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1. ISOCRATES was the fourth of the "ten Attic orators," the other nine, in chronological order, being Antiphon, Andocides, Lysias, Isaeus, Demosthenes, Aeschines, Hyperides, Lycurgus, and Dinarchus.
He was born in the beginning of the eighty-sixth olympiad, during the archonship of Lysimachus, i.e., in B.C. 436, five years before the commencement of the Peloponnesian war. His father was an Athenian citizen, named Theodorus, belonging to the deme, or district, of Erchia: he was a well-to-do member of the middle class, his income being derived from a flute manufactory. He served the state as choregus:1 in the words of his son,2 "he made himself useful to the state, and educated us so carefully, that at that time I was more famous and better known amongst my fellow-pupils than I am now amongst my fellow-citizens." When he grew up, Isocrates further studied under some of the most famous sophists, or professors of wisdom,3 such as Protagoras of Abdera, Prodicus of Ceos, the author of the well-known fable of the "choice of Heracles,"4 Tisias of Syracuse, and, above all, Gorgias of Leontini. The Athenian statesman and orator, Theramenes, is also said to have been one of his teachers: at any rate, the story goes that when, during the rule of the Thirty at Athens, Theramenes was unjustly condemned by Critias, Isocrates rose and stoutly defended him, showing that, if the story be true, he could on emergency overcome his natural defect of want of nerve. He was never admitted into the inner Socratic "circle," but his moral and intellectual character was doubtless influenced by the great teacher, with whom he enjoyed a certain amount of intimacy. He is said to have appeared in mourning in the streets after the death of Socrates, but it is doubtful whether his feelings towards him were so pronounced as this would seem to imply: the only passage in which Socrates is mentioned (in the Busiris, §§ 4, 5) does not display much personal enthusiasm. However, Socrates on his part had the highest opinion of Isocrates: this may be gathered from the Phaedrus of Plato (279), where he says that, as Isocrates advances in years (he was at the time about thirty years of age) he will outstrip all his competitors in the kind of oratory to which he is devoting his attention: further, that in case he should not be satisfied with this, divine impulse might lead him on to greater things; for, he adds, the man is endowed by nature with a certain philosophy.
Isocrates himself tells us (Panathenaicus §10) that he was debarred from taking an active part in public life by reason of two natural defects: he possessed neither a strong voice nor a sufficient amount of self-confidence or "nerve" to enable him to hold his own against the noisy demagogues of the ecelesia or public assembly, or in the law courts, and, as he himself puts it, men who are deficient in those qualities are less held in honour than insolvent public debtors. He was naturally of a retiring disposition (Antidosis §151), and shy in the presence of strangers: and it was not until he was driven to it by actual necessity that he began to lead. a more active life.
2. During the last years of the Peloponnesian war, his father lost all his property, and Isocrates was compelled to look about for a means of gaining a livelihood. He had been extravagant in his youth--among other things he was fond of the turf--so that on the whole this was the best thing that could have happened to him. Authorities are not agreed as to the manner in which his time was spent until the establishment of his school at Athens, but the following account is considered most probable. After the downfall of the Thirty Tyrants, and the restoration of the democracy,5 he took to writing legal or forensic speeches for others, and was engaged in this work for ten years (B.C. 403-393): of this period of his literary career be afterwards speaks in most contemptuous terms. In B.C. 393 or B.C. 392 he went to the island of Chios, 6 where he gained considerable reputation as a teacher, and returned to Athens about B.C. 390, where he set up a regular school of rhetoric near the Lyceum, the chief of the Athenian Gymnasia.
