Seventh Letter
Category: Ideas
Genres: Philosophy
Level 9.58 1:33 h
Seventh Letter written by Plato is his longest epistle. In the text, he recounts his time in Sicily. Still, the text is also highly philosophical, with Plato discussing being able to actually write philosophical works. Plato was a great writer and thinker and always used his text to dive into some of his time's most interesting philosophical questions that remain relevant today.

Seventh Letter



Translated by George Burges

Seventh Letter

Plato to the Kindred and Friends of Dion.

Ye have written to me, that I ought to think your sentiments are the same as those which Dion held; and, moreover, you exhort me to make a common cause, as far as I can, in word and deed. If ye have the same opinion and desires with him I agree to unite with you; but if not, to take frequent counsel with myself. Now what his sentiments and desires were, I can tell pretty nearly, not by conjecture, but by having known them clearly.

For when I came originally to Syracuse, being then nearly forty years old, Dion was of the age that Hipparinus is now; and the opinion he then held, he has still continued to hold, namely, that the Syracusans ought to be free and live according to the best laws. So that it is by no means wonderful, if some god has caused the latter to agree in the same opinion with the former on the subject of a polity. But what was the method of producing this, is a thing not unworthy for the young and not young to hear; and I will endeavour to relate it to you from the beginning; for the present events offer the opportunity.

When I was a young man, I was affected as the many are. I thought, if I became quickly my own master, to betake myself immediately to the public affairs of the state. Now some such circumstances as these fell out relating to state affairs. Of the polity existing at that time, when it was abused by many, a change took place; and over the change one and fifty men presided as governors, eleven in the city, and ten in the Piraus; and each of these had a jurisdiction about the Agora, and whatever else it was necessary to regulate in the cities, while thirty of them were invested with supreme authority. Some of these happened to be my relatives and acquaintances; and they forthwith invited me (to attend) to state-affairs, as being a suitable pursuit. And how I was affected is, on account of my youth, not at all wonderful. For I thought that they would, by leading the city from an unjust mode of living to a just one, administer it in the way it was meet; so that I diligently gave my mind to what they did. But when I saw these men proving in a short time that the previous form of government had been (as it were) gold, and that they committed other acts (unjustly), and sent my friend Socrates, advanced in years, whom I am not ashamed to say was nearly the most righteous man of those then living, together with certain others, against one of the citizens, and to bring him by force, in order that he might be executed, so that he (Socrates) might have a share in their deeds, whether he wished it or not, and that he did not comply, but ran the risk of suffering every thing, rather than take any part in their impious acts — all this when I saw, and other similar acts of no trifling kind, I felt indignant, and withdrew myself from the evil men of that period.

Not long after this, the power of the thirty fell by a revolution, together with the whole of the then existing form of government. Again, therefore, but somewhat more slowly, did a desire still drag me on to engage in public and political affairs. Now in these, as being in a troubled state, many things took place, at which any one might be indignant; nor was it wonderful, that in revolutions the punishment of hostile factions should have been rather severe in the case of some; although they who returned acted with considerable clemency. But by some chance some of those in power brought before a court of justice our friend Socrates, laying upon him an accusation the most unholy, and belonging the least of all to Socrates. For some brought him to trial, and others gave their vote against him, and destroyed the man, who had been unwilling to share in the unholy act of a removal relating to one of his then exiled friends, when the exiles themselves were unfortunate. On reflecting then upon these matters, and on the persons who managed political affairs, and on the laws and customs, the more I considered them, and I advanced in years, by so much the more difficult did it appear to me to administer correctly state affairs. For it is not possible to do so without friends and faithful associates; whom, existing at that time, it was not easy to find — for our city was then no longer administered according to the manners and institutions of our fathers and it was impossible to acquire new with any facility; while the written laws and customs were corrupted, and (unholiness) was increasing to a degree how wonderful!

So that I, who had been at first full of ardour towards engaging in affairs of state, did, upon looking at these things and seeing them carried along in every way and on every side, become giddy; but not so as to withdraw from considering how at any time something better might take place respecting these very matters, and likewise the whole form of government, but to be wisely waiting continually for opportunities of acting. At last I perceived that all states existing at present were badly governed. For what relates to their laws is nearly in an incurable state, without some wonderful arrangement in conjunction with fortune. I was therefore compelled to say, in praise of true philosophy, that through it we are enabled to perceive all that is just as regards the state and individuals; and hence that the human race will never cease from ills, until the race of those, who philosophize correctly and truthfully, shall come to political power, or persons of power in states shall, by a certain divine allotment, philosophize really.

Holding these sentiments I arrived in Italy and Sicily, when I first came there. But on my arrival, the life, which is there called happy, pleased me at no time or manner; (a life) full of the tables prepared by Italiotes and Syracusans; and where one is filled twice a day; and never lies alone by night, and (has) such other pursuits as follow a life of this kind. For from these habits, no man under heaven, having such pursuits from his youth, would ever become prudent, not even if he were mixed up with a wondrous nature by some god; but to become temperate it will never be his care. And the same thing may be said respecting the remaining portion of virtue. Nor will any state rest quietly according to any laws whatever, while men conceive that it is proper to waste every thing on excesses, and deem that they ought to be idle in every thing except good living and drinking, and the laboured exertions made for sexual intercourse. But it is necessary for such states never to cease changing their tyrannies, oligarchies, and democracies, and for the powerful in them not to endure even the name of a polity just and with equal laws.

With these and the above-mentioned sentiments I passed over to Syracuse; perhaps through an accident of fortune; at least it seems that by the planning of some superior being a beginning was laid of the doings, that have lately taken place relating to Dion and of those too relating to Syracuse, and, there is a fear, to still more persons, if you do not yield to me, when giving advice a second time. How then do I assert that my journey to Sicily was the beginning of all the then doings? For while associating with Dion, then a young man, and pointing out to him by words that, what seemed good to me would be the best for mankind, and counselling him so to act, I was nearly ignorant that I was unconsciously planning in some manner the dissolution of a tyranny. For Dion being very docile, both with respect to other things, and the reasons urged by me, he heard so quickly and attentively, as not one ever did of the young men whom I had fallen in with; and he was desirous of passing the remainder of his life in a manner superior to the majority of the Italiotes and Siceliotes, by loving virtue rather than pleasure and the rest of luxuries; and hence he lived rather odious to those, who passed their lives according to tyrannical institutions, until the death of Dionysius occurred. Subsequently, however, he perceived that the sentiments, which he held under the influence of correct reasoning, did not exist in him alone, but in some others; not numerous indeed, but amongst some, one of whom he thought would be probably Dionysius (the younger), if the gods assisted; and should this take place, that both his own life, and that of the other Syracusans, would turn out to be beyond all measure happy. He thought, moreover, that I ought by all means to come as quickly as possible to Syracuse, to take part in these doings; for he remembered how our mutual intercourse had easily worked him up to the desire of a life the most beautiful and best; which if he could but accomplish, as he was attempting to do, in the case of Dionysius, he had great hopes that he could, without slaughter and death, and the evils which have now taken place, make, in the whole of the country, life to be happy and rational.

