Sacred Texts  Classics  Plato


by Plato

360 BC

translated by J. Harward

Oxford at The Clarendon Press, London [1928]


  You write to me that I must consider your views the same as those of
Dion, and you urge me to aid your cause so far as I can in word and
deed. My answer is that, if you have the same opinion and desire as he
had, I consent to aid your cause; but if not, I shall think more
than once about it. Now what his purpose and desire was, I can
inform you from no mere conjecture but from positive knowledge. For
when I made my first visit to Sicily, being then about forty years
old, Dion was of the same age as Hipparinos is now, and the opinion
which he then formed was that which he always retained, I mean the
belief that the Syracusans ought to be free and governed by the best
laws. So it is no matter for surprise if some God should make
Hipparinos adopt the same opinion as Dion about forms of government.
But it is well worth while that you should all, old as well as
young, hear the way in which this opinion was formed, and I will
attempt to give you an account of it from the beginning. For the
present is a suitable opportunity.

  In my youth I went through the same experience as many other men.
I fancied that if, early in life, I became my own master, I should
at once embark on a political career. And I found myself confronted
with the following occurrences in the public affairs of my own city.
The existing constitution being generally condemned, a revolution took
place, and fifty-one men came to the front as rulers of the
revolutionary government, namely eleven in the city and ten in the
Peiraeus-each of these bodies being in charge of the market and
municipal matters-while thirty were appointed rulers with full
powers over public affairs as a whole. Some of these were relatives
and acquaintances of mine, and they at once invited me to share in
their doings, as something to which I had a claim. The effect on me
was not surprising in the case of a young man. I considered that
they would, of course, so manage the State as to bring men out of a
bad way of life into a good one. So I watched them very closely to see
what they would do.

  And seeing, as I did, that in quite a short time they made the
former government seem by comparison something precious as gold-for
among other things they tried to send a friend of mine, the aged
Socrates, whom I should scarcely scruple to describe as the most
upright man of that day, with some other persons to carry off one of
the citizens by force to execution, in order that, whether he wished
it, or not, he might share the guilt of their conduct; but he would
not obey them, risking all consequences in preference to becoming a
partner in their iniquitous deeds-seeing all these things and others
of the same kind on a considerable scale, I disapproved of their
proceedings, and withdrew from any connection with the abuses of the

  Not long after that a revolution terminated the power of the
thirty and the form of government as it then was. And once more,
though with more hesitation, I began to be moved by the desire to take
part in public and political affairs. Well, even in the new
government, unsettled as it was, events occurred which one would
naturally view with disapproval; and it was not surprising that in a
period of revolution excessive penalties were inflicted by some
persons on political opponents, though those who had returned from
exile at that time showed very considerable forbearance. But once more
it happened that some of those in power brought my friend Socrates,
whom I have mentioned, to trial before a court of law, laying a most
iniquitous charge against him and one most inappropriate in his
case: for it was on a charge of impiety that some of them prosecuted
and others condemned and executed the very man who would not
participate in the iniquitous arrest of one of the friends of the
party then in exile, at the time when they themselves were in exile
and misfortune.

  As I observed these incidents and the men engaged in public affairs,
the laws too and the customs, the more closely I examined them and the
farther I advanced in life, the more difficult it seemed to me to
handle public affairs aright. For it was not possible to be active
in politics without friends and trustworthy supporters; and to find
these ready to my hand was not an easy matter, since public affairs at
Athens were not carried on in accordance with the manners and
practices of our fathers; nor was there any ready method by which I
could make new friends. The laws too, written and unwritten, were
being altered for the worse, and the evil was growing with startling
rapidity. The result was that, though at first I had been full of a
strong impulse towards political life, as I looked at the course of
affairs and saw them being swept in all directions by contending
currents, my head finally began to swim; and, though I did not stop
looking to see if there was any likelihood of improvement in these
symptoms and in the general course of public life, I postponed
action till a suitable opportunity should arise. Finally, it became
clear to me, with regard to all existing cornmunities, that they
were one and all misgoverned. For their laws have got into a state
that is almost incurable, except by some extraordinary reform with
good luck to support it. And I was forced to say, when praising true
philosophy that it is by this that men are enabled to see what justice
in public and private life really is. Therefore, I said, there will be
no cessation of evils for the sons of men, till either those who are
pursuing a right and true philosophy receive sovereign power in the
States, or those in power in the States by some dispensation of
providence become true philosophers.

  With these thoughts in my mind I came to Italy and Sicily on my
first visit. My first impressions on arrival were those of strong
disapproval-disapproval of the kind of life which was there called the
life of happiness, stuffed full as it was with the banquets of the
Italian Greeks and Syracusans, who ate to repletion twice every day,
and were never without a partner for the night; and disapproval of the
habits which this manner of life produces. For with these habits
formed early in life, no man under heaven could possibly attain to
wisdom-human nature is not capable of such an extraordinary
combination. Temperance also is out of the question for such a man;
and the same applies to virtue generally. No city could remain in a
state of tranquillity under any laws whatsoever, when men think it
right to squander all their property in extravagant, and consider it a
duty to be idle in everything else except eating and drinking and
the laborious prosecution of debauchery. It follows necessarily that
the constitutions of such cities must be constantly changing,
tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies succeeding one another, while
those who hold the power cannot so much as endure the name of any form
of government which maintains justice and equality of rights.

  With a mind full of these thoughts, on the top of my previous
convictions, I crossed over to Syracuse-led there perhaps by
chance-but it really looks as if some higher power was even then
planning to lay a foundation for all that has now come to pass with
regard to Dion and Syracuse-and for further troubles too, I fear,
unless you listen to the advice which is now for the second time
offered by me. What do I mean by saying that my arrival in Sicily at
that movement proved to be the foundation on which all the sequel
rests? I was brought into close intercourse with Dion who was then a
young man, and explained to him my views as to the ideals at which men
should aim, advising him to carry them out in practice. In doing
this I seem to have been unaware that I was, in a fashion, without
knowing it, contriving the overthrow of the tyranny which;
subsequently took place. For Dion, who rapidly assimilated my teaching
as he did all forms of knowledge, listened to me with an eagerness
which I had never seen equalled in any young man, and resolved to live
for the future in a better way than the majority of Italian and
Sicilian Greeks, having set his affection on virtue in preference to
pleasure and self-indulgence. The result was that until the death of
Dionysios he lived in a way which rendered him somewhat unpopular
among those whose manner of life was that which is usual in the courts
of despots.