3. At that time Athens was the centre of attraction of the ancient world, and a favourite resort of foreign visitors, who went thither both for pleasure and instruction. Athens, says Isocrates (Antidosis §295), is rightly regarded as the recognised teacher of all capable orators and trainers of thought and expression, so that not without reason all masters of eloquence are considered pupils of Athens. Many rich young men came from Sicily, and even from Pontus and the colonies of the Euxine, to prosecute their studies under the teachers of note. The school of Isocrates was largely attended, especially by foreigners, his name having become widely known through his writings. His earliest Athenian pupils are mentioned by name in the speech called Antidosis (§93): one of his later pupils was Timotheus (son of the famous Athenian admiral Conon), whom he is said to have accompanied on his campaigns, receiving a fee of a talent (£250) from the spoil of Samos for composing his despatches: it was through this Timotheus that Isocrates became acquainted with the princes of Salamis in Cyprus. Among his pupils may also be mentioned the historians Ephorus and Theopompus: the tragedians Asclepiades, Astydames, and Theodectes: the orators Hyperides, Isaeus, and Lycurgus: the archaeologist Androtion: and lastly, Isocrates of Apollonia, his successor.7 He is said to have had a hundred pupils altogether: the above names are sufficient evidence of his reputation as a teacher, and of the different classes from which they were drawn. All the competitions for the prize of oratory instituted by Artemisia, widow of the Carian prince, Mausolus, were pupils of Isocrates, the winner being Theopompus.8
4. Isocrates amassed considerable wealth by his profession: the fee which be demanded from foreigners was a thousand drachmae (£40) : it is said that he gave gratuitous instruction to his fellow-citizens, but we can scarcely believe that: he also received handsome presents from Nicocles and Evagoras. He was one of the 1,200 wealthiest Athenian citizens, who constituted the twenty symmories, or associations formed for the purpose of equipping vessels of war: this duty, called trierarchia, was one of the most expensive of the public services. He was three times trierarch: his first and only lawsuit9 was in B.C. 355, in reference to one of these very trierarchies.
5. Although he was prevented by the natural and physical defects mentioned above from taking a prominent part in public affairs, the influence Isocrates exercised in Athens and the Hellenic world generally was considerable. As he himself says:10 "Although I have avoided political life and public speaking, as I possessed neither sufficient voice nor self-confidence, I have not, however, been altogether useless or without reputation, but it will be found that I have been both counsellor and supporter to those who have undertaken to give good advice concerning your interests and those of the rest of the allies, and that I myself have composed more discourses on behalf of the freedom and independence of the Hellenes than all those who have worn down the public platforms." He thus found his true vocation "in expounding to the educated public in addresses and writings his views of the affairs of Hellas and Athens." There seems to be no doubt that in this he was thoroughly honest and patriotic (with perhaps one exception), but he was not the man whom the circumstances of the times required. He was always harping upon the past, and longing for a return to the days of Solon and Cleisthenes: without going so far as to call him "a thoroughly miserable and despicable writer " (Niebuhr), it cannot be denied that there was little that was fresh or original in his ideas, throughout the long period during which he was before the public: he was fond of propounding abstract political ideas, without duly considering whether they came within the range of practical politics, and how far the objects he had in view were attainable: he seems to have thought he had only to speak to get what he wanted from men like Dionysius of Syracuse. Whether his relations with Philip of Macedon were entirely above suspicion, does not seem quite clear: if they were, it can only be said that he was singularly confiding and lacking in the qualities of a man of the world.11 A certain vein of timidity also runs through his political principles: he deprecates any action on the part of Athens which might tend to disturb the public peace, and is even ready to advise her to renounce the idea of the position of a great power, and to allow those of the allies who desired to do so to withdraw from the league. His influence was thus due, partly to oral advice given to his pupils and friends, partly to his written speeches or "political pamphlets," which were primarily meant to be read, rather than composed with a view to their being actually delivered.
6. The object which Isocrates professedly had in view was to train young men in the art of speaking and writing on political subjects, in order to fit them to fulfil the active duties of life in a manner worthy of the citizens of the Hellenic world. He laid great stress upon the art of expression, not merely with the object of turning out first-class orators, who, he says, were few and far between, but as forming an essential part of general culture. By the term "philosophy,"12 which is of frequent occurrence in his writings, is meant "the theory of culture," with special reference to the duties of practical and political life, including the study of the art of speaking: "a combination of Rhetoric and Politic, in which the latter predominates " (Sandys). In the Antidosis (§ 271) he says that, since an absolute knowledge (epistêmê) of what is going to happen is impossible, whereby we should always know how to speak and act in all circumstances, the next best thing to do is to endeavour to form an opinion (doxa) how to act in various emergencies: and that those who are most successful in this, and occupy themselves in finding out the best way to do so, are worthy to be called philosophers, absolute knowledge of what may happen, and consequently absolute rules for guidance being, from the nature of things, out of the question.
