On friends and false friendship in the poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus

Erika Brodňanská

On friends and false friendship in the poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus

Číslo: 2/2020
Periodikum: Acta Universitatis Carolinae Theologica
DOI: 10.14712/23363398.2020.57

Klíčová slova: Gregory of Nazianzus; Poetry; Friends; St. Basil the Great; Cynic Maximus; Peraequator Hellenius

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Anotace: Unlike family relations, friendships are based primarily on deliberate personal decisions. In some cases, however, they can be marked not only by sympathy and positive emotions but also by opportunism and conflicts. The relationship between two Church Fathers and close friends, St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Basil the Great, went through a whole range of emotions. A portrayal of this relationship, as well as several others (e.g. the one with Maximus the Cynic), is to be found in St. Gregory’s autobiographical poem De vita sua. Some details on the saint’s friends can also be perceived from his letters in verses, addressed to a group of more or less close friends from his surroundings. The variety and seriousness of the matters that St. Gregory discusses in these texts mirror the depth or superficiality of each particular relationship. In his letters in verses, Gregory of Nazianzus asks his friends for special favours (e.g. Hellenius), praises their deeds (e.g. some members of the monastic community in Caesarea), encourages them (e.g. Nemesius) or reprimands them (e.g. Vitalianus). A significant indicator of the level of friendship with the persons involved is the way St. Gregory addresses them. The salutations he uses are often very courteous, but in a couple of cases, marks of enmity can be found as well.