own creation,
first through the patriarchs, whose lives were set forth as examples
and rules to all willing to follow the footsteps of the saints, and
with zeal like theirs to reach the perfection of good works. Next for
succour He gave the Law, ordaining it by angels in the hand of Moses;
 then the prophets, foretelling the salvation to come; judges,
kings, and righteous men, doing great works, with a mighty 
hand. After all these in the last days He was Himself manifested ill
the flesh, "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
2. If, then, the sojourn of the Lord in flesh has never taken place,
the Redeemer  paid not the fine to death on our behalf, nor
through Himself destroyed death's reign. For if what was reigned over
by death was not that which was assumed by the Lord, death would not
have ceased working his own ends, nor would the sufferings of the
God-bearing flesh have been made our gain; He would not have killed
sin in the flesh: we who had died in Adam should not have been made
alive in Christ; the fallen to pieces would not have been framed
again; the shattered would not have been set up again; that which by
the serpent's trick had been estranged from God would never have been
made once more His own. All these boons are undone by those that
assert that it was with a heavenly body that the Lord came among us.
And if the God-bearing flesh was not ordained to be assumed of the
lump of Adam, what need was there of the Holy Virgin? But who has the
hardihood now once again to renew by the help of sophistical arguments
and, of course, by scriptural evidence, that old dogma  of
Valentinus, now long ago silenced? For this impious doctrine of the
seeming  is no novelty. It was started long ago by the
feeble-minded Valentinus, who, after tearing off a few of the
Apostle's statements, constructed for himself this impious
fabrication, asserting that the Lord assumed the "form of a servant,"
 and not the servant himself, and that He was made in the
"likeness," but that actual manhood was not assumed by Him. Similar
sentiments are expressed by these men who can only be pitied for
bringing new troubles upon you. 
3. As to the statement that human feelings are transmitted to the
actual Godhead, it is one made by men who preserve no order in their
thoughts, and are ignorant that there is a distinction between the
feelings of flesh, of flesh endowed with soul, and of soul using a
body. It is the property of flesh to undergo division,
diminution, dissolution; of flesh endowed with soul to feel weariness,
pain, hunger, thirst, and to be overcome by sleep; of soul using body
to feel grief, heaviness, anxiety, and such like. Of these some are
natural and necessary to every living creature; others come of evil
will, and are superinduced because of life's lacking proper discipline
and training for virtue. Hence it is evident that our Lord assumed
the natural affections to establish His real incarnation, and not by
way of semblance of incantation, and that all the affections derived
from evil that besmirch the purity of our life, He rejected as
unworthy of His unsullied Godhead. It is on this account that He is
said to have been "made in the likeness of flesh of sin;"  not,
as these men hold, in likeness of flesh, but of flesh of sin. It
follows that He took our flesh with its natural afflictions, but "did
no sin." Just as the death which is in the flesh, transmitted
to us through Adam, was swallowed up by the Godhead, so was the sin
taken away by the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus,  so
that in the resurrection we receive back the flesh neither liable to
death nor subject to sin.
These, brethren, are the mysteries of the Church; these are the
traditions of the Fathers. Every man who fears the Lord, and is
awaiting God's judgment, I charge not to be carried away by various
doctrines. If any one teaches a different doctrine, and refuses to
accede to the sound words of the faith, rejecting the oracles of the
Spirit, and making his own teaching of more authority than the lessons
of the Gospels, of such an one beware. May the Lord grant that one
day we may meet, so that all that my argument has let slip I may
supply when we stand face to face! I have written little when there
was much to say, for I did not like to go beyond my letter's bounds.
At the same time I do not doubt that to all that fear the Lord a brief
reminder is enough.
 This letter is placed in 377. Fessler styles it
"celeberrima." The Benedictine heading is "Cum scripsissent Basilio
Sozopolitani nonnullos carnem coelestem Christo affingere et affectus
humanos in ipsam divinitatem conferre; breviter hunc errorem refellit;
ac demonstrat nihil nobis prodesse passiones Christi si non eandem ac
nos carnem habuit. Quod spectat ad affectus humanos, probat naturales
a Christo assumptos fuisse, vitiosos vero nequaquam."
 Sozopolis, or Suzupolis, in Pisidia (cf. Evagrius, Hist. Ecc.
iii. 33), has been supposed to be the ancient name of Souzon, S. of
Aglasoun, where ruins still exist. On its connexion with Apollonia,
cf. Hist. Geog. A.M. p. 400.
 Here the Ben. Ed. call attention to the fact that S. Basil may
by this word indicate the appearance of the Son to the patriarchs
before the Birth from the Virgin, and compares a similar statement in
his Book Cont. Eunom. II., as well as the words of Clemens Alex. in
the work Quis Dives Salvandus, n. 8, in which the Son is described as
apo geneseos mechri tou semeiou ten anthropoteta diatrechon.
 cf. Gal. iii. 19.
 krataia with the ed. Par. seems to make better sense than
kruphai& 139;, which has better authority.
 Gal. iv. 4, 5.
 Lutrotes. cf. Acts vii. 35, where R.V. gives redeemer as
marginal rendering. Lutrotes=payer of the lutron, which is the means
of release (luo). The word is used of Moses in the Acts in a looser
sense than here of the Saviour.
 On the use of "dogma" for heretical opinion, cf. De Sp. S. note
on § 66.
 Phil. ii. 7.
 On the Docetism of Valentinus vide Dr. Salmon in D. C. Biog. i.
869. "According to V. (Irenæus i. 7) our Lord's nature was fourfold:
(1) He had a psuche or animal soul; (2) He had a pneuma or spiritual
principle derived from Achamoth; (3) He had a body, but not a material
body, but a heavenly one....(4) The pre-existent Saviour descended on
Him in the form of a dove at His Baptism. When our Lord was brought
before Pilate, this Saviour as being incapable of suffering withdrew
His power;" (cf. the Gospel of Peter, "The Lord cried, saying, `My
Power, my Power, Thou hast left me.'") "and the spiritual part which
was also impassible was likewise dismissed; the animal soul and the
wonderfully contrived body alone remaining to suffer, and to exhibit
on the cross on earth a representation of what had previously taken
place on the heavenly Stauros. It thus appears that Valentinus was
only partially docetic." But cf. Iren. v. 1, 2, and iii. 22.
 cf. De Sp. S. § 12. p. 7.
 Rom. viii. 3, R.V. marg.
 1 Pet. ii. 22.
 cf. Rom. v. 12 ad fin.
Letter CCLXII. 
To the Monk Urbicius. 
1. You have done well to write to me. You have shewn how great is
the fruit of charity. Continue so to do. Do not think that, when you
write to me, you need offer excuses. I recognise my own position, and
I know that by nature every man is of equal honour with the rest.
Whatever excellence there is in me is not of family, nor of
superfluous wealth, nor of physical condition; it comes only of
superiority in the fear of God. What, then, hinders you from fearing
the Lord yet more, and so, in this respect, being greater than I am?
Write often to me, and acquaint me with the condition of the
brotherhood with you. Tell me what members of the Church in your
parts are sound, that I may know to whom I ought to write, and in whom
I may confide. I am told that there are some who are endeavouring to
deprave the right doctrine of the Lord's incarnation by perverse
opinions, and I therefore call upon them through you to hold off from
those unreasonable views, which some are reported to me to hold. I
mean that God Himself was turned into flesh; that He did not assume,
through the Holy Mary, the nature  of Adam, but, in His own
proper Godhead, was changed into a material nature. 
2. This absurd position can be easily confuted. The blasphemy is its
own conviction, and I therefore think that, for one who fears the
Lord, the mere reminder is enough. If He was turned, then He was
changed. But far be it from me to say or think such a thing, when God
has declared, "I am the Lord, I change not." Moreover, how
could the benefit of the incarnation be conveyed to us, unless our
body, joined to the Godhead, was made superior to the dominion of
death? If He was changed, He no longer constituted a proper body,
such as subsisted after the combination with it of the divine body.
But how, if all the nature of the Only-begotten was changed,
could the incomprehensible Godhead be circumscribed within the limit
of the mass of a little body? I am sure that no one who is in his
senses, and has the fear of God, is suffering from this unsoundness.
But the report has reached me that some of your company are afflicted
with this mental infirmity, and I have therefore thought it necessary,
not to send you a mere formal greeting, but to include in my letter
something which may even build up the souls of them that fear the
Lord. I therefore urge that these errors receive ecclesiastical
correction, and that you abstain from communion with the heretics. I
know that we are deprived of our liberty in Christ by indifference on
 Placed in 377.
 cf. Letters cxxiii. and ccclxvi.
 Mal. iii. 6.
 The sentence in all the mss. (except the Codex Coislin. II.,
which has ho trapeis) begins ou trapeis. The Ben. Ed. propose simply
to substitute ei for ou, and render "Si enim conversus est, proprium
constituit corpus, quod videlicet densata in ipsa deitate,
substitit." I have endeavoured to force a possible meaning on the
Greek as it stands, though pachuntheises more naturally refers to the
unorthodox change than to the orthodox conjunction. The original is
ou gar trapeis oikeion hupestesato soma, hoper, pachuntheises auto tes
theikes phuseos, hupeste.
