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The Seventh Letter
By Plato

Translated by J. Harward


You write to me that I must consider your views the same as those
of Dion, and you urge me to aid your cause so far as I can in word
and deed. My answer is that, if you have the same opinion and desire
as he had, I consent to aid your cause; but if not, I shall think
more than once about it. Now what his purpose and desire was, I can
inform you from no mere conjecture but from positive knowledge. For
when I made my first visit to Sicily, being then about forty years
old, Dion was of the same age as Hipparinos is now, and the opinion
which he then formed was that which he always retained, I mean the
belief that the Syracusans ought to be free and governed by the best
laws. So it is no matter for surprise if some God should make Hipparinos
adopt the same opinion as Dion about forms of government. But it is
well worth while that you should all, old as well as young, hear the
way in which this opinion was formed, and I will attempt to give you
an account of it from the beginning. For the present is a suitable

In my youth I went through the same experience as many other men.
I fancied that if, early in life, I became my own master, I should
at once embark on a political career. And I found myself confronted
with the following occurrences in the public affairs of my own city.
The existing constitution being generally condemned, a revolution
took place, and fifty-one men came to the front as rulers of the revolutionary
government, namely eleven in the city and ten in the Peiraeus-each
of these bodies being in charge of the market and municipal matters-while
thirty were appointed rulers with full powers over public affairs
as a whole. Some of these were relatives and acquaintances of mine,
and they at once invited me to share in their doings, as something
to which I had a claim. The effect on me was not surprising in the
case of a young man. I considered that they would, of course, so manage
the State as to bring men out of a bad way of life into a good one.
So I watched them very closely to see what they would do.

And seeing, as I did, that in quite a short time they made the former
government seem by comparison something precious as gold-for among
other things they tried to send a friend of mine, the aged Socrates,
whom I should scarcely scruple to describe as the most upright man
of that day, with some other persons to carry off one of the citizens
by force to execution, in order that, whether he wished it, or not,
he might share the guilt of their conduct; but he would not obey them,
risking all consequences in preference to becoming a partner in their
iniquitous deeds-seeing all these things and others of the same kind
on a considerable scale, I disapproved of their proceedings, and withdrew
from any connection with the abuses of the time. 

Not long after that a revolution terminated the power of the thirty
and the form of government as it then was. And once more, though with
more hesitation, I began to be moved by the desire to take part in
public and political affairs. Well, even in the new government, unsettled
as it was, events occurred which one would naturally view with disapproval;
and it was not surprising that in a period of revolution excessive
penalties were inflicted by some persons on political opponents, though
those who had returned from exile at that time showed very considerable
forbearance. But once more it happened that some of those in power
brought my friend Socrates, whom I have mentioned, to trial before
a court of law, laying a most iniquitous charge against him and one
most inappropriate in his case: for it was on a charge of impiety
that some of them prosecuted and others condemned and executed the
very man who would not participate in the iniquitous arrest of one
of the friends of the party then in exile, at the time when they themselves
were in exile and misfortune. 

As I observed these incidents and the men engaged in public affairs,
the laws too and the customs, the more closely I examined them and
the farther I advanced in life, the more difficult it seemed to me
to handle public affairs aright. For it was not possible to be active
in politics without friends and trustworthy supporters; and to find
these ready to my hand was not an easy matter, since public affairs
at Athens were not carried on in accordance with the manners and practices
of our fathers; nor was there any ready method by which I could make
new friends. The laws too, written and unwritten, were being altered
for the worse, and the evil was growing with startling rapidity. The
result was that, though at first I had been full of a strong impulse
towards political life, as I looked at the course of affairs and saw
them being swept in all directions by contending currents, my head
finally began to swim; and, though I did not stop looking to see if
there was any likelihood of improvement in these symptoms and in the
general course of public life, I postponed action till a suitable
opportunity should arise. Finally, it became clear to me, with regard
to all existing cornmunities, that they were one and all misgoverned.
For their laws have got into a state that is almost incurable, except
by some extraordinary reform with good luck to support it. And I was
forced to say, when praising true philosophy that it is by this that
men are enabled to see what justice in public and private life really
is. Therefore, I said, there will be no cessation of evils for the
sons of men, till either those who are pursuing a right and true philosophy
receive sovereign power in the States, or those in power in the States
by some dispensation of providence become true philosophers.

With these thoughts in my mind I came to Italy and Sicily on my first
visit. My first impressions on arrival were those of strong disapproval-disapproval
of the kind of life which was there called the life of happiness,
stuffed full as it was with the banquets of the Italian Greeks and
Syracusans, who ate to repletion twice every day, and were never without
a partner for the night; and disapproval of the habits which this
manner of life produces. For with these habits formed early in life,
no man under heaven could possibly attain to wisdom-human nature is
not capable of such an extraordinary combination. Temperance also
is out of the question for such a man; and the same applies to virtue
generally. No city could remain in a state of tranquillity under any
laws whatsoever, when men think it right to squander all their property
in extravagant, and consider it a duty to be idle in everything else
except eating and drinking and the laborious prosecution of debauchery.
It follows necessarily that the constitutions of such cities must
be constantly changing, tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies succeeding
one another, while those who hold the power cannot so much as endure
the name of any form of government which maintains justice and equality
of rights. 

With a mind full of these thoughts, on the top of my previous convictions,
I crossed over to Syracuse-led there perhaps by chance-but it really
looks as if some higher power was even then planning to lay a foundation
for all that has now come to pass with regard to Dion and Syracuse-and
for further troubles too, I fear, unless you listen to the advice
which is now for the second time offered by me. What do I mean by
saying that my arrival in Sicily at that movement proved to be the
foundation on which all the sequel rests? I was brought into close
intercourse with Dion who was then a young man, and explained to him
my views as to the ideals at which men should aim, advising him to
carry them out in practice. In doing this I seem to have been unaware
that I was, in a fashion, without knowing it, contriving the overthrow
of the tyranny which; subsequently took place. For Dion, who rapidly
assimilated my teaching as he did all forms of knowledge, listened
to me with an eagerness which I had never seen equalled in any young
man, and resolved to live for the future in a better way than the
majority of Italian and Sicilian Greeks, having set his affection
on virtue in preference to pleasure and self-indulgence. The result
was that until the death of Dionysios he lived in a way which rendered
him somewhat unpopular among those whose manner of life was that which
is usual in the courts of despots. 

After that event he came to the conclusion that this conviction, which
he himself had gained under the influence of good teaching, was not
likely to be confined to himself. Indeed, he saw it being actually
implanted in other minds-not many perhaps, but certainly in some;
and he thought that with the aid of the Gods, Dionysios might perhaps
become one of these, and that, if such a thing did come to pass, the
result would be a life of unspeakable happiness both for himself and
for the rest of the Syracusans. Further, he thought it essential that
I should come to Syracuse by all manner of means and with the utmost
possible speed to be his partner in these plans, remembering in his
own case how readily intercourse with me had produced in him a longing
for the noblest and best life. And if it should produce a similar
effect on Dionysios, as his aim was that it should, he had great hope
that, without bloodshed, loss of life, and those disastrous events
which have now taken place, he would be able to introduce the true
life of happiness throughout the whole territory. 

