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[323d]

Plato to Dion's associates and friends wishes well-doing.

You wrote to me that I ought to consider that your policy was the same as that which Dion had; and moreover you charged me to support it, so far as I can, [324a] both by deed and word. Now if you really hold the same views and aims as he, I consent to support them, but if not, I will ponder the matter many times over. And what was his policy and his aim I will tell you, and that, as I may say, not from mere conjecture but from certain knowledge. For when I originally arrived at Syracuse, being about forty years old, Dion was of the age which Hipparinus has now reached,1 and the views which he had then come to hold [324b] he continued to hold unchanged; for he believed that the Syracusans ought to be free and dwell under the best laws. Consequently, it is no matter of surprise if some Deity has made Hipparinus also come to share his views about government and be of the same mind. Now the manner in which these views originated is a story well worth hearing for young and old alike, and I shall endeavor to narrate it to you from the beginning; for at the present moment it is opportune.

In the days of my youth my experience was the same as that of many others. I thought that as soon as I should become my own master [324c] I would immediately enter into public life. But it so happened, I found, that the following changes occurred in the political situation.

In the government then existing, reviled as it was by many, a revolution took place; and the revolution was headed by fifty-one leaders, of whom eleven were in the City and ten in the Piraeus—each of these sections dealing with the market and with all municipal matters requiring management—and Thirty were established [324d] as irresponsible rulers of all. Now of these some were actually connections and acquaintances of mine2; and indeed they invited me at once to join their administration, thinking it would be congenial. The feelings I then experienced, owing to my youth, were in no way surprising: for I imagined that they would administer the State by leading it out of an unjust way of life into a just way, and consequently I gave my mind to them very diligently, to see what they would do. And indeed I saw how these men within a short time caused men to look back on the former government as a golden age; and above all how they treated my [324e] aged friend Socrates, whom I would hardly scruple to call the most just of men then living, when they tried to send him, along with others, after one of the citizens, to fetch him by force [325a] that he might be put to death—their object being that Socrates, whether he wished or no, might be made to share in their political actions; he, however, refused to obey and risked the uttermost penalties rather than be a partaker in their unholy deeds.3 So when I beheld all these actions and others of a similar grave kind,4 I was indignant, and I withdrew myself from the evil practices then going on. But in no long time the power of the Thirty was overthrown together with the whole of the government which then existed. Then once again I was really, though less urgently, impelled with a desire to take part in public and [325b] political affairs. Many deplorable events, however, were still happening in those times, troublous as they were, and it was not surprising that in some instances, during these revolutions, men were avenging themselves on their foes too fiercely; yet, notwithstanding, the exiles who then returned5 exercised no little moderation. But, as ill-luck would have it, certain men of authority6 summoned our comrade Socrates before the law-courts, laying a charge against him which was most unholy, and which Socrates of all men least deserved; [325c] for it was on the charge of impiety that those men summoned him and the rest condemned and slew him—the very man who on the former occasion, when they themselves had the misfortune to be in exile, had refused to take part in the unholy arrest of one of the friends of the men then exiled.

When, therefore, I considered all this, and the type of men who were administering the affairs of State, with their laws too and their customs, the more I considered them and the more I advanced in years myself, the more difficult appeared to me [325d] the task of managing affairs of State rightly. For it was impossible to take action without friends and trusty companions; and these it was not easy to find ready to hand, since our State was no longer managed according to the principles and institutions of our forefathers; while to acquire other new friends with any facility was a thing impossible. Moreover, both the written laws and the customs were being corrupted, and that with surprising rapidity. Consequently, although at first [325e] I was filled with an ardent desire to engage in public affairs, when I considered all this and saw how things were shifting about anyhow in all directions, I finally became dizzy; and although I continued to consider by what means some betterment could be brought about not only in these matters but also in the government as a whole, [326a] yet as regards political action I kept constantly waiting for an opportune moment; until, finally, looking at all the States which now exist, I perceived that one and all they are badly governed; for the state of their laws is such as to be almost incurable without some marvellous overhauling and good-luck to boot. So in my praise of the right philosophy I was compelled to declare7 that by it one is enabled to discern all forms of justice both political and individual. Wherefore the classes of mankind (I said) will have no cessation from evils until either the class of those [326b] who are right and true philosophers attains political supremacy, or else the class of those who hold power in the States becomes, by some dispensation of Heaven, really philosophic.8

This was the view I held when I came to Italy and Sicily, at the time of my first arrival. And when I came I was in no wise pleased at all with “the blissful life,” as it is there termed, replete as it is with Italian and Syracusan banquetings9; for thus one's existence is spent in gorging food twice a day and never sleeping alone at night, [326c] and all the practices which accompany this mode of living. For not a single man of all who live beneath the heavens could ever become wise if these were his practices from his youth, since none will be found to possess a nature so admirably compounded; nor would he ever be likely to become temperate; and the same may truly be said of all other forms of virtue. And no State would remain stable under laws of any kind, if its citizens, while supposing that they ought to spend everywhere to excess, [326d] yet believed that they ought to cease from all exertion except feastings and drinkings and the vigorous pursuit of their amours. Of necessity these States never cease changing into tyrannies, oligarchies, and democracies,10 and the men who hold power in them cannot endure so much as the mention of the name of a just government with equal laws. Holding these views, then, as well as those previously formed, I travelled through to Syracuse—possibly as luck would have it, [326e] though it seems likely that one of the Superior Powers was contriving at that time to lay the foundation of the events which have now taken place in regard to Dion and in regard to Syracuse; and of still more events, as is to be feared, unless you now hearken to the counsel I offer you now, for the second time.11

What, then, do I mean by saying that my arrival in Sicily on that occasion was [327a] the foundation of everything? When I associated with Dion, who was then a youth, instructing him verbally in what I believed was best for mankind and counselling him to realize it in action, it seems that I was not aware that I was, in a way, unwittingly contriving the future overthrow of the tyranny. For Dion in truth, being quick-witted, both in other respects and in grasping the arguments I then put forward, hearkened to me with a keenness and ardor that I have never yet found in any [327b] of the youth whom I have met; and he determined to live the rest of his life in a different manner from the majority of the Italians and Sicilians, counting virtue worthy of more devotion than pleasure and all other kinds of luxury. In consequence, his way of life was in ill-odor with those who were conforming to the customary practices of the tyranny, until the death of Dionysius12 occurred.

After this event, he came to the belief that this belief, which he himself had acquired through right instruction, would not always be confined to himself; [327c] and in fact he saw it being implanted in others also— not in many, it is true, but yet implanted in some; and of these he thought that Dionysius (with Heaven's help) might become one, and that, if he did become a man of this mind, both his own life and that of all the rest of the Syracusans would, in consequence, be a life of immeasurable felicity. Moreover, Dion considered that I ought, by all means, to come to Syracuse with all speed to be his partner in this task, since he bore in mind [327d] our intercourse with one another and how happily it had wrought on him to acquire a longing for the noblest and best life; and if now, in like manner, he could effect this result in Dionysius, as he was trying to do, he had great hopes of establishing the blissful and true life throughout all the land without massacres and murders and the evils which have now come about.

