Letter to Themistius


Ἐγώ σοι βεβαιῶσαι μέν, ὥσπερ οὖν γράφεις, τὰς ἐλπίδας καὶ σφόδρα εὔχομαι, δέδοικα δὲ μὴ διαμάρτω, μείζονος οὔσης τῆς ὑποσχέσεως, ἣν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ πρός τε τοὺς ἄλλους ἅπαντας καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον πρὸς σεαυτὸν ποιῇ· καί μοι πάλαι μὲν οἰομένῳ πρός τε τὸν Ἀλέξανδρον καὶ τὸν Μάρκον, καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος γέγονεν ἀρετῇ διαφέρων, εἶναιB τὴν ἅμιλλαν φρίκη τις προσῄει καὶ δέος θαυμαστόν, μὴ τοῦ μὲν ἀπολείπεσθαι παντελῶς τῆς ἀνδρείας δόξω, τοῦ δὲ τῆς τελείας ἀρετῆς οὐδὲ ἐπ᾿ ὀλίγον ἐφίκωμαι. εἰς ταῦτα ἀφορῶν ἀνεπειθόμην τὴν σχολὴν ἐπαινεῖν, καὶ τῶν Ἀττικῶν διαιτημάτων1 αὐτός τε ἡδέως ἐμεμνήμην καὶ τοῖς φίλοις ὑμῖν προσᾴδειν ἠξίουν, ὥσπερ οἱ τὰ βαρέα φορτία φέροντες ἐν ταῖς ᾠδαῖς ἐπικουφίζουσιν αὑτοῖς τὴν ταλαιπωρίαν. σὺ δέ μοι νῦν μεῖζον ἐποίησας διὰ τῆς ἔναγχος ἐπιστολῆς τὸ δέος καὶC τὸν ἀγῶνα τῷ παντὶ χαλεπώτερον ἔδειξας, ἐν ταύτῃ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τετάχθαι με τῇ μερίδι λέγων, ἐν ᾗ πρότερον Ἡρακλῆς καὶ Διόνυσος ἐγενέσθην φιλοσοφοῦντες ὁμοῦ καὶ βασιλεύοντες καὶ πᾶσαν


Letter to Themistius

Letter to Themistius the Philosopher

I earnestly desire to fulfil your hopes of me even as you express them in your letter, but I am afraid I shall fall short of them, since the expectations you have raised both in the minds of others, and still more in your own, are beyond my powers. There was a time when I believed that I ought to try to rival men who have been most distinguished for excellence, Alexander, for instance, or Marcus;1 but I shivered at the thought and was seized with terror lest I should fail entirely to come up to the courage of the former, and should not make even the least approach to the latter’s perfect virtue. With this in mind I convinced myself that I preferred a life of leisure, and I both gladly recalled the Attic manner of living, and thought myself to be in sweet accord with you who are my friends, just as those who carry heavy burdens lighten their labour by singing.2 But by your recent letter you have increased my fears, and you point to an enterprise in every way more difficult. You say that God has placed me in the same position as Heracles and Dionysus of old who, being at once philosophers and

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.emperor_julian-letter_themistius_philosopher.1913