With these correct sentiments Dion persuaded Dionysius to send for me; and he himself requested me by all means to come as quickly as possible, before certain other persons, associating with Dionysius, should turn him aside to a life different from the best. But it is necessary to relate what he requested, although it is a rather long story. What opportunity, said he, shall we wait for, greater than that through a certain divine fortune? and giving a statement of their command over Italy and Sicily, and of his own power in it, and of the youth of Dionysius, and of the desire he felt so vehemently for philosophy and instruction, and saying how his cousins and kindred were to be easily exhorted to the reasoning and mode of life ever laid down by myself, and that they were most competent to exhort Dionysius, so that now, if ever, all the hope would be fulfilled of the same persons becoming philosophers and rulers of mighty states. Such then and many others of a like kind were his exhortations. But a fear still possessed my mind, as to how, perchance, the conduct of the young men would turn out; for the passions of such persons are hasty, and are often borne along in a direction contrary to themselves. I knew, however, that Dion was naturally of a steady disposition and of a moderate age. Hence, while I was considering and doubting whether I ought to go, or how, the balance inclined that I ought (to go). For if perchance any one should attempt to give effect to my ideas upon laws and a form of government, I ought to attempt it now. For by persuading only one person, I should work out every good. With these ideas and confidence, and not from what some imagined, I set sail from home; feeling for myself the greatest shame, lest I should seem to myself to be altogether mere talk, and never willing to lay hold of any thing to be done; and run the risk of betraying first the hospitality and friendship of Dion, exposed in reality to no small dangers; and should he suffer aught, or, being driven out by Dionysius and his other enemies, fly to us, and, making an inquiry, say — “I am come to you, Plato, an exile; but I am neither in want of cavalry nor of heavy-armed soldiers to ward off my enemies, but of words and persuasion; by which I know you are especially able to turn young persons to what is good and just, and to place them on each occasion on terms of friendship and fellowship with each other; through the want of which on your part I have now left Syracuse, and am present here. What relates to myself indeed will bring upon you less disgrace; but the philosophy, which you are always praising, and which you say is held in dishonour by the rest of mankind, how is it not now betrayed by you together with myself, as far as depends upon you? If, indeed, we had been inhabitants of Megara, you would surely have come to me as an assistant for what I had called you, or I should have considered you the meanest of men. But now, excusing yourself by the length of the journey, and the danger of the voyage, and the greatness of the trouble, think you that you shall avoid perchance the charge of cowardice? It will be far from this.”

To language like this, what would have been a becoming answer? There is none. But I came with reason and justice, as much as it is possible for a man, having left my own pursuits, which were not unbecoming, under a tyranny, which was neither suited to my discourses nor myself. But by my coming I liberated myself (from any charge), and exhibited myself to be unreproved by Zeus, who presides over hospitality and the allotment of philosophy, which would have been exposed to reproach, had I acted an effeminate part, and through cowardice shared in disgrace and shame. On my arrival then — for there is no need to be prolix — I found all the affairs of Dionysius full of sedition and calumnies on the part of a tyranny respecting Dion. I defended Dion, therefore, to the utmost of my power; but I was able to do but little. But nearly in the fourth month after my arrrival, Dionysius accused Dion of plotting against his power, and putting him on board a small vessel, sent him out with dishonour. Whereupon all of us, who were the friends of Dion, were fearful lest he should accuse and punish some one of us as an accomplice in the plot of Dion. And a report went abroad at Syracuse, that I had been put to death by Dionysius, as being forsooth the cause of all that happened at that time. But on perceiving that we were all thus disposed, and dreading lest something of greater consequence should arise from our fear, he received all of us most kindly into his favour, consoled me, and exhorted me to be of good cheer, and requested me by all means to stay; for there would be an advantage to him from my not flying away, but from my remaining; and on this account he pretended to make an urgent request. We know however that the requests of tyrants are mingled with necessity. By a contrivance, therefore, he prevented my sailing-away. For taking me to the Acropolis, he made me reside there; from whence no ship-master could carry me off, not through Dionysius forbidding it merely, but unless Dionysius himself sent a person with an order, commanding him to lead me out. Nor was there any foreign trader, nor even one of those having jurisdiction over the departures from the country, who would have overlooked my going away alone; but he would immediately have laid hold of me and brought me back again to Dionysius; especially since it had been already bruited abroad contrary to what had been done before, that Dionysius was again holding Plato to his arms in a wonderful manner. And indeed this was the case, for it is necessary to speak the truth. He did indeed hold me to his arms, ever as time went on, more (and more) in respect to the intercourse of my manner and habits. But he wished me to praise him more than Dion, and to hold him as a friend in a far greater degree than the other; and for such an end he made wonderful efforts. But the way by which this might have taken place in the best manner, if it took place at all, he omitted; for he shrunk to become familiar and to associate with me, by hearing and learning discourses on philosophy, through the fear lest, (according) to the language of calumniators, he should be shackled, and Dion administer all affairs. However I endured every thing, keeping to the original sentiments, with which I arrived, if by any means he should come to the desire of a philosophic life. But he, by his pulling in a contrary direction, obtained the victory. In this way then happened to turn out the first period of my sojourning and pursuits in Sicily. After this I went away and came back again, through Dionysius having sent for me with all earnestness. But on what account (I came), and what I did, as being reasonable and just, I will, having first advised you what you ought to do, after what has just now taken place, subsequently relate in detail, for the sake of those who are inquiring with what view I came a second time to Sicily; and that deeds of no moment may not happen to be mentioned as deeds of moment.

I say then something what I ought to say. For the party, who gives advice to a sick man and to one who uses a diet improper for good health, it is especially necessary in the first place to change the mode of living, and to recommend to the patient willing to comply, the other things that are proper; but if he is unwilling, I consider that he, who retires from advising such a person, acts like a man and a physician; but that he, who stays, like a person unmanly and devoid of art. The same is the case of a state, whether its master be one or many. If, while the government is proceeding in a right road according to the constitution, it takes counsel about what is conducive to its interest, it is the part of a man with mind to give to such parties advice; but in the case of those, who are proceeding entirely out of a straightforward polity, and not at all willing to walk in its steps, and who proclaim to the adviser to leave alone the form of government, and not to disturb it since, if he does disturb it, he shall suffer death and at the same time exhort him to minister to their wishes and passions, and to advise in what way these may for all time to come be gratified, I should consider the person, who endures to give such advice, unmanly; but him, who does not endure, a man.