Holding these right views, Dion persuaded Dionysius to summon me; and he himself also sent a request that I should by all means come with all speed, before that [327e] any others13 should encounter Dionysius and turn him aside to some way of life other than the best. And these were the terms—long though they are to repeat—in which his request was couched: ” What opportunities (he asked) are we to wait for that could be better than those that have now been presented by a stroke of divine good fortune?” And he dwelt in detail on the extent of the empire [328a] in Italy and Sicily and his own power therein, and the youth of Dionysius, mentioning also how great a desire he had for philosophy and education, and he spoke of his own nephews14 and connections, and how they would be not only easily converted themselves to the doctrines and the life I always taught, but also most useful in helping to influence Dionysius; so that now, if ever (he concluded), all our hopes will be fulfilled of seeing the same persons at once philosophers and rulers of mighty States. [328b]

By these and a vast number of other like arguments Dion kept exhorting me; but as regards my own opinion, I was afraid how matters would turn out so far as the young people were concerned—for the desires of such as they change quickly, and frequently in a contrary direction; although, as regards Dion's own character, I knew that it was stable by nature and already sufficiently mature. Wherefore as I pondered the matter and was in doubt whether I should make the journey and take his advice, or what, I ultimately inclined to the view that if we were ever to attempt to realize our theories [328c] concerning laws and government, now was the time to undertake it; for should I succeed in convincing one single person sufficiently I should have brought to pass all manner of good. Holding this view and in this spirit of adventure it was that I set out from home,—not in the spirit which some have supposed, but dreading self-reproach most of all, lest haply I should seem to myself to be utterly and absolutely nothing more than a mere voice and never to undertake willingly any action, and now to be in danger of proving false, in the first15 instance, to my friendship [328d] and association with Dion, when he is actually involved in no little danger. Suppose, then, that some evil fate should befall him, or that he should be banished by Dionysius and his other foes and then come to us as an exile and question us in these words—“O Plato, I come to you as an exile not to beg for foot-soldiers, nor because I lack horse-soldiers to ward off mine enemies, but to beg for arguments and persuasion, whereby you above all, as I know, are able to convert young men to what is good and just and thereby to bring them always into a state of mutual friendliness [328e] and comradeship. And it is because you have left me destitute of these that I have now quitted Syracuse and come hither. My condition, however, casts a lesser reproach on you; but as for Philosophy, which you are always belauding, and saying that she is treated with ignominy by the rest of mankind, surely, so far as it depends on you, she too is now betrayed [329a] as well as I. Now if we had happened to be living at Megara,16 you would no doubt have come to assist me in the cause for which I summoned you, on pain of deeming yourself of all men the most base; and now, forsooth, do you imagine that when you plead in excuse the length of the journey and the great strain of the voyage and of the labor involved you can possibly be acquitted of the charge of cowardice? Far from it, indeed.”

If he had spoken thus, what plausible answer should I have had to such pleadings? There is none. Well then, I came for good and just reasons so far as it is possible for men to do so; [329b] and it was because of such motives that I left my own occupations, which were anything but ignoble, to go under a tyranny which ill became, as it seemed, both my teaching and myself. And by my coming I freed myself from guilt in the eyes of Zeus Xenios17 and cleared myself from reproach on the part of Philosophy, seeing that she would have been calumniated if I, through poorness of spirit and timidity, had incurred the shame of cowardice.

On my arrival—I must not be tedious—I found Dionysius's kingdom all full of civil strife and of slanderous stories [329c] brought to the court concerning Dion. So I defended him, so far as I was able, though it was little I could do; but about three months later, charging Dion with plotting against the tyranny, Dionysius set him aboard a small vessel and drove him out with ignominy. After that all of us who were Dion's friends were in alarm lest he should punish any of us on a charge of being accomplices in Dion's plot; and regarding me a report actually went abroad in Syracuse that I had been put to death by Dionysius as [329d] being responsible for all the events of that time. But when Dionysius perceived us all in this state of mind, he was alarmed lest our fears should bring about some worse result; so he was for receiving us all back in a friendly manner; and, moreover, he kept consoling me and bidding me be of good courage and begging me by all means to remain. For my fleeing away from him would have brought him no credit, but rather my remaining; and that was why he pretended to beg it of me so urgently. But the requests of tyrants are coupled, as we know, with compulsory powers. [329e] So in order to further this plan he kept hindering my departure; for he brought me into the Acropolis18 and housed me in a place from which no skipper would have brought me off, and that not merely if prevented by Dionysius but also if he failed to send them a messenger charging them to take me off. Nor would any trader nor any single one of the officers at the ports of the country have let me pass out by myself, without arresting me on the spot and bringing me back again to Dionysius, [330a] especially as it had already been proclaimed abroad, contrary to the former report, that “Dionysius is wonderfully devoted to Plato.” But what were the facts? For the truth must be told. He became indeed more and more devoted as time advanced, according as he grew familiar with my disposition and character, but he was desirous that I should praise him more than Dion and regard him rather than Dion as my special friend, and this triumph he was marvellously anxious to achieve. But the best way to achieve this, if it was to be achieved— [330b] namely, by occupying himself in learning and in listening to discourses on philosophy and by associating with me—this he always shirked owing to his dread of the talk of slanderers, lest he might be hampered in some measure and Dion might accomplish all his designs.19 I, however, put up with all this, holding fast the original purpose with which I had come, in the hope that he might possibly gain a desire for the philosophic life; but he, with his resistance, won the day.

These, then, were the causes which brought about my visit to Sicily and my sojourn there, on the first occasion. After this I went away, [330c] and I returned again on receiving a most urgent summons from Dionysius. That my motives for doing so and all my actions were reasonable and just, all this I will try to explain later on, for the benefit of those who ask what object I had in going the second time. But first I must counsel you as to the course you ought to adopt in view of the present circumstances, so as not to give the first place to matters of secondary importance.20 What I have to say, then, is this:

Ought not the doctor that is giving counsel to a sick man who is indulging in [330d] a mode of life that is bad for his health to try first of all to change his life, and only proceed with the rest of his advice if the patient is willing to obey? But should he prove unwilling, then I would esteem him both manly and a true doctor if he withdraws from advising a patient of that description, and contrariwise unmanly and unskilled if he continues to advise.21 So too with a State, whether it has one ruler or many, if so be that it asks for some salutary advice when its government is duly proceeding by the right road, [330e] then it is the act of a judicious man to give advice to such people. But in the case of those who altogether exceed the bounds of right government and wholly refuse to proceed in its tracks, and who warn their counsellor [331a] to leave the government alone and not disturb it, on pain of death if he does disturb it, while ordering him to advise as to how all that contributes to their desires and appetites may most easily and quickly be secured for ever and ever—then, in such a case, I should esteem unmanly the man who continued to engage in counsels of this kind, and the man who refused to continue manly.

This, then, being the view I hold, whenever anyone consults me concerning any very important affair relating to his life—the acquisition of wealth, for instance, [331b] or the care of his body or his soul,—if I believe that he is carrying on his daily life in a proper way, or that he will be willing to obey my advice in regard to the matters disclosed, then I give counsel readily and do not confine myself to some merely cursory reply. But if he does not ask my advice at all or plainly shows that he will in no wise obey his adviser, I do not of my own instance come forward to advise such an one, nor yet to compel him, not even were he my own son. To a slave, however, I would give advice, and if he refused it I would use compulsion. But to a father or mother [331c] I deem it impious to apply compulsion,22 unless they are in the grip of the disease of insanity; but if they are living a settled life which is pleasing to them, though not to me, I would neither irritate them with vain exhortations nor yet minister to them with flatteries by providing them with means to satisfy appetites of a sort such that I, were I addicted to them, would refuse to live. So likewise it behoves the man of sense to hold, while he lives, the same view concerning his own State: if it appears to him to be ill governed [331d] he ought to speak, if so be that his speech is not likely to prove fruitless nor to cause his death23; but he ought not to apply violence to his fatherland in the form of a political revolution, whenever it is impossible to establish the best kind of polity without banishing and slaughtering citizens, but rather he ought to keep quiet and pray for what is good both for himself and for his State.

This, then, is the way in which I would counsel you—even as Dion and I together used to counsel Dionysius that he should, in the first place, so order his daily life as [331e] to gain the greatest possible mastery over himself, and to win for himself trusty friends and companions that so he might avoid the evils suffered by his father. For he, when he had recovered many great cities of Sicily which had been laid waste by the barbarians, was unable, when he settled them, to establish in each a loyal government composed of true comrades,—whether strangers from abroad [332a] or men of his own kin24 whom he himself had reared up in their youth and had raised from a private position to one of authority and from a state of poverty to surpassing wealth. Neither by persuasion nor instruction, neither by benefits nor by ties of kindred, was he able to make any one of them worthy of a share in his government. Thus he was seven times more unhappy than Darius25 who trusted men who neither were his brothers nor reared up by himself but merely colleagues who had helped him to crush the Mede and the Eunuch; and he divided amongst them seven provinces, [332b] each greater than the whole of Sicily; and these colleagues he found loyal, neither did they make any attack either on himself or on one another. And thus he left an example of the character which should belong to the good lawgiver and king; for by the laws he framed he has preserved the empire of the Persians even until this day. Moreover, the Athenians also, after taking over many of the Greek cities which had fallen into the hands of the barbarians, though they had not colonized them themselves yet held their sway over them securely for seventy years [332c] because they possessed citizens who were their friends in each of those cities.26 But Dionysius, though he amalgamated the whole of Sicily into one City-State, because in his wisdom he distrusted everyone, barely achieved safety; for he was poor in men who were loyal friends, and there exists no surer sign of a man's virtue or vice than whether he is or is not destitute of men of that kind.

