Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Epistle II.

To Justinus, Prætor of Sicily.

Gregory to Justinus, Prætor of Sicily.

What my tongue speaks my conscience approves; since even before you had become engaged in the employments of any office of dignity, I have greatly loved and greatly respected you.  For the very modesty of your deportment made certain incipient claims on affection even from one who had been loth.  And, when I heard that you had come to administer the prætorship of Sicily, I greatly rejoiced.  But, since I have discovered that a certain ill-feeling is creeping in between you and the ecclesiastics, I have been exceedingly distressed.  But now that you are occupied with the charge of civil administration, and I with the care of this ecclesiastical government, we can properly love one another in particular so far as we do no harm to the general community.  Wherefore I beseech you by Almighty God, before Whose tremendous judgment we must give account of our deeds, that your Glory have always the fear of Him before your eyes, and never allow anything to come in whereby even slight dissension may arise between us.  Let no gains draw you aside to injustice; let not either the threats or the favours of any one cause you p. 74b to deviate from the path of rectitude.  See how short life is:  think, ye that exercise judicial authority, before what judge ye must at some time go.  It is therefore to be diligently considered that we shall leave all gains behind us here, and that of harmful gains we shall carry with us to the judgment the pleas only that are against us for them.  Those advantages, then, are to be sought by us which death may in no wise take away, but which the end of the present life may shew to be such as will endure for ever.

As to what you write concerning the corn, the magnificent Citonatus asserts very differently that no more has been transmitted than what was supplied for replenishing the public granary in satisfaction of what was due for the past indiction.  Give attention to this matter, since, if what is transmitted be at all defective, it will be the death not of any one single person only, but of the whole people together 1298 .

Now for the management of the patrimony of Sicily I have sent, as I think under the guidance of God, such a man as you will be in entire accord with, if you are a lover of what is right, as I have found you to be.  Moreover, as to your desire that I should remember you kindly, I confess the truth when I say that, unless any injustice should creep in from the snares of the ancient foe, I have learnt thy Glory’s modesty to be such that I shah not blush to be thy friend.



The population of Rome had long been greatly dependent on Sicily for the supply of corn, which it was the duty of the prætor to purchase and transmit to Rome.  Famine might result from failure of this supply.  Hence what is said further on the subject in this Epistle.  Cf. “Neminem vestrum præterit, judices omnem utilitatem opportunitatemque provinciæ Siciliæ quæ ad commoda populi Romani adjuncta sit consistere in re frumentaria maxime.  Nam cæteris rebus adjuvamur ex illa provincia, hac vero alimur et sustinemur.”  (Cicero in Verrem, Act II. lib. 3, c. 5.)

Next: To Paul, Scholasticus.