Holding then such sentiments, whenever any one consults with myself about any thing of the greatest moment relating to his life, such as the acquisition of wealth, or the care of his body or soul, I readily advise with him, if he appears to me to live day by day in an orderly manner, or is willing to be persuaded by me when giving advice, nor do I desist, as if I have gone through merely a formal rite. But if either he does not consult me at all, or is evidently not about to follow my advice, I do not go self-called to such a person to counsel him, nor would I do so by compulsion, even if he were my son. But I would give advice to a slave, and force him, even unwilling, (to follow it.) I should however think it not holy to force my father or mother, unless they were, through disease, afflicted with silliness. But if persons are living an established mode of life, pleasing to themselves, but not to me, I should not, when admonishing them in vain, dislike them, nor yet by flattering, minister to them, and afford them the means of gratifying their desires, which if I were to embrace, I should not wish to live. With the same sentiments respecting a state a prudent man ought to live, and speak out, if it appears to him not to have a good form of government, (and) if he is about not to speak in vain, nor to lose his life by speaking; but never to apply violence to his country on account of a change in the form of government, unless it cannot become the best without the banishment and slaughter of persons; but leading a quiet life, to pray for the good both of himself and of the state.

In this very manner I would advise you (to act); and so did I together with Dion advise Dionysius to live day by day, so that in the first place he might be about to become the master of himself, and acquire faithful friends and associates, in order that he might not suffer what his father did; who, after he had got possession of many and great cities in Sicily, which had been laid waste by the Barbarians, was not able to establish and preserve in each of them forms of government, faithful under his associates, or strangers coming from any part whatever, or brothers, whom he himself had brought up as being younger, and had made them rulers, after being merely private persons, and remarkably rich, after being (very) poor. For among these he could not attach to himself a single one as the sharer of his dominion, although working upon them by persuasion, and teaching, and kindnesses, and alliances; and he was sevenfold worse off than Darius; who, placing a trust in persons not his brothers, nor brought up by him, but in those alone associated with himself in their mastery over the eunuch, divided amongst them seven parts of his dominions, each larger than the whole of Sicily, and made use of them as faithful associates, and attacking neither himself, nor each other; and gave likewise an example of what a lawgiver and a king ought to be. For he established laws, by which he has preserved even now the Persian power; and besides this the Athenians, although they had not colonized themselves many Grecian cities, which had been overturned by the Barbarians, but merely got hold of them, when already inhabited, preserved their empire over them for seventy years, through having persons friendly to them in each of the towns. But Dionysius having through his wisdom brought together the whole of Sicily into one state, yet, through confiding in no one was with difficulty saved. For he was poor in persons friendly and faithful; than which there is no greater sign as regards virtue and vice, than in being destitute or not of men of that kind. I therefore and Dion advised Dionysius, since what he had received from his father had come to him unacquainted with instruction, and unacquainted too with befitting associates, in the first place to proceed in that direction to procure for himself friends, different from his relations, but both his equals in age and in accordance with him respecting virtue. But we particularly advised him to be in accord with himself; for that he was wonderfully deficient in this we asserted, not indeed in such clear terms — for this was not safe — but in hints and contending in our discourses, that in this way every man will preserve both himself and those over whom he is the ruler; but that by not turning himself in this direction he will bring to pass every thing the very reverse. But if, after going on, as we said, and rendering himself prudent and temperate, he peopled the cities of Sicily, that had been made desolate, and bound them together with laws and forms of government, so as to be of one family with himself and an assistance to each other against the Barbarians he would not only double his ancestral dominion, but make it in reality much larger. For if this were done, it would be much more easy to enslave the Carthaginians, than was the slavery effected by them during the reign of Gelon; but not as now on the contrary, his father fixed the tribute he was to carry to the Barbarians.

This is what was said and the advice given to Dionysius by us who were plotting against him, as the reports were circulated on many sides. Such, that after prevailing with Dionysius, they caused him to drive out Dion, and threw myself into a state of terror. But, that I may bring to a close not a few events which occurred in a short time, Dion, departing from Peloponnesus and Athens, admonished Dionysius indeed. Since then (Dion) had liberated and twice restored the town to the citizens, the Syracusans were affected in the same manner towards him, as Dionysius had been, when he endeavoured by educating and bringing him up to make him thus a worthy partner of his power through the whole of life. But (he gave his ear) to those that were calumniating Dion, and saying that he was doing all that he did at that time, while plotting against the absolute power of Dionysius, in order that the one, being lulled in his mind by his attention to instruction, might neglect his kingdom, and commit it to Dion, and the other make it his own by fraud, and cast out Dionysius from his dominions.

These reports being then bruited a second time among the Syracusans prevailed by a victory very absurd and disgraceful to those who were the causes of it. For how it happened it is proper for those to hear, who are calling upon me on the subject of the present affairs.

Being an Athenian, and the associate of Dion, and one who had battled with him against the tyrant, I arrived, that I might produce a peace instead of a war; but while battling against the calumniators I was overcome. But Dionysius, attempting to bribe me by honours and riches, to become on his side a witness and a friend, touching the propriety of his casting out Dion, failed in all of these things happening to him. And Dion afterwards, on returning home from exile, brought with him two Athenian brothers, who had become his friends, not through philosophy, but through that acquaintance, which runs through the generality of friends, and which they formed from paying the rites of hospitality, and from being Mystæ and Epoptæ. Moreover these two, by having brought Dion back, had become his friends, and, from such causes, and the assisting him in his return from exile, his companions. But when, on their arrival in Sicily, they understood that Dion had been exposed by those Siceliotes, who had become free through him, to the calumny of plotting to become a tyrant, they not only betrayed their associate and guest, but became, as it were, the perpetrators of a murder, in that, with weapons in their hands, they stood by to assist the murderers. However, I neither pass by this base and unholy deed, nor do I detail it; for to many others it (has been) a care to hymn it, and it will be so at some future time.

But the charge, which has been alleged respecting the Athenians, how that it was they, who bound this disgrace around the city, I will take away. For I say that he too was an Athenian, who did not betray this very person, when it was in his power to obtain wealth and many other honours. For he did not become a friend through a shop-mate friendship, but through the communion of a liberal education; to which alone he, who is endued with mind, ought to trust, rather than to the alliance of souls and bodies; so that those two were not fit to bring disgrace on the city through having murdered Dion, as being persons of no account at any time. All this has been said for the sake of the advice given to the friends and kindred of Dion.