Such, then, was the counsel which Dion and I always gave to Dionysius. Inasmuch as the result of his father's conduct was [332d] to leave him unprovided with education and unprovided with suitable intercourse, he should, in the first place, make it his aim to acquire other friends for himself from among his kindred and contemporaries who were in harmony about virtue; and to acquire, above all else, this harmony within himself, since in this he was surprisingly deficient. Not that we expressed this openly, for it would not have been safe; but we put it in veiled terms and maintained by argument that this is how every man will save both himself and all those under his leadership, whereas if he does not adopt this course he will bring about entirely opposite results. [332e] And if he pursued the course we describe, and made himself right-minded and sober-minded, then, if he were to re-people the devastated cities of Sicily and bind them together by laws and constitutions so that they should be leagued both with himself and with one another against barbarian reinforcements, he would thus not merely double the empire of his father [333a] but actually multiply it many times over; for if this came to pass, it would be an easy task to enslave the Carthaginians far more than they had been enslaved in the time of Gelon,27 whereas now, on the contrary, his father had contracted to pay tribute to the barbarians.

Such was the advice and exhortation given to Dionysius by us, who were plotting against him, as statements pouring in from many quarters alleged; which statements in fact so prevailed with Dionysius that they caused Dion's expulsion and threw us [333b] into a state of alarm. Then—to cut a long story short—Dion came from the Peloponnesus and from Athens and admonished Dionysius by deed.28 When, however, Dion had delivered the Syracusans and given them back their city twice, they showed the same feeling towards him as Dionysius had done. For when Dion was trying to train and rear him up to be a king worthy of the throne, that so he might share with him in all his life, [333c] Dionysius listened to the slanderers who said that Dion was plotting against the tyranny in all that he was then doing, his scheme being that Dionysius, with his mind infatuated with education, should neglect his empire and entrust it to Dion, who should then seize on it for himself and expel Dionysius from his kingship by craft. And then, for the second time, these slanderous statements triumphed with the Syracusans, and that with a triumph that was most monstrous and shameful for the authors of the triumph.

Those who are urging me to address myself [333d] to the affairs of today ought to hear what then took place. I, a citizen of Athens, a companion of Dion, an ally of his own, went to the tyrant in order that I might bring about friendship instead of war; but in my struggle with the slanderers I was worsted. But when Dionysius tried to persuade me by means of honors and gifts of money to side with him so that I should bear witness, as his friend, to the propriety of his expulsion of Dion, in this design he failed utterly. And later on, while returning home from exile, Dion attached to himself two brothers from Athens,29 [333e] men whose friendship was not derived from philosophy, but from the ordinary companionship out of which most friendships spring, and which comes from mutual entertaining and sharing in religion and mystic ceremonies.30 So, too, in the case of these two friends who accompanied him home; it was for these reasons and because of their assistance in his homeward voyage that they became his companions. But on their arrival in Sicily, when [334a] they perceived that Dion was slanderously charged before the Siceliots whom he had set free with plotting to become tyrant, they not only betrayed their companion and host but became themselves, so to say, the authors of his murder, since they stood beside the murderers, ready to assist, with arms in their hands. For my own part, I neither slur over the shamefulness and sinfulness of their action nor do I dwell on it, since there are many others who make it their care to recount these doings and will continue to do so in time to come. [334b] But I do take exception to what is said about the Athenians, that these men covered their city with shame; for I asselt that it was also an Athenian who refused to betray the very same man when, by doing so, he might have gained wealth and many other honors. For he had become his friend not in the bonds of a venal friendship but owing to association in liberal education; since it is in this alone that the judicious man should put his trust, rather than in kinship of soul or of body. Consequently, the two murderers [334c] of Dion are not important enough to cast a reproach upon our city,31 as though they had ever yet shown themselves men of mark.

All this has been said by way of counsel to Dion's friends and relatives. And one piece of counsel I add, as I repeat now for the third time to you in the third place the same counsel as before, and the same doctrine. Neither Sicily, nor yet any other State—such is my doctrine—should be enslaved to human despots but rather to laws; for such slavery is good neither for those who enslave nor those who are enslaved— [334d] themselves, their children and their children's children; rather is such an attempt wholly ruinous, and the dispositions that are wont to grasp gains such as these are petty and illiberal, with no knowledge of what belongs to goodness and justice, divine or human, either in the present or in the future. Of this I attempted to persuade Dion in the first place, secondly Dionysius, and now, in the third place, you. Be ye, then, persuaded for the sake of Zeus, Third Savior,32 and considering also the case of Dionysius and of Dion, of whom the former was unpersuaded and is living now no noble life, [334e] while the latter was persuaded and has nobly died. For whatsoever suffering a man undergoes when striving after what is noblest both for himself and for his State is always right and noble. For by nature none of us is immortal, and if any man should come to be so he would not be happy, as the vulgar believe; for no evil nor good worthy of account [335a] belongs to what is soulless, but they befall the soul whether it be united with a body or separated therefrom. But we ought always truly to believe the ancient and holy doctrines which declare to us that the soul is immortal and that it has judges and pays the greatest penalties, whensoever a man is released from his body; wherefore also one should account it a lesser evil to suffer than to perform the great iniquities and injustices.33 But to these doctrines the man who is fond of riches but poor [335b] in soul listens not, or if he listens he laughs them (as he thinks) to scorn, while he shamelessly plunders from all quarters everything which he thinks likely to provide himself, like a beast, with food or drink or the satiating himself with the slavish and graceless pleasure which is miscalled by the name of the Goddess of Love34; for he is blind and fails to see what a burden of sin—how grave an evil—ever accompanies each wrong-doing; which burden the wrong-doer must of necessity drag after him both while he moves about on earth [335c] and when he has gone beneath the earth again on a journey that is unhonored and in all ways utterly miserable.

Of these and other like doctrines I tried to persuade Dion, and I have the best of rights to be angry with the men who slew him, very much as I have to be angry also with Dionysius; for both they and he have done the greatest of injuries both to me, and, one may say, to all the rest of mankind—they by destroying the man who purposed to practice justice, and he by utterly refusing to practice justice, when he had supreme power, [335d] throughout all his empire; although if, in that empire, philosophy and power had really been united in the same person the radiance thereof would have shone through the whole world of Greeks and barbarians, and fully imbued them with the true conviction that no State nor any individual man can ever become happy unless he passes his life in subjection to justice combined with wisdom, whether it be that he possesses these virtues within himself or as the result of being reared and trained righteously under holy rulers in their ways. [335e] Such were the injuries committed by Dionysius; and, compared to these, the rest of the injuries he did I would count but small. And the murderer of Dion is not aware that he has brought about the same result as Dionysius. For as to Dion, I know clearly—in so far as it is possible for a man to speak with assurance about men—that, if he had gained possession of the kingdom, he would never have adopted for his rule any other principle than this when he had first brought gladness to [336a] Syracuse, his own fatherland, by delivering her from bondage, and had established her in a position of freedom, he would have endeavored next, by every possible means, to set the citizens in order by suitable laws of the best kind; and as the next step after this, he would have done his utmost to colonize the whole of Sicily and to make it free from the barbarians, by driving out some of them and subduing others more easily than did Hiero.35 [336b] And if all this had been done by a man who was just and courageous and temperate and wisdom-loving, the most of men would have formed the same opinion of virtue which would have prevailed, one may say, throughout the whole world, if Dionysius had been persuaded by me, and which would have saved all. But as it is, the onset of some deity or some avenging spirit, by means of lawlessness and godlessness and, above all, by the rash acts of ignorance36—that ignorance which is the root whence all evils for all men spring and which will bear hereafter most bitter fruit for those who have planted it—this it is which for the second time [336c] has wrecked and ruined all.