Letter CCLXIII. 
To the Westerns.
1. May the Lord God, in Whom we have put our trust, give to each of
you grace sufficient to enable you to realize your hope, in proportion
to the joy wherewith you have filled my heart, both by the letter
which you have sent me by the hands of the well-beloved
fellow-presbyters, and by the sympathy which you have felt for me in
my distress, like men who have put on bowels of mercy,  as you
have been described to me by the presbyters afore-mentioned. Although
my wounds remain the same, nevertheless it does bring alleviation to
me that I should have leeches at hand, able, should they find an
opportunity, to apply rapid remedies to my hurts. Wherefore in return
I salute you by our beloved friends, and exhort you, if the Lord puts
it into your power to come to me, not to hesitate to visit me. For
part of the greatest commandment is the visitation of the sick. But
if the good God and wise Dispenser of our lives reserves this boon for
another season, at all events write to me whatever it is proper for
you to write for the consolation of the oppressed and the lifting up
of those that are crushed down. Already the Church has suffered many
severe blows, and great has been my affliction at them. Nowhere is
there expectation of succour unless the Lord sends us a remedy by you
who are his true servants.
2. The bold and shameless heresy of the Arians, after being publicly
cut off from the body of the Church, still abides in its own error,
and does not do us much harm because its impiety is notorious to all.
Nevertheless men clad in sheep's clothing, and presenting a mild and
amiable appearance, but within unsparingly ravaging Christ's flocks,
find it easy to do hurt to the simpler ones, because they came out
from us. It is these who are grievous and hard to guard against. It
is these that we implore your diligence to denounce publicly to all
the Churches of the East; to the end that they may either turn to the
right way and join with us in genuine alliance, or, if they abide in
their perversity, may keep their mischief to themselves alone, and be
unable to communicate their own plague to their neighbours by
unguarded communion. I am constrained to mention them by name, in
order that you may yourselves recognise those who are stirring up
disturbance here, and may make them known to our Churches. My own
words are suspected by most men, as though I had an ill will towards
them on account of some private quarrel. You, however, have all the
more credit with the people, in proportion to the distance that
separates your home from theirs, besides the fact that you are gifted
with God's grace to help those who are distressed. If more of you
concur in uttering the same opinions, it is clear that the number of
those who have expressed them will make it impossible to oppose their
3. One of those who have caused me great sorrow is Eustathius of
Sebasteia in Lesser Armenia; formerly a disciple of Arius, and a
follower of him at the time when he flourished in Alexandria, and
concocted his infamous blasphemies against the Only-begotten, he was
numbered among his most faithful disciples. On his return to his own
country he submitted a confession of the sound faith to Hermogenes,
the very blessed Bishop of Cæsarea, who was on the point of condemning
him for false doctrine. Under these circumstances he was ordained by
Hermogenes, and, on the death of that bishop, hastened to Eusebius of
Constantinople, who himself yielded to none in the energy of his
support of the impious doctrine of Arius. From Constantinople he was
expelled for some reason or another, returned to his own country and a
second time made his defence, attempting to conceal his impious
sentiments and cloking them under a certain verbal orthodoxy. He no
sooner obtained the rank of bishop than he straightway appeared
writing an anathema on the Homoousion in the Arians' synod at Ancyra.
From thence he went to Seleucia and took part in the
notorious measures of his fellow heretics. At Constantinople he
assented a second time to the propositions of the heretics. On being
ejected from his episcopate, on the ground of his former deposition at
Melitine,  he hit upon a journey to you as a means of
restitution for himself. What propositions were made to him by the
blessed bishop Liberius, and to what he agreed, I am ignorant. I only
know that he brought a letter restoring him, which he shewed to the
synod at Tyana, and was restored to his see. He is now defaming the
very creed for which he was received; he is consorting with those who
are anathematizing the Homoousion, and is prime leader of the heresy
of the pneumatomachi. As it is from the west that he derives his
power to injure the Churches, and uses the authority given him by you
to the overthrow of the many, it is necessary that his correction
should come from the same quarter, and that a letter be sent to the
Churches stating on what terms he was received, and in what manner he
has changed his conduct and nullifies the favour given him by the
Fathers at that time.
4. Next comes Apollinarius, who is no less a cause of sorrow to the
Churches. With his facility of writing, and a tongue ready to argue
on any subject, he has filled the world with his works, in disregard
of the advice of him who said, "Beware of making many books." 
In their multitude there are certainly many errors. How is it
possible to avoid sin in a multitude of words? And the
theological works of Apollinarius are founded on Scriptural proof, but
are based on a human origin. He has written about the resurrection,
from a mythical, or rather Jewish, point of view; urging that we shall
return again to the worship of the Law, be circumcised, keep the
Sabbath, abstain from meats, offer sacrifices to God, worship in the
Temple at Jerusalem, and be altogether turned from Christians into
Jews. What could be more ridiculous? Or, rather, what could be more
contrary to the doctrines of the Gospel? Then, further, he has made
such confusion among the brethren about the incarnation, that few of
his readers preserve the old mark of true religion; but the more part,
in their eagerness for novelty, have been diverted into investigations
and quarrelsome discussions of his unprofitable treatises.
5. As to whether there is anything objectionable about the
conversation of Paulinus, you can say yourselves. What distresses me
is that he should shew an inclination for the doctrine of Marcellus,
and unreservedly admit his followers to communion. You know, most
honourable brethren, that the reversal of all our hope is involved in
the doctrine of Marcellus, for it does not confess the Son in His
proper hypostasis, but represents Him as having been sent forth, and
as having again returned to Him from Whom He came; neither does it
admit that the Paraclete has His own subsistence. It follows that no
one could be wrong in declaring this heresy to be all at variance with
Christianity, and in styling it a corrupt Judaism. Of these things I
implore you to take due heed. This will be the case if you will
consent to write to all the Churches of the East that those who have
perverted these doctrines are in communion with you, if they amend;
but that if they contentiously determine to abide by their
innovations, you are separated from them. I am myself well aware,
that it had been fitting for me to treat of these matters, sitting in
synod with you in common deliberation. But this the time does not
allow. Delay is dangerous, for the mischief they have caused has
taken root. I have therefore been constrained to dispatch these
brethren, that you may learn from them all that has been omitted in my
letter, and that they may rouse you to afford the succour which we
pray for to the Churches of the East.
 Placed in 377.
 Col. iii. 12.
 In 358, when the homoiousion was accepted, and twelve anathemas
formulated against all who rejected it.
 Before 359. Mansi iii. 291.
 Ecc. xii. 12, LXX. cf. Ep. ccxliv. p. 286.
 cf. Prov. x. 19.
Letter CCLXIV. 
To Barses, bishop of Edessa, in exile. 
To Barses the bishop, truly God-beloved and worthy of all reverence
and honour, Basil sends greeting in the Lord. As my dear brother
Domninus  is setting out to you, I gladly seize the opportunity
of writing, and I greet you by him, praying the holy God that we may
be so long preserved in this life as to be permitted to see you, and
to enjoy the good gifts which you possess. Only pray, I beseech you,
that the Lord may not deliver us for aye to the enemies of the Cross
of Christ, but that He will keep His Churches, until the time of that
peace which the just Judge Himself knows when He will bestow. For He
will bestow it. He will not always abandon us. As He limited seventy
years  for the period of captivity for the Israelites in
punishment for their sins, so peradventure the Mighty One, after
giving us up for some appointed time, will recall us once again, and
will restore us to the peace of the beginning--unless indeed the
apostasy is now nigh at hand, and the events that have lately happened
are the beginnings of the approach of Antichrist. If this be so, pray
that the good Lord will either take away our afflictions, or preserve
us through our afflictions unvanquished. Through you I greet all
those who have been thought worthy to be associated with you. All who
are with me salute your reverence. May you, by the grace of the Holy
One, be preserved to the Church of God in good health, trusting in the
Lord, and praying for me.
 Placed in 377.
 See Soz., H.E. vi. 34, who says that Barses, with Eulogius, was
not consecrated to any definite see. cf. also Theodoret H.E. iv. 16,
where it is stated that his bed was preserved at Aradus.
 Domninus was a not uncommon name, and there are several
mentioned about the same time, e.g. Nilus, Epp. iii. 43 and 144.
 Jer. xxv. 12.
Letter CCLXV. 
To Eulogius, Alexander, and Harpocration, bishops of Egypt, in exile.
1. In all things we find that the providence exercised by our good
God over His Churches is mighty, and that thus the very things which
seem to be gloomy, and do not turn out as we should like, are ordained
for the advantage of most, in the hidden wisdom of God, and in the
unsearchable judgments of His righteousness. Now the Lord has removed
you from the regions of Egypt, and has brought you and established you
in the midst of Palestine, after the manner of Israel of old, whom He
carried away by captivity into the land of the Assyrians, and there
extinguished idolatry through the sojourn of His saints. Now too we
find the same thing, when we observe that the Lord is making known
your struggle for the sake of true religion, opening to you through
your exile the arena of your blessed contests, and to all who see
before them your noble constancy, giving the boon of your good example
to lead them to salvation. By God's grace, I have heard of the
correctness of your faith, and of your zeal for the brethren and that
it is in no careless or perfunctory spirit that you provide what is
profitable and necessary for salvation, and that you support all that
conduces to the edification of the Churches. I have therefore thought
it right that I should be brought into communion with your goodness,
and be united to your reverences by letter. For these reasons I have
sent my very dear brother the deacon Elpidius, who not only conveys my
letter, but is moreover fully qualified to announce to you whatever
may have been omitted in my letter.
