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[315a]

“Plato to Dionysius wishes joy!” If I wrote thus, [315b] should I be hitting on the best mode of address? Or rather, by writing, according to my custom, “Wishes well-doing,” this being my usual mode of address, in my letters to my friends? You, indeed,—as was reported by the spectators then present—addressed even the God himself at Delphi in this same flattering phrase, and wrote, as they say, this verse—“I wish you joy! And may you always keep
The tyrant's life a life of pleasantness.
” [315c]

But as for me, I would not call upon a man, and much less a god, and bid him enjoy himself—a god, because I would be imposing a task contrary to his nature (since the Deity has his abode far beyond pleasure or pain),—nor yet a man, because pleasure and pain generate mischief for the most part, since they breed in the soul mental sloth and forgetfulness and witlessness and insolence.1 Let such, then, be my declaration regarding the mode of address; and you, when you read it, accept it in what sense you please.

It is stated by not a few that you related to some [315d] of the ambassadors at your Court, that upon one occasion I heard you speaking of your intention to occupy the Greek cities in Italy and to relieve the Syracusans by changing the government to a monarchy instead of a tyranny, and at that time (as you assert) I stopped you from doing so, although you were most eager to do it, whereas now I am urging Dion to do precisely the same thing; and thus we are robbing you of your empire by means of your own plans. [315e] Whether you derive any benefit from this talk you know best yourself, but you certainly wrong me by saying what is contrary to the fact. For of false accusation I have had enough from Philistides2 and many others who accused me to the mercenaries and to the Syracusan populace because I stayed in the acropolis; and the people outside, whenever a mistake occurred, ascribed it entirely to me, alleging that you obeyed me in all things. But you yourself know for certain [316a] that I willingly took part in some few of your political acts at the first, when I thought that I was doing some good by it and that I gave a fair amount of attention to the Preludes of the laws,3 besides other small matters, apart from the additions in writing made by you or anyone else—for I am told that some of you afterwards revised my Preludes; but no doubt the several contributions will be evident to those who are competent to appreciate my style.

Well then, as I said just now, what I need is not any further accusation to the Syracusans, or any others there may be who believe your story, but much rather [316b] a defence not only against the previous false accusations, but also against the graver and more violent accusation which is now being concocted to follow it. Against the two accusations I must necessarily make a twofold defence—stating, firstly, that I reasonably avoided sharing in your political transactions; and, secondly, that neither the advice was mine, nor yet the hindrance you alleged,—when you said that I had stopped you when you proposed to plant colonists in the Greek cities. So, listen first [316c] to the origin of the first of the accusations I have mentioned.

It was on your invitation and Dion's that I came to Syracuse. Dion was a tried comrade of mine and a guest-friend of old standing, and he was a man of staid middle age,—qualities that are specially required by men who possess even a particle of sense when they intend to advise concerning affairs so important as yours then were. You, on the other hand, were extremely young, and in your case I was quite without experience of those points regarding which experience was required, [316d] as I was totally unacquainted with you. Thereafter, some man or god or chance, with your assistance, cast out Dion, and you were left alone. Do you suppose, then, that I took any part with you in your political acts, when I had lost my wise partner and saw the unwise one left behind in the company of a crowd of evil men, not ruling himself, but being ruled by men of that sort, while fancying himself the ruler? In these circumstances what ought I to have done? Was I not bound to do as I did,—to bid farewell for the future to politics, [316e] shunning the slanders which proceed from envy, and to use every endeavor to make you and Dion as friendly to each other as possible, separated though you were and at variance with each other? Yea, you yourself also are a witness of this, that I have never yet ceased to strive for this very object. And it was agreed between us—although with difficulty—that I should sail home, [317a] since you were engaged in war,4 and that, when peace was restored, Dion and I should go to Syracuse and that you should invite us. And that was how things took place as regards my first sojourn at Syracuse5 and my safe return home again.

But on the second occasion, when peace was restored, you did not keep to our agreement in the invitation you gave me but wrote that I should come alone, and stated that you would send for Dion later on. On this account I did not go; and, moreover, I was vexed also with Dion; [317b] for he was of opinion that it was better for me to go and to yield to your wishes. Subsequently, after a year's interval, a trireme arrived with letters from you, and the first words written in the letters were to the effect that if I came I should find that Dion's affairs would all proceed as I desired, but the opposite if I failed to come. And indeed I am ashamed to say how many letters came at that time from Italy and Sicily from you and [317c] from others on your account, or to how many of my friends and acquaintances they were addressed, all enjoining me to go and beseeching me to trust you entirely. It was the firm opinion of everyone, beginning with Dion, that it was my duty to make the voyage and not be faint-hearted. But I always made my age6 an excuse; and as for you, I kept assuring them that you would not be able to withstand those who slander us and desire that we should quarrel; for I saw then, as I see now, that, as a rule, when great and exorbitant wealth is in the hands either of private citizens or of monarchs, [317d] the greater it is, the greater and more numerous are the slanderers it breeds and the hordes of parasites and wastrels—than which there is no greater evil generated by wealth or by the other privileges of power. Notwithstanding, I put aside all these considerations and went, resolving that none of my friends should lay it to my charge that owing to my lack of energy all their fortunes were ruined when they might have been saved from ruin. [317e]