But now, for the third time, let us speak good words, for the omen's sake. Nevertheless, I counsel you, his friends, to imitate Dion in his devotion to his fatherland and in his temperate mode of life; and to endeavor to carry out his designs, though under better auspices; and what those designs were you have learnt from me clearly. But if any amongst you is unable to live in the Dorian fashion of his forefathers and follows after [336d] the Sicilian way of life and that of Dion's murderers, him you should neither call to your aid nor imagine that he could ever perform a loyal or sound action; but all others you should call to aid you in repeopling all Sicily and giving it equal laws, calling them both from Sicily itself and from the whole of the Peloponnese, not fearing even Athens itself; for there too there are those who surpass all men in virtue, and who detest the enormities of men who slay their hosts. But—though these results may come about later,—if for the present you are beset by the constant quarrels of every kind [336e] which spring up daily between the factions, then every single man on whom the grace of Heaven has bestowed even a small measure of right opinion must surely be aware that there is no cessation of evils for the warring factions until those who have won the mastery cease from perpetuating feuds by assaults and expulsions and executions, and cease from [337a] seeking to wreak vengeance on their foes; and, exercising mastery over themselves, lay down impartial laws which are framed to satisfy the vanquished no less than themselves; and compel the vanquished to make use of these laws by means of two compelling forces, namely, Reverence and Fear37—Fear, inasmuch as they make it plain that they are superior to them in force; and Reverence, because they show themselves superior both in their attitude to pleasures and in their greater readiness and ability to subject themselves to the laws. In no other way is it possible for a city at strife within itself to cease from evils, but [337b] strife and enmity and hatred and suspicion are wont to keep for ever recurring in cities when their inner state is of this kind.38

Now those who have gained the mastery, whenever they become desirous of safety, ought always to choose out among themselves such men of Greek origin as they know by inquiry to be most excellent—men who are, in the first place, old, and who have wives and children at home, and forefathers as numerous and good and famous as possible, and who are all in [337c] the possession of ample property; and for a city of ten thousand citizens, fifty such men would be a sufficient number39 These men they should fetch from their homes by means of entreaties and the greatest possible honors; and when they have fetched them they should entreat and enjoin them to frame laws, under oath that they will give no advantage either to conquerors or conquered, but equal rights in common to the whole city. And when the laws have been laid down, then everything depends on the following condition. On the one hand, if the victors prove themselves subservient to the laws more than [337d] the vanquished, then all things will abound in safety and happiness, and all evils will be avoided; but should it prove otherwise, neither I nor anyone else should be called in to take part in helping the man who refuses to obey our present injunctions. For this course of action is closely akin to that which Dion and I together, in our plans for the welfare of Syracuse, attempted to carry out, although it is but the second-best40; for the first was that which we first attempted to carry out with the aid of Dionysius himself—a plan which would have benefited all alike, had it not been that some Chance, mightier than men, scattered it to the winds. Now, however, it is for you to endeavor [337e] to carry out our policy with happier results by the aid of Heaven's blessing and divine good-fortune.41

Let this, then, suffice as my counsel and my charge, and the story of my former visit to the court of Dionysius. In the next place, he that cares to listen may hear the story of my later journey by sea, and how naturally and reasonably it came about. For (as I said) I had completed my account of the first period of my stay [338a] in Sicily42 before I gave my counsel to the intimates and companions of Dion. What happened next was this: I urged Dionysius by all means possible to let me go, and we both made a compact that when peace was concluded (for at that time there was war in Sicily43) Dionysius, for his part, should invite Dion and me back again, as soon as he had made his own power more secure; and he asked Dion to regard the position he was now in not as a form of exile [338b] but rather as a change of abode; and I gave a promise that upon these conditions I would return. When peace was made he kept sending for me; but he asked Dion to wait still another year, although he kept demanding most insistently that I should come. Dion, then, kept urging and entreating me to make the voyage; for in truth constant accounts were pouring in from Sicily how Dionysius was now once more marvellously enamored of philosophy; and for this reason Dion was strenuously urging me not to disobey his summons. [338c] I was of course well aware that such things often happen to the young in regard to philosophy; but none the less I deemed it safer, at least for the time, to give a wide berth both to Dion and Dionysius, and I angered them both by replying that I was an old man and that none of the steps which were now being taken were in accordance with our compact.

Now it seems that after this Archytas44 arrived at the court of Dionysius; for when I sailed away, I had, before my departure, effected a friendly alliance between Archytas and the Tarentines and Dionysius; [338d] and there were certain others in Syracuse who had had some teaching from Dion, and others again who had been taught by these, men who were stuffed with some borrowed philosophical doctrines. These men, I believe, tried to discuss these subjects with Dionysius, on the assumption that Dionysius was thoroughly instructed in all my system of thought. Now besides being naturally gifted otherwise with a capacity for learning Dionysius has an extraordinary love of glory. Probably, then, he was pleased with what was said and was ashamed of having it known that he had no lessons [338e] while I was in the country; and in consequence of this he was seized with a desire to hear my doctrines more explicitly, while at the same time he was spurred on by his love of glory: and we have already explained, in the account we gave a moment ago,45 the reasons why he had not been a hearer of mine during my previous sojourn. So when I had got safely home and had refused his second summons, as I said just now, Dionysius was greatly afraid, I believe, because of his love of glory, lest any should suppose that it was owing to my contempt [339a] for his nature and disposition, together with my experience of his mode of life, that I was ungracious and was no longer willing to come to his court.

Now I am bound to tell the truth, and to put up with it should anyone, after hearing what took place, come to despise, after all, my philosophy and consider that the tyrant showed intelligence. For, in fact, Dionysius, on this third occasion,46 sent a trireme to fetch me, in order to secure my comfort on the voyage; and he sent Archedemus, one of the associates of Archytas, believing that I esteemed him above all others in Sicily, [339b] and other Sicilians of my acquaintance; and all these were giving me the same account, how that Dionysius had made marvellous progress in philosophy. And he sent an exceedingly long letter, since he knew how I was disposed towards Dion and also Dion's eagerness that I should make the voyage47 and come to Syracuse; for his letter was framed to deal with all these circumstances, having its commencement couched in some such terms as these— “Dionysius to Plato,” followed by [339c] the customary greetings; after which, without further preliminary— “If you are persuaded by us and come now to Sicily, in the first place you will find Dion's affairs proceeding in whatever way you yourself may desire—and you will desire, as I know, what is reasonable, and I will consent thereto; but otherwise none of Dion's affairs, whether they concern himself or anything else, will proceed to your satisfaction.” Such were his words on this subject, but the rest [339d] it were tedious and inopportune to repeat. And other letters kept coming both from Archytas and from the men in Tarentum, eulogizing the philosophy of Dionysius, and saying that unless I come now I should utterly dissolve their friendship with Dionysius which I had brought about, and which was of no small political importance. Such then being the nature of the summons which I then received,—when on the one hand the Sicilians and Italians were pulling me in and the Athenians, on the other, were literally pushing me out, so to say, by their entreaties,— [339e] once again the same argument recurred, namely, that it was my duty not to betray Dion, nor yet my hosts and comrades in Tarentum. And I felt also myself that there would be nothing surprising in a young man, who was apt at learning, attaining to a love of the best life through hearing lectures on subjects of importance. So it seemed to be my duty to determine clearly in which way the matter really stood, and in no wise to prove false to this duty, nor to leave myself open to a reproach that would be truly serious, [340a] if so be that any of these reports were true.