Holding these sound views, Dion persuaded Dionysios to send for me;
he also wrote himself entreating me to come by all manner of means
and with the utmost possible speed, before certain other persons coming
in contact with Dionysios should turn him aside into some way of life
other than the best. What he said, though perhaps it is rather long
to repeat, was as follows: "What opportunities," he said, "shall we
wait for, greater than those now offered to us by Providence?" And
he described the Syracusan empire in Italy and Sicily, his own influential
position in it, and the youth of Dionysios and how strongly his desire
was directed towards philosophy and education. His own nephews and
relatives, he said, would be readily attracted towards the principles
and manner of life described by me, and would be most influential
in attracting Dionysios in the same direction, so that, now if ever,
we should see the accomplishment of every hope that the same persons
might actually become both philosophers and the rulers of great States.
These were the appeals addressed to me and much more to the same effect.

My own opinion, so far as the young men were concerned, and the probable
line which their conduct would take, was full of apprehension-for
young men are quick in forming desires, which often take directions
conflicting with one another. But I knew that the character of Dion's
mind was naturally a stable one and had also the advantage of somewhat
advanced years. 

Therefore, I pondered the matter and was in two minds as to whether
I ought to listen to entreaties and go, or how I ought to act; and
finally the scale turned in favour of the view that, if ever anyone
was to try to carry out in practice my ideas about laws and constitutions,
now was the time for making the attempt; for if only I could fully
convince one man, I should have secured thereby the accomplishment
of all good things. 

With these views and thus nerved to the task, I sailed from home,
in the spirit which some imagined, but principally through a feeling
of shame with regard to myself, lest I might some day appear to myself
wholly and solely a mere man of words, one who would never of his
own will lay his hand to any act. Also there was reason to think that
I should be betraying first and foremost my friendship and comradeship
with Dion, who in very truth was in a position of considerable danger.
If therefore anything should happen to him, or if he were banished
by Dionysios and his other enemies and coming to us as exile addressed
this question to me: "Plato, I have come to you as a fugitive, not
for want of hoplites, nor because I had no cavalry for defence against
my enemies, but for want of words and power of persuasion, which I
knew to be a special gift of yours, enabling you to lead young men
into the path of goodness and justice, and to establish in every case
relations of friendship and comradeship among them. It is for the
want of this assistance on your part that I have left Syracuse and
am here now. And the disgrace attaching to your treatment of me is
a small matter. But philosophy-whose praises you are always singing,
while you say she is held in dishonour by the rest of mankind-must
we not say that philosophy along with me has now been betrayed, so
far as your action was concerned? Had I been living at Megara, you
would certainly have come to give me your aid towards the objects
for which I asked it; or you would have thought yourself the most
contemptible of mankind. But as it is, do you think that you will
escape the reputation of cowardice by making excuses about the distance
of the journey, the length of the sea voyage, and the amount of labour
involved? Far from it." To reproaches of this kind what creditable
reply could I have made? Surely none. 

I took my departure, therefore, acting, so far as a man can act, in
obedience to reason and justice, and for these reasons leaving my
own occupations, which were certainly not discreditable ones, to put
myself under a tyranny which did not seem likely to harmonise with
my teaching or with myself. By my departure I secured my own freedom
from the displeasure of Zeus Xenios, and made myself clear of any
charge on the part of philosophy, which would have been exposed to
detraction, if any disgrace had come upon me for faint-heartedness
and cowardice. 

On my arrival, to cut a long story short, I found the court of Dionysios
full of intrigues and of attempts to create in the sovereign ill-feeling
against Dion. I combated these as far as I could, but with very little
success; and in the fourth month or thereabouts, charging Dion with
conspiracy to seize the throne, Dionysios put him on board a small
boat and expelled him from Syracuse with ignominy. All of us who were
Dion's friends were afraid that he might take vengeance on one or
other of us as an accomplice in Dion's conspiracy. With regard to
me, there was even a rumour current in Syracuse that I had been put
to death by Dionysios as the cause of all that had occurred. Perceiving
that we were all in this state of mind and apprehending that our fears
might lead to some serious consequence, he now tried to win all of
us over by kindness: me in particular he encouraged, bidding me be
of good cheer and entreating me on all grounds to remain. For my flight
from him was not likely to redound to his credit, but my staying might
do so. Therefore, he made a great pretence of entreating me. And we
know that the entreaties of sovereigns are mixed with compulsion.
So to secure his object he proceeded to render my departure impossible,
bringing me into the acropolis, and establishing me in quarters from
which not a single ship's captain would have taken me away against
the will of Dionysios, nor indeed without a special messenger sent
by him to order my removal. Nor was there a single merchant, or a
single official in charge of points of departure from the country,
who would have allowed me to depart unaccompanied, and would not have
promptly seized me and taken me back to Dionysios, especially since
a statement had now been circulated contradicting the previous rumours
and giving out that Dionysios was becoming extraordinarily attached
to Plato. What were the facts about this attachment? I must tell the
truth. As time went on, and as intercourse made him acquainted with
my disposition and character, he did become more and more attached
to me, and wished me to praise him more than I praised Dion, and to
look upon him as more specially my friend than Dion, and he was extraordinarily
eager about this sort of thing. But when confronted with the one way
in which this might have been done, if it was to be done at all, he
shrank from coming into close and intimate relations with me as a
pupil and listener to my discourses on philosophy, fearing the danger
suggested by mischief-makers, that he might be ensnared, and so Dion
would prove to have accomplished all his object. I endured all this
patiently, retaining the purpose with which I had come and the hope
that he might come to desire the philosophic life. But his resistance
prevailed against me. 

The time of my first visit to Sicily and my stay there was taken up
with all these incidents. On a later occasion I left home and again
came on an urgent summons from Dionysios. But before giving the motives
and particulars of my conduct then and showing how suitable and right
it was, I must first, in order that I may not treat as the main point
what is only a side issue, give you my advice as to what your acts
should be in the present position of affairs; afterwards, to satisfy
those who put the question why I came a second time, I will deal fully
with the facts about my second visit; what I have now to say is this.

He who advises a sick man, whose manner of life is prejudicial to
health, is clearly bound first of all to change his patient's manner
of life, and if the patient is willing to obey him, he may go on to
give him other advice. But if he is not willing, I shall consider
one who declines to advise such a patient to be a man and a physician,
and one who gives in to him to be unmanly and unprofessional. In the
same way with regard to a State, whether it be under a single ruler
or more than one, if, while the government is being carried on methodically
and in a right course, it asks advice about any details of policy,
it is the part of a wise man to advise such people. But when men are
travelling altogether outside the path of right government and flatly
refuse to move in the right path, and start by giving notice to their
adviser that he must leave the government alone and make no change
in it under penalty of death-if such men should order their counsellors
to pander to their wishes and desires and to advise them in what way
their object may most readily and easily be once for all accomplished,
I should consider as unmanly one who accepts the duty of giving such
forms of advice, and one who refuses it to be a true man.

