Synesius of Cyrene
b Cyrene, N Africa c365–375, d c414 (given in Praise! as c430). Brought up in a wealthy family as a pagan gentleman, he studied at Alexandria under the neo-Platonist Hypatia, before travelling to Constantinople in 397 in a vain effort to make the emperor Arcadius take the Gothic incursions with due seriousness. A man of both practical vision and philosophic tastes, he slowly accepted the truth of the Christian faith and in 403 married a Christian lady. In 410 he became Bishop of Ptolemais (Akko, or Acre, on the Mediterranean coast N of Haifa) partly because he could obtain help from the imperial authorities to enrich his own less affluent province. His writings retained traces of Neo-Platonism, based on the views of the 3rd-c Plotinus merged with some eastern mysticism. In 1851 Charles Kingsley included him in the first of his historical novels, Hypatia, or New Foes with Old Faces, which however had a mixed reception for other reasons. His life and work were treated by Alice Gardner in 1886 and W T Crawford, 1901, but there is little (in English) of more recent date. No.679.