St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea

Letter CCLVIII

To Epiphanius the bishop , 4:

The Magussaeans, as you were good enough to point out to me in your other letter, are here [Cappadocia] in considerable numbers, scattered all over the country, settlers having long ago been introduced into these parts from Babylon. Their manners are peculiar, as they do not mix with other men. It is quite impossible to converse with them, inasmuch as they have been made the prey of the devil to do his will. They have no books; no instructors in doctrine. They are brought up in senseless institutions, piety being handed down from father to son. In addition to the characteristics which are open to general observation, they object to the slaying of animals as defilement, and they cause the animals they want for their own use to be slaughtered by other people. They are wild after illicit marriages; they consider fire divine, and so on. No one hitherto has told me any fables about the descent of the Magi from Abraham: they name a certain Zarnuas as the founder of their race. I have nothing more to write to your excellency about them.