2. I have been specially moved to desire union with you by the report
of the zeal of your reverences in the cause of orthodoxy. The
constancy of your hearts has been stirred neither by multiplicity of
books nor by variety of ingenious arguments. You have on the
contrary, recognised those who endeavoured to introduce innovations in
opposition to the apostolic doctrines, and you have refused to keep
silence concerning the mischief which they are causing. I have in
truth found great distress among all who cleave to the peace of the
Lord at the divers innovations of Apollinarius of Laodicea. He has
all the more distressed me from the fact that he seemed at the
beginning on our side. A sufferer can in a certain sense endure what
comes to him from an open enemy, even though it be exceedingly
painful, as it is written, "For it was not an enemy that reproached
me; then I could have borne it." But it is intolerable, and
beyond the power of comfort, to be wronged by a close and sympathetic
friend. Now that very man whom I have expected to have at my right
hand in defence of the truth, I have found in many ways hindering
those who are being saved, by seducing their minds and drawing them
away from direct doctrine. What rash and hasty deed has he not done?
What ill considered and dangerous argument has he not risked? Is not
all the Church divided against herself, specially since the day when
men have been sent by him to the Churches governed by orthodox
bishops, to rend them asunder and to set up some peculiar and illegal
service? Is not ridicule brought upon the great mystery of true
religion when bishops go about without people and clergy, having
nothing but the mere name and title, and effecting nothing for the
advancement of the Gospel of peace and salvation? Are not his
discourses about God full of impious doctrines, the old impiety of the
insane Sabellius being now renewed by him in his writings? For if the
works which are current among the Sebastenes are not the forgery of
foes, and are really his composition, he has reached a height of
impiety which cannot be surpassed, in saying that Father, Son, and
Spirit are the same, and other dark pieces of irreverence which I have
declined even to hear, praying that I may have nothing to do with
those who have uttered them. Does he not confuse the doctrine of the
incarnation? Has not the oeconomy of salvation been made doubtful to
the many on account of his dark and cloudy speculations about it? To
collect them all, and refute them, requires long time and much
discussion. But where have the promises of the Gospel been blunted
and destroyed as by his figments? So meanly and poorly has he dared
to explain the blessed hope laid up for all who live according to the
Gospel of Christ, as to reduce it to mere old wives' fables and
doctrines of Jews. He proclaims the renewal of the Temple, the
observance of the worship of the Law, a typical high priest over again
after the real High Priest, and a sacrifice for sins after the Lamb of
God Who taketh away the sin of the world. He preaches partial
baptisms after the one baptism, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling
the Church which, through its faith in Christ, has not spot or
wrinkle, or any such thing;  cleansing of leprosy after the
painless state of the resurrection; an offering of jealousy 
when they neither marry nor are given in marriage; shew-bread after
the Bread from heaven; burning lamps after the true Light. In a word,
if the law of the Commandments has been done away with by dogmas, it
is plain that under these circumstances the dogmas of Christ will be
nullified by the injunctions of the law. At these things
shame and disgrace have covered my face,  and heavy grief hath
filled my heart. Wherefore, I beseech you, as skilful physicians, and
instructed how to discipline antagonists with gentleness, to try and
bring him back to the right order of the Church, and to persuade him
to despise the wordiness of his own works; for he has proved the truth
of the proverb "in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin."
Put boldly before him the doctrines of orthodoxy, in order
that his amendment may be published abroad, and his repentance made
known to his brethren.
3. It is also desirable that I should remind your reverence about the
followers of Marcellus, in order that you may decide nothing in their
case rashly or inconsiderately. On account of his impious doctrines
he has gone out from the Church. It is therefore necessary
that his followers should only be received into communion on condition
that they anathematize that heresy, in order that those who are united
to me through you may be accepted by all the brethren. And now most
men are moved to no small grief on hearing that you have both received
them and admitted them to ecclesiastical communion on their coming to
your excellency. Nevertheless you ought to have known that by God's
grace you do not stand alone in the East, but have many in communion
with you, who vindicate the orthodoxy of the Fathers, and who put
forth the pious doctrine of the Faith at Nicæa. The Westerns also all
agree with you and with me, whose exposition of the Faith I have
received and keep with me, assenting to their sound doctrine. You
ought, then, to have satisfied all who are in agreement with you, that
the action which is being taken may be ratified by the general
consent, and that peace may not be broken by the acceptance of some
while others are kept apart. Thus you ought to have at the same time
seriously and gently taken counsel about matters which are of
importance to all the Churches throughout the world. Praise is not
due to him who hastily determines any point, but rather to him who
rules every detail firmly and unalterably, so that when his judgment
is enquired into, even at a later time, it may be the more esteemed.
This is the man who is acceptable both to God and man as one who
guides his words with discretion. Thus I have addressed your
reverence in such terms as are possible in a letter. May the Lord
grant that one day we may meet, that so, after arranging everything
together with you for the government of the Churches, I may with you
receive the reward prepared by the righteous Judge for faithful and
wise stewards. In the mean time be so good as to let me know with
what intention you have received the followers of Marcellus, knowing
this, that even if you secure everything, so far as you yourselves are
concerned, you ought not to deal with a matter of such importance on
your own sole responsibility. It is further necessary that the
Westerns, and those who are in communion with them in the East, should
concur in the restoration of these men.
 Placed in 377.
 Ps. lv. 12.
 John i. 29.
 Eph. v. 27.
 cf. Num. v. 15.
 This passage shews in what sense St. Basil understands dogmata
in Eph. ii. 15, and Col. ii. 14. cf. note on p. 41.
 cf. Ps. lxiv. 7.
 Prov. x. 19.
 Here the Ben. note is Mirum id videtur ac prima specie vix
credibile, Marcellum ob impios errores ex ecclesia exiisee. Nam S.
Athanasius suspectum illum quidem, sed tamen purgatum habuit, teste
Epiphanio, Hæres. lxxii. lxxii. p. 837. Hinc illius discipuli
communicatorias beatissimi papæ Athanasii litteras ostenderunt
confessoribus Ægyptiis, ibid. p. 843. Testatur idem Epiphanius varia
esse Catholicorum de Marcello judicia, aliis eum accusantibus, aliis
defendentibus, p. 834. Paulinus ejus discipulos sine discrimine
recipiebat, ut in superiore epistola vidimus. Ipse Basilius in epist.
69 queritur quod eum Ecclesia Romana in communionem ab initio
suscepisset. Quomodo ergo exiise dicitur ex Ecclesia qui tot habuit
communicatores? Sed tamen S. Basilii testimonium cum sua sponte magni
est momenti (non enim ut in dijudicandis Marcelli scriptis, ita in
ejusmodi facto proclive fuit errare), tum etiam hoc argumento
confirmatur quod Athanasius extremis vitæ suæ annis Marcellum a
communione sua removerit. Neque enim, si semper cum eo communicasset
Athanasius, opus habuissent illius discipuli confessione fidei ad
impetrandam confessorum Ægyptiorum communionem: nec Petrus Athanasii
successor canones violatos, concessa illis communione, quereretur, ut
videmus in epistola sequenti, si Ægyptum inter ac Marcellum ejusque
clerum et plebem non fuisset rupta communio. Videtur ergo Marcellus
sub finem vitæ aliquid peccasse, quod Athanasium ab ejus communione
discedere cogeret: et cum jamdudum a tota fere oriente damnatus
esset, amissa Athanasii communione, quæ unicum fere illius refugium
erat, desertus ab omnibus videri debuit, nec ei nova ignominia notato
prodesse poterat concessa olim a Romana Ecclesia communio.
 Ps. cxii. 5.
Letter CCLXVI. 
To Petrus, bishop of Alexandria. 
