||Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais|
||Synesius, of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais|
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Synesius, a native of Cyrene, born circa 375. His descent was illustrious. His pedigree extended through seventeen centuries, and in the words of Gibbon, "could not be equalled in the history of mankind." He became distinguished for his eloquence and philosophy, and as a statesman and patriot he took a noble stand. When the Goths were threatening his country he went to the court of Arcadius, and for three years tried to rouse it to the dangers that were coming on the empire. But Gibbon says, ”The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded the eloquence, and neglected the advice of Synesius." In 410 he was made Bishop of Ptolemaïs, but much against his will. He died in 430. Synesius's opinions have been variously estimated. That he was imbued with the Neo-Platonic philosophy there is no doubt but that he was a semi-Christian, as alleged by Mosheim or that he denied the doctrine of the Resurrection as stated directly by Gibbon [see Decline and Fall, vol. ii.]; and indirectly by Bingham [see Christian Antiq., Lond., 1843, i., pp. 464-5] is very doubtful. Mr. Chatfield, who has translated his Odes in his Songs and Hymns of the Greek Christian Poets, 1876, contends that his tenth Ode "Lord Jesus, think on me," proves that he was not a semi-Christian, and that he held the doctrine of the Resurrection. The first is clear: but the second is open to doubt. He certainly prays to the Redeemer: but there is nothing in the hymn to shew that he looked upon the Redeemer as being clothed in His risen body. This tenth ode is the only Ode of Synesius, which has come into common use. The original Odes are found in the Anth. Graeca Carm. Christ, 1871, p. 2 seq., and Mr. Chatfield's trs. in his Songs, &c, 1876. Synesius's Odes have also been translation by Alan Stevenson, and included in his The Ten Hymns of Synesius, Bishop of Tyreore, A.D. 410 in English Verse. And some Occasional Pieces by Alan Stevenson, LL.B. Printed for Private Circulation, 1865.
-- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)