  After that event he came to the conclusion that this conviction,
which he himself had gained under the influence of good teaching,
was not likely to be confined to himself. Indeed, he saw it being
actually implanted in other minds-not many perhaps, but certainly in
some; and he thought that with the aid of the Gods, Dionysios might
perhaps become one of these, and that, if such a thing did come to
pass, the result would be a life of unspeakable happiness both for
himself and for the rest of the Syracusans. Further, he thought it
essential that I should come to Syracuse by all manner of means and
with the utmost possible speed to be his partner in these plans,
remembering in his own case how readily intercourse with me had
produced in him a longing for the noblest and best life. And if it
should produce a similar effect on Dionysios, as his aim was that it
should, he had great hope that, without bloodshed, loss of life, and
those disastrous events which have now taken place, he would be able
to introduce the true life of happiness throughout the whole

  Holding these sound views, Dion persuaded Dionysios to send for
me; he also wrote himself entreating me to come by all manner of means
and with the utmost possible speed, before certain other persons
coming in contact with Dionysios should turn him aside into some way
of life other than the best. What he said, though perhaps it is rather
long to repeat, was as follows: "What opportunities," he said,
"shall we wait for, greater than those now offered to us by
Providence?" And he described the Syracusan empire in Italy and
Sicily, his own influential position in it, and the youth of Dionysios
and how strongly his desire was directed towards philosophy and
education. His own nephews and relatives, he said, would be readily
attracted towards the principles and manner of life described by me,
and would be most influential in attracting Dionysios in the same
direction, so that, now if ever, we should see the accomplishment of
every hope that the same persons might actually become both
philosophers and the rulers of great States. These were the appeals
addressed to me and much more to the same effect.

  My own opinion, so far as the young men were concerned, and the
probable line which their conduct would take, was full of
apprehension-for young men are quick in forming desires, which often
take directions conflicting with one another. But I knew that the
character of Dion's mind was naturally a stable one and had also the
advantage of somewhat advanced years.

  Therefore, I pondered the matter and was in two minds as to
whether I ought to listen to entreaties and go, or how I ought to act;
and finally the scale turned in favour of the view that, if ever
anyone was to try to carry out in practice my ideas about laws and
constitutions, now was the time for making the attempt; for if only
I could fully convince one man, I should have secured thereby the
accomplishment of all good things.

  With these views and thus nerved to the task, I sailed from home, in
the spirit which some imagined, but principally through a feeling of
shame with regard to myself, lest I might some day appear to myself
wholly and solely a mere man of words, one who would never of his
own will lay his hand to any act. Also there was reason to think
that I should be betraying first and foremost my friendship and
comradeship with Dion, who in very truth was in a position of
considerable danger. If therefore anything should happen to him, or if
he were banished by Dionysios and his other enemies and coming to us
as exile addressed this question to me: "Plato, I have come to you
as a fugitive, not for want of hoplites, nor because I had no
cavalry for defence against my enemies, but for want of words and
power of persuasion, which I knew to be a special gift of yours,
enabling you to lead young men into the path of goodness and
justice, and to establish in every case relations of friendship and
comradeship among them. It is for the want of this assistance on
your part that I have left Syracuse and am here now. And the
disgrace attaching to your treatment of me is a small matter. But
philosophy-whose praises you are always singing, while you say she
is held in dishonour by the rest of mankind-must we not say that
philosophy along with me has now been betrayed, so far as your
action was concerned? Had I been living at Megara, you would certainly
have come to give me your aid towards the objects for which I asked
it; or you would have thought yourself the most contemptible of
mankind. But as it is, do you think that you will escape the
reputation of cowardice by making excuses about the distance of the
journey, the length of the sea voyage, and the amount of labour
involved? Far from it." To reproaches of this kind what creditable
reply could I have made? Surely none.

  I took my departure, therefore, acting, so far as a man can act,
in obedience to reason and justice, and for these reasons leaving my
own occupations, which were certainly not discreditable ones, to put
myself under a tyranny which did not seem likely to harmonise with
my teaching or with myself. By my departure I secured my own freedom
from the displeasure of Zeus Xenios, and made myself clear of any
charge on the part of philosophy, which would have been exposed to
detraction, if any disgrace had come upon me for faint-heartedness and

  On my arrival, to cut a long story short, I found the court of
Dionysios full of intrigues and of attempts to create in the sovereign
ill-feeling against Dion. I combated these as far as I could, but with
very little success; and in the fourth month or thereabouts,
charging Dion with conspiracy to seize the throne, Dionysios put him
on board a small boat and expelled him from Syracuse with ignominy.
All of us who were Dion's friends were afraid that he might take
vengeance on one or other of us as an accomplice in Dion's conspiracy.
With regard to me, there was even a rumour current in Syracuse that
I had been put to death by Dionysios as the cause of all that had
occurred. Perceiving that we were all in this state of mind and
apprehending that our fears might lead to some serious consequence, he
now tried to win all of us over by kindness: me in particular he
encouraged, bidding me be of good cheer and entreating me on all
grounds to remain. For my flight from him was not likely to redound to
his credit, but my staying might do so. Therefore, he made a great
pretence of entreating me. And we know that the entreaties of
sovereigns are mixed with compulsion. So to secure his object he
proceeded to render my departure impossible, bringing me into the
acropolis, and establishing me in quarters from which not a single
ship's captain would have taken me away against the will of Dionysios,
nor indeed without a special messenger sent by him to order my
removal. Nor was there a single merchant, or a single official in
charge of points of departure from the country, who would have allowed
me to depart unaccompanied, and would not have promptly seized me
and taken me back to Dionysios, especially since a statement had now
been circulated contradicting the previous rumours and giving out that
Dionysios was becoming extraordinarily attached to Plato. What were
the facts about this attachment? I must tell the truth. As time went
on, and as intercourse made him acquainted with my disposition and
character, he did become more and more attached to me, and wished me
to praise him more than I praised Dion, and to look upon him as more
specially my friend than Dion, and he was extraordinarily eager
about this sort of thing. But when confronted with the one way in
which this might have been done, if it was to be done at all, he
shrank from coming into close and intimate relations with me as a
pupil and listener to my discourses on philosophy, fearing the
danger suggested by mischief-makers, that he might be ensnared, and so
Dion would prove to have accomplished all his object. I endured all
this patiently, retaining the purpose with which I had come and the
hope that he might come to desire the philosophic life. But his
resistance prevailed against me.

  The time of my first visit to Sicily and my stay there was taken
up with all these incidents. On a later occasion I left home and again
came on an urgent summons from Dionysios. But before giving the
motives and particulars of my conduct then and showing how suitable
and right it was, I must first, in order that I may not treat as the
main point what is only a side issue, give you my advice as to what
your acts should be in the present position of affairs; afterwards, to
satisfy those who put the question why I came a second time, I will
deal fully with the facts about my second visit; what I have now to
say is this.

  He who advises a sick man, whose manner of life is prejudicial to
health, is clearly bound first of all to change his patient's manner
of life, and if the patient is willing to obey him, he may go on to
give him other advice. But if he is not willing, I shall consider
one who declines to advise such a patient to be a man and a physician,
and one who gives in to him to be unmanly and unprofessional. In the
same way with regard to a State, whether it be under a single ruler or
more than one, if, while the government is being carried on
methodically and in a right course, it asks advice about any details
of policy, it is the part of a wise man to advise such people. But
when men are travelling altogether outside the path of right
government and flatly refuse to move in the right path, and start by
giving notice to their adviser that he must leave the government alone
and make no change in it under penalty of death-if such men should
order their counsellors to pander to their wishes and desires and to
advise them in what way their object may most readily and easily be
once for all accomplished, I should consider as unmanly one who
accepts the duty of giving such forms of advice, and one who refuses
it to be a true man.

