THE love I bear you obliges me to give you, not indeed a precept (for you are far from needing a preceptor), but a reminder that you should resolutely act up to the knowledge you already have, or else improve it. Consider that you are sent to the province of Achaia, that real, genuine Greece where politeness, learning, and even agriculture itself, are supposed to have first arisen. You are commissioned to superintend the affairs of free states; in other words, of men who are in the fullest sense men, and freemen who are in the highest sense free; who have maintained the right they received from Nature, by courage, by virtue, by friendship‹in fine, by civil treaties and religious sanctions.
You will revere their Divine Founders, and the workings of divine powers among them; their ancient glory, and even their very age, which as it is venerable in men, in states it is sacred. Cherish sentiments of respect for their antiquity, their colossal achievements, and even for their legends. Let no man's dignity, liberty, or vanity, suffer the least diminution at your hands. Remember it was from this land we derived our legal code, that she gave us laws not by right of conquest, but as a favour. Remember it is Athens you approach; it is Lacedaemon you govern; and to snatch from such a people the shadow that remains, the name that is left, of their freedom, would be a harsh, cruel, nay, barbarous, act. Physicians, you see, though in sickness there is no difference between slaves and freemen, yet give the latter milder and more gentle treatment.
Recollect each city's former greatness, but not so as to despise her for having lost it. Far be pride and asperity from my friend; nor fear that a proper condescension can breed contempt. Can he who is vested with the powers and bears the ensigns of the state‹can he be contemned, unless he is a low, sordid being, and sets the example by his self-contempt? To put affronts upon others is an ill way of testing the force of your authority; ill-gotten the homage inspired by terror; and love will help you to gain your ends far more effectually than fear. For while fear departs the moment you withdraw your presence, love abides! and as fear turns to hatred, so does love to respect.
It behoves you then (I cannot but repeat it), to recall again and again the terms of your commission, and to make yourself clearly comprehend the nature and importance of your task as comptroller of free states. For what is more constitutional than such control, or more precious than liberty? How infamous, then, his conduct, who tranforms controlling into overturning and liberty into slavery !
Moreover, you are your own rival. The reputation of having been an admirable Quaestor, which you brought home from Bithynia; the approbation of the Emperor; your conduct as Tribune and Praetor; in a word, this very mission, which may be looked upon as the reward of your services‹all these are so many weighty responsibilities. So much the more must you endeavour to avoid the imputation, that you showed more honesty, sympathy, and skill in a remote, than in a suburban province; among a subject, than among a free people; when you held office by lot, tban when you did so by deliberate choice; whilst you were still a novice and unknown, than after you had been tried and tested. For, speaking generally, the maxim you have often heard and read holds true‹'tis far more disfiguring to lose, than to lack, men's praises.
Pray believe, what I began by saying, that I have written as your monitor, not your preceptor, though I have played the preceptor also. For, to be sure, I am not afraid of carrying affection beyond its just limits: since there cannot be any danger of excess where we ought to advance as far as possible. Farewell.