1. You have very properly rebuked me, and in a manner becoming a
spiritual brother who has been taught genuine love by the Lord,
because I am not giving you exact and detailed information of all that
is going on here, for it is both your part to be interested in what
concerns me, and mine to tell you all that concerns myself. But I
must tell you, right honourable and well-beloved brother, that our
continuous afflictions, and this mighty agitation which is now shaking
the Churches, result in my taking all that is happening as a matter of
course. Just as in smithies where men whose ears are deafened get
accustomed to the sound, so by the frequency of the strange tidings
that reach me I have now grown accustomed to be undisturbed and
undismayed at extraordinary events. So the policy which has been for
a long time pursued by the Arians to the detriment of the Church,
although their achievements have been many and great and noised abroad
through all the world, has nevertheless been endurable to me, because
of their being the work of open foes and enemies of the word of
truth. It is when these men do something unusual that I am
astonished, not when they attempt something great and audacious
against true religion. But I am grieved and troubled at what is being
done by men who feel and think with me. Yet their doings are so
frequent and so constantly reported to me, that even they do not
appear surprising. So it comes about that I was not agitated at the
recent disorderly proceedings, partly because I knew perfectly well
that common report would carry them to you without my help, and partly
because I preferred to wait for somebody else to give you disagreeable
news. And yet, further, I did not think it reasonable that I should
show indignation at such proceedings, as though I were annoyed at
suffering a slight. To the actual agents in the matter I have written
in becoming terms, exhorting them, because of the dissension arising
among some of the brethren there, not to fall away from charity, but
to wait for the matter to be set right by those who have authority to
remedy disorders in due ecclesiastical form. That you should have so
acted, stirred by honourable and becoming motives, calls for my
commendation, and moves my gratitude to the Lord that there remains
preserved in you a relic of the ancient discipline, and that the
Church has not lost her own might in my persecution. The canons have
not suffered persecution as well as I. Though importuned again by the
Galatians, I was never able to give them an answer, because I waited
for your decision. Now, if the Lord so will and they will consent to
listen to me, I hope that I shall be able to bring the people to the
Church. It cannot then be cast in my teeth that I have gone over to
the Marcellians, and they on the contrary will become limbs of the
body of the Church of Christ. Thus the disgrace caused by heresy will
be made to disappear by the method I adopt, and I shall escape the
opprobrium of having gone over to them.
2. I have also been grieved by our brother Dorotheus, because, as he
has himself written, he has not gently and mildly reported everything
to your excellency. I set this down to the difficulty of the times.
I seem to be deprived by my sins of all success in my undertakings, if
indeed the best of my brethren are proved ill-disposed and
incompetent, by their failure to perform their duties in accordance
with my wishes. On his return Dorotheus reported to me the
conversation which he had had with your excellency in the presence of
the very venerable bishop Damasus, and he caused me distress by saying
that our God-beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Meletius and
Eusebius, had been reckoned among the Ariomaniacs. If their
orthodoxy were established by nothing else, the attacks made upon them
by the Arians are, to the minds of all right thinking people, no small
proof of their rectitude. Even your participation with them in
sufferings endured for Christ's sake ought to unite your reverence to
them in love. Be assured of this, right honourable sir, that there is
no word of orthodoxy which has not been proclaimed by these men with
all boldness. God is my witness. I have heard them myself. I should
not certainly have now admitted them to communion, if I had caught
them tripping in the faith. But, if it seem good to you, let us leave
the past alone. Let us make a peaceful start for the future. For we
have need one of another in the fellowship of the members, and
specially now, when the Churches of the East are looking to us, and
will take your agreement as a pledge of strength and consolidation.
If, on the other hand, they perceive that you are in a state of mutual
suspicion, they will drop their hands, and slacken in their resistance
to the enemies of the faith. 
 Placed in 377.
 cf. Letter cxxxiii. p. 200.
 The Ben. note points out that the accusation against Eusebius
(of Samosata) and Meletius was monstrous, and remarks on the delicacy
with which Basil approaches it, without directly charging Petrus, from
whom it must have come, with the slander involved.
 One ms. contains a note to the effect that this letter was
never sent. Maran (Vit. Bas. xxxvii.) thinks the internal evidence is
in favour of its having been delivered.
Letter CCLXVII. 
To Barses, bishop of Edessa, in exile.
For the sake of the affection which I entertain for you, I long to be
with you, to embrace you, my dear friend, in person, and to glorify
the Lord Who is magnified in you, and has made your honourable old age
renowned among all them that fear Him throughout the world. But
severe sickness afflicts me, and to a greater degree than I can
express in words, I am weighed down by the care of the Churches. I am
not my own master, to go whither I will, and to visit whom I will.
Therefore I am trying to satisfy the longing I have for the good gifts
in you by writing to you, and I beseech your reverence to pray for me
and for the Church, that the Lord may grant to me to pass the
remaining days or hours of my sojourn here without offence. May He
permit me to see the peace of His Churches. Of your fellow-ministers
and fellow-athletes may I hear all that I pray for, and of yourself
that you are granted such a lot as the people under you seek for by
day and by night from the Lord of righteousness. I have not written
often, not even so often as I ought, but I have written to your
reverence. Possibly the brethren to whom I committed my greetings
were not able to preserve them. But now that I have found some of my
brethren travelling to your excellency, I have readily entrusted my
letter to them, and I have sent some messages which I beg you to
receive from my humility without disdain, and to bless me after the
manner of the patriarch Isaac. I have been much occupied, and
have had my mind drowned in a multiplicity of cares. So it may well
be that I have omitted something which I ought to have said. If so,
do not reckon it against me; and do not be grieved. Act in all things
up to your own high character, that I, like every one else, may enjoy
the fruit of your virtue. May you be granted to me and to the Church,
in good health, rejoicing in the Lord, praying for me.
 Placed in 377, or in the beginning of 378.
 Gen. xxvii. 27.
Letter CCLXVIII. 
To Eusebius, in exile.
Even in our time the Lord has taught us, by protecting with His great
and powerful hand the life of your holiness, that He does not abandon
His holy ones. I reckon your case to be almost like that of the saint
remaining unhurt in the belly of the monster of the deep, or that of
the men who feared the Lord, living unscathed in the fierce fire. For
though the war is round about you on every side, He, as I hear, has
kept you unharmed. May the mighty God keep you, if I live longer, to
fulfil my earnest prayer that I may see you! If not for me, may He
keep you for the rest, who wait for your return as they might for
their own salvation. I am persuaded that the Lord in His
loving-kindness will give heed to the tears of the Churches, and to
the sighs which all are heaving over you, and will preserve you in
life until He grant the prayer of all who night and day are praying to
Him. Of all the measures taken against you, up to the arrival of our
beloved brother Libanius the deacon,  I have been sufficiently
informed by him while on his way. I am anxious to learn what happened
afterwards. I hear that in the meanwhile still greater troubles have
occurred where you are; about all this, sooner if possible, but, if
not, at least by our reverend brother Paul the presbyter, on his
return, may I learn, as I pray that I may, that your life is preserved
safe and sound. But on account of the report that all the roads are
infested with thieves and deserters,  I have been afraid to
entrust anything to the brother's keeping, for fear of causing his
death. If the Lord grant a little quiet, (as I am told of the coming
of the army), I will try to send you one of my own men, to visit you,
to bring me back news of everything about you.
 Placed in 378.
 To be distinguished from Libanius the bishop, p. 177, and
Libanius the professor, mentioned later.
 Deseroron, or Desertoron, the accepted reading, is a curious
Latinism for the Greek autouoloi. Eusebius was in exile in Thrace,
and the now the Goths were closing round Valens.
Letter CCLXIX. 
To the wife of Arinthæus, the General. Consolatory.
1. It had been only proper, and due to your affection, that I should
have been on the spot, and have taken part in the present
occurrences. Thus I might have at once assuaged my own sorrow, and
given some consolation to your excellency. But my body will no longer
endure long journeys, and so I am driven to approach you by letter,
that I seem not to count what has happened as altogether of no
interest to me. Who has not mourned for that man? Who is so stony of
heart as not to have shed a warm tear over him? I especially have
been filled with mourning at the thought of all the marks of respect
which I have received from him, and of the general protection which he
has extended to the Churches of God. Nevertheless, I have bethought
me that he was human, and had done the work he had to do in this life,
and now in the appointed time has been taken back again by God Who
ordains our lots. All this, I beseech you, in your wisdom, to take to
heart, and to meet the event with meekness, and, so far as is
possible, to endure your loss with moderation. Time may be able to
soothe your heart, and allow the approach of reason. At the same time
your great love for your husband, and your goodness to all, lead me to
fear that, from the very simplicity of your character, the wound of
your grief may pierce you deeply, and that you may give yourself up
entirely to your feelings. The teaching of Scripture is always
useful, and specially at times like this. Remember, then, the
sentence passed by our Creator. By it all we who are dust shall
return to dust. No one is so great as to be superior to
2. Your admirable husband was a good and great man, and his bodily
strength rivalled the virtues of his soul. He was unsurpassed, I must
own, in both respects. But he was human, and he is dead; like Adam,
like Abel, like Noah, like Abraham, like Moses, or any one else of
like nature that you can name. Let us not then complain because he
has been taken from us. Let us rather thank Him, who joined us to
him, that we dwelt with him from the beginning. To lose a husband is
a lot which you share with other women; but to have been united to
such a husband is a boast which I do not think any other woman can
make. In truth our Creator fashioned that man for us as a model of
what human nature ought to be. All eyes were attracted towards him,
and every tongue told of his deeds. Painters and sculptors fell short
of his excellence, and historians, when they tell the story of his
achievements in war, seem to fall into the region of the mythical and
the incredible. Thus it has come about that most men have not even
been able to give credit to the report conveying the sad tidings, or
to accept the truth of the news that Arinthæus is dead. Nevertheless
Arinthæus has suffered what will happen to heaven and to sun and to
earth. He has died a bright death; not bowed down by old age; without
losing one whit of his honour; great in this life; great in the life
to come; deprived of nothing of his present splendour in view of the
glory hoped for, because he washed away all the stain of his soul, in
the very moment of his departure hence, in the laver of regeneration.
