Although it is dangerous for us here in Athens to send a letter to Macedonia, not only now when we are at war with you,1
but even in time of peace, nevertheless I have decided to write to you concerning Diodotus,2
as I think it only right to esteem highly all those who have been my pupils and who have shown themselves worthy disciples, and not the least among them this man both because of his devotion to me and of the general probity of his character.
I wish that if possible I might have been the means of his introduction to you; since, however, he has already met you through the kindness of others, it remains for me to give my testimony concerning him and to strengthen the acquaintance which he already has with you. For although many men of various countries have been my pupils3
and some of these are of great repute, and while of all the others some have proved to be distinguished for eloquence alone, and others in intellect and in practical affairs, and still others have indeed been men of sobriety of life and cultivated tastes, but for general usefulness in the practical affairs of life utterly devoid of natural ability,
yet Diodotus has been endowed with a nature so well balanced that in all the attributes I have named he is quite perfect. All this I should not dare to say of him if I did not possess the most precise knowledge of him gained by experience, and if I were not anticipating that you would gain the same,
partly through your own association with him and partly from the testimony of his acquaintances, of whom there is no one who would not agree, unless he be exceedingly envious, that Diodotus is inferior to none in eloquence and counsel, and that he is very honest, temperate, and self-controlled in respect to money; nay more, to spend the day with and to live with he is a most charming and agreeable4
companion. In addition to these good qualities he possesses frankness in the highest degree, not that outspokenness which is objectionable, but that which would rightly be regarded as the surest indication of devotion to his friends.
This is the sort of frankness which princes, if they have worthy and fitting greatness of soul, honor as being useful, while those whose natural gifts are weaker than the powers they possess take such frankness ill, as if it forced them to act in some degree contrary to their desires—ignorant as they are that those who dare to speak out most fearlessly in opposition to measures in which expediency is the issue are the very persons who can provide them with more power than others to accomplish what they wish.
For it stands to reason that it is because of those who always and by choice speak to please that not only monarchies cannot endure—since monarchies are liable to numerous inevitable dangers—but even constitutional governments as well, though they enjoy greater security: whereas it is owing to those who speak with absolute frankness in favor of what is best that many things are preserved even of those which seemed doomed to destruction. For these reasons it is indeed fitting that in the courts of all monarches those who declare the truth should be held in greater esteem than those who, though they aim to gratify in all they say, yet say naught that merits gratitude; in fact, however, the former find less favor with some princes.
This experience Diodotus has met with in his relations with some of the potentates of Asia, to whom he had often been of service, not only in offering counsel, but also in venturing upon dangerous deeds; because of his frankness of speech in matters involving their best interests he has been both deprived of honors he had at home and cheated of many hopes elsewhere, and the flattery of men of no consequence had greater weight than his own good services.
That, then, is the reason why Diodotus, although from time to time he entertained the thought of presenting himself to you, hesitated to do so, not because he believed that all his superiors were alike, but because the difficulties which he had experienced with these rulers caused him to be rather faint-hearted with reference also to the hopes he placed in you. That feeling was, I fancy, like that of some persons who have been at sea, who when they have once experienced a tempest, no longer with confidence embark upon a voyage, even though they know that one may often meet with a fair sailing. Nevertheless, now that he has met you, he is taking the right course.
For I reason that this will be to his advantage, chiefly conjecturing so on the strength of that kindliness which you have been supposed among foreigners to possess; and partly believing you are not unaware that the most agreeable and profitable of all things is to win by one's kind deeds friends who are at the same time both loyal and useful, and to befriend men of such character that on their account many others also will be grateful to you. For all men of discrimination praise and honor those who are on intimate terms with superior men just as much as if they themselves were deriving profit from the services rendered.
But I think that Diodotus himself will best induce you to take an interest in him. His son also I have advised to espouse your cause and by putting himself in your hands as a pupil, to try to advance himself. When I gave him this advice he declared that while he craved your friendship, yet he felt toward that very much as he does toward the athletic contests in which crowns are awarded to the victors;
victory in them he would gladly win, but to enter the lists to gain them he would not dare, because he had not acquired the strength that would deserve the crowns. Similarly, while he longed to obtain the honors it is yours to bestow, yet he did not expect to attain them; for he is appalled not only by his own inexperience but also by the splendor of your position; furthermore, he believes that his poor body, not being sound but somewhat defective, will impede him in many activities.
He will do, however, whatever he thinks expedient; and do you, I beg, whether he resides with you or remains inactive in that region, have a care for everything else which he may chance to need and especially for the personal safety of himself and of his father, considering them to be, as it were, a sacred trust committed to you by my old age, which might fittingly receive much consideration, and by the reputation I possess （if this, to be sure, is worthy of any interest） and by the goodwill which I have never ceased to have for you.
And do not be surprised either if the letter I have written is too long, or if in it I have expressed myself in a somewhat too officious way and after the fashion of an old man; for everything else I have neglected and have had thought for this one thing alone—to show my zeal on behalf of men who are my friends and who have become very dear to me.