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Letter LXI.22222222    Placed in 370 or 371.

To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.22232223    This, the first of Basil’s six extant letters to Athanasius, is placed by the Ben. Ed. in 371.  It has no certain indication of date.  Athanasius, in the few years of comparative calm which preceded his death in May, 373, had excommunicated a vicious governor in Libya, a native of Cappadocia, and announced his act to Basil.  The intercourse opened by this official communication led to a more important correspondence.

I have read the letter of your holiness, in which you have expressed your distress at the unhappy governor of Libya.  I am grieved that my own country should have given birth to and nurtured such vices.  I am grieved too that Libya, a neighbouring country, should suffer from our evils, and should have been delivered to the inhumanity of a man whose life is marked at once by cruelty and crime.  This however is only in accordance with the wisdom of the Preacher, “Woe to thee O land when thy King is a child;”22242224    Eccles. x. 16. (a still further touch of trouble) and whose “Princes” do not “eat” after night but revel at mid-day, raging after other men’s wives with less understanding than brute beasts.  This man must surely look for the scourges of the righteous Judge, repaid him in exact requital for those which he himself has previously inflicted on the saints.  Notice has been given to my Church in accordance with the letter of your reverence, and he shall be held by all as abominable, cut off from fire, water and shelter, if indeed in the case of men so possessed there is any use in general and unanimous condemnation.  Notoriety is enough for him, and your own letter, which has been read in all directions, for I shall not fail to show it to all his friends and relatives.  Assuredly, even if retribution 162does not reach him at once, as it did Pharaoh, certainly it will bring on him hereafter a heavy and hard requital.


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