That you should have arranged and joined in this rite is cause of
supreme consolation. Turn now your thoughts from the present to the
future, that you may be worthy through good works to obtain a place of
rest like his. Spare an aged mother; spare a tender daughter, to whom
you are now the sole comfort. Be an example of fortitude to other
women, and so regulate your grief that you may neither eject it from
your heart, nor be overwhelmed by your distress. Ever keep your eyes
fixed on the great reward of patience, promised, as the requital of
the deeds of this life, by our Lord Jesus Christ. 
 Placed in 378.
 Gen. iii. 19.
 cf. Ep. clxxix and Theod., H.E. iv. 30.
Letter CCLXX. 
Without Address. Concerning Raptus. 
I am distressed to find that you are by no means indignant at the sins
forbidden, and that you seem incapable of understanding, how this
raptus, which has been committed, is an act of unlawfulness and
tyranny against society and human nature, and an outrage on free men.
I am sure that if you had all been of one mind in this matter, there
would have been nothing to prevent this bad custom from being long ago
driven out of your country. Do thou at the present time shew the zeal
of a Christian man, and be moved as the wrong deserves. Wherever you
find the girl, insist on taking her away, and restore her to her
parents, shut out the man from the prayers, and make him
excommunicate. His accomplices, according to the canon  which I
have already put forth, cut off, with all their household, from the
prayers. The village which received the girl after the abduction, and
kept her, or even fought against her restitution, shut out with all
its inhabitants from the prayers; to the end that all may know that we
regard the ravisher as a common foe, like a snake or any other wild
beast, and so hunt him out, and help those whom he has wronged.
 Placed after 374.
 On this subject see before Letters cxcix. and ccxvii. pp. 238
and 256. See Preb. Meyrick in D.C.A. ii. 1102: "It means not exactly
the same as our word ravishment, but the violent removal of a woman to
a place where her actions are no longer free, for the sake of inducing
her or compelling her to marry....By some raptus is distinguished into
the two classes of raptus seductionis and raptus violentiæ." cf. Cod.
Theod. ix. tit. xxiv. legg. 1, 2, and Cod. Justin. ix.-xiii. leg. 1
Corp. Juris. ii. 832.
 kerugua. The Ben. note is no doubt right in understanding the
word not to refer to any decree on this particular case, but to
Basil's general rule in Canon xxx. cf. p. 239. On the use of kerugma
by Basil, see note on p. 41.
Letter CCLXXI. 
To Eusebius,  my comrade, to recommend Cyriacus the presbyter.
At once and in haste, after your departure, I came to the town. Why
need I tell a man not needing to be told, because he knows by
experience, how distressed I was not to find you? How delightful it
would have been to me to see once more the excellent Eusebius, to
embrace him, to travel once again in memory to our young days, and to
be reminded of old times when for both of us there was one home, one
hearth, the same schoolmaster, the same leisure, the same work, the
same treats, the same hardships, and everything shared in common!
What do you think I would not have given to recall all this by
actually meeting you, to rid me of the heavy weight of my old age, and
to seem to be turned from an old man into a lad again? But I have
lost this pleasure. At least of the privilege of meeting your
excellency in correspondence, and of consoling myself by the best
means at my disposal, I am not deprived. I am so fortunate as to meet
the very reverend presbyter Cyriacus. I am ashamed to recommend him
to you, and to make him, through me, your own, lest I seem to be
performing a superfluous task in offering to you what you already
possess and value as your own. But it is my duty to witness to the
truth, and to give the best boons I have to those who are spiritually
united to me. I think that the man's blamelessness in his sacred
position is well known to you; but I confirm it, for I do not know
that any charge is brought against him by those who do not fear the
Lord and are laying their hands upon all. Even if they had done
anything of the kind, the man would not have been unworthy, for the
enemies of the Lord rather vindicate the orders of those whom they
attack than deprive them of any of the grace given them by the
Spirit. However, as I said, nothing has even been thought of against
the man. Be so good then as to look upon him as a blameless
presbyter, in union with me, and worthy of all reverence. Thus will
you benefit yourself and gratify me.
 Placed at the end of Basil's life.
 Apparently a schoolfellow of Basil, not to be identified with
any of the others of the name.
Letter CCLXXII. 
To Sophronius the magister officiorum. 
1. It has been reported to me by Actiacus the deacon, that certain
men have moved you to anger against me, by falsely stating me to be
ill-disposed towards your excellency. I cannot be astonished at a man
in your position being followed by certain sycophants. High position
seems to be in some way naturally attended by miserable hangers-on of
this kind. Destitute as they are of any good quality of their own
whereby they may be known, they endeavour to recommend themselves by
means of other people's ills. Peradventure, just as mildew is a
blight which grows in corn, so flattery stealing upon friendship is a
blight of friendship. So, as I said, I am by no means astonished that
these men should buzz about your bright and distinguished hearth, as
drones do about the hives. But what has moved my wonderment, and has
seemed altogether astounding, is that a man like yourself, specially
distinguished by the seriousness of your character, should have been
induced to give both your ears to these people and to accept their
calumny against me. From my youth up to this my old age I have felt
affection for many men, but I am not aware that I have ever felt
greater affection for any one than for your excellency. Even had not
my reason induced me to regard a man of such a character, our intimacy
from boyhood would have sufficed to attach me to your soul. You know
yourself how much custom has to do with friendship. Pardon my
deficiency, if I can show nothing worthy of this preference. You will
not ask some deed from me in proof of my good will; you will be
satisfied with a temper of mind which assuredly prays for you that you
may have all that is best. May your fortunes never fall so low, as
that you should need the aid of any one so insignificant as myself!
2. How then was I likely to say anything against you, or to take any
action in the matter of Memnonius? These points were reported to me
by the deacon. How could I put the wealth of Hymetius before the
friendship of one so prodigal of his substance as you are? There is
no truth in any of these things. I have neither said nor done
anything against you. Possibly some ground may have been given for
some of the lies that are being told, by my remarking to some of those
who are causing disturbance, "If the man has determined to accomplish
what he has in mind, then, whether you make disturbance or not, what
he means to be done will certainly be done. You will speak, or hold
your tongues; it will make no difference. If he changes his mind,
beware how you defame my friend's honourable name. Do not, under the
pretence of zeal in your patron's cause, attempt to make some personal
profit out of your attempts to threaten and alarm." As to that
person's making his will, I have never said one word, great or small,
directly or indirectly, about the matter.
3. You must not refuse to believe what I say, unless you regard me as
quite a desperate character, who thinks nothing of the great sin of
lying. Put away all suspicion of me in relation to the business, and
for the future reckon my affection for you as beyond the reach of all
calumny. Imitate Alexander, who received a letter, saying that his
physician was plotting his death, at the very moment when he was just
about to drink his medicine, and was so far from believing the
slanderer that he at one and the same time read the letter and drank
the draught. I refuse to admit that I am in any way inferior
to the men who have been famous for their friendship, for I have never
been detected in any breach of mine; and, besides this, I have
received from my God the commandment of love, and owe you love not
only as part of mankind in general, but because I recognise you
individually as a benefactor both of my country and of myself.
 Written in the last years of Basil's life.
 cf. p. 134, n.
 Plut., Alex.
Letter CCLXXIII. 
Without address. Concerning Hera.
I am sure that your excellency loves me well enough to regard all that
concerns me as concerning you. Therefore I commend to your great
kindness and high consideration my very reverend brother Hera, whom I
do not merely call brother by any conventional phrase, but because of
his boundless affection. I beseech you to regard him as though he
were nearly connected with yourself, and, so far as you can, to give
him your protection in the matters in which he requires your generous
and thoughtful aid. I shall then have this one more kindness to
reckon in addition to the many which I have already received at your
 Written in the last years of Basil's life.
Letter CCLXXIV. 
To Himerius, the master.
That my friendship and affection for the very reverend brother Hera
began when I was quite a boy, and has, by God's grace, continued up to
my old age, no one knows better than yourself. For the Lord granted
me the affection of your excellency at about the same time that He
allowed me to become acquainted with Hera. He now needs your
patronage, and I therefore beseech and supplicate you to do a favour
for the sake of our old affection, and to heed the necessity under
which we now lie. I beg you to make his cause your own, that he may
need no other protection, but may return to me, successful in all that
he is praying for. Then to the many kindnesses which I have received
at your hands I shall be able to add yet this one more. I could not
claim any favour more important to myself, or one more nearly touching
my own interests.
 Of the same time as the preceding.
Letter CCLXXV. 
Without address. Concerning Hera.
You have anticipated my entreaties in your affection for my very
reverend brother Hera, and you have been better to him than I could
have prayed for you to be in the abundant honour which you have shewn
him, and the protection which you have extended to him on every
occasion. But I cannot allow his affairs to go unnoticed by a word,
and I must beseech your excellency that for my sake you will add
something to the interest you have shewn in him, and will send him
back to his own country victorious over the revilings of his enemies.
