St Thalassios, priest and abbot at a monastery in Libya, was a personal friend of St Maximos the Confessor, whose largest work. To Thalassios: On Various Questions relating to Holy Scripture, consists of answers to difficulties raised by St Thalassios. The Two Hundred Texts on Theology by St Maximos are also dedicated to St Thalassios, and in addition five of St Maximos' letters are addressed to him.^ Twice St Maximos describes himself as a disciple of St Thalassios.' Perhaps this is no more than an expression of courtesy towards someone older than himself, and it may have been St Thalassios who was in reality the disciples but it is not impossible that St Maximos was indeed decisively influenced by him.'*
The four centuries here translated are the only known work of the Libyan abbot. They display at many points the influence of Evagrios, but lay greater emphasis upon the integral unity of body and soul. St Thalassios, like St Maximos, sees self-love as the source of all the vices, and the two agree in emphasizing the supreme importance of love.
In the church calendar St Thalassios is commemorated on 20 May. For the present translation the Greek text in the Philokalia has been compared with that in Migne, P.G. xci, 1427-70, which is often more reliable.
' Letters 9, 26, 40-42.
^Letter 9 (V.G. xci, 449 A); Opuscula (P.G. xci, 29D). ' This is the view of M. Viller, 'Aux sources de la spirituahte de S. Maxime', Revue d'ascitique et de mystique xi (1930), pp. 262-3.
' See M.-Th. Disdier, 'Le temoignage spirituel de Thalassius le Lybien', Etudes byzantines ii (i 944), pp. 79-118.
On Love, Self Control, and Life In Accordance With the Intellect: Written for Paul the Presbyter
First Century VOLUME 2: Page 307
Second Century 313
Third Century 319
Fourth Century 325