So having blindfolded myself with this argumentation I made the journey, although, naturally, with many fears and none too happy forebodings. However, when I arrived the third time, I certainly did find it really a case of “the Third to the Saviour”48: for happily I did get safely back again; and for this I ought to give thanks, after God, to Dionysius, seeing that, when many had planned to destroy me, he prevented them and paid some regard to reverence in his dealings with me. And when [340b] I arrived, I deemed that I ought first of all to gain proof of this point,—whether Dionysius was really inflamed by philosophy, as it were by fire, or all this persistent account which had come to Athens was empty rumor. Now there is a method of testing such matters which is not ignoble but really suitable in the case of tyrants, and especially such as are crammed with borrowed doctrines; and this was certainly what had happened to Dionysius, as I perceived as soon as I arrived. To such persons one must point out what the subject is as a whole, [340c] and what its character, and how many preliminary subjects it entails and how much labor. For on hearing this, if the pupil be truly philosophic, in sympathy with the subject and worthy of it, because divinely gifted, he believes that he has been shown a marvellous pathway and that he must brace himself at once to follow it, and that life will not be worth living if he does otherwise. After this he braces both himself and him who is guiding him on the path, nor does he desist until either he has reached the goal of all his studies, or else has gained such power as to be capable of directing his own steps without the aid of the instructor. It is thus, [340d] and in this mind, that such a student lives, occupied indeed in whatever occupations he may find himself, but always beyond all else cleaving fast to philosophy and to that mode of daily life which will best make him apt to learn and of retentive mind and able to reason within himself soberly; but the mode of life which is opposite to this he continually abhors. Those, on the other hand, who are in reality not philosophic, but superficially tinged by opinions,—like men whose bodies are sunburnt on the surface —when they see how many studies are required and how great labor,49 [340e] and how the orderly mode of daily life is that which befits the subject, they deem it difficult or impossible for themselves, and thus they become in fact incapable of pursuing it; [341a] while some of them persuade themselves that they have been sufficiently instructed in the whole subject and no longer require any further effort.

Now this test proves the clearest and most infallible in dealing with those who are luxurious and incapable of enduring labor, since it prevents any of them from ever casting the blame on his instructor instead of on himself and his own inability to pursue all the studies which are accessory to his subject.

This, then, was the purport of what I said to Dionysius on that occasion. I did not, however, expound the matter fully, nor did Dionysius ask me to do so; [341b] for he claimed that he himself knew many of the most important doctrines and was sufficiently informed owing to the versions he had heard from his other teachers. And I am even told that later on he himself wrote a treatise on the subjects in which I then instructed him, composing it as though it were something of his own invention and quite different from what he had heard; but of all this I know nothing. I know indeed that certain others have written about these same subjects; but what manner of men they are not even themselves know.50 But thus much I can certainly declare [341c] concerning all these writers, or prospective writers, who claim to know the subjects which I seriously study, whether as hearers of mine or of other teachers, or from their own discoveries; it is impossible, in my judgement at least, that these men should understand anything about this subject. There does not exist, nor will there ever exist, any treatise of mine dealing therewith. For it does not at all admit of verbal expression like other studies, but, as a result of continued application to the subject itself and communion therewith, it is brought to birth in the soul on a sudden,51 as light that is kindled [341d] by a leaping spark, and thereafter it nourishes itself. Notwithstanding, of thus much I am certain, that the best statement of these doctrines in writing or in speech would be my own statement; and further, that if they should be badly stated in writing, it is I who would be the person most deeply pained. And if I had thought that these subjects ought to be fully stated in writing or in speech to the public,52 what nobler action could I have performed in my life than that of writing what is of great benefit to mankind and [341e] bringing forth to the light for all men the nature of reality? But were I to undertake this task it would not, as I think, prove a good thing for men, save for some few who are able to discover the truth themselves with but little instruction; for as to the rest, some it would most unseasonably fill with a mistaken contempt, and others with an overweening and empty aspiration, as though they had learnt some sublime mysteries. [342a]

But concerning these studies I am minded to speak still more at length; since the subject with which I am dealing53 will perhaps be clearer when I have thus spoken. For there is a certain true argument which confronts the man who ventures to write anything at all of these matters, an argument which, although I have frequently stated it in the past, seems to require statement also at the present time.

Every existing object has three things54 which are the necessary means by which knowledge of that object is acquired; and the knowledge itself is a fourth thing; and as a fifth one must postulate the object itself which is cognizable [342b] and true. First of these comes the name; secondly the definition; thirdly the image; fourthly the knowledge. If you wish, then, to understand what I am now saying, take a single example and learn from it what applies to all. There is an object called a circle, which has for its name the word we have just mentioned and, secondly, it has a definition, composed of names and verbs; for “that which is everywhere equidistant from the extremities to the center” will be the definition of that object which has for its name “round” and “spherical” and “circle.”55 [342c] And in the third place there is that object which is in course of being portrayed and obliterated, or of being shaped with a lathe, and falling into decay; but none of these affections is suffered by the circle itself, whereto all these others are related inasmuch as it is distinct therefrom. Fourth comes knowledge and intelligence and true opinion regarding these objects; and these we must assume to form a single whole, which does not exist in vocal utterance or in bodily forms but in souls; whereby it is plain that it differs both from the nature of the circle itself and from the three previously mentioned. And of those four [342d] intelligence approaches most nearly in kinship and similarity to the fifth,56 and the rest are further removed.

The same is true alike of the straight and of the spherical form, and of color, and of the good and the fair and the just, and of all bodies whether manufactured or naturally produced (such as fire and water and all such substances), and of all living creatures, and of all moral actions or passions in souls. For unless [342e] a man somehow or other grasps the four of these, he will never perfectly acquire knowledge of the fifth. Moreover, these four attempt to express the quality of each object no less than its real essence, owing to the weakness inherent in language57; [343a] and for this reason, no man of intelligence will ever venture to commit to it the concepts of his reason, especially when it is unalterable—as is the case with what is formulated in writing.

But here again you must learn further the meaning of this last statement. Every one of the circles which are drawn in geometric exercises or are turned by the lathe is full of what is opposite to the fifth, since it is in contact with the straight everywhere58; whereas the circle itself, as we affirm, contains within itself no share greater or less of the opposite nature. And none of the objects, we affirm, has any fixed name, [343b] nor is there anything to prevent forms which are now called “round” from being called “straight,” and the “straight” “round”59; and men will find the names no less firmly fixed when they have shifted them and apply them in an opposite sense. Moreover, the same account holds good of the Definition also, that, inasmuch as it is compounded of names and verbs, it is in no case fixed with sufficient firmness.60 And so with each of the Four, their inaccuracy is an endless topic; but, as we mentioned a moment ago, the main point is this, that while there are two separate things, the real essence and the quality, [343c] and the soul seeks to know not the quality but the essence, each of the Four proffers to the soul either in word or in concrete form that which is not sought; and by thus causing each object which is described or exhibited to be always easy of refutation by the senses, it fills practically all men with all manner of perplexity and uncertainty. In respect, however, of those other objects the truth of which, owing to our bad training, we usually do not so much as seek—being content with such of the images as are proffered,—those of us who answer are not made to look ridiculous by those who question, [343d] we being capable of analysing and convicting the Four. But in all cases where we compel a man to give the Fifth as his answer and to explain it, anyone who is able and willing to upset the argument gains the day, and makes the person who is expounding his view by speech or writing or answers appear to most of his hearers to be wholly ignorant of the subjects about which he is attempting to write or speak; for they are ignorant sometimes of the fact that it is not the soul of the writer or speaker that is being convicted but the nature of each of the Four, which is essentially defective. But it is the methodical study [343e] of all these stages, passing in turn from one to another, up and down, which with difficulty implants knowledge, when the man himself, like his object, is of a fine nature; but if his nature is bad—and, in fact, the condition of most men's souls in respect of learning and of what are termed [344a] “morals” is either naturally bad or else corrupted,—then not even Lynceus61 himself could make such folk see. In one word, neither receptivity nor memory will ever produce knowledge in him who has no affinity with the object, since it does not germinate to start with in alien states of mind; consequently neither those who have no natural connection or affinity with things just, and all else that is fair, although they are both receptive and retentive in various ways of other things, nor yet those who possess such affinity but are unreceptive and unretentive—none, I say, of these will ever learn to the utmost possible extent [344b] the truth of virtue nor yet of vice. For in learning these objects it is necessary to learn at the same time both what is false and what is true of the whole of Existence,62 and that through the most diligent and prolonged investigation, as I said at the commencement63; and it is by means of the examination of each of these objects, comparing one with another—names and definitions, visions and sense-perceptions,—proving them by kindly proofs and employing questionings and answerings that are void of envy—it is by such means, and hardly so, that there bursts out the light of intelligence and reason regarding each object in the mind of him who uses every effort of which mankind is capable. [344c]