Now many are trying to insult the peacefulness of his life, and he is
not beyond the reach of envy's shafts. Against his foes we shall find
one sure means of safety, if you will consent to extend your
protection over him.
 Placed at the same time as the preceding.
Letter CCLXXVI. 
To the great Harmatius.
The common law of human nature makes elders fathers to youngsters, and
the special peculiar law of us Christians puts us old men in the place
of parents to the younger. Do not, then, think that I am impertinent
or shew myself indefensibly meddlesome, if I plead with you on behalf
of your son. In other respects I think it only right that you should
exact obedience from him; for, so far as his body is concerned, he is
subject to you, both by the law of nature, and by the civil law under
which we live. His soul, however, is derived from a diviner source,
and may properly be held to be subject to another authority. The
debts which it owes to God have a higher claim than any others.
Since, then, he has preferred the God of us Christians, the true God,
to your many gods which are worshipped by the help of material
symbols, be not angry with him. Rather admire his noble firmness of
soul, in sacrificing the fear and respect due to his father to close
conjunction with God, through true knowledge and a life of virtue.
Nature herself will move you, as well as your invariable gentleness
and kindliness of disposition, not to allow yourself to feel angry
with him even to a small extent. And I am sure that you will not set
my mediation at naught,--or rather, I should say, the mediation of
your townsmen of which I am the exponent. They all love you so well,
and pray so earnestly for all blessings for you, that they suppose
that in you they have welcomed a Christian too. So overjoyed have
they been at the report which has suddenly reached the town.
 Placed in the last years of Basil's life.
Letter CCLXXVII. 
To the learned Maximus.
The excellent Theotecnus has given mean account of your highness,
whereby he has inspired me with a longing for your acquaintance, so
clearly do his words delineate the character of your mind. He has
enkindled in me so ardent an affection for you, that were it not that
I am weighed down with age, that I am the victim of a congenital
ailment, that I am bound hand and foot by the numberless cares of the
Church, nothing would have hindered my coming to you. For indeed it
is no small gain that a member of a great house, a man of illustrious
lineage, in adopting the life of the gospel, should bridle the
propensities of youth by reflection, and subject to reason the
affections of the flesh; should display a humility consistent with his
Christian profession, bethinking himself, as is his duty, whence he is
come and whither he is going. For it is this consideration of our
nature that reduces the swelling of the mind, and banishes all
boastfulness and arrogance. In a word it renders one a disciple of
our Lord, Who said, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart."
And in truth, very dear son, the only thing that deserves our
exertions and praises is our everlasting welfare; and this is the
honour that comes from God.
Human affairs are fainter than a shadow; more deceitful than a dream.
Youth fades more quickly than the flowers of spring; our beauty wastes
with age or sickness. Riches are uncertain; glory is fickle. The
pursuit of arts and sciences is bounded by the present life; the charm
of eloquence, which all covet, reaches but the ear: whereas the
practice of virtue is a precious possession for its owner, a
delightful spectacle for all who witness it. Make this your study; so
will you be worthy of the good things promised by the Lord.
But a recital of the means whereby to make the acquisition, and secure
the enjoyment of these blessings, lies beyond the intention of this
present letter. Thus much however, after what I heard from my brother
Theotecnus, it occurred to me to write to you. I pray that he may
always speak the truth, especially in his accounts of you; that the
Lord may be the more glorified in you, abounding as you do in the most
precious fruits of piety, although derived from a foreign root.
 Placed at the end of Basil's life.
 Matt. xi. 29.
Letter CCLXXVIII. 
I desired, when in Orphanene,  to see your excellency; I had
also hoped that while you were living at Corsagæna, there would have
been nothing to hinder your coming to me at a synod which I had
expected to hold at Attagæna; since, however, I failed to hold it, my
desire was to see you in the hill-country; for here again Evesus,
 being in that neighbourhood, held out hopes of our meeting.
But since I have been disappointed on both occasions, I determined to
write and beg that you would deign to visit me; for I think it is but
right and proper that the young man should come to the old.
Furthermore, at our meeting, I would make you a tender of my advice,
touching your negotiations with certain at Cæsarea: a right
conclusion of the matter calls for my intervention. If agreeable
then, do not be backward in coming to me.
 Placed in the episcopate.
 A district in Armenia Minor. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. A.M. 314.
 cf. Ep. ccli. p. 291. Euassai or Evesus is about fifty miles
north of Cæsarea.
Letter CCLXXIX. 
To Modestus the Prefect.
Although so numerous are my letters, conveyed to your excellency by as
many bearers, yet, having regard to the especial honour you have shewn
me, I cannot think that their large number causes you any annoyance.
I do not hesitate therefore to entrust to this brother the
accompanying letter: I know that he will meet with all that he
wishes, and that you will count me but as a benefactor in furnishing
occasion for the gratification of your kind inclinations. He craves
your advocacy. His cause he will explain in person, if you but deign
to regard him with a favourable eye, and embolden him to speak freely
in the presence of so august an authority. Accept my assurance that
any kindness shewn to him, I shall regard as personal to myself. His
special reason for leaving Tyana and coming to me was the high value
he attached to the presentation of a letter written by myself in
support of his application. That he may not be disappointed of his
hope; that I may continue in the enjoyment of your consideration; that
your interest in all that is good may, in this present matter, find
scope for its full exercise--are the grounds on which I crave a
gracious reception for him, and a place amongst those nearest to you.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXX. 
To Modestus the Prefect.
I feel my boldness in pressing my suit by letter upon a man in your
position; still the honour that you have paid me in the past has
banished all my scruples. Accordingly I write with confidence.
My plea is for a relative of mine, a man worthy of respect for his
integrity. He is the bearer of this letter, and he stands to me in
the place of a son. Your favour is all that he requires for the
fulfilment of his wishes. Deign therefore to receive, at the hands of
the aforesaid bearer, my letter in furtherance of his plea. I pray
you to give him an opportunity of explaining his affairs at an
interview with those in a position to help him. So by your direction
shall he quickly obtain his desires; while I shall have occasion for
boasting that by God's favour I have found a champion who regards the
entreaties of my friends as personal claims to his protection.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXI. 
To Modestus the Prefect.
I am mindful of the great honour I received in the encouragement you
gave me, along with others, to address your excellency. I avail
myself of the privilege and the enjoyment of your gracious favour.
I congratulate myself upon having such a correspondent, as also upon
the opportunity afforded your excellency of conferring an honour on me
by your reply.
I claim your clemency on behalf of Helladius my special friend. I
pray that he may be relieved from the anxieties of Tax-assessor, and
so be enabled to work in the interests of our country.
You have already so far given a gracious consent, that I now repeat my
request, and pray you to send instructions to the governor of the
Province, that Helladius may be released from this infliction.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXII. 
To a bishop.
You blame me for not inviting you; and, when invited, you do not
attend. That your former excuse was an empty one is clear from your
conduct on the second occasion. For had you been invited before, in
all probability you would never have come.
Act not again unadvisedly, but obey this present invitation; since you
know that its repetition strengthens an indictment, and that a second
lends credibility to a previous accusation.
I exhort you always to bear with me; or even if you cannot, at any
rate it is your duty not to neglect the Martyrs, to join in whose
commemoration you are invited. Render therefore your service to us
both; or if you will not consent to this, at any rate to the more
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXIII. 
To a widow.
I hope to find a suitable day for the conference, after those which I
intend to fix for the hill-country. I see no opportunity for our
meeting (unless the Lord so order it beyond my expectation), other
than at a public conference.
You may imagine my position from your own experience. If in the care
of a single household you are beset with such a crowd of anxieties,
how many distractions, think you, each day brings to me?
Your dream, I think, reveals more perfectly the necessity of making
provision for spiritual contemplation, and cultivating that mental
vision by which God is wont to be seen. Enjoying as you do the
consolation of the Holy Scriptures, you stand in need neither of my
assistance nor of that of anybody else to help you to comprehend your
duty. You have the all-sufficient counsel and guidance of the Holy
Spirit to lead you to what is right.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXIV. 
To the assessor in the case of monks.
Concerning the monks, your excellency has, I believe, already rules in
force, so that I need ask for no special favour on their behalf.
It is enough that they share with others the enjoyment of your general
beneficence; still I feel it incumbent upon me too to interest myself
in their case. I therefore submit it to your more perfect judgment,
that men who have long since taken leave of this life, who have
mortified their own bodies, so that they have neither money to spend
nor bodily service to render in the interests of the common weal,
should be exempted from taxation. For if their lives are consistent
with their profession, they possess neither money nor bodies; for the
former is spent in communicating to the needy; while their bodies are
worn away in prayer and fasting.
Men living such lives you will, I know, regard with special reverence;
nay you will wish to secure their intervention, since by their life in
the Gospel they are able to prevail with God.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXV. 
The hearer of this letter is one on whom rests the care of our Church
and the management of its property--our beloved son.
Deign to grant him freedom of speech on those points that are referred
to your holiness, and attention to the expression of his own views; so
shall our Church at length recover herself, and henceforth be released
from this many-headed Hydra.