I give you besides the same counsel, and for the third time address you three in the same words. Do not place Sicily, or any other city, as a slave under persons with despotic power, but under laws; such at least is my dictum. For this is not the better either for the enslaving or the enslaved, or for their children or their children’s descendants; but the experiment is altogether a destructive one. For souls, whose habits are little and illiberal, love to seize upon gain of this kind, as knowing nothing of what is good and just for the future and present time, nor of things human and divine. Of this I endeavoured to persuade Dion first, and secondly Dionysius, and now I do you the third. Be persuaded then by me, for the sake of Zeus the third saviour. In the next place look to the case of Dionysius and Dion; the former of whom by not being persuaded is now living not honourably; whereas the latter, by being persuaded, died honourably. For it is a thing altogether correct and honourable for him, who aspires after things the most honourable both for himself and his country, to suffer whatever he may suffer; for not one of us is naturally immortal; nor, if this should happen to any one, would he become happy, as it seems he would to the multitude. For in things inanimate there is nothing either good or evil worthy of mention; but good or ill will happen to each soul, either existing with the body or separated from it. But it is ever requisite to trust really to the sacred accounts of the olden time, which inform us that the soul is immortal, and has judges of its conduct, and suffers the greatest punishments, when it is liberated from the body. Hence it is requisite to think it is a lesser evil to suffer, than to do, the greatest sins and injuries. This, indeed, the man who is fond of money and poor in soul does not hear; and should he hear, he laughs it down, as he imagines, and impudently snatches from all sides whatever he thinks he can, like a wild beast, eat or drink, or can contribute (aught) to the miscalled pleasure of sexual intercourse, at once servile and graceless. (For) being blind, he is not able to see how great an evil, ever united to each act of wrong, follows the never being satisfied with the unholy perpetration of such snatchings; which it is necessary for him, who has acted unjustly, to drag along with himself, both while he is moving about upon the earth, and when he takes under the earth a journey without honour, and thoroughly miserable in every way.

By detailing these and other reasons of the like kind, I was enabled to persuade Dion. And I should have felt most justly against those, who murdered him, an anger, in a certain manner, almost as great as against Dionysius; for both had injured myself and all the rest, so to say, in the highest degree. For the former had destroyed a man, who was willing to make use of justice; while the latter (was) unwilling to make use of it through the whole of his dominions, although possessing the greatest power. In which (dominions) had philosophy and power existed really, as it were in the same (dwelling), they would have set up amongst all men, both Greeks and Barbarians, an opinion not vainly shining, (and) in every respect the true one, that neither a state nor a man can ever be happy, unless by leading a life with prudence in subjection to justice, whether possessing those things themselves, or by being brought up in the habits of holy persons their rulers, or instructed in justice.

This injury did Dionysius inflict. But the rest would have been a trifling wrong, as compared to these. But he, who murdered Dion, did not know that he had done the same deed as Dionysius. For I clearly know, as far as it is possible for one man to speak confidently of another, that if Dion had retained his power, he would never have changed it to any other form of government than to that, by which he first (caused) Syracuse, his own country, after he had delivered it from slavery, to look joyous, and had put it into the garb of freedom; and after this, he would by every contrivance have adorned the citizens with laws both befitting and the best; and he would have been ready to do what followed in due order after this; and have colonized the whole of Sicily, and have freed it from the Barbarians, by expelling some and subduing others, more easily than Hiero did. But if these things had taken place, through a man just, and brave, and temperate, and who was a philosopher, the same opinion of virtue would have been produced amongst the multitude, as would have been amongst all men, so to say; and have saved Dionysius, had he been persuaded by me. But now some dæmon surely, or some evil spirit, falling upon with iniquity and impiety, and, what is the greatest matter, with the audacity of ignorance, in which all evils are rooted, and from which they spring up, and afterwards produce fruit the most bitter to those, who have begotten it, this has a second time subverted and destroyed every thing. However, let us, for the sake of a good augury, keep for the third time a well-omened silence.

I advise therefore you, my friends, to imitate Dion, in the good-will he felt for his country, and in his temperate mode of living, but for the better. But under what auspices you ought to endeavour to fulfil his wishes, and what they are, you have clearly heard from me. But upon the person, who is among you unable to live according to his country’s customs in a Dorian fashion, but adopts the life of the murderers of Dion, and what is followed in Sicily, do not call; nor believe that he will in any thing ever act faithfully and sincerely. But call upon the rest to form a settlement of the whole of Sicily, and introduce both from Sicily itself and all Peloponnesus an equality of laws, and do not fear the Athenians; for men are there, who surpass all others in virtue, and who hate the daring of guest-murderers.

But if these things be done at a later period, and the differences, produced each day by factions, are many and of all kinds and hasten you on, it is requisite surely for every man, to whom a divine fortune has imparted even a small degree of correct thinking, to know that there will be no cessation of evils to those engaged in revolts, until the victors in battle and in the banishment and slaughter of persons shall cease to have a recollection of wrongs, and to turn themselves to the punishment of their opponents; but, having a mastery over themselves, shall lay down laws common to all, and no less acceptable to themselves than to the vanquished party, and compel them to use these laws, by the two-fold necessity of fear and shame; of fear, through their being superior, by showing their strength; and of shame, on the other hand, through their seeming to be superior in the being both willing and able to be (the masters) over pleasures, and the slaves of the laws. For it is not possible otherwise for a state, divided against itself, to cease from ills; but divisions and enmity, and hatred and distrust, are ever wont to arise in states thus arrayed themselves against themselves. It is then ever requisite for those, who have gained the power, when they are desirous of preserving it, to choose from amongst themselves, in preference to the rest, such as they hear are the best; in the first place, old men, who have children and wives at home, and ancestors the most in number and renown, and all possessing a competence. Now for a city of ten thousand persons fifty such will be sufficient. These should be sent for from their home with prayers and the greatest honours possible; and they, who have sent for them, should take an oath, and beg and request them to lay down laws, and give not more to the victors than to the vanquished, but what is equal for, and common to, the whole state; and when the laws have been fixed, all things are in this. For when the victors exhibit themselves more subject to the laws than the vanquished, all things will be full of security and felicity, and there will be an escape from every ill. But if not, call not upon me or any other to take a part for him, who is not persuaded by the precepts now conveyed. For these are the sisters of what I and Dion did with good intentions attempt to do for Syracuse; although they were, on the second occasion; for the first were those, which were first attempted to be done in conjunction with Dionysius, a common good to all. But a certain fortune, superior to man, scattered them all. Do you then attempt to accomplish all at present more prosperously, with the aid of some kind destiny, and a luck god-sent. And thus much be it said about my advice and letter, and first visit to Dionysius.

But in my second journey and voyage to Sicily, how reasonably and carefully they took place, he, who feels any interest may hear what followed. For the first period of my sojourn in Sicily passed away, as I have stated, before I could advise the relatives and associates of Dion. But subsequently I persuaded Dionysius, as far as I was able, to let me go. But on peace being made — for there had been then a war in Sicily — we both came to an agreement; for Dionysius said that he would send for Dion and myself again, after he had established for himself a state of affairs connected with his government more securely than before; and he thought it proper for Dion to understand that this was not a banishment at that time, but merely a change of residence. And on these conditions I agreed to come.

