Isocrates, Letters 1. To Dionysius

LCL 373: 372-373

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Εἰ μὲν νεώτερος ἦν, οὐκ ἂν ἐπιστολὴν ἔπεμπον, ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς ἄν σοι πλεύσας ἐνταῦθα διελέχθην· ἐπειδὴ δ᾿ οὐ κατὰ τοὺς αὐτοὺς χρόνους ὅ τε τῆς ἡλικίας τῆς ἐμῆς καιρὸς καὶ τῶν σῶν πραγμάτων συμβέβηκεν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐγὼ μὲν προαπείρηκα, τὰ δὲ πράττεσθαι νῦν ἀκμὴν εἴληφεν, ὡς οἷόν τ᾿ ἐστὶν ἐκ τῶν παρόντων, οὕτω σοι πειράσομαι δηλῶσαι περὶ αὐτῶν.


Οἶδα μὲν οὖν ὅτι τοῖς συμβουλεύειν ἐπιχειροῦσι πολὺ διαφέρει μὴ διὰ γραμμάτων ποιεῖσθαι τὴν συνουσίαν ἀλλ᾿ αὐτοὺς πλησιάσαντας, οὐ μόνον ὅτι περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν πραγμάτων ῥᾷον ἄν τις παρὼν πρὸς παρόντα φράσειεν ἢ δι᾿ ἐπιστολῆς δηλώσειεν, οὐδ᾿ ὅτι πάντες τοῖς λεγομένοις μᾶλλον ἢ τοῖς γεγραμμένοις πιστεύουσι, καὶ τῶν μὲν ὡς εἰσηγημάτων, τῶν δ᾿ ὡς ποιημάτων ποιοῦνται τὴν ἀκρόασιν· 3ἔτι δὲ πρὸς τούτοις ἐν μὲν ταῖς συνουσίαις [405]ἢν ἀγνοηθῇ τι τῶν λεγομένων ἢ μὴ πιστευθῇ, παρὼν ὁ τὸν λόγον διεξιὼν ἀμφοτέροις τούτοις ἐπήμυνεν, ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἐπιστελλομένοις καὶ γεγραμμένοις ἢν τι συμβῇ τοιοῦτον, οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ διορθώσων· ἀπόντος γὰρ τοῦ γράψαντος ἔρημα τοῦ


To Dionysius

Lettter 1. Isocrates Sends Greeting to Dionysius

If I were younger, I should not be sending you a letter, but should myself take ship and converse with you there; but inasmuch as it so happens that the fruitful period of my life and that of your own affairs have not coincided—since I am already spent with years, and with you it is the high time for action—I shall try to disclose to you my views about the situation as well as I can in the circumstances.

I know, to be sure, that when men essay to give advice, it is far preferable that they should come in person rather than send a letter, not only because it is easier to discuss the same matters face to face than to give their views by letter, nor yet because all men give greater credence to the spoken rather than to the written word, since they listen to the former as to practical advice and to the latter as to an artistic compositiona; but also, in addition to these reasons, in personal converse, if anything that is said is either not understood or not believed, the one who is presenting the arguments, being present, can come to the rescue in either case; but when written missives are used and any such misconception arises, there is no one to correct it,b for since the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.isocrates-letters_1_dionysius.1945