Letter xxi. To Leontius the Sophist.
The excellent Julianus [1913] seems to get some good for his private affairs out of the general condition of things. Everything nowadays is full of taxes demanded and called in, and he too is vehemently dunned and indicted. Only it is a question not of arrears of rates and taxes, but of letters. But how he comes to be a defaulter I do not know. He has always paid a letter, and received a letter -- as he has this. But possibly you have a preference for the famous "four-times-as-much." [1914] For even the Pythagoreans were not so fond of their Tetractys, [1915] as these modern tax-collectors of their "four-times-as-much." Yet perhaps the fairer thing would have been just the opposite, that a Sophist like you, so very well furnished with words, should be bound in pledge to me for "four-times-as-much." But do not suppose for a moment that I am writing all this out of ill-humour. I am only too pleased to get even a scolding from you. The good and beautiful do everything, it is said, with the addition of goodness and beauty. [1916] Even grief and anger in them are becoming. At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than any one else flattering him. Do not then cease preferring charges like the last! The very charge will mean a letter; and nothing can be more precious or delightful to me.

[1912] Of about the same date as the preceding.

[1913] cf. Ep. ccxciii..

[1914] The Ben. note quotes Ammianus Marcellinus xxvi. 6, where it is said of Petronius, father-in-law of Valens: "ad nudandos sine discretione cunctos immaniter flagrans nocentes pariter et insontes post exquisita tormenta quadrupli nexibus vinciebat, debita jam inde a temporibus principio Aureliani perscrutans, et impendio mærens si quemquam absolvisset indemnem;" and adds: "Est ergo quadruplum hoc loco non quadrimenstrua pensio, non superexactio, sed debitorum, quæ soluta non fuerant, crudelis inquisitio et quadrupli poena his qui non solverant imposita."

[1915] tetraktus was the Pythagorean name for the sum of the first four numbers (1+2+3+4=10), held by them to be the root of all creation. cf. the Pythagorean oath: Nai ma ton hametera psucha paradonta tetraktun, Pagan aenaou phuseos rhizomat' echousan cf. my note on Theodoret, Ep. 130. for the use of tetraktus for the Four Gospels.

[1916] Tois kalois panta meta tes tou kalou prosthekes ginesthai. The pregnant sense of kalos makes translation difficult.

letter xx to leontius the
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