Isocrates was in no sense of the word a "philosopher," as we understand the term: in fact, his character, as a whole, is far from being distinguished by philosophic indifference. In many passages he certainly makes use of words and expressions which seem to show his familiarity with the writings of Plato; such as the contrast between "absolute knowledge" and "mere opinion " just mentioned, and the use of the word "ideas" - in a sense, however, quite different from the Platonic. In fact he regarded the Platonic system of philosophy as "generally barren of practical results;" whenever he deals with such themes, he merely does so in reference to their bearing on practical life.
7. The art of expression, however, although he attached great importance to it, he did not consider by itself enough. He who aimed at composing speeches which should be worth reading and possess permanent value, must choose lofty themes, and treat them in an adequate manner: he must strive to get and to keep a good name. A detailed account of his "philosophy," his method of instruction, and the object he set before himself, is given in the speech on the Antidosis (Or. XV.), which expounds the "positive" side of his teaching, as the speech against the Sophists (Or. XIII.) the "negative."
The aim of Isocrates being not so much to impart any special training, as a general culture suitable for the needs of practical life, he draws a distinction between himself and the logographoi, whose only object was the composition of speeches likely to be effective in the law courts for "making the worse appear the better cause:" for these writers he entertained the greatest contempt, as neglecting the nobler side of their art. Although he does not repudiate the title of " sophist" in its best sense--one who really was what he professed to be, a wise man, or professor of wisdom which he really possessed, in contrast with one who was a mere quack, and professed wisdom which he had not--he is careful to separate himself from the agelaioi sophistai, or sophists belonging to the "common herd," against whom the (unfinished) speech against the Sophists (Or. XIII.) is directed. These men professed to know everything (panta phaskontes eidenai), and to be able to impart universal knowledge, virtue, and justice for a fee of three or four minae, about one-third of what Isocrates himself required, while Gorgias demanded as much as a hundred minae13 for a course of instruction. Equally faulty was their system of rhetoric: they took for their subjects paradoxical themes, e.g., that the lot of beggars and exiles was more enviable than that of the rest of mankind, or pronounced encomia upon most trivial subjects, such as humble bees, salt, mice, pots, and pebbles.
Isocrates, on the contrary, selected serious and dignified subjects; even in his younger days he tells us that he had avoided the mythical and heroic themes, which were in general favour, and had directed his efforts rather to what was likely to prove of service to the Hellenic world generally, such as national unity and mutual co-operation against their hereditary foe, the Persians: "my endeavour has been," he says, "according to the best of my ability, to give good counsel to the city, the Hellenes, and the most distinguished among mankind" (Philippus §82).
8. The life of Isocrates embraces the most eventful century of Greek history. He was born in the "golden age" of Athens, the age of Pericles, when that city was in her prime; he was thirty years of age when, as the result of the Peloponnesian War, her supremacy was overthrown. Then followed the dominion of Sparta, the temporary resuscitation of the maritime power of Athens, and the rapid rise and downfall of Thebes. The hitherto obscure and semi-barbarous --though still Hellenic - power of Macedonia next appeared upon the scene, and Isocrates lived to see the extinction of the freedom of Greece, brought about by the victory of Philip of Macedon at Chaeronea. Had he lived but two years longer he would have seen Alexander the Great mount the throne of Macedon, the great conqueror who was destined to carry out Isocrates's cherished project of an Asiatic campaign, though perhaps not exactly in the way he would have wished. The changes in his native city had not been so startling, or of such long duration: he, however, beheld the rule of the Four Hundred, the Thirty Tyrants, and the Council of Ten, followed by the restoration of the democracy, which lasted throughout the remaining years of his life. By conviction, the sympathies of Isocrates were with the democracy; in the Areopagiticus (§§62-70) he draws a contrast between oligarchical and democratical forms of governinent in terms unfavourable to the former. But the democracy, as it existed in his days, was only a makeshift, and by no means came up to his ideal of what such a government should be. He speaks in the highest terms of Pericles,14 and his sacrifice of self-interest in the cause of Athens, and admits that he did the best he could for the state. But the period upon which he looked back with the greatest approval was the era of the Persian wars, and the days of Solon and Cleisthenes, when offices were conferred by election and not by ballot, and when the court of the Areopagus exercised jurisdiction over the manners and morals of the citizens (see the Areopagiticus).
