321 ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ παρακαλῶν, ἵνα, ἐάν τινες τῶν ἀνδρῶν προαιρῶνται πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀνακομισθῆναι, μὴ κωλύσῃ, περὶ πολλοῦ ποιούμενος τοῖς πεπαιδευμένοις συνεῖναι, καὶ εἰς τοιούτους τὸν πλοῦτον κατατίθεσθαι δαψιλῶς, καὶ οὐκ εἰς μάταια. 322 Σὺ δέ, καθὼς ἐπηγγειλάμην, ἀπέχεις τὴν διήγησιν, ὦ Φιλόκρατες. τέρπειν γὰρ οἴομαί σε ταῦτα ἢ τὰ τῶν μυθολόγων βιβλία. νένευκας γὰρ πρὸς περιεργίαν τῶν δυναμένων ὠφελεῖν διάνοιαν, καὶ ἐν τούτοις τὸν πλείονα χρόνον διατελεῖς. πειράσομαι δὲ καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν ἀξιολόγων ἀναγράφειν, ἵνα διαπορευόμενος αὐτὰ κομίζῃ τοῦ βουλήματος τὸ κάλλιστον ἔπαθλον.
The Letter of Aristeas translated by R. Charles
Since I have collected Material for a memorable history of my visit to Eleazar the High priest of the Jews, and because you, Philocrates, as you lose no opportunity of reminding me, have set great store upon receiving an account of the motives and object of my mission, I have attempted to draw up a clear exposition of the matter for you, for I perceive that you possess a natural love of learning, 2 a quality which is the highest possession of man – to be constantly attempting ‘to add to his stock of knowledge and acquirements’ whether through the study of history or by actually participating in the events themselves. It is by this means, by taking up into itself the noblest elements, that the soul is established in purity, and having fixed its aim on piety, the noblest goal of all, it uses this as its infallible guide and so acquires a definite purpose. 3 It was my devotion to the pursuit of religious knowledge that led me to undertake the embassy to the man I have mentioned, who was held in the highest esteem by his own citizens and by others both for his virtue and his majesty and who had in his possession documents of the highest value to the Jews in his own country and in foreign lands for the interpretation of the divine law, for their 4 laws are written on leather parchments in Jewish characters. This embassy then I undertook with enthusiasm, having first of all found an opportunity of pleading with the king on behalf of the Jewish captives who had been transported from Judea to Egypt by the king’s father, when he first obtained possession of this city and conquered the land of Egypt. It is worth while that I should tell 5 you this story, too, since I am convinced that you, with your disposition towards holiness and your sympathy with men who are living in accordance with the holy law, will all the more readily listen to the account which I purpose to set forth, since you yourself have lately come to us from the island and are anxious to hear everything that tends to build up the soul. 6 On a former occasion, too I sent you a record of the facts which I thought worth relating about the Jewish race – the record 7 which I had obtained from the most learned high priests of the most learned land of Egypt. As you are so eager to acquire the knowledge of those things which can benefit the mind, I feel it incumbent upon me to impart to you all the information in my power. I should feel the same duty towards all who possessed the same disposition but I feel it especially towards you since you have aspirations which are so noble, and since you are not only my brother in character no less than in blood but are one with me as well in the pursuit of goodness. 8 For neither the pleasure derived from gold nor any other of the possessions which are prized by shallow minds confers the same benefit as the pursuit of culture and the study which we expend in securing it. But that I may not weary you by a too lengthy introduction, I will proceed at once to the substance of my narrative.