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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (St. Basil of Caesarea) > Letter 21

Letter 21

ST. BASIL OF CAESAREA

To Leontius the Sophist.

The excellent Julianus seems to get some good for his private affairs out of the general condition of things. Everything nowadays is full of taxes demanded and called in, and he too is vehemently dunned and indicted. Only it is a question not of arrears of rates and taxes, but of letters. But how he comes to be a defaulter I do not know. He has always paid a letter, and received a letter— as he has this. But possibly you have a preference for the famous four-times-as-much. For even the Pythagoreans were not so fond of their Tetractys, as these modern tax-collectors of their four-times-as-much. Yet perhaps the fairer thing would have been just the opposite, that a Sophist like you, so very well furnished with words, should be bound in pledge to me for four-times-as-much. But do not suppose for a moment that I am writing all this out of ill-humour. I am only too pleased to get even a scolding from you. The good and beautiful do everything, it is said, with the addition of goodness and beauty. Even grief and anger in them are becoming. At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than any one else flattering him. Do not then cease preferring charges like the last! The very charge will mean a letter; and nothing can be more precious or delightful to me.

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Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3202021.htm>.

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