On peace being made, Dionysius sent for me; but he requested Dion to stop another year; but he thought it proper for myself to come by all means. Dion then exhorted and entreated me to set sail. For a strong report had gone abroad from Sicily, that Dionysius had become again wonderfully eager after philosophy at that moment; and on this account Dion earnestly begged of me not to decline the invitation. But I knew that many such things happen to young men in the case of philosophy. However it seemed to me to be more safe, at least at that time, to bid a long farewell to Dionysius and Dion; and I gave offence to both by answering that I was an old man; and that nothing of what was now being done had taken place according to the agreement. But after this it seems that Archytas had betaken himself to Dionysius; now before my departure having made a hospitable and friendly acquaintance with Archytas, and certain other Tarentines, the guests and friends of Dionysius, I sailed away. There were likewise certain other persons at Syracuse, who had heard some of the doctrines of Dion, and among these some others, filled with wrong notions about philosophy, and who seemed to me to attempt to discourse with Dionysius about things of this kind, as if Dionysius had heard all such matters as I had in my thoughts. But in other respects he was not without natural talent or the power to learn, and had a love of honour in a wonderful degree. Perhaps then the discourse of these men was pleasing to him, and he was manifestly ashamed that he heard nothing from me when I was sojourning there. Hence he came the same time to the longing to hear me more clearly, and at the same time his love of honour urged him on. But on what account he did not hear me during my first sojourn, I have detailed in the account given above.

After I had returned home safe, and refused on his inviting me a second time, as I have just now mentioned, Dionysius appeared to be thoroughly on fire through his love of honour, lest I should seem to some persons to hold him in contempt, and that, as being acquainted with his nature and habits, and mode of living, I was unwilling to be annoyed by going to him. But I am justified in speaking the truth, and in enduring, if any one, on hearing what had occurred, should despise my philosophy, and think that the tyrant possessed a mind. For Dionysius sent to me the third time a trireme for the sake of making easy the voyage. He sent also Archedemus, whom he thought I valued the most of all the associates of Archytas, who were then in Sicily, and others of his (own) acquaintances. And all these told to us the same story, that Dionysius had wonderfully increased in philosophy. He sent too a long letter, well knowing how I was affected towards Dion, and that Dion was desirous I should set sail and come to Syracuse. With a view to all these particulars, therefore, the letter was composed, and at the commencement it said somehow to this effect “Dionysius to Plato.” After saying what usually follows, he said nothing previous to this, except that “should you at my persuasion come now to Sicily, in the first place the matters relating to Dion shall be put into a train in the way you may wish yourself; for I know that you wish what is moderate, and I will accede to them; otherwise nothing that relates to the affairs of Dion, nor upon other points, nor as regards himself, will take place.” This is what he said. But the rest that was said would be here prolix, and foreign to the purpose. Other letters likewise came to me from Archytas, and others at Tarentum, speaking in high terms of the love of wisdom shown by Dionysius; and that, unless I came now, I should bring into a state of calumny the friendship existing with Dionysius, which had been effected through me, and which was of no little moment to their political affairs.

Such then being the state at that time of the sending for me, some of those from Sicily and Italy dragging me thither, and others at Athens pushing me away plainly by their entreaties, the same reason returned, that I ought not to betray Dion, nor my guests and friends at Tarentum; and it occurred to me, that it was nothing wonderful that a young man, who had heard incorrectly of things worthy of mention, should come with a docile spirit to the love of the best life; and that I ought to prove clearly, in what state the matter stood, and not by any means to betray it, nor to become myself the cause of a disgrace so truly great, if the case was in reality such as reported. Clothing myself then in this reasoning, I departed, fearing much, and prophesying, as it seems, not altogether well. Arriving then the third time, for the saviour this at least I did in reality. For I was again luckily saved. And for this it is meet for me to give thanks to Dionysius, after the deity, because, when many were wishing to destroy me, he prevented them, and gave up to pity some portion of my affairs. When therefore I arrived, I thought I ought first to obtain some proof whether Dionysius was in reality touched by philosophy, as by a fire, or whether this great report had come to Athens in vain. Now there is a certain method of making an experiment upon matters of this kind, by no means ignoble, but truly adapted to tyrants, and especially to such as are full of incorrect notions; which, as soon as I arrived, I perceived was very much the case with Dionysius. To such it is requisite to show what (philosophy) is, and of what kind, and through how great deeds how great a labour it demands. For he who hears this, if he is truly a lover of wisdom, and related to it, and worthy of it, as being a divine person, thinks he has heard of some wonderful road, and that he ought forthwith to betake himself to it, and that life is not to be endured by him, who acts otherwise. After this he does not, putting both himself and his leader on the stretch, give up the road, until he puts a finish upon all things, or obtains a power so as not to be unable to conduct himself without a person to show the road. In this way and with these thoughts does such a person live, acting (correctly) in whatever transactions he may be engaged; but before all things perpetually keeping close to philosophy, and (making use of) that food for the day, which may especially render him quick to learn, and of a good memory, and able to reason in himself, by abstaining from wine; and by which he becomes the hater of a practice contrary to this.

But they, who are not lovers of wisdom in reality, but have a coating of colour in their opinions, like those, whose bodies are sun-burnt, when they perceive how many things are to be learnt, and how great is the labour, and what temperance in daily food is requisite for that thing, they deem it too difficult and beyond their powers, and become unable to attend to it at all. But some of them persuade themselves that they have sufficiently heard the whole, and want no further exertions. This kind of experiment is clear and the most safe, when employed in the case of those living luxuriously and unable to endure labour, through the person throwing the blame not upon the guide but on himself, as being unable to attend to all that is requisite for the matter in hand.

In this way was, what has been now stated, mentioned to Dionysius. But neither did I detail them all, nor did Dionysius require it. For many things, and of the greatest moment, he pretended to possess sufficiently himself through the incorrect notions he had heard from others. And I hear that he afterwards wrote about what he had then heard, as if he were composing what was his own art, when there was nothing of his own, as I hear. However, of this I know nothing. But I know that certain others have written about the same things, but who they are not they themselves.

Thus much however I can say about all, who either have written, or shall write, and state that they know about what things I am occupied, whether they have heard from myself or others, or have discovered themselves, that it is not possible for them to know any thing according to my opinions upon the matter; for there is not, and never will be, any composition of mine about them. For a matter of that kind cannot be expressed by words, like other things to be learnt; but by a long intercourse with the subject and living with it a light is kindled on a sudden, as if from a leaping fire, and being engendered in the soul, feeds itself upon itself. Thus much I know, however, that what has been written or said by me, has been said in the best manner; and moreover that what has been written badly, does not pain me in the least.