  Holding these views, whenever anyone consults me about any of the
weightiest matters affecting his own life, as, for instance, the
acquisition of property or the proper treatment of body or mind, if it
seems to me that his daily life rests on any system, or if he seems
likely to listen to advice about the things on which he consults me, I
advise him with readiness, and do not content myself with giving him a
merely perfunctory answer. But if a man does not consult me at all, or
evidently does not intend to follow my advice, I do not take the
initiative in advising such a man, and will not use compulsion to him,
even if he be my own son. I would advise a slave under such
circumstances, and would use compulsion to him if he were unwilling.
To a father or mother I do not think that piety allows one to offer
compulsion, unless they are suffering from an attack of insanity;
and if they are following any regular habits of life which please them
but do not please me, I would not offend them by offering useless,
advice, nor would I flatter them or truckle to them, providing them
with the means of satisfying desires which I myself would sooner die
than cherish. The wise man should go through life with the same
attitude of mind towards his country. If she should appear to him to
be following a policy which is not a good one, he should say so,
provided that his words are not likely either to fall on deaf ears
or to lead to the loss of his own life. But force against his native
land he should not use in order to bring about a change of
constitution, when it is not possible for the best constitution to
be introduced without driving men into exile or putting them to death;
he should keep quiet and offer up prayers for his own welfare and
for that of his country.

  These are the principles in accordance with which I should advise
you, as also, jointly with Dion, I advised Dionysios, bidding him in
the first place to live his daily life in a way that would make him as
far as possible master of himself and able to gain faithful friends
and supporters, in order that he might not have the same experience as
his father. For his father, having taken under his rule many great
cities of Sicily which had been utterly destroyed by the barbarians,
was not able to found them afresh and to establish in them trustworthy
governments carried on by his own supporters, either by men who had no
ties of blood with him, or by his brothers whom he had brought up when
they were younger, and had raised from humble station to high office
and from poverty to immense wealth. Not one of these was he able to
work upon by persuasion, instruction, services and ties of kindred, so
as to make him a partner in his rule; and he showed himself inferior
to Darius with a sevenfold inferiority. For Darius did not put his
trust in brothers or in men whom he had brought up, but only in his
confederates in the overthrow of the Mede and Eunuch; and to these
he assigned portions of his empire, seven in number, each of them
greater than all Sicily; and they were faithful to him and did not
attack either him or one another. Thus he showed a pattern of what the
good lawgiver and king ought to be; for he drew up laws by which he
has secured the Persian empire in safety down to the present time.

  Again, to give another instance, the Athenians took under their rule
very many cities not founded by themselves, which had been hard hit by
the barbarians but were still in existence, and maintained their
rule over these for seventy years, because they had in each them men
whom they could trust. But Dionysios, who had gathered the whole of
Sicily into a single city, and was so clever that he trusted no one,
only secured his own safety with great difficulty. For he was badly
off for trustworthy friends; and there is no surer criterion of virtue
and vice than this, whether a man is or is not destitute of such

  This, then, was the advice which Dion and I gave to Dionysios,
since, owing to bringing up which he had received from his father,
he had had no advantages in the way of education or of suitable
lessons, in the first place...; and, in the second place, that,
after starting in this way, he should make friends of others among his
connections who were of the same age and were in sympathy with his
pursuit of virtue, but above all that he should be in harmony with
himself; for this it was of which he was remarkably in need. This we
did not say in plain words, for that would not have been safe; but
in covert language we maintained that every man in this way would save
both himself and those whom he was leading, and if he did not follow
this path, he would do just the opposite of this. And after proceeding
on the course which we described, and making himself a wise and
temperate man, if he were then to found again the cities of Sicily
which had been laid waste, and bind them together by laws and
constitutions, so as to be loyal to him and to one another in their
resistance to the attacks of the barbarians, he would, we told him,
make his father's empire not merely double what it was but many
times greater. For, if these things were done, his way would be
clear to a more complete subjugation of the Carthaginians than that
which befell them in Gelon's time, whereas in our own day his father
had followed the opposite course of levying attribute for the
barbarians. This was the language and these the exhortations given
by us, the conspirators against Dionysios according to the charges
circulated from various sources-charges which, prevailing as they
did with Dionysios, caused the expulsion of Dion and reduced me to a
state of apprehension. But when-to summarise great events which
happened in no great time-Dion returned from the Peloponnese and
Athens, his advice to Dionysios took the form of action.

  To proceed-when Dion had twice over delivered the city and
restored it to the citizens, the Syracusans went through the same
changes of feeling towards him as Dionysios had gone through, when
Dion attempted first to educate him and train him to be a sovereign
worthy of supreme power and, when that was done, to be his coadjutor
in all the details of his career. Dionysios listened to those who
circulated slanders to the effect that Dion was aiming at the
tyranny in all the steps which he took at that time his intention
being that Dionysios, when his mind had fallen under the spell of
culture, should neglect the government and leave it in his hands,
and that he should then appropriate it for himself and treacherously
depose Dionysios. These slanders were victorious on that occasion;
they were so once more when circulated among the Syracusans, winning a
victory which took an extraordinary course and proved disgraceful to
its authors. The story of what then took place is one which deserves
careful attention on the part of those who are inviting me to deal
with the present situation.

  I, an Athenian and friend of Dion, came as his ally to the court
of Dionysios, in order that I might create good will in place of a
state war; in my conflict with the authors of these slanders I was
worsted. When Dionysios tried to persuade me by offers of honours
and wealth to attach myself to him, and with a view to giving a decent
colour to Dion's expulsion a witness and friend on his side, he failed
completely in his attempt. Later on, when Dion returned from exile, he
took with him from Athens two brothers, who had been his friends,
not from community in philosophic study, but with the ordinary
companionship common among most friends, which they form as the result
of relations of hospitality and the intercourse which occurs when
one man initiates the other in the mysteries. It was from this kind of
intercourse and from services connected with his return that these two
helpers in his restoration became his companions. Having come to
Sicily, when they perceived that Dion had been misrepresented to the
Sicilian Greeks, whom he had liberated, as one that plotted to
become monarch, they not only betrayed their companion and friend, but
shared personally in the guilt of his murder, standing by his
murderers as supporters with weapons in their hands. The guilt and
impiety of their conduct I neither excuse nor do I dwell upon it.
For many others make it their business to harp upon it, and will
make it their business in the future. But I do take exception to the
statement that, because they were Athenians, they have brought shame
upon this city. For I say that he too is an Athenian who refused to
betray this same Dion, when he had the offer of riches and many
other honours. For his was no common or vulgar friendship, but
rested on community in liberal education, and this is the one thing in
which a wise man will put his trust, far more than in ties of personal
and bodily kinship. So the two murderers of Dion were not of
sufficient importance to be causes of disgrace to this city, as though
they had been men of any note.