And this is the reason why every serious man in dealing with really serious subjects64 carefully avoids writing, lest thereby he may possibly cast them as a prey to the envy and stupidity of the public. In one word, then, our conclusion must be that whenever one sees a man's written compositions—whether they be the laws of a legislator or anything else in any other form,—these are not his most serious works, if so be that the writer himself is serious: rather those works abide in the fairest region he possesses.65 If, however, these really are his serious efforts, and put into writing, it is not the gods but mortal men who [344d] “Then of a truth themselves have utterly ruined his senses.”66

Whosoever, then, has accompanied me in this story and this wandering of mine will know full well that, whether it be Dionysius or any lesser or greater man who has written something about the highest and first truths of Nature, nothing of what he has written, as my argument shows, is based on sound teaching or study. Otherwise he would have reverenced these truths as I do, and would not have dared to expose them to unseemly and degrading treatment. For the writings of Dionysius were not meant as aids to memory, [344e] since there is no fear lest anyone should forget the truth if once he grasps it with his soul, seeing that it occupies the smallest possible space67; rather, if he wrote at all, it was to gratify his base love of glory, either by giving out the doctrines as his own discoveries, or else by showing, forsooth, that he shared a culture which he by no means deserved because of his lust for the fame accruing from its possession. [345a] Well, then, if such was the effect produced on Dionysius by our one conversation, perhaps it was so; but how this effect was produced “God troweth,” as the Theban says68; for as I said,69 I explained my doctrine to him then on one occasion only, and never again since then.

And if anyone is concerned to discover how it was that things actually happened as they did in regard to this matter, he ought to consider next the reason why we did not explain our doctrine a second time, or a third time, or still more often. Does Dionysius fancy [345b] that he possesses knowledge, and is his knowledge adequate, as a result of hearing me once only, or as the result of his own researches, or of previous instruction from other teachers? Or does he regard my doctrines as worthless? Or, thirdly, does he believe them to be beyond and above his capacity, and that he himself would be really incapable of living a life devoted to wisdom and virtue? For if he deems them worthless he will be in conflict with many witnesses who maintain the opposite, men who should be vastly more competent judges of such matters than Dionysius.70 While if he claims that he has found out these truths by research or by instruction, and if he admits their value [345c] for the liberal education of the soul, how could he possibly (unless he is a most extraordinary person) have treated the leading authority71 on this subject with such ready disrespect? And how he showed this disrespect I will now relate.

It happened next, after no long interval, that whereas Dionysius had previously allowed Dion to remain in possession of his own property and to enjoy the income, he now ceased to permit Dion's trustees to remit it to the Peloponnese, just as though he had entirely forgotten the terms of his letter, claiming that the property belonged not to Dion but to his son, [345d] his own nephew, of whom he was the legal trustee. Such were his actions during this period up to this point; and when matters had turned out thus, I perceived clearly what kind of love Dionysius had for philosophy; and, moreover, I had good reason to be annoyed, whether I wished it or not. For by then it was already summer and the season for ships to sail. Still I judged that I had no right to be more angry with Dionysius than with myself and those who had forced me to come the third time to the straits adjoining Scylla— [345e] “There yet again to traverse the length of deadly Charybdis;
72 rather I should inform Dionysius that it was impossible for me to remain now that Dion was so insultingly treated. He, however, tried to talk me over and entreated me to remain, as he thought it would not be to his own credit that I should hurry away in person to convey such tidings; and when he failed to persuade me he promised [346a] to provide a passage for me himself. For I was proposing to embark and sail in the trading-vessels; because I was enraged and thought that I ought to stop at nothing, in case I were hindered, seeing that I was manifestly doing no wrong but suffering wrong. But when he saw that I had no inclination to remain he devised a scheme of the following kind to secure my remaining over that sailing-season. On the following day he came and addressed me in these plausible terms: “You and I,” he said, “must get Dion and Dion's affairs cleared out of the way, [346b] to stop our frequent disputes about them. And this,” said he, “is what I will do for Dion for your sake. I require that he shall remove his property and reside in the Peloponnese, not, however, as an exile but possessing the right to visit this country also whenever it is mutually agreed by him and by me and by you his friends. But this is on condition that he does not conspire against me; and you and your associates73 and Dion's here in Sicily shall be the guarantors of these terms, and he shall furnish you [346c] with his security. And all the property he shall take shall be deposited in the Peloponnese and Athens with such persons as you shall think fit; and he shall enjoy the income from it but shall not be authorized to remove it without your consent. For I do not altogether trust him to act justly towards me if he had the use of these funds—for they will be by no means small; and I put more trust in you and your friends. So consider whether this arrangement contents you, and remain on these terms for the present year, and when next season arrives depart and take with you these funds of Dion. And I am well assured that Dion [346d] will be most grateful to you for having effected this arrangement on his behalf.”

And I, when I heard this speech, was annoyed, but none the less I replied that I would think it over and let him know next day my decision about the matter; and to this we both then agreed. So after this, when I was by myself, I was thinking it over, very much perturbed. And in my deliberation the first and foremost reflection was this— “Come now, suppose that Dionysius has no intention of performing any [346e] of his promises, and suppose that on my departure he sends a plausible note to Dion—both writing himself and charging many of his friends also to do so—stating the proposal he is now making to me, and how in spite of his wish I had refused to do what he had invited me to do, and had taken no interest at all in Dion's affairs; and beyond all this, suppose that he is no longer willing to send me away by giving his own personal order to one of the shipmasters, but makes it plain to them all [347a] that he has no wish for me to sail away in comfort—in this case would any of them consent to convey me as a passenger,74 starting off from the residence of Dionysius?” For, in addition to my other misfortunes, I was lodging in the garden adjoining his residence, and out of this not even the doorkeeper would have allowed me to pass without a permit sent him from Dionysius. “On the other hand, if I stay on for the year I shall be able to write and tell Dion the position in which I am placed and what I am doing; and if Dionysius should actually perform any of his promises, I shall have accomplished something [347b] not altogether contemptible—for Dion's property, if it is rightly valued, amounts probably to as much as a hundred talents; whereas if the events now dimly threatening come to pass in the way that seems likely, I am at a loss to know what I shall do with myself. Notwithstanding, I am obliged, it appears, to endure another year of toil and endeavor to test by actual experience the devices of Dionysius.”

When I had come to this decision, I said to Dionysius on the following day— “I have decided to remain. I request you, however,” [347c] I said, “not to regard me as Dion's master, but to join with me yourself in sending him a letter explaining what we have now decided, and asking him whether it satisfies him; and if not, and if he desires and claims other conditions, let him write them to us immediately; and do you refrain till then from taking any new step in regard to his affairs.” This is what was said, and this is what we agreed; pretty nearly in the terms I have now stated.75

After this the vessels had put to sea and it was no longer possible for me to sail; and then it was that Dionysius [347d] remembered to tell me that one half of the property ought to belong to Dion, the other half to his son; and he said that he would sell it, and when sold he would give me the one half to convey to Dion, and leave the half intended for his son where it was; for that was the most equitable arrangement. I, then, although I was dumbfounded at his statement, deemed that it would be utterly ridiculous to gainsay him any more; I replied, however, that we ought to wait for the letter from Dion, and then send him back this proposal by letter. But immediately after this he proceeded to sell the whole of Dion's property in a very high-handed fashion, [347e] where and how and to what purchasers he chose, without ever saying a single word to me about the matter; and verily I, in like manner, forbore to talk to him at all any longer about Dion's affairs; for I thought that there was no longer any profit in so doing.

Now up to this time I had been assisting in this way philosophy and my friends but after this, the kind of life [348a] we lived, Dionysius and I, was this—I was gazing out of my cage, like a bird76 that is longing to fly off and away, while he was scheming how he might shoo me back without paying away any of Dion's money; nevertheless, to the whole of Sicily we appeared to be comrades.

Now Dionysius attempted, contrary to his father's practice, to reduce the pay of the older members of his mercenary force, and the soldiers, being infuriated, assembled together and refused to permit it. And when he kept trying to force them by closing the gates of the citadel,77 [348b] they immediately rushed up to the walls shouting out a kind of barbaric war-chant; whereupon Dionysius became terribly alarmed and conceded all and even more than all to those of the peltasts that were then assembled.