Holding these views, whenever anyone consults me about any of the
weightiest matters affecting his own life, as, for instance, the acquisition
of property or the proper treatment of body or mind, if it seems to
me that his daily life rests on any system, or if he seems likely
to listen to advice about the things on which he consults me, I advise
him with readiness, and do not content myself with giving him a merely
perfunctory answer. But if a man does not consult me at all, or evidently
does not intend to follow my advice, I do not take the initiative
in advising such a man, and will not use compulsion to him, even if
he be my own son. I would advise a slave under such circumstances,
and would use compulsion to him if he were unwilling. To a father
or mother I do not think that piety allows one to offer compulsion,
unless they are suffering from an attack of insanity; and if they
are following any regular habits of life which please them but do
not please me, I would not offend them by offering useless, advice,
nor would I flatter them or truckle to them, providing them with the
means of satisfying desires which I myself would sooner die than cherish.
The wise man should go through life with the same attitude of mind
towards his country. If she should appear to him to be following a
policy which is not a good one, he should say so, provided that his
words are not likely either to fall on deaf ears or to lead to the
loss of his own life. But force against his native land he should
not use in order to bring about a change of constitution, when it
is not possible for the best constitution to be introduced without
driving men into exile or putting them to death; he should keep quiet
and offer up prayers for his own welfare and for that of his country.

These are the principles in accordance with which I should advise
you, as also, jointly with Dion, I advised Dionysios, bidding him
in the first place to live his daily life in a way that would make
him as far as possible master of himself and able to gain faithful
friends and supporters, in order that he might not have the same experience
as his father. For his father, having taken under his rule many great
cities of Sicily which had been utterly destroyed by the barbarians,
was not able to found them afresh and to establish in them trustworthy
governments carried on by his own supporters, either by men who had
no ties of blood with him, or by his brothers whom he had brought
up when they were younger, and had raised from humble station to high
office and from poverty to immense wealth. Not one of these was he
able to work upon by persuasion, instruction, services and ties of
kindred, so as to make him a partner in his rule; and he showed himself
inferior to Darius with a sevenfold inferiority. For Darius did not
put his trust in brothers or in men whom he had brought up, but only
in his confederates in the overthrow of the Mede and Eunuch; and to
these he assigned portions of his empire, seven in number, each of
them greater than all Sicily; and they were faithful to him and did
not attack either him or one another. Thus he showed a pattern of
what the good lawgiver and king ought to be; for he drew up laws by
which he has secured the Persian empire in safety down to the present

Again, to give another instance, the Athenians took under their rule
very many cities not founded by themselves, which had been hard hit
by the barbarians but were still in existence, and maintained their
rule over these for seventy years, because they had in each them men
whom they could trust. But Dionysios, who had gathered the whole of
Sicily into a single city, and was so clever that he trusted no one,
only secured his own safety with great difficulty. For he was badly
off for trustworthy friends; and there is no surer criterion of virtue
and vice than this, whether a man is or is not destitute of such friends.

This, then, was the advice which Dion and I gave to Dionysios, since,
owing to bringing up which he had received from his father, he had
had no advantages in the way of education or of suitable lessons,
in the first place...; and, in the second place, that, after starting
in this way, he should make friends of others among his connections
who were of the same age and were in sympathy with his pursuit of
virtue, but above all that he should be in harmony with himself; for
this it was of which he was remarkably in need. This we did not say
in plain words, for that would not have been safe; but in covert language
we maintained that every man in this way would save both himself and
those whom he was leading, and if he did not follow this path, he
would do just the opposite of this. And after proceeding on the course
which we described, and making himself a wise and temperate man, if
he were then to found again the cities of Sicily which had been laid
waste, and bind them together by laws and constitutions, so as to
be loyal to him and to one another in their resistance to the attacks
of the barbarians, he would, we told him, make his father's empire
not merely double what it was but many times greater. For, if these
things were done, his way would be clear to a more complete subjugation
of the Carthaginians than that which befell them in Gelon's time,
whereas in our own day his father had followed the opposite course
of levying attribute for the barbarians. This was the language and
these the exhortations given by us, the conspirators against Dionysios
according to the charges circulated from various sources-charges which,
prevailing as they did with Dionysios, caused the expulsion of Dion
and reduced me to a state of apprehension. But when-to summarise great
events which happened in no great time-Dion returned from the Peloponnese
and Athens, his advice to Dionysios took the form of action.

To proceed-when Dion had twice over delivered the city and restored
it to the citizens, the Syracusans went through the same changes of
feeling towards him as Dionysios had gone through, when Dion attempted
first to educate him and train him to be a sovereign worthy of supreme
power and, when that was done, to be his coadjutor in all the details
of his career. Dionysios listened to those who circulated slanders
to the effect that Dion was aiming at the tyranny in all the steps
which he took at that time his intention being that Dionysios, when
his mind had fallen under the spell of culture, should neglect the
government and leave it in his hands, and that he should then appropriate
it for himself and treacherously depose Dionysios. These slanders
were victorious on that occasion; they were so once more when circulated
among the Syracusans, winning a victory which took an extraordinary
course and proved disgraceful to its authors. The story of what then
took place is one which deserves careful attention on the part of
those who are inviting me to deal with the present situation.

I, an Athenian and friend of Dion, came as his ally to the court of
Dionysios, in order that I might create good will in place of a state
war; in my conflict with the authors of these slanders I was worsted.
When Dionysios tried to persuade me by offers of honours and wealth
to attach myself to him, and with a view to giving a decent colour
to Dion's expulsion a witness and friend on his side, he failed completely
in his attempt. Later on, when Dion returned from exile, he took with
him from Athens two brothers, who had been his friends, not from community
in philosophic study, but with the ordinary companionship common among
most friends, which they form as the result of relations of hospitality
and the intercourse which occurs when one man initiates the other
in the mysteries. It was from this kind of intercourse and from services
connected with his return that these two helpers in his restoration
became his companions. Having come to Sicily, when they perceived
that Dion had been misrepresented to the Sicilian Greeks, whom he
had liberated, as one that plotted to become monarch, they not only
betrayed their companion and friend, but shared personally in the
guilt of his murder, standing by his murderers as supporters with
weapons in their hands. The guilt and impiety of their conduct I neither
excuse nor do I dwell upon it. For many others make it their business
to harp upon it, and will make it their business in the future. But
I do take exception to the statement that, because they were Athenians,
they have brought shame upon this city. For I say that he too is an
Athenian who refused to betray this same Dion, when he had the offer
of riches and many other honours. For his was no common or vulgar
friendship, but rested on community in liberal education, and this
is the one thing in which a wise man will put his trust, far more
than in ties of personal and bodily kinship. So the two murderers
of Dion were not of sufficient importance to be causes of disgrace
to this city, as though they had been men of any note. 

All this has been said with a view to counselling the friends and
family of Dion. And in addition to this I give for the third time
to you the same advice and counsel which I have given twice before
to others-not to enslave Sicily or any other State to despots-this
my counsel but-to put it under the rule of laws-for the other course
is better neither for the enslavers nor for the enslaved, for themselves,
their children's children and descendants; the attempt is in every
way fraught with disaster. It is only small and mean natures that
are bent upon seizing such gains for themselves, natures that know
nothing of goodness and justice, divine as well as human, in this
life and in the next. 

