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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (St. Basil of Caesarea) > Letter 338

Letter 338

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Libanius to Basil.

I know you will often write, Here is another Cappadocian for you! I expect that you will send me many. I am sure that you are everywhere putting pressure on both fathers and sons by all your complimentary expressions about me. But it would not be kind on my part not to mention what happened about your good letter. There were sitting with me not a few of our people of distinction, and among them the very excellent Alypius, Hierocles' cousin. The messengers gave in the letter. I read it right through without a word; then with a smile, and evidently gratified, I exclaimed, I am vanquished! How? When? Where? they asked. How is it that you are not distressed at being vanquished? I am beaten, I replied, in beautiful letter writing. Basil has won. But I love him; and so I am delighted. On hearing this, they all wanted to hear of the victory from the letter itself. It was read by Alypius, while all listened. It was voted that what I had said was quite true. Then the reader went out, with the letter still in his hand, to show it, I suppose, to others. I had some difficulty in getting it back. Go on writing others like it; go on winning. This is for me to win. You are quite right in thinking that my services are not measured by money. Enough for him who has nothing to give, that he is as wishful to receive. If I perceive any one who is poor to be a lover of learning, he takes precedence of the rich. True, I never found such instructors; but nothing shall stand in the way of my being, at least in that respect, an improvement on mine. Let no one, then, hesitate to come hither because he is poor, if only he possesses the one qualification of knowing how to work.

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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. <>.

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