Since I am writing to your father I thought I should be acting in a strange manner if, when you are in the same region as he, I should fail either to address you or to send you a greeting, or to write you something calculated to convince any reader that I am now not out of my mind through old age1
and that I do not babble like a fool, but that, on the contrary, the share of intelligence that still is left to me is not unworthy of the ability which as a younger man I possessed.
I hear everyone say of you that you are a friend of mankind, a friend of Athens, and a friend of learning, not foolishly, but in sensible fashion. For they say that the Athenians whom you admit to your presence are not those men who have neglected their higher interests2
and have a lust for base things, but those rather whose constant companionship would not cause you regret and with whom association and partnership would not result in harm or injury to you—just such men, indeed, as should be chosen as associates by the wise.
As regards systems of philosophy, they say that while you do not indeed reject eristic,3
but hold that it is valuable in private discussions, you regard it nevertheless as unsuitable for either those who are leaders of the people or for monarchs; for it is not expedient or becoming that those who regard themselves as superior to all others should themselves dispute with their fellow-citizens or suffer anyone else to contradict them.
But this branch of learning, I am told, you are not content with, but you choose rather the training which rhetoric gives, which is of use in the practical affairs of everyday life and aids us when we deliberate concerning public affairs. By means of this study you will come to know how at the present time to form reasonably sound opinions about the future, how not ineptly to instruct your subject peoples what each should do, how to form correct judgements about the right and the just and their opposites and, besides, to reward and chastise each class as it deserves.
You act wisely, therefore, in devoting yourself to these studies; for you give hope to your father and to all the world that if, as you grow older, you hold fast to this course, you will as far surpass your fellow-men in wisdom as your father has surpassed all mankind.4