Ninth Letter (Plato)

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The Ninth Letter of Plato, also called Epistle IX or Letter IX, is an epistle that is traditionally ascribed to Plato. In the Stephanus pagination, it spans III. 357d–358b.

The letter is ostensibly written to Archytas of Tarentum, whom Plato met during his first trip to Sicily in 387 BCE. Archytas had sent a letter with Archippus and Philonides, two Pythagoreans who had gone on to mention to Plato that Archytas was unhappy about not being able to get free of his public responsibilities. The Ninth Letter is sympathetic, noting that nothing is more pleasant than to attend to one's own business, especially when that business is the one that Archytas would engage in (viz. philosophy). Yet everyone has responsibilities to one's fatherland (πατρίς), parents, and friends, to say nothing of the need to provide for daily necessities. When the fatherland calls, it is improper not to answer, especially as a refusal will leave politics to the care of worthless men. The letter then declares that enough has been said of this subject, and concludes by noting that Plato will take care of Echecrates, who is still a youth (νεανίσκος), for Archytas' sake and that of Echecrates' father, as well as for the boy himself.

R. G. Bury describes the Ninth Letter as "a colourless and commonplace effusion which we would not willingly ascribe to Plato, and which no correspondent of his would be likely to preserve;" he also notes "certain peculiarities of diction which point to a later hand."[1] A character by the name of Echecrates also appears in the Phaedo, though Bury suggests that he, if the same person mentioned here, could hardly have been called a youth by the time Plato met Archytas. Despite the fact that Cicero attests to its having been written by Plato,[2] most scholars consider it a literary forgery.

See also


  1. Bury, Epistle IX, 591.
  2. Cicero, De Finibus, Bonorum et Malorum, ii. 14; De Officiis, i. 7.


  • Bury, R. G., ed. (1942) Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.