These are the lessons which I tried to teach, first to Dion, secondly
to Dionysios, and now for the third time to you. Do you obey me thinking
of Zeus the Preserver, the patron of third ventures, and looking at
the lot of Dionysios and Dion, of whom the one who disobeyed me is
living in dishonour, while he who obeyed me has died honourably. For
the one thing which is wholly right and noble is to strive for that
which is most honourable for a man's self and for his country, and
to face the consequences whatever they may be. For none of us can
escape death, nor, if a man could do so, would it, as the vulgar suppose,
make him happy. For nothing evil or good, which is worth mentioning
at all, belongs to things soulless; but good or evil will be the portion
of every soul, either while attached to the body or when separated
from it. 

And we should in very truth always believe those ancient and sacred
teachings, which declare that the soul is immortal, that it has judges,
and suffers the greatest penalties when it has been separated from
the body. Therefore also we should consider it a lesser evil to suffer
great wrongs and outrages than to do them. The covetous man, impoverished
as he is in the soul, turns a deaf ear to this teaching; or if he
hears it, he laughs it to scorn with fancied superiority, and shamelessly
snatches for himself from every source whatever his bestial fancy
supposes will provide for him the means of eating or drinking or glutting
himself with that slavish and gross pleasure which is falsely called
after the goddess of love. He is blind and cannot see in those acts
of plunder which are accompanied by impiety what heinous guilt is
attached to each wrongful deed, and that the offender must drag with
him the burden of this impiety while he moves about on earth, and
when he has travelled beneath the earth on a journey which has every
circumstance of shame and misery. 

It was by urging these and other like truths that I convinced Dion,
and it is I who have the best right to be angered with his murderers
in much the same way as I have with Dionysios. For both they and he
have done the greatest injury to me, and I might almost say to all
mankind, they by slaying the man that was willing to act righteously,
and he by refusing to act righteously during the whole of his rule,
when he held supreme power, in which rule if philosophy and power
had really met together, it would have sent forth a light to all men,
Greeks and barbarians, establishing fully for all the true belief
that there can be no happiness either for the community or for the
individual man, unless he passes his life under the rule of righteousness
with the guidance of wisdom, either possessing these virtues in himself,
or living under the rule of godly men and having received a right
training and education in morals. These were the aims which Dionysios
injured, and for me everything else is a trifling injury compared
with this. 

The murderer of Dion has, without knowing it, done the same as Dionysios.
For as regards Dion, I know right well, so far as it is possible for
a man to say anything positively about other men, that, if he had
got the supreme power, he would never have turned his mind to any
other form of rule, but that, dealing first with Syracuse, his own
native land, when he had made an end of her slavery, clothed her in
bright apparel, and given her the garb of freedom, he would then by
every means in his power have ordered aright the lives of his fellow-citizens
by suitable and excellent laws; and the thing next in order, which
he would have set his heart to accomplish, was to found again all
the States of Sicily and make them free from the barbarians, driving
out some and subduing others, an easier task for him than it was for
Hiero. If these things had been accomplished by a man who was just
and brave and temperate and a philosopher, the same belief with regard
to virtue would have been established among the majority which, if
Dionysios had been won over, would have been established, I might
almost say, among all mankind and would have given them salvation.
But now some higher power or avenging fiend has fallen upon them,
inspiring them with lawlessness, godlessness and acts of recklessness
issuing from ignorance, the seed from which all evils for all mankind
take root and grow and will in future bear the bitterest harvest for
those who brought them into being. This ignorance it was which in
that second venture wrecked and ruined everything. 

And now, for good luck's sake, let us on this third venture abstain
from words of ill omen. But, nevertheless, I advise you, his friends,
to imitate in Dion his love for his country and his temperate habits
of daily life, and to try with better auspices to carry out his wishes-what
these were, you have heard from me in plain words. And whoever among
you cannot live the simple Dorian life according to the customs of
your forefathers, but follows the manner of life of Dion's murderers
and of the Sicilians, do not invite this man to join you, or expect
him to do any loyal or salutary act; but invite all others to the
work of resettling all the States of Sicily and establishing equality
under the laws, summoning them from Sicily itself and from the whole
Peloponnese-and have no fear even of Athens; for there, also, are
men who excel all mankind in their devotion to virtue and in hatred
of the reckless acts of those who shed the blood of friends.

But if, after all, this is work for a future time, whereas immediate
action is called for by the disorders of all sorts and kinds which
arise every day from your state of civil strife, every man to whom
Providence has given even a moderate share of right intelligence ought
to know that in times of civil strife there is no respite from trouble
till the victors make an end of feeding their grudge by combats and
banishments and executions, and of wreaking their vengeance on their
enemies. They should master themselves and, enacting impartial laws,
framed not to gratify themselves more than the conquered party, should
compel men to obey these by two restraining forces, respect and fear;
fear, because they are the masters and can display superior force;
respect, because they rise superior to pleasures and are willing and
able to be servants to the laws. There is no other way save this for
terminating the troubles of a city that is in a state of civil strife;
but a constant continuance of internal disorders, struggles, hatred
and mutual distrust is the common lot of cities which are in that

Therefore, those who have for the time being gained the upper hand,
when they desire to secure their position, must by their own act and
choice select from all Hellas men whom they have ascertained to be
the best for the purpose. These must in the first place be men of
mature years, who have children and wives at home, and, as far as
possible, a long line of ancestors of good repute, and all must be
possessed of sufficient property. For a city of ten thousand householders
their numbers should be fifty; that is enough. These they must induce
to come from their own homes by entreaties and the promise of the
highest honours; and having induced them to come they must entreat
and command them to draw up laws after binding themselves by oath
to show no partiality either to conquerors or to conquered, but to
give equal and common rights to the whole State. 

When laws have been enacted, what everything then hinges on is this.
If the conquerors show more obedience to the laws than the conquered,
the whole State will be full of security and happiness, and there
will be an escape from all your troubles. But if they do not, then
do not summon me or any other helper to aid you against those who
do not obey the counsel I now give you. For this course is akin to
that which Dion and I attempted to carry out with our hearts set on
the welfare of Syracuse. It is indeed a second best course. The first
and best was that scheme of welfare to all mankind which we attempted
to carry out with the co-operation of Dionysios; but some chance,
mightier than men, brought it to nothing. Do you now, with good fortune
attending you and with Heaven's help, try to bring your efforts to
a happier issue. 

Let this be the end of my advice and injunction and of the narrative
of my first visit to Dionysios. Whoever wishes may next hear of my
second journey and voyage, and learn that it was a reasonable and
suitable proceeding. My first period of residence in Sicily was occupied
in the way which I related before giving my advice to the relatives
and friends of Dion. After those events I persuaded Dionysios by such
arguments as I could to let me go; and we made an agreement as to
what should be done when peace was made; for at that time there was
a state of war in Sicily. Dionysios said that, when he had put the
affairs of his empire in a position of greater safety for himself,
he would send for Dion and me again; and he desired that Dion should
regard what had befallen him not as an exile, but as a change of residence.
I agreed to come again on these conditions. 

