“They differ in no way from us ordinary mortals”

A young African philosopher, Synesius of Cyrene (died ca 414), planning a trip to Athens, & complaining to his brother about how insufferable provincials are when they come back from Athens: “They differ in no way from us ordinary mortals. They do not understand Aristotle and Plato better than we, but nevertheless they go about among us like demigods among mules, because they have seen the Academy, the Lyceum, and the Stoa Poecile where Zeno gave his lectures in philosophy.” – Note that Synesius, later bishop of Ptolemais (while married), was a disciple of the Platonic philosopher Hypatia – murdered by Christian zealots in 415. Some of his letters to Hypatia survive.

Synesius, Ep. 54 – cit. W. Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (Oxford, 1961), 76-77. (Lightly modified.)

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