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Plato to Hermeias and Erastus and Coriscus1 wishes well-doing.

Some God, as it seems plain to me, is preparing for you good fortune in a gracious and bountiful way, if only you accept it with grace. For you dwell near together as neighbors in close association [322d] so that you can help one another in the things of greatest importance. For Hermeias will find in his multitude of horses or of other military equipment, or even in the gaining of gold itself, no greater source of power for all purposes than in the gaining of steadfast friends possessed of a sound character; while Erastus and Coriscus, in addition to this fair Science of Ideas, need also—as I, old though I am,2 assert—the science which is a safeguard in dealing with the wicked and unjust, and a kind of self-defensive power. [322e] For they lack experience owing to the fact that they have spent a large part of their lives in company with us who are men of moderation and free from vice; and for this reason, as I have said, they need these additional qualities, so that they may not be compelled to neglect the true Science, and to pay more attention than is right to that which is human and necessitated. Now Hermeias, on the other hand, seems to me— [323a] so far as I can judge without having met him as yet—to possess this practical ability both by nature and also through the skill bred of experience.

What, then, do I suggest? To you, Hermeias, I, who have made trial of Erastus and Coriscus more fully than you, affirm and proclaim and testify that you will not easily discover more trustworthy characters than these your neighbors; and I counsel you to hold fast to these men by every righteous means, and regard this as a duty of no secondary importance. To Coriscus and Erastus the counsel I give is this—that they in turn should hold fast to Hermeias, [323b] and endeavor by thus holding to one another to become united in the bonds of friendship. But in case any one of you should be thought to be breaking up this union in any way—for what is human is not altogether durable—send a letter here to me and my friends stating the grounds of complaint; for I believe that—unless the disruption should happen to be serious—the arguments sent you from here by us, based on justice and reverence, will serve better than any incantation to weld you and bind you together3 once again into your former state of friendship [323c] and fellowship. If, then, all of us—both we and you—practice this philosophy, as each is able, to the utmost of our power, the prophecy I have now made will come true; but if we fail to do this, I keep silence as to the consequence; for the prophecy I am making is one of good omen, and I declare that we shall, God willing, do all these things well.

All you three must read this letter, all together if possible, or if not by twos; and as often as you possibly can read it in common, and use it as a form of covenant and a binding law, [323d] as is right; and with an earnestness that is not out of tune combined with the playfulness that is sister to earnestness,4 swear by the God that is Ruler of all that is and that shall be, and swear by the Lord and Father of the Ruler and Cause,5 Whom, if we are real philosophers, we shall all know truly so far as men well-fortuned6 can.

1 Hermeias was tyrant of Atarneus, circa 351 B.C. Erastus and Coriscus were pupils of Plato who lived at Scepsis, near Atarneus.

2 Plato would be about 77 in 351-350 B.C. The point of this allusion to his age may be that old men ought rather to cultivate other-worldliness.

3 For the language here cf. Plat. Sym. 192e, Plat. Sym. 215c.

4 For similar expressions cf. Plat. Laws 761d, Plat. Laws 803c.

5 The divine “Ruler” and his “Father” may perhaps be identified with the World-Soul and Demiurge of the Timaeus; or else with the Sun and the Idea of Good in the Republic (Plat. Rep. 508a, Plat. Rep. 516b, Plat. Rep. 517c) . Cf. also Plat. L. 2.312e ff.

6 εὐδαίμων, in Platonic usage, implies nobility of spirit as well as felicity cf. Plat. L. 8.354c, Plat. L. 8.355c.

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