  All this has been said with a view to counselling the friends and
family of Dion. And in addition to this I give for the third time to
you the same advice and counsel which I have given twice before to
others-not to enslave Sicily or any other State to despots-this my
counsel but-to put it under the rule of laws-for the other course is
better neither for the enslavers nor for the enslaved, for themselves,
their children's children and descendants; the attempt is in every way
fraught with disaster. It is only small and mean natures that are bent
upon seizing such gains for themselves, natures that know nothing of
goodness and justice, divine as well as human, in this life and in the

  These are the lessons which I tried to teach, first to Dion,
secondly to Dionysios, and now for the third time to you. Do you
obey me thinking of Zeus the Preserver, the patron of third
ventures, and looking at the lot of Dionysios and Dion, of whom the
one who disobeyed me is living in dishonour, while he who obeyed me
has died honourably. For the one thing which is wholly right and noble
is to strive for that which is most honourable for a man's self and
for his country, and to face the consequences whatever they may be.
For none of us can escape death, nor, if a man could do so, would
it, as the vulgar suppose, make him happy. For nothing evil or good,
which is worth mentioning at all, belongs to things soulless; but good
or evil will be the portion of every soul, either while attached to
the body or when separated from it.

  And we should in very truth always believe those ancient and
sacred teachings, which declare that the soul is immortal, that it has
judges, and suffers the greatest penalties when it has been
separated from the body. Therefore also we should consider it a lesser
evil to suffer great wrongs and outrages than to do them. The covetous
man, impoverished as he is in the soul, turns a deaf ear to this
teaching; or if he hears it, he laughs it to scorn with fancied
superiority, and shamelessly snatches for himself from every source
whatever his bestial fancy supposes will provide for him the means
of eating or drinking or glutting himself with that slavish and
gross pleasure which is falsely called after the goddess of love. He
is blind and cannot see in those acts of plunder which are accompanied
by impiety what heinous guilt is attached to each wrongful deed, and
that the offender must drag with him the burden of this impiety
while he moves about on earth, and when he has travelled beneath the
earth on a journey which has every circumstance of shame and misery.

  It was by urging these and other like truths that I convinced
Dion, and it is I who have the best right to be angered with his
murderers in much the same way as I have with Dionysios. For both they
and he have done the greatest injury to me, and I might almost say
to all mankind, they by slaying the man that was willing to act
righteously, and he by refusing to act righteously during the whole of
his rule, when he held supreme power, in which rule if philosophy
and power had really met together, it would have sent forth a light to
all men, Greeks and barbarians, establishing fully for all the true
belief that there can be no happiness either for the community or
for the individual man, unless he passes his life under the rule of
righteousness with the guidance of wisdom, either possessing these
virtues in himself, or living under the rule of godly men and having
received a right training and education in morals. These were the aims
which Dionysios injured, and for me everything else is a trifling
injury compared with this.

  The murderer of Dion has, without knowing it, done the same as
Dionysios. For as regards Dion, I know right well, so far as it is
possible for a man to say anything positively about other men, that,
if he had got the supreme power, he would never have turned his mind
to any other form of rule, but that, dealing first with Syracuse,
his own native land, when he had made an end of her slavery, clothed
her in bright apparel, and given her the garb of freedom, he would
then by every means in his power have ordered aright the lives of
his fellow-citizens by suitable and excellent laws; and the thing next
in order, which he would have set his heart to accomplish, was to
found again all the States of Sicily and make them free from the
barbarians, driving out some and subduing others, an easier task for
him than it was for Hiero. If these things had been accomplished by
a man who was just and brave and temperate and a philosopher, the same
belief with regard to virtue would have been established among the
majority which, if Dionysios had been won over, would have been
established, I might almost say, among all mankind and would have
given them salvation. But now some higher power or avenging fiend
has fallen upon them, inspiring them with lawlessness, godlessness and
acts of recklessness issuing from ignorance, the seed from which all
evils for all mankind take root and grow and will in future bear the
bitterest harvest for those who brought them into being. This
ignorance it was which in that second venture wrecked and ruined

  And now, for good luck's sake, let us on this third venture
abstain from words of ill omen. But, nevertheless, I advise you, his
friends, to imitate in Dion his love for his country and his temperate
habits of daily life, and to try with better auspices to carry out his
wishes-what these were, you have heard from me in plain words. And
whoever among you cannot live the simple Dorian life according to
the customs of your forefathers, but follows the manner of life of
Dion's murderers and of the Sicilians, do not invite this man to
join you, or expect him to do any loyal or salutary act; but invite
all others to the work of resettling all the States of Sicily and
establishing equality under the laws, summoning them from Sicily
itself and from the whole Peloponnese-and have no fear even of Athens;
for there, also, are men who excel all mankind in their devotion to
virtue and in hatred of the reckless acts of those who shed the
blood of friends.

  But if, after all, this is work for a future time, whereas immediate
action is called for by the disorders of all sorts and kinds which
arise every day from your state of civil strife, every man to whom
Providence has given even a moderate share of right intelligence ought
to know that in times of civil strife there is no respite from trouble
till the victors make an end of feeding their grudge by combats and
banishments and executions, and of wreaking their vengeance on their
enemies. They should master themselves and, enacting impartial laws,
framed not to gratify themselves more than the conquered party, should
compel men to obey these by two restraining forces, respect and
fear; fear, because they are the masters and can display superior
force; respect, because they rise superior to pleasures and are
willing and able to be servants to the laws. There is no other way
save this for terminating the troubles of a city that is in a state of
civil strife; but a constant continuance of internal disorders,
struggles, hatred and mutual distrust is the common lot of cities
which are in that plight.

  Therefore, those who have for the time being gained the upper
hand, when they desire to secure their position, must by their own act
and choice select from all Hellas men whom they have ascertained to be
the best for the purpose. These must in the first place be men of
mature years, who have children and wives at home, and, as far as
possible, a long line of ancestors of good repute, and all must be
possessed of sufficient property. For a city of ten thousand
householders their numbers should be fifty; that is enough. These they
must induce to come from their own homes by entreaties and the promise
of the highest honours; and having induced them to come they must
entreat and command them to draw up laws after binding themselves by
oath to show no partiality either to conquerors or to conquered, but
to give equal and common rights to the whole State.

  When laws have been enacted, what everything then hinges on is this.
If the conquerors show more obedience to the laws than the
conquered, the whole State will be full of security and happiness, and
there will be an escape from all your troubles. But if they do not,
then do not summon me or any other helper to aid you against those who
do not obey the counsel I now give you. For this course is akin to
that which Dion and I attempted to carry out with our hearts set on
the welfare of Syracuse. It is indeed a second best course. The
first and best was that scheme of welfare to all mankind which we
attempted to carry out with the co-operation of Dionysios; but some
chance, mightier than men, brought it to nothing. Do you now, with
good fortune attending you and with Heaven's help, try to bring your
efforts to a happier issue.

  Let this be the end of my advice and injunction and of the narrative
of my first visit to Dionysios. Whoever wishes may next hear of my
second journey and voyage, and learn that it was a reasonable and
suitable proceeding. My first period of residence in Sicily was
occupied in the way which I related before giving my advice to the
relatives and friends of Dion. After those events I persuaded
Dionysios by such arguments as I could to let me go; and we made an
agreement as to what should be done when peace was made; for at that
time there was a state of war in Sicily. Dionysios said that, when
he had put the affairs of his empire in a position of greater safety
for himself, he would send for Dion and me again; and he desired
that Dion should regard what had befallen him not as an exile, but
as a change of residence. I agreed to come again on these conditions.