Then a report quickly got abroad that Heracleides78 was to blame for all this trouble; and Heracleides, on hearing this, took himself off and vanished. Then Dionysius was seeking to capture him, and finding himself at a loss he summoned [348c] Theodotes to his garden; and it happened that at the time I too was walking in the garden. Now the rest of their conversation I neither know nor heard, but I both know and remember what Theodotes said to Dionysius in my presence. “Plato,” he said, “I am urging this course on our friend Dionysius: if I prove able to fetch Heracleides here to answer the charges now made against him, in case it is decided that he must not reside in Sicily, I claim that he should have a passage to the Peloponnese, [348d] taking his son and his wife, and reside there without doing injury to Dionysius, and enjoying the income from his property. In fact I have already sent to fetch him, and I will now send again, in case he should obey either my former summons or the present one. And I request and beseech Dionysius that, should anyone meet with Heracleides, whether in the country or here in the city, no harm should be inflicted on him [348e] beyond his removal out of the country until Dionysius has come to some further decision.” And addressing Dionysius he said, “Do you agree to this?” “I agree,” he replied, “that even if he be seen at your house he shall suffer no harm beyond what has now been mentioned.”

Now on the next day, at evening, Eurybius and Theodotes came to me hurriedly, in an extraordinary state of perturbation; and Theodotes said— “Plato, were you present yesterday at the agreement which Dionysius made with us both concerning Heracleides?” “Of course I was,” I replied. “But now,” he said, peltasts79 are running about seeking to capture Heracleides, and he is probably somewhere about here. But do you now by all means [349a] accompany us to Dionysius.” So we set off and went in to where he was and while they two stood in silence, weeping, I said to him— “My friends here are alarmed lest you should take any fresh step regarding Heracleides, contrary to our agreement of yesterday; for I believe it is known that he has taken refuge somewhere hereabouts.” On hearing this, Dionysius fired up and went all colors, just as an angry man would do; and Theodotes fell at his knees and grasping his hand besought him with tears [349b] to do no such thing. And I interposed and said by way of encouragement— “Cheer up, Theodotes; for Dionysius will never dare to act otherwise contrary to yesterday's agreement.” Then Dionysius, with a highly tyrannical glare at me, said— “With you I made no agreement, great or small.” “Heaven is witness,” I replied, “that you did,—not to do what this man is now begging you not to do.” And when I had said this I turned away and went out. After this Dionysius kept on hunting after Heracleides, [349c] while Theodotes kept sending messengers to Heracleides bidding him to flee. And Dionysius sent out Tisias and his peltasts with orders to pursue him; but Heracleides, as it was reported, forestalled them by a fraction of a day and made his escape into the Carthaginians' province.

Now after this Dionysius decided that his previous plot of refusing to pay over Dion's money would furnish him with a plausible ground for a quarrel with me; and, as a first step, [349d] he sent me out of the citadel, inventing the excuse that the women had to perform a sacrifice of ten days' duration in the garden where I was lodging; so during this period he gave orders that I should stay outside with Archedemus. And while I was there Theodotes sent for me and was loud in his indignation at what had then taken place and in his blame of Dionysius; but the latter, when he heard that I had gone to the house of Theodotes, by way of making this a new pretext, [349e] akin to the old, for his quarrel against me, sent a man to ask me whether I had really visited Theodotes when he invited me. “Certainly,” I replied; and he said— “Well then, he ordered me to tell you that you are not acting at all honorably in always preferring Dion and Dion's friends to him.” Such were his words; and after this he did not summon me again to his house, as though it was now quite clear that I was friendly towards Theodotes and Heracleides but hostile to him; and he supposed that I bore him no goodwill because of the clean sweep he was making of Dion's moneys.

Thereafter I was residing outside the citadel among [350a] the mercenaries; and amongst others some of the servants who were from Athens, fellow-citizens of my own, came to me and reported that I had been slanderously spoken of amongst the peltasts; and that some of them were threatening that if they could catch me they would make away with me. So I devised the following plan to save myself: I sent to Archytas and my other friends in Tarentum stating the position in which I found myself: and they, having found some pretext for an Embassy from the State, [350b] dispatched a thirty-oared vessel, and with it one of themselves, called Lamiscus; and he, when he came, made request to Dionysius concerning me, saying that I was desirous to depart, and begging him by all means to give his consent. To this he agreed, and he sent me forth after giving me supplies for the journey; but as to Dion's money, neither did I ask for any of it nor did anyone pay me any.

On arriving at Olympia,80 in the Peloponnese, I came upon Dion, who was attending the Games; and I reported what had taken place. And he, calling Zeus to witness, was invoking me and my relatives and [350c] friends to prepare at once to take vengeance on Dionysius,—we on account of his treachery to guests (for that was what Dion said and meant) , and he himself on account of his wrongful expulsion and banishment. And I, when I heard this, bade him summon my friends to his aid, should they be willing— “But as for me,” I said, “it was you yourself, with the others, who by main force, so to say, made me an associate of Dionysius at table and at hearth and a partaker in his holy rites; and he, though he probably believed that I, as many slanderers asserted, was conspiring with you against himself and his throne, yet refrained from killing me, [350d] and showed compunction. Thus, not only am I no longer, as I may say, of an age to assist anyone in war, but I also have ties in common with you both, in case you should ever come to crave at all for mutual friendship and wish to do one another good; but so long as you desire to do evil, summon others.” This I said because I loathed my Sicilian wandering81 and its ill-success. They, however, by their disobedience and their refusal to heed my attempts at conciliation have themselves to blame for all the evils which have now happened; for, in all human probability, none of these would ever have occurred if Dionysius [350e] had paid over the money to Dion or had even become wholly reconciled to him, for both my will and my power were such that I could have easily restrained Dion. But, as things are, by rushing the one against the other they have flooded the world with woes. [351a]

And yet Dion had the same designs as I myself should have had (for so I would maintain) or anyone else whose purpose regarding his own power and his friends and his city was the reasonable one of achieving the greatest height of power and privilege by conferring the greatest benefits. But a man does not do this if he enriches himself, his comrades, and his city by means of plotting and collecting conspirators, while in reality he himself is poor and not his own master but the cowardly slave of pleasures; [351b] nor does he do so if he proceeds next to slay the owners of property, dubbing them “enemies,” and to dissipate their goods, and to charge his accomplices and comrades not to blame him if any of them complains of poverty. So likewise if a man receives honor from a city for conferring on it such benefits as distributing the goods of the few to the many by means of decrees; or if, when he is at the head of a large city which holds sway over many smaller ones, he distributes the funds of [351c] the smaller cities to his own, contrary to what is just. For neither Dion nor any other will ever voluntarily82 aim thus at a power that would bring upon himself and his race an everlasting curse, but rather at a moderate government and the establishment of the justest and best of laws by means of the fewest possible exiles and executions.

Yet when Dion was now pursuing this course, resolved to suffer rather than to do unholy deeds—although guarding himself against so suffering83—none the less when he had attained the highest pitch of superiority over his foes he stumbled. And therein he suffered no surprising fate. [351d] For while, in dealing with the unrighteous, a righteous man who is sober and sound of mind will never be wholly deceived concerning the souls of such men; yet it would not, perhaps, be surprising if he were to share the fate of a good pilot, who, though he certainly would not fail to notice the oncoming of a storm, yet might fail to realize its extraordinary and unexpected violence, and in consequence of that failure might be forcibly overwhelmed. And Dion's downfall was, in fact, due to the same cause; for while he most certainly did not fail to notice that those who brought him down were evil men, yet he did fail to realize to what a pitch [351e] of folly they had come, and of depravity also and voracious greed; and thereby he was brought down and lies fallen, enveloping Sicily in immeasurable woe.

What counsel I have to offer, after this narrative of events, [352a] has been given already, and so let it suffice. But I deemed it necessary to explain the reasons why I undertook my second journey to Sicily84 because absurd and irrational stories are being told about it. If, therefore, the account I have now given appears to anyone more rational, and if anyone believes that it supplies sufficient excuses for what took place, then I shall regard that account as both reasonable and sufficient.