On my arrival—for you know, to be sure, all that subsequently took place—I, of course, requested, in accordance with the agreement in your letters, that you should, in the first place, recall Dion on terms of friendship—which terms I mentioned; and if you had then yielded to this request, things would probably have turned out better than they have done now both for you and Syracuse and for the rest of Greece—that, at least, is my own intuitive belief. Next, I requested that Dion's family should have possession of his property, [318a] instead of the distributors, whom you wot of, having the distribution of it. And further, I deemed it right that the revenue which was usually paid over to him year by year should be forwarded to him all the more, rather than all the less, because of my presence. None of these requests being granted, I asked leave to depart. Thereupon you kept urging me to stop for the year, declaring that you would sell all Dion's property and send one half of the proceeds to Corinth and retain the other half for his son. [318b] And I could mention many other promises none of which you fulfilled; but the number of them is so great that I cut it short. For when you had sold all the goods, without Dion's consent—though you had declared that without his consent you would not dispose of them—you put the coping-stone on all your promises, my admirable friend, in a most outrageous way: you invented a plan that was neither noble nor ingenious nor just nor profitable —namely, to scare me off from so much as [318c] seeking for the dispatch of the money, as being in ignorance of the events then going on. For when you sought to expel Heracleides7 unjustly, as it seemed to the Syracusans as well as to myself—because I had joined with Theodotes and Eurybius in entreating you not to do so, you took this as an ample excuse, and asserted that it had long been plain to you that I paid no regard to you, but only to Dion and Dion's friends and connections, and now that Theodotes and Heracleides, who were Dion's connections, were the subjects of accusations, I was using every means to prevent their paying the just penalty. [318d]

Such, then, was the course of events as regards our association in political affairs. And if you perceived any other estrangement in my attitude towards you, you may reasonably suppose that that was the way in which all these things took place. Nor need you be surprised; for I should justly be accounted base by any man of sense had I been influenced by the greatness of your power to betray my old and intimate guest-friend—a man, to say the least, in no wise inferior to you— [318e] when, because of you, he was in distress, and to prefer you, the man who did the wrong, and to do everything just as you bade me—for filthy lucre's sake, obviously; for to this, and nothing else, men would have ascribed this change of front in me, if I had changed. Well, then, it was the fact that things took this course, owing to you, which produced this wolf-love8 and want of fellowship between you and me.

Practically continuous with the statement made just now there comes, I find, that other statement against which, as I said, [319a] I have to make my second defence. Consider now and pay the closest attention, in case I seem to you to be lying at all and not speaking the truth. I affirm that when Archedemus9 and Aristocritus10 were with us in the garden, some twenty days before I departed home from Syracuse, you made the same complaint against me that you are making now—that I cared more for Heracleides and for all the rest than for you. And in the presence of those men you asked me whether I remembered bidding you, when I first arrived, [319b] to plant settlers in the Greek cities. I granted you that I did remember, and that I still believed that this was the best policy. But, Dionysius, I must also repeat, the next observation that was made on this occasion. For I asked you whether this and this only was what I advised, or something else besides and you made answer to me in a most indignant and most mocking tone, as you supposed—and consequently the object of your mockery then has now turned out a reality instead of a dream11; for you said with a very artificial laugh, [319c] if my memory serves me—” You bade me be educated before I did all these things or else not do them.” I replied that your memory was excellent. You then said—“Did you mean educated in land-measuring or what?” But I refrained from making the retort which it occurred to me to make, for I was alarmed about the homeward voyage I was hoping for, lest instead of having an open road I should find it shut, and all because of a short saying.

Well then, the purpose of all I have said is this: do not slander me by declaring that I was hindering you from colonizing the Greek cities that were ruined by the barbarians, [319d] and from relieving the Syracusans by substituting a monarchy for a tyranny. For you could never bring any false accusation against me that was less appropriate than these; and, moreover, in refutation of them I could bring still clearer statements if any competent tribunal were anywhere to be seen—showing that it was I who was urging you, and you who were refusing, to execute these plans. And, verily, it is easy to affirm frankly that these plans, if they had been executed, were the best both for you and the Syracusans, and for all the Siceliots. But, my friend, [319e] if you deny having said this, when you have said it, I am justified; while if you confess it, you should further agree that Stesichorus12 was a wise man, and imitate his palinode, and renounce the false for the true tale.

1 This discussion of the proper form of address is suspiciously like Plat. Charm. 164d.

2 To be identified, possibly, with the Sicilian historian Philistus, exiled by Dionysius I. and subsequently restored to favor (cf. Plutarch,Dion, c. 19).

3 cf. Plat. Laws 722d ff.

4 Probably the war against the Lucanians.

5 For the events of Plato's first visit cf. Plat. L. 7.327c ff., Plat. L. 7.338a, Plat. L. 7.338b; for those of the second visit, Plat. L. 7.338b ff., Plat. L. 7.345c ff.

6 In 361 B.C. Plato was about 67.

7 A leading Syracusan noble, supporter of Dion; cf. Plat. L. 4.320e, Plat. L. 7.348b; Theodotes was a connection of H.

8 i.e. quarelling. cf. Plat. Rep. 566a; Plat. Phaedrus 241c, Plat. Phaedrus 241d; Plat. Laws 906d.

9 cf. Plat. L. 2.310b.

10 cf. Plat. L. 13.363d. For ” in the garden” cf. Plat. L. 2.313a.

11 This seems to mean that Plato's scheme of education, scoffed at by Dionysius, was the secret of Dion's success—the “dream” of the philosopher-king being realized in his person.

12 A lyric poet, circa 600 B.C., said to have been struck blind for his attacks on the reputation of Helen of Troy, which he subsequently withdrew in his recantation (“palinode”); cf. Plat. Phaedrus 243a, Plat. Phaedrus 243b.

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