  When peace had been made, he began sending for me; he requested that
Dion should wait for another year, but begged that I should by all
means come. Dion now kept urging and entreating me to go. For
persistent rumours came from Sicily that Dionysios was now once more
possessed by an extraordinary desire for philosophy. For this reason
Dion pressed me urgently not to decline his invitation. But though I
was well aware that as regards philosophy such symptoms were not
uncommon in young men, still it seemed to me safer at that time to
part company altogether with Dion and Dionysios; and I offended both
of them by replying that I was an old man, and that the steps now
being taken were quite at variance with the previous agreement.

  After this, it seems, Archytes came to the court of Dionysios.
Before my departure I had brought him and his Tarentine circle into
friendly relations with Dionysios. There were some others in
Syracuse who had received some instruction from Dion, and others had
learnt from these, getting their heads full of erroneous teaching on
philosophical questions. These, it seems, were attempting to hold
discussions with Dionysios on questions connected with such
subjects, in the idea that he had been fully instructed in my views.
Now is not at all devoid of natural gifts for learning, and he has a
great craving for honour and glory. What was said probably pleased
him, and he felt some shame when it became clear that he had not taken
advantage of my teaching during my visit. For these reasons he
conceived a desire for more definite instruction, and his love of
glory was an additional incentive to him. The real reasons why he
had learnt nothing during my previous visit have just been set forth
in the preceding narrative. Accordingly, now that I was safe at home
and had refused his second invitation, as I just now related,
Dionysios seems to have felt all manner of anxiety lest certain people
should suppose that I was unwilling to visit him again because I had
formed a poor opinion of his natural gifts and character, and because,
knowing as I did his manner of life, I disapproved of it.

  It is right for me to speak the truth, and make no complaint if
anyone, after hearing the facts, forms a poor opinion of my
philosophy, and thinks that the tyrant was in the right. Dionysios now
invited me for the third time, sending a trireme to ensure me
comfort on the voyage; he sent also Archedemos-one of those who had
spent some time with Archytes, and of whom he supposed that I had a
higher opinion than of any of the Sicilian Greeks-and, with him, other
men of repute in Sicily. These all brought the same report, that
Dionysios had made progress in philosophy. He also sent a very long
letter, knowing as he did my relations with Dion and Dion's
eagerness also that I should take ship and go to Syracuse. The
letter was framed in its opening sentences to meet all these
conditions, and the tenor of it was as follows: "Dionysios to
Plato," here followed the customary greeting and immediately after
it he said, "If in compliance with our request you come now, in the
first place, Dion's affairs will be dealt with in whatever way you
yourself desire; I know that you will desire what is reasonable, and I
shall consent to it. But if not, none of Dion's affairs will have
results in accordance with your wishes, with regard either to Dion
himself or to other matters." This he said in these words; the rest it
would be tedious and inopportune to quote. Other letters arrived
from Archytes and the Tarentines, praising the philosophical studies
of Dionysios and saying that, if I did not now come, I should cause
a complete rupture in their friendship with Dionysios, which had
been brought about by me and was of no small importance to their
political interests.

  When this invitation came to me at that time in such terms, and
those who had come from Sicily and Italy were trying to drag me
thither, while my friends at Athens were literally pushing me out with
their urgent entreaties, it was the same old tale-that I must not
betray Dion and my Tarentine friends and supporters. Also I myself had
a lurking feeling that there was nothing surprising in the fact that a
young man, quick to learn, hearing talk of the great truths of
philosophy, should feel a craving for the higher life. I thought
therefore that I must put the matter definitely to the test to see
whether his desire was genuine or the reverse, and on no account leave
such an impulse unaided nor make myself responsible for such a deep
and real disgrace, if the reports brought by anyone were really
true. So blindfolding myself with this reflection, I set out, with
many fears and with no very favourable anticipations, as was natural
enough. However, I went, and my action on this occasion at any rate
was really a case of "the third to the Preserver," for I had the
good fortune to return safely; and for this I must, next to the God,
thank Dionysios, because, though many wished to make an end of me,
he prevented them and paid some proper respect to my situation.

  On my arrival, I thought that first I must put to the test the
question whether Dionysios had really been kindled with the fire of
philosophy, or whether all the reports which had come to Athens were
empty rumours. Now there is a way of putting such things to the test
which is not to be despised and is well suited to monarchs, especially
to those who have got their heads full of erroneous teaching, which
immediately my arrival I found to be very much the case with
Dionysios. One should show such men what philosophy is in all its
extent; what their range of studies is by which it is approached,
and how much labour it involves. For the man who has heard this, if he
has the true philosophic spirit and that godlike temperament which
makes him a kin to philosophy and worthy of it, thinks that he has
been told of a marvellous road lying before him, that he must
forthwith press on with all his strength, and that life is not worth
living if he does anything else. After this he uses to the full his
own powers and those of his guide in the path, and relaxes not his
efforts, till he has either reached the end of the whole course of
study or gained such power that he is not incapable of directing his
steps without the aid of a guide. This is the spirit and these are the
thoughts by which such a man guides his life, carrying out his work,
whatever his occupation may be, but throughout it all ever cleaving to
philosophy and to such rules of diet in his daily life as will give
him inward sobriety and therewith quickness in learning, a good
memory, and reasoning power; the kind of life which is opposed to this
he consistently hates. Those who have not the true philosophic temper,
but a mere surface colouring of opinions penetrating, like sunburn,
only skin deep, when they see how great the range of studies is, how
much labour is involved in it, and how necessary to the pursuit it
is to have an orderly regulation of the daily life, come to the
conclusion that the thing is difficult and impossible for them, and
are actually incapable of carrying out the course of study; while some
of them persuade themselves that they have sufficiently studied the
whole matter and have no need of any further effort. This is the
sure test and is the safest one to apply to those who live in luxury
and are incapable of continuous effort; it ensures that such a man
shall not throw the blame upon his teacher but on himself, because
he cannot bring to the pursuit all the qualities necessary to it. Thus
it came about that I said to Dionysios what I did say on that

  I did not, however, give a complete exposition, nor did Dionysios
ask for one. For he professed to know many, and those the most
important, points, and to have a sufficient hold of them through
instruction given by others. I hear also that he has since written
about what he heard from me, composing what professes to be his own
handbook, very different, so he says, from the doctrines which he
heard from me; but of its contents I know nothing; I know indeed
that others have written on the same subjects; but who they are, is
more than they know themselves. Thus much at least, I can say about
all writers, past or future, who say they know the things to which I
devote myself, whether by hearing the teaching of me or of others,
or by their own discoveries-that according to my view it is not
possible for them to have any real skill in the matter. There
neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject. For
it does not admit of exposition like other branches of knowledge;
but after much converse about the matter itself and a life lived
together, suddenly a light, as it were, is kindled in one soul by a
flame that leaps to it from another, and thereafter sustains itself.
Yet this much I know-that if the things were written or put into
words, it would be done best by me, and that, if they were written
badly, I should be the person most pained. Again, if they had appeared
to me to admit adequately of writing and exposition, what task in life
could I have performed nobler than this, to write what is of great
service to mankind and to bring the nature of things into the light
for all to see? But I do not think it a good thing for men that
there should be a disquisition, as it is called, on this
topic-except for some few, who are able with a little teaching to find
it out for themselves. As for the rest, it would fill some of them
quite illogically with a mistaken feeling of contempt, and others with
lofty and vain-glorious expectations, as though they had learnt
something high and mighty.

