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E00774: Basil of Caesarea, in his Letter 282 of the 370s to a fellow bishop, reproaches him for not attending a martyr’s festival in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor), despite having been invited. Written in Greek at Kaisareia.

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posted on 2015-10-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
Basil of Caesarea, Letters (CPG 2900), Letter 282


Μὴ καλούμενος ἐγκαλεῖς καὶ καλούμενος οὐχ ὑπακούεις. Ἐκ δὲ τῶν δευτέρων δῆλος εἶ καὶ τῇ προτέρᾳ σκήψει μάτην χρησάμενος. Οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἧκες, ἐκ τῶν εἰκότων, οὐδὲ τότε κληθείς. Ἐπάκουσον οὖν καλοῦσι νῦν καὶ μὴ γένῃ πάλιν ἀγνώμων εἰδὼς ὡς ἐγκλήματι προστιθέμενον ἔγκλημα βεβαιοῖ καὶ πιστοτέραν ἐργάζεται τοῦ προτέρου τὴν κατηγορίαν τὸ δεύτερον. Ἀεὶ δέ σε καὶ ἡμῶν ἀνέχεσθαι παρακαλῶ· εἰ δὲ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἀνέχῃ, ἀλλ’ οὐ τῶν μαρτύρων ἀμελῆσαι δίκαιον, ὧν ταῖς μνείαις κοινωνήσων καλῇ. Δὸς οὖν πρῶτον μὲν ἀμφοτέροις, εἰ δὲ τοῦτό σοι μὴ δοκεῖ, τοῖς γοῦν τιμιωτέροις τὴν χάριν.

'To a Bishop

When you are not invited, you complain, but, when invited, you do not give heed. Yet from your behaviour in the latter case, it is clear that you employed an empty excuse also on the first occasion. For you would not have come then either, as it seems, if you had been invited. Give heed, therefore, to those who now invite you, and do not again be unreasonable, remembering that, when a charge is added to a charge, the second confirms and makes more credible the accusation contained in the first. And I urge you always to bear with us, but, if you do not bear with us, at any rate, it is not right to neglect the martyrs, in whose commemoration you are invited to join. Therefore grant the favour to both, but, if it does not please you, at least to those held in the higher honour.'

Text: Courtonne, vol. 3 (1966), 154.
Translation: Deferrari, vol. 4, p. 168-171 (modified).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Born around 330 to an aristocratic Christian family of Neokaisareia/Neocaesarea of Pontus Polemoniacus (Anatolia), Basil was educated in Kaisareia/Caesarea, Antioch, and Athens. After his studies, he spent time in the monasteries in Egypt, before returning to Pontus, where he organised an ascetic community on his family estate in Pontus. In the 360s, Basil was ordained in Kaisareia/Caesarea, and, on 14 June 370, he was consecrated bishop there. He died on 1 January 379. Basil was a prolific writer, composing homilies, theological, ascetical, and liturgical works. His 369 letters form a major corpus on ecclesiastical politics and the broader history of Anatolia and the Christian East. On the manuscript tradition, editions and translations of this text, see: Fedwick, P.J., Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis. 5 vols. Vol. I (Corpus Christianorum; Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 404-405.


This letter is addressed by Basil to an unnamed bishop with whom the author was apparently in conflict. It is tempting to recognise the recipient as Eustathios of Sebaste, Basil’s neighbouring metropolitan and personal rival, with whom our author clashed in 375 for doctrinal reasons. Basil refers to a feast of martyrs, to which his correspondent had been invited but did not attend. The invitation of neighbouring bishops to martyrs’ festivals had a dual practical purpose: to assist the local bishop in directing worship for an unusually large congregation of pilgrims, and to provide an opportunity for bishops to meet and discuss ecclesiastical matters (see E00772, E00818). It is possible that the festival under discussion was that of the Caesarean martyrs *Eupsychios and *Damas, which, as we know from another letter of Basil (see E00772), was the venue of a customary meeting of bishops from the entire civil diocese of Pontus, of which the bishop of Kaisareia/Caesarea was the primate.


Text edition and French Translation: Courtonne, Y., Saint Basile. Lettres. 3 vols (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1957-1966). Text and English Translations: Deferrari, R.J., Saint Basil, the Letters. 4 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1928). Way, A.C., Saint Basil. Letters, Volume 1 (1‒185) (Fathers of the Church 13; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1951). Further Reading: Courtonne, Y., Un témoin du IVe siècle oriental: saint Basile et son temps d'après sa correspondance (Collection d'études anciennes; Paris: Les Belles lettres, 1973), esp. 356-359. Radde-Gallwitz, A., "The Letter Collection of Basil of Caesarea," in: C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, and E. Watts (eds.), Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), 69-80. Rousseau, P., Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

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