For Recommendation Season, A Letter of Reference from Fronto

Fronto, Letters to Friends 1.4 (Ambr. 308):

“Greetings to Aegrilius,

If you trust me at all, I comment to you Julius Aquilinus, a man most learned, most articulate, fantastically trained by the disciplines of philosophy for the best arts, and shaped by the study of eloquence to a peerless ability to speak. It is right that so very serious and wise a man should receive from you, a man as learned and serious, not only protection but promotion and respect.

Aquilinus is also—if you trust my opinion—a man of the kind of character that he must be considered an ornament to you no less than he has been to me. You will not doubt that what I say is true once you take the time to hear him speak about Platonic doctrine.

Thanks to your wisdom and intelligence, you will see that he is not inequal to his impressive fame, thanks to his immense wealth in the finest words and the great flood of his thoughts. Once you have understood that this is true, be warned that there is more to this man’s character still since his honesty and his modesty are so great. The greatest crowds of people came together to hear him at Rome on many occasions.”

Aegrilio Plariano salutem.

Iulium Aquilinum virum, si quid mihi credis doctis|simum facundissimum, philosophiae disciplinis ad optimas artes, eloquentiae studiis ad egregiam facundiam eximie eruditum, commendo tibi quam possum studiosissime. Decet a te gravissimo et sapientissimo viro tam doctum tamque elegantem virum non modo protegi sed etiam provehi et illustrari. Est etiam, si quid mihi credis, Aquilinus eiusmodi vir ut in tui ornamentis aeque ac nostri merito numerandus sit. Non dubitabis ita esse ut dico, si eum audire disputantem de Platonicis disciplinis dignatus fueris. Perspicies pro tua prudentia intellegentiaque summa <non> minorem fama, lucu lentissimum verborum adparatu, maxima frequentia sententiarum. Quom haec ita esse deprehenderis, scito amplius esse in hominis moribus, tanta probitate est et verecundia: maximi concursus ad audiendum eum Romae saepe facti sunt.

Royal Library. Ms. 4, 2o f. 183v

Chickpeas For a Job Offer

P. Cairo Zen. 59192.255 b.c.

Platon writes to Zêno, Hello.

The father of the Demetrios who is bringing this letter to you happens to make a living in the Arsinoite nome. The boy therefore wishes to work there himself. When he learned that you were friendly, some of his friends asked me to write you about him so that you might hire him on. I’d be thankful to you, should you do this favor for me and think of something he may do, whatever you consider to be appropriate, and also keep an eye out for him the rest of the time, if he is in fact useful to you.

As a token of this goodwill I send you two measures of chickpeas from Sosos which cost me five drachmae each. I will also try to buy more if there are any at Naukratis and I will bring them to you myself. Farewell.

P. Cairo Zen. 59192.255 b.c.

1Πλάτων Ζήνω[νι χαί]ρειν. Δημητρίου τοῦ ἀποδιδόντος σοι τὴν ἐπιστολήν, ὡς ἔοικ[εν, ὁ πα]τὴρ τυγχάνει τὰς διατριβὰς ποιούμενος ἐν τ[ῶι] 3Ἀρσινο[ΐτ]ηι νομ[ῶι. βούλε]ται οὖν κα[ὶ αὐ]τὸς ὁ νεανίσκος ἐκεῖ πράττε[ι]ν τ[ι]. πυνθανόμενος δέ σε εἶναι ἐπιε[ι]κῆ ἠξίωσάν τινές με τῶν φίλων γράψαι [σο]ι περ[ὶ αὐ]τ[οῦ], ἵνα κατατάξηις που αὐτὸν π〚.〛αρὰ σοί. καλῶς [οὖν ποι-]ήσεις εὐχαριστήσας ἡμῖν καὶ φροντίσας ἵνα πράττηι τι, ὃ ἂν σὺ δοκιμάζηις 7ἐπιτήδειον εἶναι, καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιμελόμενος αὐτοῦ, ἐάμπερ σοι ἦι χρήσιμ[ος]. σημεῖον δὲ ὅτι σοι ἀπέστειλα παρὰ Σώσου ἐρεβίνθου κριοῦ ἀρ(τάβας) β ἠγορασμένας ἀνὰ (δραχμὰς) ε, πειράσομαι δὲ καὶ ἐγ Ναυκράτεως, ἐὰν ἦι, προσαγοράσαι σοι εἰς ἀρ(τάβας) κ〚. .〛 καὶ αὐτός σοι ἀναγαγεῖν. ἔρρωσο. (ἔτους) λα μηνὸς Δίου ιβ.