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[320a]

Plato to Dion of Syracuse wishes well-doing.

It has been plain, I believe, all along that I took a keen interest in the operations1 that have been carried out, and that I was most anxious to see them finally completed. In this I was mainly prompted [320b] by my jealous regard for what is noble2; for I esteem it just that those who are truly virtuous, and who act accordingly, should achieve the reputation they deserve. Now for the present (God willing) affairs are going well; but it is in the future that the chief struggle lies. For while it might be thought that excellence in courage and speed and strength might belong to various other men, everyone would agree that surpassing excellence in truth, justice, generosity and the outward exhibition of all these virtues [320c] naturally belongs to those who profess to hold them in honor.

Now the point of this remark is plain; but none the less it is right that we should remind ourselves that it behoves certain persons (who these are of course you know)3 to surpass the rest of mankind as if they were less than children.4 It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to show plainly that we are the sort of men we claim to be, and that all the more because (God willing) it will be an easy task. For whereas all other men find it necessary to wander far afield [320d] if they mean to get themselves known, you are in such a position now that people all the world over—bold though it be to say so—have their eyes fixed on one place only, and in that place upon you above all men. Seeing, then, that you have the eyes of all upon you, prepare yourself to play the part of that ancient worthy Lycurgus and of Cyrus5 and of all those others who have been famed hitherto for their excellence of character and of statesmanship; and that all the more because there are [320e] many, including nearly all the people here, who keep saying that, now that Dionysius is overthrown, there is every prospect that things will go to ruin owing to the jealous rivalry of yourself, and Heracleides and Theodotes6 and the other notables. I pray, then, that no one, if possible, may suffer from this complaint; but in case anyone should, after all, do so, you must play the part of a physician; and so things will turn out best for you all. [321a]

Probably it strikes you as ridiculous that I should say this, seeing that you yourself also know it quite well; but I notice how even in the theaters the players are spurred on by the plaudits of the children—not to speak of their own friends—whenever a player believes them to be genuine and well-meaning in their encouragement.7 So do you also play your parts now; and if you have need of anything send us word.

Affairs with us are in much the same state as when you were here. Send us word also about what you have already done or happen to be doing now, [321b] since we know nothing although we hear many reports.

Even at this moment letters have come to Lacedaemon and Aegina from Theodotes and Heracleides; but we, as I said, know nothing, although we hear many reports from the people here. And, Dion, do you also bear in mind that you are thought by some to be unduly wanting in affability; so do not forget that successful action depends on pleasing people, [321c] whereas arrogance is next neighbor to isolation.

Good-luck attend thee!

1 This refers to Dion's military operations in Sicily in 357 B.C., and perhaps later.

2 The reference is to Dion's plans for the political reformation of Sicily

3 The persons meant are Plato's own pupils and Dion's political supporters.

4 For this (perhaps proverbial) phrase (cf. “no better than a child”) cf. Plat. Phaedrus 279a.

5 For Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, cf. Plat. L. 8.354b; for Cyrus cf. Plat. L. 2.311a, Plat. Laws 693d ff.

6 see Plat. L. 3.318c note.

7 Cf. Isoc. Evag. 32.3.

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