Tenth Letter (Plato)

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The Tenth Letter of Plato, also known as Epistle X or Letter X, is an epistle that tradition has ascribed to Plato. It is the shortest of the Epistles of Plato, comprising two or three sentences aside from the salutation, and spanning a single letter in the Stephanus pagination (358c).


I hear from Dion that you are one of his most trusted followers and have been so from the beginning, manifesting the most philosphical of the philosophical virtues; for to be steadfast, loyal, and dependable—this, I say, is true philosophy; whereas all other learning, and all cleverness directed to any other end than this, I call—and I think rightly—mere ornaments. Farewell; hold fast to these virtues that you have thus far manifested.

— Tenth Letter, traditionally attributed to Plato[1]


Few consider the Tenth Letter to be authentic.[2] It purports to be a private letter of encouragement to an otherwise unknown Aristodorus, commending him for his continued support of Dion, presumably during the latter's exile from Syracuse in his struggle for power with his nephew, Dionysius the Younger. Why such a letter would be preserved is unknown. More damaging to the letter's authenticity is its rather un-Platonic claim that genuine philosophy, which Aristodorus supposedly exhibits to the highest degree, consists entirely of steadfastness, trustworthiness, and sincerity, apparently to the exclusion of any intellectual qualities or even of any particular love of learning: any wisdom or cleverness which tends toward other moral commitments is rightly called "ingenuity" or "daintiness" (Bury translates "parlour-tricks;" Post, "embellishments;" κομψότητας).[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cooper, John M.; Hutchinson, D.S. (1997). Plato: Complete Works. Indianapolis: Hackett. p. 1672. ISBN 9780872203495.
  2. ^ Bury, Epistle X, 599; Hamilton and Cairns, Collected Dialogues, 1516.
  3. ^ Bury, Epistle X, 599.


  • Bury, R. G., ed. (1942) Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Hamilton, Edith and Cairns, Huntington, ed. (1961 [1989]) The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Post, L. A., ed. (1925) Thirteen Epistles of Plato. Oxford.