When peace had been made, he began sending for me; he requested that
Dion should wait for another year, but begged that I should by all
means come. Dion now kept urging and entreating me to go. For persistent
rumours came from Sicily that Dionysios was now once more possessed
by an extraordinary desire for philosophy. For this reason Dion pressed
me urgently not to decline his invitation. But though I was well aware
that as regards philosophy such symptoms were not uncommon in young
men, still it seemed to me safer at that time to part company altogether
with Dion and Dionysios; and I offended both of them by replying that
I was an old man, and that the steps now being taken were quite at
variance with the previous agreement. 

After this, it seems, Archytes came to the court of Dionysios. Before
my departure I had brought him and his Tarentine circle into friendly
relations with Dionysios. There were some others in Syracuse who had
received some instruction from Dion, and others had learnt from these,
getting their heads full of erroneous teaching on philosophical questions.
These, it seems, were attempting to hold discussions with Dionysios
on questions connected with such subjects, in the idea that he had
been fully instructed in my views. Now is not at all devoid of natural
gifts for learning, and he has a great craving for honour and glory.
What was said probably pleased him, and he felt some shame when it
became clear that he had not taken advantage of my teaching during
my visit. For these reasons he conceived a desire for more definite
instruction, and his love of glory was an additional incentive to
him. The real reasons why he had learnt nothing during my previous
visit have just been set forth in the preceding narrative. Accordingly,
now that I was safe at home and had refused his second invitation,
as I just now related, Dionysios seems to have felt all manner of
anxiety lest certain people should suppose that I was unwilling to
visit him again because I had formed a poor opinion of his natural
gifts and character, and because, knowing as I did his manner of life,
I disapproved of it. 

It is right for me to speak the truth, and make no complaint if anyone,
after hearing the facts, forms a poor opinion of my philosophy, and
thinks that the tyrant was in the right. Dionysios now invited me
for the third time, sending a trireme to ensure me comfort on the
voyage; he sent also Archedemos-one of those who had spent some time
with Archytes, and of whom he supposed that I had a higher opinion
than of any of the Sicilian Greeks-and, with him, other men of repute
in Sicily. These all brought the same report, that Dionysios had made
progress in philosophy. He also sent a very long letter, knowing as
he did my relations with Dion and Dion's eagerness also that I should
take ship and go to Syracuse. The letter was framed in its opening
sentences to meet all these conditions, and the tenor of it was as
follows: "Dionysios to Plato," here followed the customary greeting
and immediately after it he said, "If in compliance with our request
you come now, in the first place, Dion's affairs will be dealt with
in whatever way you yourself desire; I know that you will desire what
is reasonable, and I shall consent to it. But if not, none of Dion's
affairs will have results in accordance with your wishes, with regard
either to Dion himself or to other matters." This he said in these
words; the rest it would be tedious and inopportune to quote. Other
letters arrived from Archytes and the Tarentines, praising the philosophical
studies of Dionysios and saying that, if I did not now come, I should
cause a complete rupture in their friendship with Dionysios, which
had been brought about by me and was of no small importance to their
political interests. 

When this invitation came to me at that time in such terms, and those
who had come from Sicily and Italy were trying to drag me thither,
while my friends at Athens were literally pushing me out with their
urgent entreaties, it was the same old tale-that I must not betray
Dion and my Tarentine friends and supporters. Also I myself had a
lurking feeling that there was nothing surprising in the fact that
a young man, quick to learn, hearing talk of the great truths of philosophy,
should feel a craving for the higher life. I thought therefore that
I must put the matter definitely to the test to see whether his desire
was genuine or the reverse, and on no account leave such an impulse
unaided nor make myself responsible for such a deep and real disgrace,
if the reports brought by anyone were really true. So blindfolding
myself with this reflection, I set out, with many fears and with no
very favourable anticipations, as was natural enough. However, I went,
and my action on this occasion at any rate was really a case of "the
third to the Preserver," for I had the good fortune to return safely;
and for this I must, next to the God, thank Dionysios, because, though
many wished to make an end of me, he prevented them and paid some
proper respect to my situation. 

On my arrival, I thought that first I must put to the test the question
whether Dionysios had really been kindled with the fire of philosophy,
or whether all the reports which had come to Athens were empty rumours.
Now there is a way of putting such things to the test which is not
to be despised and is well suited to monarchs, especially to those
who have got their heads full of erroneous teaching, which immediately
my arrival I found to be very much the case with Dionysios. One should
show such men what philosophy is in all its extent; what their range
of studies is by which it is approached, and how much labour it involves.
For the man who has heard this, if he has the true philosophic spirit
and that godlike temperament which makes him a kin to philosophy and
worthy of it, thinks that he has been told of a marvellous road lying
before him, that he must forthwith press on with all his strength,
and that life is not worth living if he does anything else. After
this he uses to the full his own powers and those of his guide in
the path, and relaxes not his efforts, till he has either reached
the end of the whole course of study or gained such power that he
is not incapable of directing his steps without the aid of a guide.
This is the spirit and these are the thoughts by which such a man
guides his life, carrying out his work, whatever his occupation may
be, but throughout it all ever cleaving to philosophy and to such
rules of diet in his daily life as will give him inward sobriety and
therewith quickness in learning, a good memory, and reasoning power;
the kind of life which is opposed to this he consistently hates. Those
who have not the true philosophic temper, but a mere surface colouring
of opinions penetrating, like sunburn, only skin deep, when they see
how great the range of studies is, how much labour is involved in
it, and how necessary to the pursuit it is to have an orderly regulation
of the daily life, come to the conclusion that the thing is difficult
and impossible for them, and are actually incapable of carrying out
the course of study; while some of them persuade themselves that they
have sufficiently studied the whole matter and have no need of any
further effort. This is the sure test and is the safest one to apply
to those who live in luxury and are incapable of continuous effort;
it ensures that such a man shall not throw the blame upon his teacher
but on himself, because he cannot bring to the pursuit all the qualities
necessary to it. Thus it came about that I said to Dionysios what
I did say on that occasion. 

I did not, however, give a complete exposition, nor did Dionysios
ask for one. For he professed to know many, and those the most important,
points, and to have a sufficient hold of them through instruction
given by others. I hear also that he has since written about what
he heard from me, composing what professes to be his own handbook,
very different, so he says, from the doctrines which he heard from
me; but of its contents I know nothing; I know indeed that others
have written on the same subjects; but who they are, is more than
they know themselves. Thus much at least, I can say about all writers,
past or future, who say they know the things to which I devote myself,
whether by hearing the teaching of me or of others, or by their own
discoveries-that according to my view it is not possible for them
to have any real skill in the matter. There neither is nor ever will
be a treatise of mine on the subject. For it does not admit of exposition
like other branches of knowledge; but after much converse about the
matter itself and a life lived together, suddenly a light, as it were,
is kindled in one soul by a flame that leaps to it from another, and
thereafter sustains itself. Yet this much I know-that if the things
were written or put into words, it would be done best by me, and that,
if they were written badly, I should be the person most pained. Again,
if they had appeared to me to admit adequately of writing and exposition,
what task in life could I have performed nobler than this, to write
what is of great service to mankind and to bring the nature of things
into the light for all to see? But I do not think it a good thing
for men that there should be a disquisition, as it is called, on this
topic-except for some few, who are able with a little teaching to
find it out for themselves. As for the rest, it would fill some of
them quite illogically with a mistaken feeling of contempt, and others
with lofty and vain-glorious expectations, as though they had learnt
something high and mighty. 

