To The Rulers Of The Mytilenaeans
The sons of Aphareus,1
my grandsons, who were instructed in music by Agenor,2
have asked me to write to you and beg that, since you have restored some of the other exiles, you will also allow Agenor, his father, and his brothers to return home. When I told them that I feared I should appear ridiculous and meddlesome in seeking so great a favor from men with whom I have never before spoken or been acquainted, they, upon hearing my reply, were all the more insistent.
And when they could obtain nothing of what they hoped, they clearly showed to all that they were displeased and sorely disappointed. So when I saw that they were unduly distressed I finally promised to write the letter and send it to you. That I may not justly seem foolish and irksome I make this explanation.
I think you have been well advised both in becoming reconciled to your fellow-citizens and, while trying to reduce the number of exiles, in increasing that of the participants in public life and also in imitating Athens3
in handling the sedition. You are especially deserving of praise because you are restoring their property to the exiles who return; for thus you show and make clear to all that you had expelled them, not because you coveted the property of others, but because you feared for the welfare of the city.
Nevertheless, even if you had adopted none of the measures, and had received back no one of the exiles, the restoration of these individuals is to your advantage, I think; for it is disgraceful that while your city is universally acknowledged to be most devoted to music and the most notable artists in that field have been born among you,4
yet he who is the foremost authority of living men in that branch of culture is an exile from such a city; and that while all other Greeks confer citizenship upon men who are distinguished in any of the noble pursuits, even though they are foreigners, yet you suffer those who are both famous among the other Greeks and share in your own racial origin to live abroad in exile.
I marvel that so many cities judge those who excel in the athletic contests to be worthy of greater rewards than those who, by painstaking thought and endeavor, discover some useful thing,5
and that they do not see at a glance that while the faculties of strength and speed naturally perish with the body, yet the arts and sciences abide for eternity, giving benefit to those who cultivate them.
Intelligent men, therefore, bearing in mind these considerations, should esteem most highly, first those who administer well and justly the affairs of their own city, and, second, those who are able to contribute to its honor and glory; for all the world uses such men as examples and all their fellow-citizens are judged to be of like excellence.
But perhaps someone may object, saying that those who wish to obtain a favor should not merely praise the thing, but should also show that they themselves would be justly entitled to that for which they petition. But here is the situation. It is true that I have abstained from political activity and from practising oratory: for my voice was inadequate and I lacked assurance.6
I have not been altogether useless, however, and without repute; on the contrary, you will find that I have been the counsellor and coadjutor of those who have chosen to speak well of you and of our other allies, and that I have myself composed more discourses on behalf of the freedom and independence of the Greeks7
than all those together who have worn smooth the floor of our platforms.
For this you would justly be grateful to me in the highest degree; for you constantly and earnestly desire such a settled policy. And I think that, if Conon and Timotheus were still alive, and Diophantus8
had returned from Asia, they would have supported me most enthusiastically, since they would wish that I might obtain all I request. On this topic I do not know what more I need say; for there is no one among you so young or so forgetful as not to know the benefactions of those great men.
But I think that you would arrive at the best decision as to this matter if you should consider who your petitioner is and for what men the favor is asked. For you will find that I have had the most intimate relations with those who have been the authors of the greatest benefits to both you and the other allies, and that while those for whom I intercede are men of such character as to give no offence to their elders and to those in governmental authority, to the younger men they furnish agreeable and useful occupation that befits those of their age.
Do not wonder that I have written this letter with considerable warmth and at some length; for I desire to accomplish two things: not only to do our children a favor, but also to make it clear to them that even if they do not become orators in the Assembly or generals, but merely imitate my manner of life, they will not lead neglected lives among the Greeks. One thing more—if it should seem best to you to grant any of these requests, let Agenor and his brothers understand that it is owing in some measure to me that they are obtaining what they desire.