  On this point I intend to speak a little more at length; for
perhaps, when I have done so, things will be clearer with regard to my
present subject. There is an argument which holds good against the man
ventures to put anything whatever into writing on questions of this
nature; it has often before been stated by me, and it seems suitable
to the present occasion.

  For everything that exists there are three instruments by which
the knowledge of it is necessarily imparted; fourth, there is the
knowledge itself, and, as fifth, we must count the thing itself
which is known and truly exists. The first is the name, the, second
the definition, the third. the image, and the fourth the knowledge. If
you wish to learn what I mean, take these in the case of one instance,
and so understand them in the case of all. A circle is a thing
spoken of, and its name is that very word which we have just
uttered. The second thing belonging to it is its definition, made up
names and verbal forms. For that which has the name "round,"
"annular," or, "circle," might be defined as that which has the
distance from its circumference to its centre everywhere equal. Third,
comes that which is drawn and rubbed out again, or turned on a lathe
and broken up-none of which things can happen to the circle
itself-to which the other things, mentioned have reference; for it
is something of a different order from them. Fourth, comes
knowledge, intelligence and right opinion about these things. Under
this one head we must group everything which has its existence, not in
words nor in bodily shapes, but in souls-from which it is dear that it
is something different from the nature of the circle itself and from
the three things mentioned before. Of these things intelligence
comes closest in kinship and likeness to the fifth, and the others are
farther distant.

  The same applies to straight as well as to circular form, to
colours, to the good, the, beautiful, the just, to all bodies
whether manufactured or coming into being in the course of nature,
to fire, water, and all such things, to every living being, to
character in souls, and to all things done and suffered. For in the
case of all these, no one, if he has not some how or other got hold of
the four things first mentioned, can ever be completely a partaker
of knowledge of the fifth. Further, on account of the weakness of
language, these (i.e., the four) attempt to show what each thing is
like, not less than what each thing is. For this reason no man of
intelligence will venture to express his philosophical views in
language, especially not in language that is unchangeable, which is
true of that which is set down in written characters.

  Again you must learn the point which comes next. Every circle, of
those which are by the act of man drawn or even turned on a lathe,
is full of that which is opposite to the fifth thing. For everywhere
it has contact with the straight. But the circle itself, we say, has
nothing in either smaller or greater, of that which is its opposite.
We say also that the name is not a thing of permanence for any of
them, and that nothing prevents the things now called round from being
called straight, and the straight things round; for those who make
changes and call things by opposite names, nothing will be less
permanent (than a name). Again with regard to the definition, if it is
made up of names and verbal forms, the same remark holds that there is
no sufficiently durable permanence in it. And there is no end to the
instances of the ambiguity from which each of the four suffers; but
the greatest of them is that which we mentioned a little earlier,
that, whereas there are two things, that which has real being, and
that which is only a quality, when the soul is seeking to know, not
the quality, but the essence, each of the four, presenting to the soul
by word and in act that which it is not seeking (i.e., the quality), a
thing open to refutation by the senses, being merely the thing
presented to the soul in each particular case whether by statement
or the act of showing, fills, one may say, every man with puzzlement
and perplexity.

  Now in subjects in which, by reason of our defective education, we
have not been accustomed even to search for the truth, but are
satisfied with whatever images are presented to us, we are not held up
to ridicule by one another, the questioned by questioners, who can
pull to pieces and criticise the four things. But in subjects where we
try to compel a man to give a clear answer about the fifth, any one of
those who are capable of overthrowing an antagonist gets the better of
us, and makes the man, who gives an exposition in speech or writing or
in replies to questions, appear to most of his hearers to know nothing
of the things on which he is attempting to write or speak; for they
are sometimes not aware that it is not the mind of the writer or
speaker which is proved to be at fault, but the defective nature of
each of the four instruments. The process however of dealing with
all of these, as the mind moves up and down to each in turn, does
after much effort give birth in a well-constituted mind to knowledge
of that which is well constituted. But if a man is ill-constituted
by nature (as the state of the soul is naturally in the majority
both in its capacity for learning and in what is called moral
character)-or it may have become so by deterioration-not even
Lynceus could endow such men with the power of sight.

  In one word, the man who has no natural kinship with this matter
cannot be made akin to it by quickness of learning or memory; for it
cannot be engendered at all in natures which are foreign to it.
Therefore, if men are not by nature kinship allied to justice and
all other things that are honourable, though they may be good at
learning and remembering other knowledge of various kinds-or if they
have the kinship but are slow learners and have no memory-none of
all these will ever learn to the full the truth about virtue and vice.
For both must be learnt together; and together also must be learnt, by
complete and long continued study, as I said at the beginning, the
true and the false about all that has real being. After much effort,
as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought
into contact and friction one with another, in the course of
scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed by question and
answer without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth
understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts
reach the furthest limits of human powers. Therefore every man of
worth, when dealing with matters of worth, will be far from exposing
them to ill feeling and misunderstanding among men by committing
them to writing. In one word, then, it may be known from this that, if
one sees written treatises composed by anyone, either the laws of a
lawgiver, or in any other form whatever, these are not for that man
the things of most worth, if he is a man of worth, but that his
treasures are laid up in the fairest spot that he possesses. But if
these things were worked at by him as things of real worth, and
committed to writing, then surely, not gods, but men "have
themselves bereft him of his wits."

  Anyone who has followed this discourse and digression will know well
that, if Dionysios or anyone else, great or small, has written a
treatise on the highest matters and the first principles of things, he
has, so I say, neither heard nor learnt any sound teaching about the
subject of his treatise; otherwise, he would have had the same
reverence for it, which I have, and would have shrunk from putting
it forth into a world of discord and uncomeliness. For he wrote it,
not as an aid to memory-since there is no risk of forgetting it, if
a man's soul has once laid hold of it; for it is expressed in the
shortest of statements-but if he wrote it at all, it was from a mean
craving for honour, either putting it forth as his own invention, or
to figure as a man possessed of culture, of which he was not worthy,
if his heart was set on the credit of possessing it. If then Dionysios
gained this culture from the one lesson which he had from me, we may
perhaps grant him the possession of it, though how he acquired
it-God wot, as the Theban says; for I gave him the teaching, which I
have described, on that one occasion and never again.