The opinion expressed in the speech called Nicocles (Or. III.) that Monarchy as a form of government is to be preferred either to an Oligarchy or a Republic, may seem inconsistent. But, leaving out of the question his intimate acquaintance with Nicocles, and the prospective benefits likely to result therefrom,- for Isocrates doubtless had an eye to the main chance as much as anybody else- it must be remembered that he is speaking rather as a professed rhetorician, as one able to argue for or against a given cause with equal facility. His advocacy of monarchy need not, therefore, be necessarily understood as the expression of what he really felt.
9. Although not a blind admirer of the Spartans, he in general approved of their constitution. When be seems to entertain a different opinion, it may be accounted for by the varying political relations and circumstances of the times. In the Panegyricus (§§110-114) he expresses the greatest detestation of the decarchies (dekarchiai), or boards of Ten, which were set up in most of the Greek cities by the Spartan Lysander after the battle of Aegospotami, and indignantly rebukes those who advocated the cause of the Lacedaemonians. When Agesilaus came forward and posed as the liberator of the Asiatic Greeks, Isocrates conceived the greatest admiration for him, and never afterwards lost faith in him, although his performances entirely fell short of his promises. This unwillingness on the part of Isocrates to abandon a favourable opinion of any prominent man when once formed is remarkable. In the letter (Ep. ix. 11) addressed to Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus, he speaks of his father as having persistently desired to bring about the freedom of the Greeks, and to prosecute the war against the barbarians. Then followed the Corinthian War,-waged against Sparta by a league of Athens, Argos, Thebes, Euboea, and Corinth - so called from the latter city being the general meeting-place, or central point of the struggle. Conon and Evagoras, aided by the Persians, freed the islands and Athens herself from Spartan oppression; this indebtedness to barbarian intervention cannot but have been distasteful to Isocrates. The Corinthian War was ended by the disgraceful peace of Antalcidas, so called from the Spartan diplomatist, who, assisted by the satrap Tiribazus, had been mainly instrumental in bringing it about. The terms of this peace were as follows: "King Artaxerxes [Mnemon] thinks it just that the cities in Asia, and the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus shall belong to him. He thinks it just also to leave all the other Hellenic cities autonomous, both small and great, except Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, which are to belong to Athens, as they did originally. Should any parties refuse to accept this peace, I will make war upon them, along with those who are of the same mind, by land as well as sea, with ships and with money" (Grote). It is against this disgraceful convention that the second part of the Panegyricus is directed, which also contains a violent attack upon the Spartans as putting forward their best efforts to reduce the Hellenic cities to a state of slavery, instead of rather using their power to overthrow the barbarians.
10. The Theban War next broke out. In this Athens at first supported the cause of Thebes, and by the defeat of the Spartan fleet off Naxos recovered her naval supremacy. The Theban victory at Leuctra broke the land power of Sparta, and put an end to her hegemony. When, however, Thebes tried to gain the mastery of Peloponnesus, Athens, not being desirous of having so powerful a rival on her very frontiers, transferred her support from Thebes to Sparta, being unwilling to see the total annihilation of the latter. Isocrates also turned round, and in his Archidamus extols the courage and previous achievements of Sparta, at the same time exhorting them not to give way in the matter of Messene.15 But when the Phocian War had weakened Thebes, his feelings towards Thebes and Sparta again underwent a change.
