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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (St. Basil of Caesarea) > Letter 334

Letter 334

ST. BASIL OF CAESAREA

To a writer.

Write straight, and make the lines straight. Do not let your hand go too high or too low. Avoid forcing the pen to travel slantwise, like Æsop's crab. Advance straight on, as if following the line of the carpenter's rule, which always preserves exactitude and prevents any irregularity. The oblique is ungraceful. It is the straight which pleases the eye, and does not allow the reader's eyes to go nodding up and down like a swing-beam. This has been my fate in reading your writing. As the lines lie ladderwise, I was obliged, when I had to go from one to another, to mount up to the end of the last: then, when no connection was to be found, I had to go back, and seek for the right order again, retreating and following the furrow, like Theseus in the story following Ariadne's thread. Write straight, and do not confuse our mind by your slanting and irregular writing.

About this page

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/3202334.htm>.

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