But if it had appeared to me that such matters could be written or spoken of sufficiently before the masses, what could have been done by us more beautiful in life than to impart a great benefit to mankind, and to bring nature to light before all? I think, however, that the attempt in favour of such being promulgated, would not be beneficial except to a few, who are able with a little showing to make discoveries for themselves. But of the rest, some it will fill not correctly with a contempt by no means in reason, and others with a lofty and vain hope, as if they had learnt something solemn. And it has now come into my mind to say something further still. For perhaps by what I am about to say a portion of what has been said will become more clear. For a certain true account is the antagonist of him, who dares to write any thing whatever about matters of this kind; and which, although it has been stated by me frequently before, seems it must be stated at present likewise.

There are three things belonging to each of those, through which it is necessary for science to be produced. But the fourth is science itself. And as to the fifth, it is requisite to establish that which is known and true. Of these one is its name; the second its definition; the third its resemblance; the fourth its science. Now if you are desirous of understanding what has been just now asserted respecting one example, take it, and imagine thus respecting all. A circle is called something, to which there is the name we have just mentioned. Its definition is the second thing, composed of nouns and verbs. For that, which is every where equally distant from the extremes to the middle, would be the definition of that, to which the name is of a round, and a circumference, and a circle. But the third is the circle, painted or blotted out, and made by a turner’s wheel, or destroyed. By none of which accidents is the circle itself, of which all these properties are predicated, affected, as being of a different nature. But the fourth is science and intellect, and a correct opinion about them. And the whole of this again must be laid down as one thing, which exists neither in voice, nor in a corporeal figure, but is in the soul; by which circumstance it is manifest, that there is something different from the nature itself of the circle, and the three previously mentioned. But among the number of these, intellect, by its relation and similitude, approaches the nearest to the fifth; while the rest are more remote. The same is the case with respect to a thing straight, and circular, and with figure, and with colour, and of a thing good, and beautiful, and just, and of every body, both fashioned by the hand, and produced according to nature, and of fire, and water, and all things of that kind, and of every animal, and of the habit in souls, and of all actions and passions. For unless a person does, after a certain manner, understand of these things all the four, he will never perfectly participate in the science relating to the fifth. Moreover these (four) no less endeavour to show forth the quality, as respects each thing, than the being of each, through the want of power in words. On this account, no one possessing a mind will ever dare to place under the same view, and this too never to be changed, the objects, which are perceived by the mind, and those, that are represented by figures, which is the case with those four.

And this again, what has just now been said, it is requisite to learn. Every circle described by its doings, or fashioned by a turner’s wheel, is full of that, which is contrary to the fifth; for it every where touches upon the straight line. But we assert that the circle in the abstract has neither more nor less in itself of a contrary nature; and we assert too, that there is no fixed name for anything; for there is nothing to prevent things, that are now called round, from being called straight, and those straight, round; nor will there be any less stability in them, when they are changed and called by a contrary name. The same assertion is likewise true of a definition, that, since it is composed of nouns and verbs, there is nothing stable in a sufficiently stable manner. And there is an infinity of reasons respecting each of the four, that it is uncertain. But what is of the greatest moment is, that since there are, as I have stated a little before, two things, being and quality, when the soul seeks to know, not the quality of a thing, but what it is, unless each of these four previously sought for by the soul through reason and effect, and at last turns out correctly discussed by the senses, through all things that are said and shown, it fills every man, so to say, with all doubt and uncertainty.

In such cases then as through a depraved education we are not accustomed to seek the truth, but the image of it, which is placed before us, is sufficient (for us to touch upon), we do not become ridiculous to each other, the interrogated to the interrogating; but we are able to bandy about those four, and to examine them. But in such cases as we compel a person to exhibit that fifth, any one of those, who are able to reply, and to overthrow, is the superior, and causes him, who is explaining (this fifth) either by speech, or writing, or answers, to appear to the multitude of his hearers entirely ignorant of the things, about which he attempts either to write or speak, persons being sometimes ignorant, that it is not the soul of the writer or speaker that is confuted, but the nature of each of the four (spoken of), when it is existing improperly. But the procession through all these, while changing its place towards each upwards and downwards, scarcely at length generates the knowledge of a thing existing naturally well in a person existing naturally well. But when it exists naturally ill, as exists naturally the habit of the soul of the multitude, with respect to learning, and to what are called morals, and these are depraved, not even Lynceus himself can cause such as these to see. And in one word, neither docility in learning nor memory will cause (a person to do so), who is not germane to the matter; for they are not originally inherent in foreign habits; so that neither they, who are not naturally close to, and allied with, what is just, and the other things that are beautiful, but are docile and of a good memory, some with respect to some things, and others to others, nor they, who are allied, but are indocile and of a bad memory, will ever learn, as far as is possible, the truth relating to virtue and vice. For it is necessary to learn these, and at the same time the falsehood and truth of the whole of being, with all exertion and much time, as I stated at the commencement. But after each of these have been rubbed together, names and definitions, and the sense of seeing, and (the other) senses, and have been tried by tests in a kindly spirit, and by questions and answers without a feeling of envy, there has with difficulty shone forth an intellectual perception respecting each, and a mind putting itself on the stretch, as far as it is possible for human power to do so.

On this account, let every careful man be very far from writing about things truly worthy of care, lest at some time, by writing amongst men, he throw (himself) into envy and difficulties. But, in one word, it is requisite to know from hence, when any one sees the writings of another, either of a legislator upon laws, or of any person whatever upon other subjects, that these are not those, on which he has been the most careful, if he is himself a careful person; but that the objects of his pursuit are situated some where in a country the most beautiful. But if the subjects, on which he has been the most careful, are committed to writing, then not the gods but men themselves have their own intellect destroyed.

Now he, who follows this story and digression, will understand correctly whether Dionysius has written any thing of the highest and first kind respecting nature, or any other person inferior or superior to him; since, according to my reasoning he has neither heard or learnt any thing sound about what he has written; for he would have venerated them equally with myself, nor have dared to cast them forth into a state unfitting and unbecoming; nor has he written about them for the sake of remembering them; since there is no fear that any one will ever forget them, if he has once comprehended them by the soul; for of all things they lie in the smallest compass. But (perhaps he did so) for the sake of base ambition, considering them as his own, or as sharing in a kind of instruction, of which he was unworthy, and loving the renown arising from such a participation.

If however this occurred to Dionysius after one meeting, the fact may be so. But let Zeus, says the Theban, know how it occurred. For I went through these matters, as I have said, only once; and never afterwards at all. In the next place, he, who is interested in discovering what occurred relating to those matters, and how it occurred, ought to consider through what reason it was we did not go through them a second and a third time and oftener; whether it was that Dionysius, having heard them only once, thought he knew them, and did know them, sufficiently? or that he discovered them himself, or had learnt them previously from others, or that what had been said was trifling? or thirdly, that they were not according to his standard, but greater; and that thus he would not be able to live, if he paid any regard to prudence and virtue? For if (it be said that he considered) the matters frivolous, he will oppose many witnesses, who assert the contrary, and who are much more competent to judge about things of this kind than Dionysius; but if, that he discovered or learnt them, and that they are worthily suited for the instruction of a liberal soul, how should he, not being a wondrous man himself, have so readily dishonoured the leader and the lord in these matters?

