For a comment on ancient stenography, see Verse 7. The translation is submitted for approval and accepted as read, and (Verse 23) a rising vote of approval is taken and unanimously carried.
I HAVE written at length and must crave your pardon, Philocrates.
2 I was astonished beyond measure at the men and the way in which on the spur of the moment they gave answers which really needed a long time to devise.
3 For though the questioner had given great thought to each particular question, those who replied one after the other had their answers to the questions ready at once and so they seemed to me and to all who were present and especially to the philosophers to be worthy of admiration.
4 And I suppose that the thing will seem incredible to those who will read my narrative in the future.
5 But it is unseemly to misrepresent facts which are recorded in the public archives.
6 And it would not be right for me to transgress in such a matter as this. I tell the story just as it happened, conscientiously avoiding any error.
7 I was so impressed by the force of their utterances, that I made an effort to consult those whose business it was to make a record of all that happened at the royal audiences and banquets.
8 For it is the custom, as you know, from the moment the king begins to transact business until the time when he retires to rest, for a record to be taken of all his sayings and doings--a most excellent and useful arrangement.
9 For on the following day the minutes of the doings and sayings of the previous day are read over before business commence, and if there has been any irregularity, the matter is at once set right.
10 I obtained therefore, as has been said, accurate information from the public records, and I have set forth the facts in proper order since I know how eager you are to obtain useful information.
11 Three days later Demetrius took the men and passing along the sea-wall, seven stadia long, to the island, crossed the bridge and made for the northern districts of Pharos.
12 There he assembled them in a house, which had been built upon the sea-shore, of great beauty and in a secluded situation, and invited them to carry out the work of translation, since everything that they needed for the purpose was placed at their disposal.
13 So they set to work comparing their several results and making them agree, and whatever they agreed upon was suitably copied out under the direction of Demetrius.
14 And the session lasted until the ninth hour; after this they were set free to minister to their physical needs.
15 Everything they wanted was furnished for them on a lavish scale. In addition to this Dorotheus made the same preparations for them daily as were made for the king himself--for
thus he had been commanded by the king.
16 In the early morning they appeared daily at the Court, and after saluting the king went back to their own place.
17 And as is the custom of all the Jews, they washed their hands in the sea and prayed to God and then devoted themselves to reading and translating the particular passage upon which they were engaged, and I put the question to them, Why it was that they washed their hands before they prayed?
18 And they explained that it was a token that they had done no evil (for every form of activity is wrought by means of the hands) since in their noble and holy way they regard everything as a symbol of righteousness and truth.
19 As I have already said, they met together daily in the place which was delightful for its quiet and its brightness and applied themselves to their task.
20 And it so chanced that the work of translation was completed in seventy-two days, just as if this had been arranged of set purpose.
21 When the work was completed, Demetrius collected together the Jewish population in the place where the translation had been made, and read it over to all, in the presence of the translators, who met with a great reception also from the people, because of the great benefits which they had conferred upon them.
22 They bestowed warm praise upon Demetrius, too, and urged him to have the whole law transcribed and present a copy to their leaders.
23 After the books had been read, the priests and the elders of the translators and the Jewish community and the leaders of the people stood up and said, that since so excellent and sacred and accurate a translation had been made, it was only right that it should remain as it was and no alteration should be made in it
24 And when the whole company expressed their approval, they bade them pronounce a curse in accordance with their custom upon anyone who should make any alteration either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words which had been written or making any omission.
25 This was a very wise precaution to ensure that the book might be preserved for all the future time unchanged.
26 When the matter was reported to the king, he rejoiced greatly, for he felt that the design which he had formed had been safely carried out.
27 The whole book was read over to him and he was greatly astonished at the spirit of the lawgiver.
28 And he said to Demetrius, 'How is it that none of the historians or 'the poets have ever thought it worth their while to allude to such a wonderful achievement?'
29 And he replied, 'Because the law is sacred and of divine origin. And some of those who formed the intention of dealing with it have been smitten by God and therefore desisted from their purpose.'
30 He said that he had heard from Theopompus that he had been driven out of his mind for more than thirty days because he intended to insert in his history some of the incidents from the earlier and somewhat unreliable translations of the law.
31 When he had recovered a little, he besought God to make it clear to him why the misfortune had befallen him.
32 And it was revealed to him in a dream, that from idle curiosity he was wishing to communicate
sacred truths to common men, and that if he desisted he would recover his health.
33 I have heard, too, from the lips of Theodektes, one of the tragic poets, that when he was about to adapt some of the incidents recorded in the book for one of his plays, he was affected with cataract in both his eyes.
34 And when he perceived the reason why the misfortune had befallen him, he prayed to God for many days and was afterwards restored.
35 And after, the king, as I have already said, had received the explanation of Demetrius on this point, he did homage and ordered that great care should be taken of the books, and that they should be sacredly guarded.
36 And he urged the translators to visit him frequently after their return to Judea, for it was only right, he said, that he should now send them home.
37 But when they came back, he would treat them as friends, as was right, and they would receive rich presents from him.
38 He ordered preparations to be made for them to return home, and treated them most munificently.
39 He presented each one of them with three robes of the finest sort, two talents of gold, a sideboard weighing one talent, all the furniture for three couches.
40 And with the escort he sent Eleazar ten couches with silver legs and all the necessary equipment, a sideboard worth thirty talents, ten robes, purple, and a magnificent crown, and a hundred pieces of the finest woven linen, also bowls and dishes, and two golden beakers to be dedicated to God.
41 He urged him also in a letter that if any of the men preferred to come back to him, not to hinder them.
42 For he counted it a great privilege to enjoy the society of such learned men, and he would rather lavish his wealth upon them than upon vanities.
43 And now Philocrates, you have the complete story in accordance with my promise.
44 I think that you find greater pleasure in these matters than in the writings of the mythologists.
45 For you are devoted to the study of those things which can benefit the soul, and spend much time upon it. I shall attempt to narrate whatever other events are worth recording, that by perusing them you may secure the highest reward for your zeal.