11. The dominant political idea of Isocrates was the freedom and independence of the whole Hellenic world, the Asiatic Greeks included, and the union of Greece against Persia. His efforts in this direction, as set forth in the Panegyricus, proved barren of practical result, as might have been expected; the speech brought him fame as a masterpiece of rhetoric, but nothing more. Still dreaming of his favourite project, he endeavoured to bring about its execution in another way. He cast about in search of some single individual of eminence who would be willing to undertake the leadership of the united forces of Greece. Jason, the despot of Pherae in Thessaly, had spoken of crossing over to Asia and making war upon the "Great King" (Philippus §119). His career, however, was cut short by his assassination in B.C. 370. Isocrates himself addressed a letter (Ep. ix. §§ 18,19) to Archidamus the younger, son of Agesilaus of Sparta, requesting him to put himself at the head of such an expedition; but, although great hopes had been formed of him before his accession, they do not seem to have been fulfilled. In his letter to Dionysius of Syracuse (Ep. i), who in his later years concluded an alliance with Athens, although he does not specially mention it, he doubtless had his project in view. Dionysius, however, had his hands too full, even had he been desirous of undertaking the responsibility. The attention of Isocrates was finally directed to Philip of Macedon. When peace was patched up between Athens and Philip by the convention of Philocrates, he addressed to him the appeal which is known by the name of the Philippus (Or. V.). He seems never to have wavered in the confidence he placed in Philip, until after the battle of Chaeronea, even if he did so then.
12. Having thus briefly touched upon the political views of Isocrates, we may turn our attention to the closing years of his long life. In spite of his success as a teacher, and his comfortable worldly circumstances, his lot cannot be said to have been altogether a happy one. His rivals, especially the Sophists, were envious of him, and the public misjudged him. The popularity to which he considered himself entitled as the reward of his patriotic writings, fell to the lot of those popular orators whom be regarded with contempt. He was averse to courting the favour of the masses, and addressed himself rather to a select and cultivated audience. Hence he never became what is called a popular favourite. As he was naturally vain, this galled him. He found himself regarded simply as a teacher, and, even in this, his undisputed superiority was not recognised. He yearned for praise while he lived, rather than for posthumous fame. In other respects, he was a wonderful old man. He enjoyed good health until he was ninety-four years of age, and we read that he did not complete the Panathenaicus until he was ninety- seven. Several of his other compositions were also the work of his later years. In his ninety-fifth year he was attacked by a dangerous disease, which, at his advanced age, must have already made him feel tired of life at the time the battle of Chaeronea was fought. He was at Athens when the news of it reached him. It is not altogether easy to estimate the light in which he regarded it. It was only natural that he should be overcome with grief at the reverse to the allied arms, and the loss of his fellow-citizens on the battle-field. But it is doubtful, considering the persistent manner in which he had up till then believed in Philip, of whose ulterior aims he can scarcely have been ignorant, unless utterly blinded by his partisanship, whether he viewed the result of the engagement altogether with dissatisfaction. It made Philip the foremost man in the Greek world, and pointed him out as the man who had an undisputed right to take the command in an expedition against Persia. There seems no reason to doubt the genuineness of the second letter to Philip (Ep. iii.), in which he apparently congratulates him on his victory. Various traditionary accounts are given of his death. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, he died a few days after the battle, in the ninety-eighth year of his age, in accordance with his wish to end his own life together with the fortunes of the state, since it was not clear what use Philip was likely to make of his supremacy. According to (?)Plutarch, on hearing of the defeat while in the palaestra of Hippocrates, he quoted three lines from the commencement of three plays of Euripides, referring to three barbarian intruders in Hellas, Cadmus, Danaus, and Pelops, thereby signifying that a fourth was now come in the person of Philip of Macedon; and then starved himself to death within four, or according to others, nine days, when the burial of those who had fallen in the battle took place. The allusion in Milton's sonnet is well known:
As that dishonest victory
According to Curtius, in his history of Greece, he was disinclined to live, when he found Athens likely to stake her all on a last desperate attempt at resistance. It seems more probable that the tradition that he committed suicide is untrue. His ill-health and great age would be sufficient to account for his death occurring when it did, possibly accelerated by the general shock of the tidings of the defeat. Isocrates was buried in the family grave, near the Cynosarges, a plot of ground sacred to Heracles, with a gymnasium, on the east of Athens. His tomb was surmounted by a lofty column, forty-five feet high, on which stood a siren, symbolical of the charm of his oratory. Close by was a tablet of stone, representing a group of poets and sophists, who had been his instructors, in the centre Gorgias, and Isocrates beside him.
