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Synesius (Greek: Συνέσιος; c. 373 – c. 414), a Greek bishop of Ptolemais in the Libyan Pentapolis after 410, was born of wealthy parents, who claimed descent from Spartan kings, at Balagrae (Al Bayda city now) [1]near Cyrene between 370 and 375.



While still a youth (393) he went with his brother Euoptius to Alexandria, where he became an enthusiastic Neoplatonist and disciple of Hypatia. Between 395 and 399 he spent some time in Athens.[2]

In 399 he was chosen as an envoy to the imperial court in Constantinople by Cyrene and the whole Pentapolis.[3] He went to the capital in occasion of the delivery of the aurum coronarium[4] and his task was to obtain tax remissions for his country.[5] In Constantinople he obtained the patronage of the powerful praetorian prefect Aurelianus. Synesius composed and addressed to Emperor Arcadius a speech entitled De regno, full of topical advice as to the studies of a wise ruler, but also containing a bold statement that the emperor's first priority must be a war on corruption.

His three years' stay in Constantinople was wearisome and otherwise disagreeable; the leisure it forced upon him he devoted in part to literary composition. Aurelianus succeeded in granting him the tax remission for Cyrene and the Pentapolis and the exemption from curial obligations for him,[6] but then he fell in disgrace and Synesius lost everything. Later Aurelian returned in power, restoring his own grants to Synesius. The poet, then, composed Aegyptus sive de providentia, an allegory in which the good Osiris and the evil Typhon, who represent Aurelian and the Goth Gainas (ministers under Arcadius), strive for mastery, and the question of the divine permission of evil is handled.

In 402, during an earthquake, Synesius left Constantinople to return to Cyrene.[7] Along the road he passed through Alexandria,[8] where he returned in 403; it was in the Egyptian city that he married and lived, before returning at Cyrene in 405.[9] The following years were busy, for Synesius. His major concern was the organisation of the defence of the Pentapolis from the yearly attacks of neighbouring tribes.

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