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[321c]

Plato To Perdiccas1 wishes well-doing.

I counselled Euphraeus,2 in accordance with your message, to devote his time to the task of caring for your interests; and I feel myself bound also to give you friendly, and what is called “sacred,” counsel [321d] both about the other matters you mention and as to how you ought now to make use of Euphraeus. For the man is useful for many things, the most important being that in which you yourself are deficient owing to your youth, and also because it is a matter about which there are not many counsellors available for the young. For forms of government, like animals, have each their own kind of language,3 one for democracy, another for oligarchy, and a third kind for monarchy; and though a vast number of people would assert that they understand these languages, yet all but a few of them [321e] are very far indeed from discerning them. Now each of these polities, if it speaks its own language both to gods and to men, and renders its actions conformable to its language, remains always flourishing and secure; but if it imitates another it becomes corrupted. It is for this study, then, that Euphraeus will be specially useful to you, although there are also other studies in which he is competent. For he, I hope, will help you to explore the speech of monarchy [322a] as well as any of the persons you employ. So if you make use of him for this purpose you will not only benefit yourself but will also be helping him immensely.

Suppose, however, that on hearing this someone were to say: “Plato, as it seems, is claiming to know what is of advantage to democracy; yet when he has had it in his power to speak before the demos and to counsel it for the best he has never yet stood up and made a speech”—to this you may reply that “Plato was born late in the history of his country, and he found the demos [322b] already old and habituated by the previous statesmen to do many things at variance with his own counsel.4 For he would have given counsel to it, as to his father, with the greatest possible pleasure, had he not supposed that he would be running risks in vain, and would do no good. And I suppose that he would do the same as regards counselling me. For if he deemed us to be in an incurable state, he would bid us a long farewell and leave off giving counsel about me or my affairs.” [322c] Good-luck be thine!

1 Perdiccas was king of Macedon 365-360 B.C.

2 A native of Euboea and pupil of Plato.

3 cf. Plat. Rep. 493a-c.

4 cf. Plat. L. 7.325a, Plat. L. 7.325c ff.; and, for a theory of “counsel,” Plat. L. 7.330c ff.

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