On this point I intend to speak a little more at length; for perhaps,
when I have done so, things will be clearer with regard to my present
subject. There is an argument which holds good against the man ventures
to put anything whatever into writing on questions of this nature;
it has often before been stated by me, and it seems suitable to the
present occasion. 

For everything that exists there are three instruments by which the
knowledge of it is necessarily imparted; fourth, there is the knowledge
itself, and, as fifth, we must count the thing itself which is known
and truly exists. The first is the name, the, second the definition,
the third. the image, and the fourth the knowledge. If you wish to
learn what I mean, take these in the case of one instance, and so
understand them in the case of all. A circle is a thing spoken of,
and its name is that very word which we have just uttered. The second
thing belonging to it is its definition, made up names and verbal
forms. For that which has the name "round," "annular," or, "circle,"
might be defined as that which has the distance from its circumference
to its centre everywhere equal. Third, comes that which is drawn and
rubbed out again, or turned on a lathe and broken up-none of which
things can happen to the circle itself-to which the other things,
mentioned have reference; for it is something of a different order
from them. Fourth, comes knowledge, intelligence and right opinion
about these things. Under this one head we must group everything which
has its existence, not in words nor in bodily shapes, but in souls-from
which it is dear that it is something different from the nature of
the circle itself and from the three things mentioned before. Of these
things intelligence comes closest in kinship and likeness to the fifth,
and the others are farther distant. 

The same applies to straight as well as to circular form, to colours,
to the good, the, beautiful, the just, to all bodies whether manufactured
or coming into being in the course of nature, to fire, water, and
all such things, to every living being, to character in souls, and
to all things done and suffered. For in the case of all these, no
one, if he has not some how or other got hold of the four things first
mentioned, can ever be completely a partaker of knowledge of the fifth.
Further, on account of the weakness of language, these (i.e., the
four) attempt to show what each thing is like, not less than what
each thing is. For this reason no man of intelligence will venture
to express his philosophical views in language, especially not in
language that is unchangeable, which is true of that which is set
down in written characters. 

Again you must learn the point which comes next. Every circle, of
those which are by the act of man drawn or even turned on a lathe,
is full of that which is opposite to the fifth thing. For everywhere
it has contact with the straight. But the circle itself, we say, has
nothing in either smaller or greater, of that which is its opposite.
We say also that the name is not a thing of permanence for any of
them, and that nothing prevents the things now called round from being
called straight, and the straight things round; for those who make
changes and call things by opposite names, nothing will be less permanent
(than a name). Again with regard to the definition, if it is made
up of names and verbal forms, the same remark holds that there is
no sufficiently durable permanence in it. And there is no end to the
instances of the ambiguity from which each of the four suffers; but
the greatest of them is that which we mentioned a little earlier,
that, whereas there are two things, that which has real being, and
that which is only a quality, when the soul is seeking to know, not
the quality, but the essence, each of the four, presenting to the
soul by word and in act that which it is not seeking (i.e., the quality),
a thing open to refutation by the senses, being merely the thing presented
to the soul in each particular case whether by statement or the act
of showing, fills, one may say, every man with puzzlement and perplexity.

Now in subjects in which, by reason of our defective education, we
have not been accustomed even to search for the truth, but are satisfied
with whatever images are presented to us, we are not held up to ridicule
by one another, the questioned by questioners, who can pull to pieces
and criticise the four things. But in subjects where we try to compel
a man to give a clear answer about the fifth, any one of those who
are capable of overthrowing an antagonist gets the better of us, and
makes the man, who gives an exposition in speech or writing or in
replies to questions, appear to most of his hearers to know nothing
of the things on which he is attempting to write or speak; for they
are sometimes not aware that it is not the mind of the writer or speaker
which is proved to be at fault, but the defective nature of each of
the four instruments. The process however of dealing with all of these,
as the mind moves up and down to each in turn, does after much effort
give birth in a well-constituted mind to knowledge of that which is
well constituted. But if a man is ill-constituted by nature (as the
state of the soul is naturally in the majority both in its capacity
for learning and in what is called moral character)-or it may have
become so by deterioration-not even Lynceus could endow such men with
the power of sight. 

In one word, the man who has no natural kinship with this matter cannot
be made akin to it by quickness of learning or memory; for it cannot
be engendered at all in natures which are foreign to it. Therefore,
if men are not by nature kinship allied to justice and all other things
that are honourable, though they may be good at learning and remembering
other knowledge of various kinds-or if they have the kinship but are
slow learners and have no memory-none of all these will ever learn
to the full the truth about virtue and vice. For both must be learnt
together; and together also must be learnt, by complete and long continued
study, as I said at the beginning, the true and the false about all
that has real being. After much effort, as names, definitions, sights,
and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one
with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men
who proceed by question and answer without ill will, with a sudden
flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an
intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers.
Therefore every man of worth, when dealing with matters of worth,
will be far from exposing them to ill feeling and misunderstanding
among men by committing them to writing. In one word, then, it may
be known from this that, if one sees written treatises composed by
anyone, either the laws of a lawgiver, or in any other form whatever,
these are not for that man the things of most worth, if he is a man
of worth, but that his treasures are laid up in the fairest spot that
he possesses. But if these things were worked at by him as things
of real worth, and committed to writing, then surely, not gods, but
men "have themselves bereft him of his wits." 

Anyone who has followed this discourse and digression will know well
that, if Dionysios or anyone else, great or small, has written a treatise
on the highest matters and the first principles of things, he has,
so I say, neither heard nor learnt any sound teaching about the subject
of his treatise; otherwise, he would have had the same reverence for
it, which I have, and would have shrunk from putting it forth into
a world of discord and uncomeliness. For he wrote it, not as an aid
to memory-since there is no risk of forgetting it, if a man's soul
has once laid hold of it; for it is expressed in the shortest of statements-but
if he wrote it at all, it was from a mean craving for honour, either
putting it forth as his own invention, or to figure as a man possessed
of culture, of which he was not worthy, if his heart was set on the
credit of possessing it. If then Dionysios gained this culture from
the one lesson which he had from me, we may perhaps grant him the
possession of it, though how he acquired it-God wot, as the Theban
says; for I gave him the teaching, which I have described, on that
one occasion and never again. 