  The next point which requires to be made clear to anyone who
wishes to discover how things really happened, is the reason why it
came about that I did not continue my teaching in a second and third
lesson and yet oftener. Does Dionysios, after a single lesson, believe
himself to know the matter, and has he an adequate knowledge of it,
either as having discovered it for himself or learnt it before from
others, or does he believe my teaching to be worthless, or, thirdly,
to be beyond his range and too great for him, and himself to be really
unable to live as one who gives his mind to wisdom and virtue? For
if he thinks it worthless, he will have to contend with many who say
the opposite, and who would be held in far higher repute as judges
than Dionysios, if on the other hand, he thinks he has discovered or
learnt the things and that they are worth having as part of a
liberal education, how could he, unless he is an extraordinary person,
have so recklessly dishonoured the master who has led the way in these
subjects? How he dishonoured him, I will now state.

  Up to this time he had allowed Dion to remain in possession of his
property and to receive the income from it. But not long after the
foregoing events, as if he had entirely forgotten his letter to that
effect, he no longer allowed Dion's trustees to send him remittances
to the Peloponnese, on the pretence that the owner of the property was
not Dion but Dion's son, his own nephew, of whom he himself was
legally the trustee. These were the actual facts which occurred up
to the point which we have reached. They had opened my eyes as to
the value of Dionysios' desire for philosophy, and I had every right
to complain, whether I wished to do so or not. Now by this time it was
summer and the season for sea voyages; therefore I decided that I must
not be vexed with Dionysios rather than with myself and those who
had forced me to come for the third time into the strait of Scylla,

               that once again I might

         To fell Charybdis measure back my course,

but must tell Dionysios that it was impossible for me to remain
after this outrage had been put upon Dion. He tried to soothe me and
begged me to remain, not thinking it desirable for himself that I
should arrive post haste in person as the bearer of such tidings. When
his entreaties produced no effect, he promised that he himself would
provide me with transport. For my intention was to embark on one of
the trading ships and sail away, being indignant and thinking it my
duty to face all dangers, in case I was prevented from going-since
plainly and obviously I was doing no wrong, but was the party wronged.

  Seeing me not at all inclined to stay, he devised the following
scheme to make me stay during that sading season. On the next day he
came to me and made a plausible proposal: "Let us put an end," he
said, "to these constant quarrels between you and me about Dion and
his affairs. For your sake I will do this for Dion. I require him to
take his own property and reside in the Peloponnese, not as an
exile, but on the understanding that it is open for him to migrate
here, when this step has the joint approval of himself, me, and you
his friends; and this shall be open to him on the understanding that
he does not plot against me. You and your friends and Dion's friends
here must be sureties for him in this, and he must give you
security. Let the funds which he receives be deposited in the
Peloponnese and at Athens, with persons approved by you, and let
Dion enjoy the income from them but have no power to take them out
of deposit without the approval of you and your friends. For I have no
great confidence in him, that, if he has this property at his
disposal, he will act justly towards me, for it will be no small
amount; but I have more confidence in you and your friends. See if
this satisfies you; and on these conditions remain for the present
year, and at the next season you shall depart taking the property with
you. I am quite sure that Dion will be grateful to you, if you
accomplish so much on his behalf."

  When I heard this proposal I was vexed, but after reflection said
I would let him know my view of it on the following day. We agreed
to that effect for the moment, and afterwards when I was by myself I
pondered the matter in much distress. The first reflection that came
up, leading the way in my self-communing, was this: "Come suppose that
Dionysios intends to do none of the things which he has mentioned, but
that, after my departure, he writes a plausible letter to Dion, and
orders several of his creatures to write to the same effect, telling
him of the proposal which he has now made to me, making out that he
was willing to do what he proposed, but that I refused and
completely neglected Dion's interests. Further, suppose that he is not
willing to allow my departure, and without giving personal orders to
any of the merchants, makes it clear, as he easily can, to all that he
not wish me to sail, will anyone consent to take me as a passenger,
when I leave the house: of Dionysios?"

  For in addition to my other troubles, I was lodging at that time
in the garden which surround his house, from which even the gatekeeper
would have refused to let me go, unless an order had been sent to
him from Dionysios. "Suppose however that I wait for the year, I shall
be able to write word of these things to Dion, stating the position in
which I am, and the steps which I am trying to take. And if
Dionysios does any of the things which he says, I shall have
accomplished something that is not altogether to be sneered at; for
Dion's property is, at a fair estimate, perhaps not less than a
hundred talents. If however the prospect which I see looming in the
future takes the course which may reasonably be expected, I know not
what I shall do with myself. Still it is perhaps necessary to go on
working for a year, and to attempt to prove by actual fact the
machinations of Dionysios."

  Having come to this decision, on the following day I said to
Dionysios, "I have decided to remain. But," I continued, "I must ask
that you will not regard me as empowered to act for Dion, but will
along with me write a letter to him, stating what has now been
decided, and enquire whether this course satisfies him. If it does
not, and if he has other wishes and demands, he must write particulars
of them as soon as possible, and you must not as yet take any hasty
step with regard to his interests."

  This was what was said and this was the agreement which was made,
almost in these words. Well, after this the trading-ships took their
departure, and it was no longer possible for me to take mine, when
Dionysios, if you please, addressed me with the remark that half the
property must be regarded as belonging to Dion and half to his son.
Therefore, he said, he would sell it, and when it was sold would
give half to me to take away, and would leave half on the spot for the
son. This course, he said, was the most just. This proposal was a blow
to me, and I thought it absurd to argue any longer with him;
however, I said that we must wait for Dion's letter, and then once
more write to tell him of this new proposal. His next step was the
brilliant one of selling the whole of Dion's property, using his own
discretion with regard to the manner and terms of the sale and of
the purchasers. He spoke not a word to me about the matter from
beginning to end, and I followed his example and never talked to him
again about Dion's affairs; for I did not think that I could do any
good by doing so. This is the history so far of my efforts to come
to the rescue of philosophy and of my friends.

  After this Dionysios and I went on with our daily life, I with my
eyes turned abroad like a bird yearning to fly from its perch, and
he always devising some new way of scaring me back and of keeping a
tight hold on Dion's property. However, we gave out to all Sicily that
we were friends. Dionysios, now deserting the policy of his father,
attempted to lower the pay of the older members of his body guard. The
soldiers were furious, and, assembling in great numbers, declared that
they would not submit. He attempted to use force to them, shutting the
gates of the acropolis; but they charged straight for the walls,
yelling out an unintelligible and ferocious war cry. Dionysios took
fright and conceded all their demands and more to the peltasts then

  A rumour soon spread that Heracleides had been the cause of all
the trouble. Hearing this, Heracleides kept out of the way.
Dionysios was trying to get hold of him, and being unable to do so,
sent for Theodotes to come to him in his garden. It happened that I
was walking in the garden at the same time. I neither know nor did I
hear the rest of what passed between them, but what Theodotes said
to Dionysios in my presence I know and remember. "Plato," he said,
"I am trying to convince our friend Dionysios that, if I am able to
bring Heracleides before us to defend himself on the charges which
have been made against him, and if he decides that Heracleides must no
longer live in Sicily, he should be allowed (this is my point) to take
his son and wife and sail to the Peloponnese and reside there,
taking no action there against Dionysios and enjoying the income of
his property. I have already sent for him and will send for him again;
and if he comes in obedience either to my former message or to this
one-well and good. But I beg and entreat Dionysios that, if anyone
finds Heracleides either in the country or here, no harm shall come to
him, but that he may retire from the country till Dionysios comes to
some other decision. Do you agree to this?" he added, addressing
Dionysios. "I agree," he replied, "that even if he is found at your
house, no harm shall be done to him beyond what has now been said."