And how he did dishonour him, I will relate. After an interval of no long time, although he had previously permitted Dion to possess and enjoy his property, he did not permit his guardians to send it to Peloponnesus, as if he had entirely forgotten his letter; for (he said) it was not Dion, but Dion’s son, of whom, as being his own nephew, he was according to law the guardian. Such were the transactions of that time that took place up to this period. And from these occurrences I clearly saw the desire Dionysius had for philosophy; and it was lawful for me to be indignant, whether I wished it or not. For it was already summer at that time, and ships were sailing out. But it seemed I ought not to be more offended with Dionysius than with myself, and with those, who compelled me to come the third time to the strait about Scylla,

“And dread Charybdis measure still again.”

and to tell Dionysius, that it was impossible for me to stay with him, while Dion was treated so dirtily. But he soothed me, and begged me to stay, thinking it would not be well for him should I be so swift a messenger of such doings; but unable to persuade me, he said he would prepare the means of sending me away. However, I determined to go on board and sail amongst the vessels outward bound, being enraged, and thinking I ought to suffer every thing, if he should attempt to stop me, as I had been injured, although I had plainly done no injury. But on seeing that I had no desire at all to stay, he devised a plan of this kind, for delaying my sailing away. On the day after this had taken place, he plausibly addresses me. From myself and you, said he, let Dion, and the affairs of Dion, be removed out of the way, for the sake of our (not) being frequently at variance about them. For I will, said he, thus act on your account, to Dion. I think it right for him to take away his property and to reside in Peloponnesus, not as an exile, but as one, who may come hither, when it shall seem good to him, to me, and to you who are his friends; and this shall be, if he forms no plot against myself; and you, and your relations, and his here shall be his sureties; and let him give you a guarantee; and let the property, which he takes away, be deposited in Peloponnesus and at Athens, with those you shall think fit; and let Dion enjoy the use of it, but not the power to take it away without your consent; for I have not any very great trust in him that, if he can use the property, he will be just towards myself; for it will not be trifling. But I have greater confidence in you and yours. See, therefore, if this is agreeable to you, and remain on these terms for this year, and then depart to your well-doing, taking with you the property; and well I know, that Dion will be greatly indebted to you for having managed matters in this way on his behalf.

On hearing this speech I felt indignant; but still I said I would take counsel of myself until the following day on these points, and communicate my resolves. This was our compact at that time. I hereupon, being all alone, and very confused, took counsel of myself. And this consideration first presented itself as taking the lead in my designs. What, if Dionysius intends to do nothing that he says, but on my departure both he and many others of his friends should write in a plausible manner to Dion, what he has now said to me, that Dionysius indeed was willing, but I unwilling, for him to do what he urged me, and that I entirely neglected his concerns; and moreover should Dionysius be unwilling to send me away, and himself give no orders to any master of a vessel (to take me), and easily signify to all men, that I was sailing away without his consent, what sailor would be willing to take me on board, while I was hastening from the dwelling of Dionysius? For in addition to other evils, I dwelt in the garden which surrounds the dwelling, from whence the porter would not be willing to let me out, unless an order were sent from Dionysius. And should I remain a year, I could indeed send an account of these doings to Dion, and in what state I was, and what I was doing. But should Dionysius do aught of what he says, my conduct would be not entirely ridiculous; for perhaps the property of Dion, if one rightly values it, is not less than a hundred talents. But if what is now looming should, as is likely, take place, I shall be at a loss how to conduct myself. At the same time it is perhaps necessary for me to labour for a year longer, and to endeavour to prove the designs of Dionysius by his deeds.

Having thus determined with myself, I told Dionysius on the following day that I had made up my mind to stay. I hold it right however, said I, for you not to consider me as the master of Dion, and that you should, together with myself, send letters to inform him of the determination, and to ask him whether he was satisfied? and if not, whether he wished for and demanded any thing else? and to send word as soon as possible; but that you should do nothing new in his affairs. This was said (by me), and this agreement did we make nearly in the manner just now detailed.

After this the vessels sailed, and it was no longer possible for me to depart; when Dionysius, while speaking, remembered that the half of Dion’s property ought to remain with his son, and that the other half should be sent to Dion; and he said he would sell it, and after it had been sold, deliver one half to myself to send to Dion, and leave the other half for his son; for that this would be the most equitable arrangement. Astonished at the statement, I thought it would be very ridiculous to say any thing further. I told him however, that we ought to wait for the letter from Dion, and again send him an account of these matters. But Dionysius immediately after this did, in a very bold manner, sell the whole of Dion’s property at what time, and in what manner and to whomsoever he pleased; nor did he say any thing whatever about it to myself; and in like manner I said nothing to him about the affairs of Dion; for I thought I should be able to do nothing more in the matter.

Thus far was assistance given by myself to philosophy and my friends. But after this, I and Dionysius were so living, that I, like a bird, was (always) looking out, and longing to fly away; while he was devising in what manner he might frighten me off, and give up none of the property of Dion. We gave out however through the whole of Sicily, that we were friends forsooth.

Dionysius had attempted to reduce the pay of the veteran mercenaries now to a lower rate than according to the custom of his father; and the soldiers, being enraged, collected together in a body, and declared they would not permit it. Dionysius therefore endeavoured to force them, by closing the gates of the Acropolis; but the soldiers immediately rushed to the walls, raising a kind of barbarous cry and warlike pæaean; at which Dionysius being terrified, conceded all demands, and even more to those of the light-shield-bearers, who had been collected together. But a report was quickly spread, that Heracleides was the cause of this disturbance. On hearing which, Heracleides took himself out of the way and disappeared, while Dionysius endeavoured to lay hold of him; but being in a difficulty, he sent for Theodotes to come to the garden, in which I happened to be then walking. Now of the rest of their discourse I neither knew nor heard; but what Theodotes said in my presence to Dionysius, I both know and remember. For, said he, Plato, I am persuading Dionysius here, that if I am able to bring Heracleides hither to a conference respecting the charges now laid against him, and if it does not seem good (to Dionysius) for him to dwell in Sicily, I think it is proper for him to take his wife and son, and sail to Peloponnesus, and reside there, doing no injury at all to Dionysius, and enjoying his own property. I have therefore sent to him already, and I will now send to him again. But whether he hearkens to my first or second application, I deem it right to request of Dionysius, that if any one falls in with Heracleides, either in the country or here, no ill shall happen to him, but that he shall be removed from the country, until Dionysius shall decide upon something else. To this, said he, do you accede? addressing Dionysius. He answered, I do accede; nor shall he suffer any ill, contrary to what has now been stated, should he make his appearance at your house.