Our property is our poverty; so much so that we are ever in search of
one to relieve us of it; for the expenses of the Church property
amount to more than any profit that she derives from it.
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXVI. 
To the Commentariensis. 
Whereas certain vagabonds have been arrested in the church for
stealing, in defiance of God's commandment, some poor men's clothing,
of little value otherwise, yet such as they had rather have on than
off their backs; and whereas you consider that in virtue of your
office you yourself should have the custody of the offenders:--I
hereby declare, that I would have you know that for offences committed
in the church it is our business to mete out punishment, and that the
intervention of the civil authorities is in these cases superfluous.
Wherefore, the stolen property, as set forth in the document in your
possession and in the transcript made in the presence of eyewitnesses,
I enjoin you to retain, reserving part for future claims, and
distributing the rest among the present applicants.
As for the offenders,--that they be corrected in the discipline and
admonition of the Lord. By this means I hope to work their successive
reformations. For where the stripes of human tribunals have failed, I
have often known the fearful judgments of God to be effectual. If it
is, however, your wish to refer this matter also to the count, such is
my confidence in his justice and uprightness that I leave you to
follow your own counsels.
 Placed in the episcopate.
 A registrar of prisons, or prison superintendent. Cod. Just.
ix. 4. 4. Dis. xlviii. 20. 6.
Letter CCLXXXVII. 
IT is difficult to deal with this man. I scarcely know how to treat
so shifty, and, to judge from the evidence, so desperate a character.
When summoned before the court, he fails to appear; and if he does
attend, he is gifted with such volubility of words and oaths, that I
think myself well off to be quickly rid of him. I have often known
him twist round his accusations upon his accusers. In a word, there
is no creature living upon earth so subtile and versatile in
villainy. A slight acquaintance with him suffices to prove this. Why
then do you appeal to me? Why not at once bring yourselves to submit
to his ill-treatment, as to a visitation of God's anger?
At the same time you must not be contaminated by contact with
I enjoin therefore that he and all his household be forbidden the
services of the Church, and all other communion with her ministers.
Being thus made an example of, he may haply be brought to a sense of
 Placed in the episcopate.
Letter CCLXXXVIII. 
Without address. Excommunicatory.
When public punishment fails to bring a man to his senses, or
exclusion from the prayers of the Church to drive him to repentance,
it only remains to treat him in accordance with our Lord's
directions--as it is written, "If thy brother shall trespass against
thee....tell him his fault between thee and him;...if he will not hear
thee, take with thee another;" "and if he shall" then "neglect to
hear, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear even the
Church, let him be unto thee henceforth as an heathen man, and as a
publican." Now all this we have done in the case of this
fellow. First, he was accused of his fault; then he was convicted in
the presence of one or two witnesses; thirdly, in the presence of the
Church. Thus we have made our solemn protest, and he has not listened
to it. Henceforth let him be excommunicated.
Further, let proclamation be made throughout the district, that he be
excluded from participation in any of the ordinary relations of life;
so that by our withholding ourselves from all intercourse with him he
may become altogether food for the devil. 
 Placed in the episcopate.
 Matt. xviii. 15-17.
 Contrast 1 Tim. i. 20.
Letter CCLXXXIX. 
Without address. Concerning an afflicted woman.
I consider it an equal mistake, to let the guilty go unpunished, and
to exceed the proper limits of punishment. I accordingly passed upon
this man the sentence I considered it incumbent on me to
pass--excommunication from the Church. The sufferer I exhorted not to
avenge herself; but to leave to God the redressing of her wrongs.
Thus if my admonitions had possessed any weight, I should then have
been obeyed, for the language I employed was far more likely to ensure
credit, than any letter to enforce compliance.
So, even after listening to her statements that contained matter
sufficiently grave, I still held my peace; and even now I am not sure
that it becomes me to treat again of this same question.
For, she says, I have foregone husband, children, all the enjoyments
of life, for the attainment of this single object, the favour of God,
and good repute amongst men. Yet one day the offender, an adept from
boyhood in corrupting families, with the impudence habitual to him,
forced an entrance into my house; and thus within the bare limits of
an interview an acquaintanceship was formed. It was only owing to my
ignorance of the man, and to that timidity which comes from
inexperience, that I hesitated openly to turn him out of doors. Yet
to such a pitch of impiety and insolence did he come, that he filled
the whole city with slanders, and publicly inveighed against me by
affixing to the church doors libellous placards. For this conduct, it
is true, he incurred the displeasure of the law: but, nevertheless,
he returned to his slanderous attacks on me. Once more the
market-place was filled with his abuse, as well as the gymnasia,
theatres, and houses whose congeniality of habits gained him an
admittance. Nor did his very extravagance lead men to recognise those
virtues wherein I was conspicuous, so universally had I been
represented as being of an incontinent disposition. In these
calumnies, she goes on to say, some find a delight--such is the
pleasure men naturally feel in the disparagement of others; some
profess to be pained, but shew no sympathy; others believe the truth
of these slanders; others again, having regard to the persistency of
his oaths, are undecided. But sympathy I have none. And now indeed I
begin to realise my loneliness, and bewail myself. I have no brother,
friend, relation, no servant, bond or free, in a word, no one whatever
to share my grief. And yet, I think, I am more than any one else an
object of pity, in a city where the haters of wickedness are so few.
They bandy violence; but violence, though they fail to see it, moves
in a circle, and in time will overtake each one of them.
In such and still more appealing terms she told her tale, with
countless tears, and so departed. Nor did she altogether acquit me of
blame; thinking that, when I ought to sympathise with her like a
father, I am indifferent to her troubles, and regard the sufferings of
others too philosophically.
For it is not, she urged, the loss of money that you bid me disregard;
nor the endurance of bodily sufferings; but a damaged reputation, an
injury involving loss upon the Church at large.
This is her appeal; and now I pray you, most excellent sir, consider
what answer you would have me make her. The decision I have come to
in my own mind is, not to surrender offenders to the magistrates; yet
not to rescue those already in their custody, since it has long ago
been declared by the Apostle, that the magistrates should be a terror
to them in their evil-doings; for, it is said, "he beareth not the
sword in vain." To surrender him, then, is contrary to my
humanity; while to release him would be an encouragement to his
Perhaps, however, you will defer taking action until my arrival. I
will then shew you that I can effect nothing from there being none to
 Placed in the episcopate.
 Rom. xiii. 4.
Letter CCXC. 
May many blessings rest on those who encourage your excellency in
maintaining a constant correspondence with me! And regard not such a
wish as conventional merely, but as expressing my sincere conviction
of the value of your utterances. Whom could I honour above
Nectarius--known to me from his earliest days as a child of fairest
promise, who now through the exercise of every virtue has reached a
position of the highest eminence?--So much so, that of all my friends
the dearest is the bearer of your letter.
Touching the election of those set over districts,  God forbid
that I should do anything for the gratification of man, through
listening to importunities or yielding to fear. In that case I should
be not a steward, but a huckster, battering the gift of God for the
favour of man. But seeing that votes are given but by mortals, who
can only bear such testimony as they do from outward appearances,
while the choice of fit persons is committed in all humility to Him
Who knows the secrets of the heart, haply it is best for everybody,
when he has tendered the evidence of his vote, to abstain from all
heat and contention, as though some self-interest were involved in the
testimony, and to pray to God that what is advantageous may not remain
unknown. Thus the result is no longer attributable to man, but a
cause for thankfulness to God. For these things, if they be of man,
cannot be said to be; but are pretence only, altogether void of
Consider also, that when a man strives with might and main to gain his
end, there is no small danger of his drawing even sinners to his side;
and there is much sinfulness, such is the weakness of man's nature,
even where we should least expect it.
Again, in private consultation we often offer our friends good advice,
and, though we do not find them taking it, yet we are not angry.
Where then it is not man that counsels, but God that determines, shall
we feel indignation at not being preferred before the determination of
And if these things were given to man by man, what need were there for
us to ask them of ourselves? Were it not better for each to take them
from himself? But if they are the gift of God, we ought to pray and
not to grieve. And in our prayer we should not seek our own will, but
leave it to God who disposes for the best.
Now may the holy God keep from your home all taste of sorrow; and
grant to you and to your family a life exempt from harm and sickness.
 Placed in the episcopate.
 On the word summorias the Ben. note is: "Hac voce non
designatur tota diocesis, sed certos quidam pagorum numerus
chorepiscopo commissus, ut patet ex epist. cxlii.," q.v., "erat autem
chorepiscoporum sedes insigni alicui affixa pago, cui alii pagi
attribuebantur. Unde Basilius in epist. clxxxviii. § 10. Auctor est
Amphilochio ut agrum Mestiæ subjectum Vasodis subjiciat.
Letter CCXCI. 
To Timotheus the Chorepiscopus. 
The due limits of a letter, and that mode of addressing you, render it
inconvenient for me to write all I think; at the same time to pass
over my thoughts in silence, when my heart is burning with righteous
indignation against you, is well-nigh impossible. I will adopt the
midway course: I will write some things; others I will omit. For I
wish to chide you, if so I may, in terms both flank and friendly.