13. The greatest success gained by Isocrates was in the province of oratory. To meet the requirements of the times, regular schools were formed for the purpose of providing instruction in this art, since, owing to the growth of litigiousness, it was necessary for every citizen to know how to defend himself. This was mainly due to the exertions of the Sophists, who adopted the florid or Sicilian style (which attained its highest perfection in Gorgias of Leontini), and regarded the art of rhetoric simply as the means of producing conviction in the minds of the hearers. At first, as an opponent of the Sophists, Isocrates was bound to profess to aim higher, and not to apply this power to any and every subject, but only to such as were worthy. But he gradually lost sight of the moral aspect of the question, and practically fell back upon their standpoint, when he devoted all his efforts towards imparting a perfectly finished style, as the highest aim of the teacher.
His chief importance consists in his style. He was the first "who perfected prose rhythm," as exhibited in well-rounded periods, perfectly balanced and regularly constructed, in which the exchange or omission of a word impairs the general effect. He avoided all that tended to disturb the even flow of language, such as hiatus (the meeting of two vowels), a principle which he systematically carried out to the fullest extent. Three figures of speech are constantly used by him, parallelism in sense (antithesis), parallelism in form between two clauses or sentences (parisôsis), and parallelism in sound (paromoiôsis16). Of these Professor Jebb says: "The idea of all these three figures is the same- that idea of mechanical balance in which the craving for symmetry is apt to take refuge when not guided by a really flexible instinct, or a spiritual sense of fitness or measure." His diction is pure Attic; he excludes what is unusual and poetical, although he makes a judicious use of metaphors and tropes. He spent an enormous amount of time on the composition of his speeches. This, although it resulted in their being turned out in a highly elaborated and finished state of perfection, robbed them of freshness and vigour. "His work may be finished, but it is undeniably laboured: it may have melody, but is apt to become monotonous." He is said to have devoted ten years to the Panegyricus, and three to the Panathenaicus, which led to the remark that Alexander conquered Asia in less time than it took Isocrates to compose the Panegyricus. There is a distinct want of originality in his writings, phrases and whole passages being borrowed from his earlier speeches, and introduced into his later writings. When we have read one of his speeches, we may be said to have read all. In the words of Professor Curtius: "Isocrates was an artist in diction, a stylist, and only in outward form an orator."
14. We possess all, or nearly all the writings of Isocrates that were known to later writers. The collection of Photius17 contains twenty-one speeches and nine letters. The order in which they are translated in this series is that of Wolf.
A. Deliberative speeches (i.-ix.), including the three hortatory addresses, (1) To Demonicus ; (2) To Nicocles; (3) Nicocles or the Cyprians.
B. Declamatory or show-speeches (x.-xiii.).
C. Forensic speeches (xiv.-xxi.), including the Plataicus, the Antidosis, and the six forensic speeches proper.
D. The letters.
The above are differently arranged in the MSS., and by ancient writers. The following is Professor Jebb's arrangement.18
Forensic Speeches (B.C. 403-393).
In his later years Isocrates seems to have become ashamed of these early compositions. His (adopted) son, Aphareus, even denied that he had ever composed any forensic speeches; but this statement is disproved by the express testimony of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. It has been remarked19 that this repudiation is all the more curious, as the forensic speeches are, in many respects, his best productions. They all deal with private lawsuits, not with public prosecutions: they are dikai and not graphai. They are six in number.
1. Against Lochites (XX, the Roman numerals denote the number of the speech accordini to the order in which they are here translated.), an action for assault (aikia). Date variously given as B.C. 402; between B.C. 402-398; B.C. 394 (J.) ; about B.C. 400 (B.).20
2. Aegineticus (xix.), a dispute about an inheritance. The speech receives its name from the case being taken to Aegina to be tried. The parties interested belonged to Siphnus. Date: B.C. 402; B.C. 397; B.C. 361; B.C. 394 (end), or B.C. 393 (beginning (J.), perhaps B.C. 390 (B.).