The next point which requires to be made clear to anyone who wishes
to discover how things really happened, is the reason why it came
about that I did not continue my teaching in a second and third lesson
and yet oftener. Does Dionysios, after a single lesson, believe himself
to know the matter, and has he an adequate knowledge of it, either
as having discovered it for himself or learnt it before from others,
or does he believe my teaching to be worthless, or, thirdly, to be
beyond his range and too great for him, and himself to be really unable
to live as one who gives his mind to wisdom and virtue? For if he
thinks it worthless, he will have to contend with many who say the
opposite, and who would be held in far higher repute as judges than
Dionysios, if on the other hand, he thinks he has discovered or learnt
the things and that they are worth having as part of a liberal education,
how could he, unless he is an extraordinary person, have so recklessly
dishonoured the master who has led the way in these subjects? How
he dishonoured him, I will now state. 

Up to this time he had allowed Dion to remain in possession of his
property and to receive the income from it. But not long after the
foregoing events, as if he had entirely forgotten his letter to that
effect, he no longer allowed Dion's trustees to send him remittances
to the Peloponnese, on the pretence that the owner of the property
was not Dion but Dion's son, his own nephew, of whom he himself was
legally the trustee. These were the actual facts which occurred up
to the point which we have reached. They had opened my eyes as to
the value of Dionysios' desire for philosophy, and I had every right
to complain, whether I wished to do so or not. Now by this time it
was summer and the season for sea voyages; therefore I decided that
I must not be vexed with Dionysios rather than with myself and those
who had forced me to come for the third time into the strait of Scylla,
that once again I might to fell Charybdis measure back my course,
but must tell Dionysios that it was impossible for me to remain after
this outrage had been put upon Dion. He tried to soothe me and begged
me to remain, not thinking it desirable for himself that I should
arrive post haste in person as the bearer of such tidings. When his
entreaties produced no effect, he promised that he himself would provide
me with transport. For my intention was to embark on one of the trading
ships and sail away, being indignant and thinking it my duty to face
all dangers, in case I was prevented from going-since plainly and
obviously I was doing no wrong, but was the party wronged.

Seeing me not at all inclined to stay, he devised the following scheme
to make me stay during that sading season. On the next day he came
to me and made a plausible proposal: "Let us put an end," he said,
"to these constant quarrels between you and me about Dion and his
affairs. For your sake I will do this for Dion. I require him to take
his own property and reside in the Peloponnese, not as an exile, but
on the understanding that it is open for him to migrate here, when
this step has the joint approval of himself, me, and you his friends;
and this shall be open to him on the understanding that he does not
plot against me. You and your friends and Dion's friends here must
be sureties for him in this, and he must give you security. Let the
funds which he receives be deposited in the Peloponnese and at Athens,
with persons approved by you, and let Dion enjoy the income from them
but have no power to take them out of deposit without the approval
of you and your friends. For I have no great confidence in him, that,
if he has this property at his disposal, he will act justly towards
me, for it will be no small amount; but I have more confidence in
you and your friends. See if this satisfies you; and on these conditions
remain for the present year, and at the next season you shall depart
taking the property with you. I am quite sure that Dion will be grateful
to you, if you accomplish so much on his behalf." 

When I heard this proposal I was vexed, but after reflection said
I would let him know my view of it on the following day. We agreed
to that effect for the moment, and afterwards when I was by myself
I pondered the matter in much distress. The first reflection that
came up, leading the way in my self-communing, was this: "Come suppose
that Dionysios intends to do none of the things which he has mentioned,
but that, after my departure, he writes a plausible letter to Dion,
and orders several of his creatures to write to the same effect, telling
him of the proposal which he has now made to me, making out that he
was willing to do what he proposed, but that I refused and completely
neglected Dion's interests. Further, suppose that he is not willing
to allow my departure, and without giving personal orders to any of
the merchants, makes it clear, as he easily can, to all that he not
wish me to sail, will anyone consent to take me as a passenger, when
I leave the house: of Dionysios?" 

For in addition to my other troubles, I was lodging at that time in
the garden which surround his house, from which even the gatekeeper
would have refused to let me go, unless an order had been sent to
him from Dionysios. "Suppose however that I wait for the year, I shall
be able to write word of these things to Dion, stating the position
in which I am, and the steps which I am trying to take. And if Dionysios
does any of the things which he says, I shall have accomplished something
that is not altogether to be sneered at; for Dion's property is, at
a fair estimate, perhaps not less than a hundred talents. If however
the prospect which I see looming in the future takes the course which
may reasonably be expected, I know not what I shall do with myself.
Still it is perhaps necessary to go on working for a year, and to
attempt to prove by actual fact the machinations of Dionysios."

Having come to this decision, on the following day I said to Dionysios,
"I have decided to remain. But," I continued, "I must ask that you
will not regard me as empowered to act for Dion, but will along with
me write a letter to him, stating what has now been decided, and enquire
whether this course satisfies him. If it does not, and if he has other
wishes and demands, he must write particulars of them as soon as possible,
and you must not as yet take any hasty step with regard to his interests."

This was what was said and this was the agreement which was made,
almost in these words. Well, after this the trading-ships took their
departure, and it was no longer possible for me to take mine, when
Dionysios, if you please, addressed me with the remark that half the
property must be regarded as belonging to Dion and half to his son.
Therefore, he said, he would sell it, and when it was sold would give
half to me to take away, and would leave half on the spot for the
son. This course, he said, was the most just. This proposal was a
blow to me, and I thought it absurd to argue any longer with him;
however, I said that we must wait for Dion's letter, and then once
more write to tell him of this new proposal. His next step was the
brilliant one of selling the whole of Dion's property, using his own
discretion with regard to the manner and terms of the sale and of
the purchasers. He spoke not a word to me about the matter from beginning
to end, and I followed his example and never talked to him again about
Dion's affairs; for I did not think that I could do any good by doing
so. This is the history so far of my efforts to come to the rescue
of philosophy and of my friends. 

After this Dionysios and I went on with our daily life, I with my
eyes turned abroad like a bird yearning to fly from its perch, and
he always devising some new way of scaring me back and of keeping
a tight hold on Dion's property. However, we gave out to all Sicily
that we were friends. Dionysios, now deserting the policy of his father,
attempted to lower the pay of the older members of his body guard.
The soldiers were furious, and, assembling in great numbers, declared
that they would not submit. He attempted to use force to them, shutting
the gates of the acropolis; but they charged straight for the walls,
yelling out an unintelligible and ferocious war cry. Dionysios took
fright and conceded all their demands and more to the peltasts then

A rumour soon spread that Heracleides had been the cause of all the
trouble. Hearing this, Heracleides kept out of the way. Dionysios
was trying to get hold of him, and being unable to do so, sent for
Theodotes to come to him in his garden. It happened that I was walking
in the garden at the same time. I neither know nor did I hear the
rest of what passed between them, but what Theodotes said to Dionysios
in my presence I know and remember. "Plato," he said, "I am trying
to convince our friend Dionysios that, if I am able to bring Heracleides
before us to defend himself on the charges which have been made against
him, and if he decides that Heracleides must no longer live in Sicily,
he should be allowed (this is my point) to take his son and wife and
sail to the Peloponnese and reside there, taking no action there against
Dionysios and enjoying the income of his property. I have already
sent for him and will send for him again; and if he comes in obedience
either to my former message or to this one-well and good. But I beg
and entreat Dionysios that, if anyone finds Heracleides either in
the country or here, no harm shall come to him, but that he may retire
from the country till Dionysios comes to some other decision. Do you
agree to this?" he added, addressing Dionysios. "I agree," he replied,
"that even if he is found at your house, no harm shall be done to
him beyond what has now been said." 

