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Jowett: LETTER I

quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022


[1.309a] Plato to Dionysius wishes well  -doing.

After I had spent so long a time with you and was trusted above all others in my administration of your government, while you were enjoying the benefits I was enduring the slanders, grievous as they were. For I knew that men would not believe that any of your more brutal acts were done with my consent, seeing that I have for my witnesses [1.309b] all those who take a part in your government, many of whom I have helped in their times of trial and saved them from no small damage. But after I had oftentimes kept guard over your City as sole Dictator, I was dismissed with more ignominy than a beggar would deserve who had stayed with you for so long a time, were you to pack him off and order him to sail away. For the future, therefore, I for my part will consult my own interests in less philanthropic fashion, while you, “gross tyrant that you are, will dwell alone.” And as for the splendid sum of gold [1.309c] which you gave for my journey home, Baccheius, the bearer of this letter, is taking it back to you. For it was neither a sufficient sum for my journey nor was it otherwise useful for my support ; and since it reflects the greatest disgrace on you who offer it, and not much less on me if I accept it, I therefore refuse to accept it. But evidently neither the giving nor the accepting of such an amount makes any difference to you ; take it, then, and befriend therewith some other companion of yours as you did me ; for I, in sooth, have had enough of your “befriending.” [1.309d] Indeed, I may appropriately quote the verse of Euripides — that one day, when other fortunes befall you,

Thou’lt pray for such a helper by thy side.

And I desire to remind you that most of the other tragedians also, when they show a tyrant on the stage slaughtered by someone, represent him as crying out — [1.310a]

Bereft of friends — ah ! woe is me — I die.

But not one of them has represented him as dying for lack of gold. This other poem also to men of judgement seemeth not amiss —

In this our human life, with halting hopes,

It is not glittering gold that rarest is :

Not diamond nor couches silver-wrought

Appear so brilliant in the eyes of men :

Nor do the fertile fields of earth’s broad breast,

Laden with crops, so all-sufficing seem

As gallant men’s unanimous resolve.

[1.310b] Farewell ; and may you learn how much you have lost in us, so that you may behave yourself better towards all others.