3, 4. Actions to recover a deposit (parakatathêkê).
(a) Against Euthynus (xxi.). The speech was probably not delivered. Its genuineness has been suspected. Date: B.C. 403 (J.); B.C. 402 (B). The speech is also called amarturos, i.e., without witnesses.
(b) Trapeziticus (xvii.). Brought against the banker Pasion, hence its name. Date: B.C. 394 (end) (J.). At any rate not tried after B.C. 390 (B.). Its genuineness has been suspected on insufficient grounds, according to Blass.
5. About the team of horses (peri tou zeugous) (xvi.). It is an action for damages (blabê), brought by one Tisias against the younger Alcibiades, on the ground that his father had robbed him of a team of horses. Date: B.C. 402-398; about B.C. 397 (J.) (B.).
6. Against Callimachus (xviii.). A special plea (paragraphê) against an action for damages assessed at 1,000drachmae, by Callimachus. Date: B.C.402 (J.); about.B.C. 399 (B.).
A. Hortatory (logoi parainetikoi).
(a) To Demonicus (i.). General precepts addressed to a young Cyprian of that name. Its genuineness has been strongly disputed. According to Blass, it was the work of some unknown pupil of Isocrates, and was written in imitation of the Nicocles. Date: nothing can be fixed. Sandys, who contends for its being genuine, fixes its composition during the sojourn of Isocrates in Chios, for which island he left Athens either in B.C. 404, or B.C. 393.21
(b) To Nicocles (ii.), king of Salamis in Cyprus. A treatise on the duty of a monarch to his subjects. Date: about B.C. 376 (B.); B.C. 374 (J.).
(c) Nicocles or the Cyprians (iii.). A treatise on the duty of subjects to their king, and a plea for monarchy. Date: between B.C. 372-365 (J.); about B.C. 372 (B.).
B. Four " show-speeches " proper (epideixeis)
(a) Busiris (xi.). An attempt to show how the brutal Busiris of Egypt might be praised, in contradistinction to the similar efforts of the Sophist Polycrates. Date: B.C. 391, or B.C. 390.
(b) Encomium on Helen (x.). Written in praise of beauty. It is also an endeavour to show how true encomia should be written. Date: about B.C. 370 (J.); about B.C. 392 (B.).
(c) Evagoras (ix.). An encomium on Evagoras, father of Nicocles. Sent on the occasion of a festival, held in his honour, by his son. Date: about B.C. 365 (J.); perhaps about B.C. 370 (B.).
(d) Panathenaicus (xii.). A eulogy of Athens, and the services she had rendered to the Greek world. The last work of Isocrates. Date: it was commenced in B.C. 342, and finished in B.C. 339.
(a) Against the Sophists (xiii.). An attack upon the methods adopted by other "Sophists." As we have it, the discourse is incomplete at the end. Date: B.C. 391, or B.C. 390 (J.); B.C. 393 (b) The Antidosis (xv.). On the "Exchange of Properties." Really a vindication of his whole career, and a statement of his idea of the true meaning of "a Sophist" and his calling. Date: B.C. 353.
I. Relation of Greece to Persia.
(a) Panegyricus (iv.). Urging Athens and Sparta to lay aside their animosity, and make common cause against Persia. Date: B.C. 380.
(b) Philippus (v.). An appeal to Philip of Macedon (the Panegyricus having been barren of result), to undertake the leadership of united Greece in an attack upon Persia. Date: B.C. 346.
II. The internal affairs of Greece:
(a) Concerning Peace (viii.). peri eirênês or summachikos. Written to induce Athens to conclude peace with the revolted allies, Byzantium, Chios, Cos, and Rhodes. Date: the first half of B.C. 355 (J.) ; B.C. 356 (B.).
(b) Areopagiticus (vii.). Urges upon the Athenians the necessity of restoring to the Council of the Areopagus the supervision of public morality, which it had formerly exercised. Date: latter half Of B.C. 355 (J.) ; B.C. 355 or B.C. 354 (B.).
