Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XI/Sulpitius Severus/Doubtful Letters/Letter III
A Letter of Severus to Holy Paul the Bishop.
After I learned that all thy cooks had given up thy kitchen (I believe because they felt indignant at having to fulfill the duty towards cheap dishes of pulse), I sent a little boy to you out of our own workshop. He is quite skillful enough to cook pale beans and to pickle homely beet-root, with vinegar and sauce, as well as to prepare cheap porridge for the jaws of the hungry monks. He knows nothing, however, of pepper or of laser, but he is quite at home with cumin,
and is especially clever in plying the noisy mortar with sweetly smelling plants. He has one fault, that he is no kindly foe to admit to any garden; for if let in, he will mow down with a sword all things within his reach, and he will never be satisfied with the slaughter simply of mallows. However, in furnishing himself with fuel he will not swindle you. He will burn whatever comes in his way; he will cut down and not hesitate to lay hands upon buildings, and to carry off old beams from the household. We present him, then, to you, with this character and these virtues; and we wish you to regard him not as a servant, but as a son, because you are not ashamed to be the father of very small creatures. I myself would have wished to serve you instead of him; but if good-will may be taken as in some measure standing for the deed do you only, in return, take care to remember me amid your breakfasts and delightful dinners because it is more proper to be your slave, than the master of others. Pray for me.
- “pulmentariis”: this word generally means some sort of relish, but here it seems to denote a kind of pottage.
- Laser was the juice of a plant called laserpitium.
- Clericus remarks, “Jocosa hæc est epistola,” but the fun is certainly of a very ponderous kind. We are, by no means, sure of the sense in some parts of the letter.