However, on the evening of the following day, Eurybius and Theodotes came to me in great haste and wonderfully alarmed; and Theodotes said to me, Plato, you were present yesterday at the compact which Dionysius made with me and you respecting Heracleides? To which I replied, How not? But now, says he, the soldiers with light shields are running all round seeking to lay hold of Heracleides; and it appears almost that he is some where here. Follow us then, by all means, to Dionysius. We went therefore and came to him; and they indeed stood silent and in tears, but I said, These persons, Dionysius, are afraid lest you should do something of a novel kind to Heracleides, contrary to the compact made yesterday; for it seems to me, that he has returned and is clearly some where here. And he, on hearing this, burnt with rage, and assumed all kinds of colours such as a person in anger does. But Theodotes falling at his feet, and laying hold of his hand, burst into tears, and implored him not to do any such thing. Then I, taking up the discourse, consoled him and said, Cheer up, Theodotes; for Dionysius will not dare to act contrary to the compact made yesterday. But he looking at me, and in a very tyrannic manner, With you, says he, I made no compact, either great or small. By the gods, said I, you (did agree not to do) what this man now requests you not to do. After saying this, I turned from him and went out.

After this Dionysius endeavoured to hunt down Heracleides. Theodotes, however, sent messengers to him, and exhorted him to fly. But Dionysius sent Tisias and the soldiers with light shields, and ordered them to pursue him. Heracleides, however, as it is said, anticipated them, and escaped in the small part of a day into the dominions of the Carthaginians. Hereupon the old plot for his not giving up the property of Dion seemed to Dionysius to offer a plausible pretext of enmity against myself. And in the first place he sent me from the Acropolis, framing an excuse, that it was requisite for the women to perform some ten-day sacrifice in the gardens where I resided. He therefore ordered me to remain out during that period with Archidemus. While I was there, Theodotes sent for me, and felt very indignant respecting the transactions of that time, and found fault with Dionysius; who, hearing that I had been with Theodotes, made this another pretext, and the sister to the former, for enmity against me, and sent a person to ask me, whether I had really been with Theodotes on his sending for me? and I readily replied, I had. The party therefore said, Dionysius has ordered me to tell you, that you are acting by no means correctly in always making much of Dion and the friends of Dion. This is what was said; and after this Dionysius never again sent for me to his residence; as it was now clear that I was the friend of Theodotes and Heracleides, and his enemy; and he no longer considered me well affected towards him, because the property of Dion had been consumed entirely.

After this I dwelt out of the Acropolis among the mercenary soldiers; but others, Athenians, and some likewise my fellow-citizens, who were in the service of Dionysius, came and told me that I had been calumniated by the light-shield soldiers, and that certain persons had threatened to kill me, if they could lay hold of me. I devised therefore the following plan for my preservation. I sent to Archytas, and other friends at Tarentum, telling them in what state I happened to be; and they, making some pretext of an embassy to the city, sent a ship of thirty oars, and Lamiscus, one of my friends; who, on his arrival, made a request to Dionysius on my behalf, saying that I wished to depart, and begged of him not to act otherwise. And he consented, and sent me away after providing me with means for the voyage. However, I neither asked for the property of Dion, nor did any one give it me.

On reaching Peloponnesus at the Olympic games, I met with Dion, who was a spectator there, and I told him what had happened. And he, calling Jupiter to witness, immediately declared to me and my relations and friends, that he would prepare to revenge himself upon Dionysius, both for his having deceived me, his guest — for thus he spoke and thought — and for his own unjust expulsion and banishment. On hearing this, I advised him to call upon his friends, if they were willing. But as for myself, I said, you together with others had by force caused me in some manner to share in the food, and the hearth, and the sacred rites of Dionysius; who perhaps has thought, in consequence of many calumniating me, that I was plotting in conjunction with you against him and his tyranny, and yet he did not put me to death, but treated me with respect. Besides I am of an age to take a part with scarcely any one in war; but I would be a common friend to you all, if at any time in want of a friendly feeling towards each other you should wish to do any good; but if you are desirous (of doing) evil, call upon others. This did I say through a feeling of disgust to my wandering about Sicily, and adverse fortune in it.

By not obeying and being not persuaded by the reasonings (urged) by myself, they have been themselves the cause of all the evils that have at present happened to them; of which nothing, humanly speaking, would have occurred, had Dionysius given Dion his own property, or had been perfectly reconciled to him. For I could easily have restrained Dion from both by my will and power. But now they have rushed against each other, and filled all things with evils. And yet Dion had the same wish, which I would say both myself and any other moderate person ought to have, who should consider, touching his own power, and that of his friends, and of his own city, how, by doing a benefit when in power, things of the greatest moment would be in the greatest honour. But this will be, not if a person enrich himself and his friends and city, by laying plots and bringing together conspirators, when he is poor and has no command over himself, through his yielding to cowardice, as regards pleasures, and subsequently by destroying those, who possess property, and, calling them enemies, scatters the wealth of such persons, and exhorts his fellow-doers and friends (so to act), that no one shall, by saying that he is poor, bring a charge against him. After the same manner, he who benefits his city, will be honoured by it, in consequence of distributing by voting the property of a few among the many; or when any one being the president of a great city, and one ruling over many lesser cities, unjustly distributes to his own city the property of the lesser. For in this way, neither Dion, nor any other person, will ever voluntarily proceed to power, pernicious to himself and family for all time, but to a form of government and the establishment of laws, the most just and best, and effected through the fewest deaths and banishments.

This conduct did Dion lately adopt, by choosing to suffer rather than to do unholy deeds, yet taking care lest he should suffer; still, however, did he stumble, after he had arrived at the very point of being superior to his foes. Nor did he suffer any thing to be wondered at. For a man holy, temperate, and prudent, will never be deceived entirely respecting unholy things, respecting the soul of such. But it would perhaps be not wonderful, should he suffer the suffering of a good pilot, from whom a storm about to be has not entirely lain hid; but from whom the violence unusually great and unexpected of tempests may have lain hid, and, having lain hid, have by their force overwhelmed him. The same thing upon a small scale caused Dion to stumble. For they, who tripped him up did not lie hid from him, as being wicked men; but what a depth of ignorance, and of the rest of depravity, and greediness insatiable they possessed, this did lie hid; and stumbling on this point, he lies (dead), and Sicily wraps in sorrow infinite.

What therefore I advise you to do, after the facts just now detailed, has been nearly told, and let them be told. But it appeared to me necessary to show, why I undertook the second journey to Sicily, and, as it were; of somewhat a compulsory kind, on account of the absurdity and irrationality attached to the transactions. If then what has been now said has appeared to any one to be more reasonable, and it seems to any one that the excuses for what have occurred are sufficient, what has been now said will have been (said) moderately and sufficiently (well).

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