Yes! that Timotheus whom I have known from boyhood, so intent upon an
upright and ascetic life, as even to be accused of excess therein, now
forsakes the enquiry after those means whereby we may be united to
God; now makes it his first thought what some one else may think of
him, and lives a life of dependence upon the opinions of others; is
mainly anxious how to serve his friends, without incurring the
ridicule of enemies; and fears disgrace with the world as a great
misfortune. Does he not know, that while he is occupied with these
trifles he is unconsciously neglecting his highest interests? For,
that we cannot be engaged with both at once--the things of this world
and of Heaven--the holy Scriptures are full of teaching for us. Nay,
Nature herself is full of such instances. In the exercise of the
mental faculty, to think two thoughts at the same time is quite
impossible. In the perceptions of our senses, to admit two sounds
falling upon our ears at the same moment, and to distinguish them,
although we are provided with two open passages, is impossible. Our
eyes, again, unless they are both fixed upon the object of our vision,
are unable to perform their action accurately.
Thus much for Nature; but to recite to you the evidence of the
Scriptures were as ridiculous as, so runs the proverb, `to carry owls
to Athens.' Why then combine things incompatible--the tumults
of civil life and the practice of religion?
Withdraw from clamour; be no more the cause or object of annoyance;
let us keep ourselves to ourselves. We long since proposed religion
as our aim; let us make the attainment of it our practice, and shew
those who have the wish to insult us that it does not lie with them to
annoy us at their will. But this will only be when we have clearly
shewn them that we afford no handle for abuse.
For the present enough of this! Would that some day we might meet and
more perfectly consider those things that be for our souls' welfare;
so may we not be too much occupied with thoughts of vanity, since
death must one day overtake us.
I was greatly pleased with the gifts you kindly sent me. They were
most welcome on their own account; the thought of who it was that sent
them made them many times more welcome. The gifts from Pontus, the
tablets and medicines, kindly accept when I send them. At present
they are not by me.
N.B. The letters numbered CCXCII.-CCCLXVI. are included by the Ben.
Ed. in a "Classis Tertia," having no note of time. Some are doubtful,
and some plainly spurious. Of these I include such as seem most
 Placed in the episcopate.
 cf. note on p. 156.
 glauke 'Athenaze. Arist., Av. 301.
The one-half of my desire has God fulfilled in the interview He
granted me with our fair sister, your wife. The other half He is able
to accomplish; and so with the sight of your excellency I shall render
my full thanks to God.
And I am the more desirous of seeing you, now that I hear you have
been adorned with that great ornament, the clothing of immortality,
which clokes our mortality, and puts out of sight the death of the
flesh; by virtue of which the corruptible is swallowed up in
Thus God of His goodness has now alienated you from sin, united you to
Himself, has opened the doors of Heaven, and pointed out the paths
that lead to heavenly bliss. I entreat you therefore by that wisdom
wherein you excel all other men, that you receive the divine favour
circumspectly, proving a faithful guardian of this treasure, as the
repository of this royal gift, keeping watch over it with all
carefulness. Preserve this seal of righteousness unsullied, that so
you may stand before God, shining in the brightness of the Saints.
Let no spot or wrinkle defile the pure robe of immortality; but keep
holiness in all your members, as having put on Christ. "For," it is
said, "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on
Christ." Wherefore let all your members be holy as becomes
their investment in a raiment of holiness and light.
 Gal. iii. 27.
How fare you this long while? Have you altogether recovered the use
of your hand? And how do other things prosper? According to your
wishes and my prayers? In accordance with your purposes?
Where men are readily disposed to change, it is only natural that
their lives are not well ordered: but where their minds are fixed,
steadfast and unalterable, it follows that their lives should be
conformable to their purposes.
True, it is not in the helmsman's power to make a calm when he wishes;
but with us, it is quite easy to render our lives tranquil by stilling
the storms of passion that surge within, by rising superior to those
that assail us from without. The upright man is touched by neither
loss, nor sickness, nor the other ills of life; for he walks in heart
with God, keeps his gaze fixed upon the future, and easily and lightly
weathers the storms that rise from earth.
Be not troubled with the cares of earth. Such men are like fat birds,
in vain endowed with flight, that creep like beasts upon the ground.
But you--for I have witnessed you in difficulties--are like swimmers
racing out at sea.
A single claw reveals the whole lion: so from a slight acquaintance I
think I know you fully. And I count it a great thing, that you set
some store by me, that I am not absent from your thoughts, but
constantly in your recollection.
Now writing is a proof of recollection; and the oftener you write, the
better pleased I am.
To Festus and Magnus.
It is doubtless a father's duty to make provision for his children; a
husbandman's to tend his plants and crops; a teacher's to bestow care
upon his pupils, especially when, innate goodness shews signs of
promise for them.
The husbandman finds toil a pleasure when he sees the ears ripen or
the plants increase; the teacher is gladdened at his pupils' growth in
knowledge, the father at his son's in stature. But greater is the
care I feel for you; higher the hopes I entertain; in proportion as
piety is more excellent than all the arts, than all the animals and
And piety I planted in your heart while still pure and tender, and I
matured it in the hopes of seeing it reach maturity and bearing fruits
in due season. My prayers meanwhile were furthered by your love of
learning. And you know well that you have my good wishes, and that
God's favour rests upon your endeavours; for when rightly directed,
called or uncalled, God is at hand to further them.
Now every man that loves God is prone to teaching; nay, where there is
the power to teach things profitable, their eagerness is well nigh
uncontrollable; but first their hearers' minds must be cleared of all
Not that separation in the body is a hindrance to instruction. The
Creator, in the fulness of His love and wisdom, did not confine our
minds within our bodies, nor the power of speaking to our tongues.
Ability to profit derives some advantage even from lapse of time; thus
we are able to transmit instruction, not only to those who are
dwelling far away, but even to those who are hereafter to be born.
And experience proves my words: those who lived many years before
teach posterity by instruction preserved in their writings; and we,
though so far separated in the body, are always near in thought, and
converse together with ease.
Instruction is bounded neither by sea nor land, if only we have a care
for our souls' profit.
I do not think that I need further commend you to God's grace, after
the words that I addressed to you in person. I then bade you adopt
the life in common, after the manner of living of the Apostles. This
you accepted as wholesome instruction, and gave God thanks for it.
Thus your conduct was due, not so much to the words I spoke, as to my
instructions to put them into practice, conducive at once to your
advantage who accepted, to my comfort who gave you the advice, and to
the glory and praise of Christ, by Whose name we are called.
For this reason I have sent to you our well-beloved brother, that he
may learn of your zeal, may quicken your sloth, may report to me of
opposition. For great is my desire to see you all united in one body,
and to hear that you are not content to live a life without witness;
but have undertaken to be both watchful of each other's diligence, and
witnesses of each other's success.
Thus will each of you receive a reward in full, not only on his own
behalf, but also for his brother's progress. And, as is fitting, you
will be a source of mutual profit, both by your words and deeds, as a
result of constant intercourse and exhortation. But above all I
exhort you to be mindful of the faith of the Fathers, and not to be
shaken by those who in your retirement would try to wrest you from
it. For you know that unless illumined by faith in God, strictness of
life availeth nothing; nor will a right confession of faith, if void
of good works, be able to present you before the Lord.
Faith and works must be joined: so shall the man of God be perfect,
and his life not halt through any imperfection.
For the faith which saves us, as saith the Apostle, is that which
worketh by love.
To a widow.
[A short letter in which Basil excuses himself for making use of the
To a widow.
[A short letter of introduction.]
[A short letter of commendation.]
To a Censitor. 
I was aware, before you told me, that you do not like your employment
in public affairs. It is an old saying that those who are anxious to
lead a pious life do not throw themselves with pleasure into office.
The case of magistrates seems to me like that of physicians. They see
awful sights; they meet with bad smells; they get trouble for
themselves out of other people's calamities. This is at least the
case with those who are real magistrates. All men who are engaged in
business, look also to make a profit, and are excited about this kind
of glory, count it the greatest possible advantage to acquire some
power and influence by which they may be able to benefit their
friends, punish their enemies, and get what they want for themselves.
You are not a man of this kind. How should you be? You have
voluntarily withdrawn from even high office in the State. You might
have ruled the city like one single house, but you have preferred a
life free from care and anxiety. You have placed a higher value on
having no troubles yourself and not troubling other people, than other
people do on making themselves disagreeable. But it has seemed good
to the Lord that the district of Ibora  should not be under the
power of hucksters, nor be turned into a mere slave market. It is His
will that every individual in it should be enrolled, as is right. Do
you therefore accept this responsibility? It is vexatious, I know,
but it is one which may bring you the approbation of God. Neither
fawn upon the great and powerful, nor despise the poor and needy.
Show to all under your rule an impartiality of mind, balanced more
exactly than any scales. Thus in the sight of those who have
entrusted you with these responsibilities your zeal for justice will
be made evident, and they will view you with exceptional admiration.
And even though you go unnoticed by them, you will not be unnoticed by
our God. The prizes which He has put before us for good works are
 i.e. assessor of taxes.
 See geographical note in Prolegomena.
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