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(See the first letter to Sophronius.  The nature of the trouble here alluded to is unknown.  There are several letters to various persons in reference to his troubles and difficulties, many of them coming from his reluctance to undertake the duties of any public office.  He died at an early age, leaving his widow, Alypiana, with a large family to bring up in very reduced circumstances.  Her troubles and the education of her children were matters of much concern to Gregory, whose frequent letters on the subject will be found below.)

I approve the statement of Theognis, who, while not praising the friendship which goes no further than cups and pleasures, praises that which extends to actions in these words,

Beside a full wine cup a man has many friends:

But they are fewer when grave troubles press.

We, however, have not shared winecups with each other, nor indeed have we often met (though we ought to have been very careful to do so, both for our own sake, and for the sake of the friendship which we inherited from our fathers), but we do ask for the goodwill which shews itself in acts.  A struggle is at hand, and a very serious struggle.  My son Nicobulus has got into unexpected troubles, from a quarter from which troubles would least be looked for.  Therefore I beg you to come and help us as soon as you can, both to take part in trying the case, and to plead our cause, if you find that a wrong is being done us.  But if you cannot come, at any rate do not let yourself be previously retained by the other side, or sell for a small gain the freedom which we know from everybody’s testimony has always characterized you.

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