On the following day Eurybios and Theodotes came to me in the evening,
both greatly disturbed. Theodotes said, "Plato, you were present yesterday
during the promises made by Dionysios to me and to you about Heracleides?"
"Certainly," I replied. "Well," he continued, "at this moment peltasts
are scouring the country seeking to arrest Heracleides; and he must
be somewhere in this neighbourhood. For Heaven's sake come with us
to Dionysios." So we went and stood in the presence of Dionysios;
and those two stood shedding silent tears, while I said: "These men
are afraid that you may take strong measures with regard to Heracleides
contrary to what was agreed yesterday. For it seems that he has returned
and has been seen somewhere about here." On hearing this he blazed
up and turned all colours, as a man would in a rage. Theodotes, falling
before him in tears, took his hand and entreated him to do nothing
of the sort. But I broke in and tried to encourage him, saying: "Be
of good cheer, Theodotes; Dionysios will not have the heart to take
any fresh step contrary to his promises of yesterday." Fixing his
eye on me, and assuming his most autocratic air he said, "To you I
promised nothing small or great." "By the gods," I said, "you did
promise that forbearance for which our friend here now appeals." With
these words I turned away and went out. After this he continued the
hunt for Heracleides, and Theodotes, sending messages, urged Heracleides
to take flight. Dionysios sent out Teisias and some peltasts with
orders to pursue him. But Heracleides, as it was said, was just in
time, by a small fraction of a day, in making his escape into Carthaginian

After this Dionysios thought that his long cherished scheme not to
restore Dion's property would give him a plausible excuse for hostility
towards me; and first of all he sent me out of the acropolis, finding
a pretext that the women were obliged to hold a sacrificial service
for ten days in the garden in which I had my lodging. He therefore
ordered me to stay outside in the house of Archedemos during this
period. While I was there, Theodotes sent for me and made a great
outpouring of indignation at these occurrences, throwing the blame
on Dionysios. Hearing that I had been to see Theodotes he regarded
this, as another excuse, sister to the previous one, for quarrelling
with me. Sending a messenger he enquired if I had really been conferring
with Theodotes on his invitation "Certainly," I replied, "Well," continued
the messenger, "he ordered me to tell you that you are not acting
at all well in preferring always Dion and Dion's friends to him."
And he did not send for me to return to his house, as though it were
now clear that Theodotes and Heracleides were my friends, and he my
enemy. He also thought that I had no kind feelings towards him because
the property of Dion was now entirely done for. 

After this I resided outside the acropolis among the mercenaries.
Various people then came to me, among them those of the ships' crews
who came from Athens, my own fellow citizens, and reported that I
was evil spoken of among the peltasts, and that some of them were
threatening to make an end of me, if they could ket hold of me Accordingly
I devised the following plan for my safety. 

I sent to Archytes and my other friends in Taras, telling them the
plight I was in. Finding some excuse for an embassy from their city,
they sent a thirty-oared galley with Lamiscos, one of themselves,
who came and entreated Dionysios about me, saying that I wanted to
go, and that he should on no account stand in my way. He consented
and allowed me to go, giving me money for the journey. But for Dion's
property I made no further request, nor was any of it restored.

I made my way to the Peloponnese to Olympia, where I found Dion a
spectator at the Games, and told him what had occurred. Calling Zeus
to be his witness, he at once urged me with my relatives and friends
to make preparations for taking vengeance on Dionysios-our ground
for action being the breach of faith to a guest-so he put it and regarded
it, while his own was his unjust expulsion and banishment. Hearing
this, I told him that he might call my friends to his aid, if they
wished to go; "But for myself," I continued, "you and others in a
way forced me to be the sharer of Dionysios' table and hearth and
his associate in the acts of religion. He probably believed the current
slanders, that I was plotting with you against him and his despotic
rule; yet feelings of scruple prevailed with him, and he spared my
life. Again, I am hardly of the age for being comrade in arms to anyone;
also I stand as a neutral between you, if ever you desire friendship
and wish to benefit one another; so long as you aim at injuring one
another, call others to your aid." This I said, because I was disgusted
with my misguided journeyings to Sicily and my ill-fortune there.
But they disobeyed me and would not listen to my attempts at reconciliation,
and so brought on their own heads all the evils which have since taken
place. For if Dionysios had restored to Dion his property or been
reconciled with him on any terms, none of these things would have
happened, so far as human foresight can foretell. Dion would have
easily been kept in check by my wishes and influence. But now, rushing
upon one another, they have caused universal disaster. 

Dion's aspiration however was the same that I should say my own or
that of any other right-minded man ought to be. With regard to his
own power, his friends and his country the ideal of such a man would
be to win the greatest power and honour by rendering the greatest
services. And this end is not attained if a man gets riches for himself,
his supporters and his country, by forming plots and getting together
conspirators, being all the while a poor creature, not master of himself,
overcome by the cowardice which fears to fight against pleasures;
nor is it attained if he goes on to kill the men of substance, whom
he speaks of as the enemy, and to plunder their possessions, and invites
his confederates and supporters to do the same, with the object that
no one shall say that it is his fault, if he complains of being poor.
The same is true if anyone renders services of this kind to the State
and receives honours from her for distributing by decrees the property
of the few among the many-or if, being in charge the affairs of a
great State which rules over many small ones, he unjustly appropriates
to his own State the possessions of the small ones. For neither a
Dion nor any other man will, with his eyes open, make his way by steps
like these to a power which will be fraught with destruction to himself
and his descendants for all time; but he will advance towards constitutional
government and the framing of the justest and best laws, reaching
these ends without executions and murders even on the smallest scale.

This course Dion actually followed, thinking it preferable to suffer
iniquitous deeds rather than to do them; but, while taking precautions
against them, he nevertheless, when he had reached the climax of victory
over his enemies, took a false step and fell, a catastrophe not at
all surprising. For a man of piety, temperance and wisdom, when dealing
with the impious, would not be entirely blind to the character of
such men, but it would perhaps not be surprising if he suffered the
catastrophe that might befall a good ship's captain, who would not
be entirely unaware of the approach of a storm, but might be unaware
of its extraordinary and startling violence, and might therefore be
overwhelmed by its force. The same thing caused Dion's downfall. For
he was not unaware that his assailants were thoroughly bad men, but
he was unaware how high a pitch of infatuation and of general wickedness
and greed they had reached. This was the cause of his downfall, which
has involved Sicily in countless sorrows. 

As to the steps which should be taken after the events which I have
now related, my advice has been given pretty fully and may be regarded
as finished; and if you ask my reasons for recounting the story of
my second journey to Sicily, it seemed to me essential that an account
of it must be given because of the strange and paradoxical character
of the incidents. If in this present account of them they appear to
anyone more intelligible, and seem to anyone to show sufficient grounds
in view of the circumstances, the present statement is adequate and
not too lengthy. 



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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