  On the following day Eurybios and Theodotes came to me in the
evening, both greatly disturbed. Theodotes said, "Plato, you were
present yesterday during the promises made by Dionysios to me and to
you about Heracleides?" "Certainly," I replied. "Well," he
continued, "at this moment peltasts are scouring the country seeking
to arrest Heracleides; and he must be somewhere in this neighbourhood.
For Heaven's sake come with us to Dionysios." So we went and stood
in the presence of Dionysios; and those two stood shedding silent
tears, while I said: "These men are afraid that you may take strong
measures with regard to Heracleides contrary to what was agreed
yesterday. For it seems that he has returned and has been seen
somewhere about here." On hearing this he blazed up and turned all
colours, as a man would in a rage. Theodotes, falling before him in
tears, took his hand and entreated him to do nothing of the sort.
But I broke in and tried to encourage him, saying: "Be of good
cheer, Theodotes; Dionysios will not have the heart to take any
fresh step contrary to his promises of yesterday." Fixing his eye on
me, and assuming his most autocratic air he said, "To you I promised
nothing small or great." "By the gods," I said, "you did promise
that forbearance for which our friend here now appeals." With these
words I turned away and went out. After this he continued the hunt for
Heracleides, and Theodotes, sending messages, urged Heracleides to
take flight. Dionysios sent out Teisias and some peltasts with
orders to pursue him. But Heracleides, as it was said, was just in
time, by a small fraction of a day, in making his escape into
Carthaginian territory.

  After this Dionysios thought that his long cherished scheme not to
restore Dion's property would give him a plausible excuse for
hostility towards me; and first of all he sent me out of the
acropolis, finding a pretext that the women were obliged to hold a
sacrificial service for ten days in the garden in which I had my
lodging. He therefore ordered me to stay outside in the house of
Archedemos during this period. While I was there, Theodotes sent for
me and made a great outpouring of indignation at these occurrences,
throwing the blame on Dionysios. Hearing that I had been to see
Theodotes he regarded this, as another excuse, sister to the
previous one, for quarrelling with me. Sending a messenger he enquired
if I had really been conferring with Theodotes on his invitation
"Certainly," I replied, "Well," continued the messenger, "he ordered
me to tell you that you are not acting at all well in preferring
always Dion and Dion's friends to him." And he did not send for me
to return to his house, as though it were now clear that Theodotes and
Heracleides were my friends, and he my enemy. He also thought that I
had no kind feelings towards him because the property of Dion was
now entirely done for.

  After this I resided outside the acropolis among the mercenaries.
Various people then came to me, among them those of the ships' crews
who came from Athens, my own fellow citizens, and reported that I
was evil spoken of among the peltasts, and that some of them were
threatening to make an end of me, if they could ket hold of me
Accordingly I devised the following plan for my safety.

  I sent to Archytes and my other friends in Taras, telling them the
plight I was in. Finding some excuse for an embassy from their city,
they sent a thirty-oared galley with Lamiscos, one of themselves,
who came and entreated Dionysios about me, saying that I wanted to go,
and that he should on no account stand in my way. He consented and
allowed me to go, giving me money for the journey. But for Dion's
property I made no further request, nor was any of it restored.

  I made my way to the Peloponnese to Olympia, where I found Dion a
spectator at the Games, and told him what had occurred. Calling Zeus
to be his witness, he at once urged me with my relatives and friends
to make preparations for taking vengeance on Dionysios-our ground
for action being the breach of faith to a guest-so he put it and
regarded it, while his own was his unjust expulsion and banishment.
Hearing this, I told him that he might call my friends to his aid,
if they wished to go; "But for myself," I continued, "you and others
in a way forced me to be the sharer of Dionysios' table and hearth and
his associate in the acts of religion. He probably believed the
current slanders, that I was plotting with you against him and his
despotic rule; yet feelings of scruple prevailed with him, and he
spared my life. Again, I am hardly of the age for being comrade in
arms to anyone; also I stand as a neutral between you, if ever you
desire friendship and wish to benefit one another; so long as you
aim at injuring one another, call others to your aid." This I said,
because I was disgusted with my misguided journeyings to Sicily and my
ill-fortune there. But they disobeyed me and would not listen to my
attempts at reconciliation, and so brought on their own heads all
the evils which have since taken place. For if Dionysios had
restored to Dion his property or been reconciled with him on any
terms, none of these things would have happened, so far as human
foresight can foretell. Dion would have easily been kept in check by
my wishes and influence. But now, rushing upon one another, they
have caused universal disaster.

  Dion's aspiration however was the same that I should say my own or
that of any other right-minded man ought to be. With regard to his own
power, his friends and his country the ideal of such a man would be to
win the greatest power and honour by rendering the greatest
services. And this end is not attained if a man gets riches for
himself, his supporters and his country, by forming plots and
getting together conspirators, being all the while a poor creature,
not master of himself, overcome by the cowardice which fears to
fight against pleasures; nor is it attained if he goes on to kill
the men of substance, whom he speaks of as the enemy, and to plunder
their possessions, and invites his confederates and supporters to do
the same, with the object that no one shall say that it is his
fault, if he complains of being poor. The same is true if anyone
renders services of this kind to the State and receives honours from
her for distributing by decrees the property of the few among the
many-or if, being in charge the affairs of a great State which rules
over many small ones, he unjustly appropriates to his own State the
possessions of the small ones. For neither a Dion nor any other man
will, with his eyes open, make his way by steps like these to a
power which will be fraught with destruction to himself and his
descendants for all time; but he will advance towards constitutional
government and the framing of the justest and best laws, reaching
these ends without executions and murders even on the smallest scale.

  This course Dion actually followed, thinking it preferable to suffer
iniquitous deeds rather than to do them; but, while taking precautions
against them, he nevertheless, when he had reached the climax of
victory over his enemies, took a false step and fell, a catastrophe
not at all surprising. For a man of piety, temperance and wisdom, when
dealing with the impious, would not be entirely blind to the character
of such men, but it would perhaps not be surprising if he suffered the
catastrophe that might befall a good ship's captain, who would not
be entirely unaware of the approach of a storm, but might be unaware
of its extraordinary and startling violence, and might therefore be
overwhelmed by its force. The same thing caused Dion's downfall. For
he was not unaware that his assailants were thoroughly bad men, but he
was unaware how high a pitch of infatuation and of general
wickedness and greed they had reached. This was the cause of his
downfall, which has involved Sicily in countless sorrows.

  As to the steps which should be taken after the events which I
have now related, my advice has been given pretty fully and may be
regarded as finished; and if you ask my reasons for recounting the
story of my second journey to Sicily, it seemed to me essential that
an account of it must be given because of the strange and
paradoxical character of the incidents. If in this present account
of them they appear to anyone more intelligible, and seem to anyone to
show sufficient grounds in view of the circumstances, the present
statement is adequate and not too lengthy.

                            -THE END-