1 Dion was about twenty in 388-387 B.C., the date of Plato's first visit to Syracuse; so if this letter was written in 353 B.C. the birth of Hipparinus (probably Dion's son, not his nephew) should be put at about 373 B.C. cf. Plat. L. 8. Prefatory Note and Plat. L. 8.355e.

2 Plato's uncle Charmides and his cousin Critias were among the leaders of “the Thirty.”

3 For this episode see Plat. Apol. 32c.

4 Possibly an illusion to the execution of Theramenes by Critias.

5 i.e. the democrats under Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus.

6 Meletus and Anytus, the accusers of Socrates; see the Apology.

7 An obvious reference to Plat. Rep. 473d, Plat. Rep. 501e.

8 This echoes the famous passage in Plat. Rep. 5.473d; cf. Plat. L. 7.328a infra.

9 cf. Plat. Rep. 404d.

10 These are the three defective forms of government, contrasting with the three correct forms, monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional republic; see Plat. Stat. 291d ff., Plat. Stat. 302b ff.

11 The first occasion being at Olympia in 360 B.C.; cf. Plat. L. 7.350b ff.

12 Dionysius the Elder died in 367 B.C.

13 Among the philosophers and sophists who are said to have been entertained by Dionysius were Aristippus the Cyreniac, Aeschines the Socratic, Polyxenus (cf. Plat. L. 2.310c) , and Philistus (cf. Plat. L. 3.315e) .

14 Probably sisters' sons of Dion, and not including Hipparinus (who would be too young at this date).

15 The second danger was of “proving false to Philosophy,” see Plat. L. 7.328e below.

16 A town close to Athens, to which the disciples of Socrates retreated after his death.

17 Zeus “the Guardian of guests” is mentioned because Plato was a guest-friend of Dion.

18 The citadel of Syracuse, where Plato was housed during both his visits, the tyrant thus having him under his eye.

19 Philistus and the anti-reform party alleged that Dion was plotting against the tyrant, aided and abetted by Plato, cf. Plat. L. 7.333e infra.

20 i.e. “first place” must be given to what is (ostensibly) the main object of the letter, viz. the advising of Dion's friends; see further the Prefatory Note.

21 For the comparison of the political adviser to a physician cf. Plat. Rep. 425e ff., Plat. Laws 720a ff.

22 On the subject of filial piety cf. Plat. Crito 51c, Plat. Laws 717b ff.

23 cf. Plat. L. 5.322b .

24 The reference is to the two brothers of Dionysius the Elder, Leptines and Thearidas.

25 Darius wrested the kingdom of Persia from the usurper Pseudo-Smerdis by the aid of six other Persian nobles, cf. Plat. Laws 695b ff. For the numerical computation of comparative happiness cf. Plat. Rep. 587b ff.

26 The maritime empire of the Athenians lasted for some seventy years after Salamis (480 B.C.)

27 Gelon succeeded Hippocrates as tyrant of Gela about 490 B.C., and then captured Syracuse and made it his capital. His defeat of the Carthaginians at Himera, 480 B.C., was celebrated by the poet Simonides.

28 i.e. by a military campaign (“deed” as opposed to “word”) in 357 B.C.

29 Callipus and Philostratus; cf. Plutarch,Dion, cc. 54 ff.

30 After the Little Mysteries of Eleusis the initiated became aμυστής, after the Great Mysteries anἐπόπτης.

31 Cf. Plat. L. 7.336d, Plat. Laws 961a ff.

32 An allusion to the custom of offering the third (and last) cup at banquets as a libation to Zeus Soter; cf. Plat. Rep. 583b, Plat. Charm. 167b.

33 This theme is to be found also in the Gorgias andRepublic; cf. also Plat. Lysis 217b.

34 cf. Plat. Gorg. 493e, Plat. Phaedo 81b, Plat. Phileb. 12b.

35 Hiero, tyrant of Syracuse (478-466) , waged succesful war against the Carthaginians.

36 For the calamitous effects of “ignorance” (or “folly”) cf. Plat. Laws 688c ff., Plat. Laws 863c ff.

37 cf. Plat. Laws 646e ff., Plat. Laws 671d.

38 cf. Plat. Laws 715a ff.

39 For this scheme cf. Plat. Laws 752d ff; and for the qualifications of the law-givers cf. Plat. Laws 765d.

40 For the Law-governed State as the second-best, after the Ideal Republic, cf. Plat. Stat. 297d ff.

41 Alluding to the attempt then being made by Dion's party at Leontini, under Hipparinus (his nephew) , to overthrow Callipus.

42 This refers back to Plat. L. 7.330c, Plat. L. 7.330d, just before he begins his “counsel” to Dion's friends.

43 cf. Plat. L. 3.317a.

44 A famous scientist and statesman of Tarentum; cf. Plat. L. 7.350a infra,Plat. L. 13.360c.

45 Cf. Plat. L. 7.330b.

46 Plato had refused a second time; see Plat. L. 7.338e.

47 cf. Plat. L. 3.317.

48 Cf. Plat. L. 7.334d.

49 cf. Plat. Rep. 531d.

50 Probably an allusion to the proverbial maxim “Know thyself.”

51 cf. Plat. Sym. 210e for the “suddenness” of the mystic vision of the Idea.

52 On the danger of writing such doctrines cf. Plat. L. 2.314c ff.; and for philosophy as possible only for “the few” cf. Plat. Rep. 494a.

53 Cf. Plat. L. 7.341c.

54 cf. Plat. Laws 895d, where Essence, Definition, and Name are enumerated; also Plat. Parm. 142a.

55 For the definition of “circle” cf. Plat. Tim. 33b, Plat. Parm. 137e.

56 This echoes the language of Plat. Rep. 490b.

57 cf. Plat. Crat. 438d, Plat. Crat. 438e.

58 i.e. any number of straight tangents to a circle may be drawn; or, a circle, like a straight line, is composed of points, therefore the circular is full of the elements of the straight.

59 f. Plat. Crat. 384d, Plat. Crat. 384e for the view that names are not natural but conventional fixities.

60 cf. Plat. Theaet. 208b ff. for the instability of Definitions.

61 An Argonaut, noted for his keeness of sight; here, by a playful hyperbole, he is supposed to be also a producer of sight in others; cf. Aristoph.Plut. 210.

62 cf. Plat. Laws 816d.

63 Cf. Plat. L. 7.341c.

64 For legislation as not a “serious” subject but “playful” see Plat. Laws 769a; cf. Plat. Stat. 294a.

65 i.e. in his head, the abode of unexpressed thoughts; cf. Plat. Tim. 44d.

66 Hom. Il. 7.360, Hom. Il. 11.234.

67 cf. Plat. Phaedrus 275d,, Plat. Phaedrus 278a.

68 cf. Plat. Phaedo 62a, Plat. Phaedo 62b; the allusion is to the Theban dialect (ἴττωforἴστω) used by Cebes.

69 Cf. Plat. L. 7.341a.

70 cf. Plat. L. 2.314a ff.

71 i.e. Plato himself.

72 Hom. Od. 12.428

73 Amongst Plato's companions on this visit were Speusippus and Xenocrates

74 For this use of the wordναύτηςcf. Soph. Phil. 901.

75 For this part of the biographical details cf. Plat. L. 3.318a ff.

76 cf. Plat. Phaedrus 249d.

77 The mercenaries lived in the island of Ortygia, but beyond the walls of the Acropolis; so when Plato had to quit the Acropolis he was surrounded by them in his new lodgings.

78 cf. Plat. L. 3.318c for Heracleides, Theodotes, and Eurybius.

79 i.e. light-armed soldiers, so called from the kind of light shield they carried.

80 i.e. for the festival of 360 B.C.

81 Perhaps an allusion to the “wanderings of Ulysses” ; cf. Plat. L. 7.345e.

82 According to the Socratic dictum, “No one sins voluntarily.”

83 For “suffering” wrong as a bar to complete happiness cf. Plat. Laws 829a.

84 i.e. Plato's third Sicilian visit (as he does not count the first), cf. Plat. L. 7.330c, Plat. L. 7.337e.

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