Mara, son of Serapion, excerpt from a letter to his son Serapion, tr. B.P. Pratten in Early Liturgies and Other Documents of the Ante-Nicene Period
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1872 = Ante-Nicene Christian Library
, XXIV), pp. 110-111 (original in Syriac; square brackets omitted):
Moreover I, my son, have attentively observed mankind, in what a dismal state of ruin they are. And I have been amazed that they are not utterly prostrated by the calamities which surround them, and that even their wars are not enough for them, nor the pains they endure, nor the diseases, nor the death, nor the poverty; but that, like savage beasts, they must needs rush upon one another in their enmity, trying which of them shall inflict the greater mischief on his fellow. For they have broken away from the bounds of truth, and transgress all honest laws, because they are bent on fulfilling their selfish desires (for, whensoever a man is eagerly set on obtaining that which he desires, how is it possible that he should fitly do that which it behoves him to do?); and they acknowledge no restraint, and but seldom stretch out their hands towards truth and goodness, but in their manner of life behave like the deaf and the blind. Moreover, the wicked rejoice, and the righteous are disquieted. He that has, denies that he has; and he that has not, struggles to acquire. The poor seek help, and the rich hide their wealth, and every man laughs at his fellow. Those that are drunken are stupefied, and those that have recovered themselves are ashamed. Some weep, and some sing; and some laugh, and others are a prey to care. They rejoice in things evil, and a man that speaks the truth they despise.
See The Letter of Mara bar Sarapion
Proceedings of the Symposium Held at
Utrecht University, 10–12 December 2009. Edited by
Annette Merz and Teun Tieleman (Leiden: Brill, 2012).