(c) Plataicus (xiv.). An appeal supposed to be made by a Plataean before the Athenian assembly, urging the restoration of his city, which had been destroyed by the Thebans. Date: B.C. 373 (J.); B.C. 374, or B.C. 373 (B.).
(d) Archidamus (vi.). Supposed to have been delivered by Archidamus of Sparta, before the Spartan assembly, urging them not to abandon Messene, the surrender of which was put forward by the Thebans, as an indispensable condition of peace, in the war going on between Sparta, Athens, and others, and the Thebans and their allies. Date: B.C. 366 (J.); B.C. 356 (B.).
1. To Dionysius I. of Syracuse (i.). Urging him to take the command against Persia., Date: B.C. 368 (J.); a little before B.C. 367 (B.).
2. To the children of Jason (vi.), tyrant of Pherae, in Thessaly, who had been murdered in B.C. 370, urging them to set up a popular government. Date: about B.C. 359.
3. To Archidamus (ix.). Begging him to undertake an expedition against Persia. Date: B.C. 356, or a little later.
4. To Timotheus (vii.), tyrant of Heraclea. A letter of introduction on behalf of a friend. Date : about B.C. 345.
5. To the Government officials of Mitylene (viii.), asking permission for the return of Agenor, a democratic exile. Date: about B.C. 350.
6. First Letter to Philip of Macedon (ii.), praising the part he had taken in the affairs of Thessaly. Date: B.C. 342.
7. To Alexander (v.), son of Philip, congratulating him upon his application to his studies. Date: B.C. 342.
8. To Antipater (iv.), of Macedon, who acted as regent during the absence of Philip. A letter of introduction for a friend, who desired to enter the Macedonian service. Date: B.C. 340, or B.C. 339.
9. Second Letter to Philip (iii.), congratulating him on the victory at Chaeronea. Date: B.C. 338.
15. In ancient times many, more speeches were extant that bore the name of Isocrates. We hear of an encomium on Xenophon's son, Gryllus, and, according to Aristotle, forensic speeches, written by Isocrates, were to be found in abundance at the booksellers. In his biography by Plutarch (?) sixty speeches are mentioned, of which Dionysius of Halicarnassus regarded twenty-five, Caecilius twenty-eight, as genuine. In the life of Isocrates by an anonymous writer (supposed to be Zosimus), twenty-six, if not more, spurious speeches are mentioned.22 Some were, perhaps, the work of Isocrates of Apollonia, to whom Harpocration also attributes the Demonicus. We may lastly mention a technê, or "Art of Rhetoric," in two books, which was certainly in existence and bore his name. We must suppose that, although at first he attached most importance to practice (askêsis) rather than treory, he afterwards composed a special technê, or systematic treatise on rhetoric, after the fashion of other teachers. It is said that Aristotle, being dissatisfied with it, as practically useless, was thereby induced to compose his own treatise on the "Art of Rhetoric." On the other hand, the genuineness of this technê of Isocrates has been disputed. It is certainly curious that he should have written one, when we take into consideration the contempt with which he speaks of the composers of the "so-called Arts of Rhetoric" in his treatise against the Sophists (§ 19), and his preference for oral instruction.
Nor, again, does be make mention of an actual technê, composed by himself, which, considering his vanity and habit of self-laudation, he would not have been likely to leave unrecorded. In like manner, nothing is said of it by Aristotle, and Quintilian speaks of it in doubtful terms.23 But the balance of evidence seems in favour of such a treatise having actually existed, which bore the name of Isocrates, whether it was the work of one of his pupils, or whether we are to understand the technai (artes) to mean the actual speeches of Isocrates.24
1. The chorêgia, or duty of defraying the cost of the production of the public choruses, was one of the Athenian leitourgiai, or public services.
2. Antidosis, §161.
3. For opposite views concerning the Sophists, see Grote's History of Greece, ch. lxvii., and E. M. Cope's Essays in the Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology (Nos. 2, 5, 7, 9).
4. See Xenophon, Memorabilia, ii. 21-34.
5. According to Blass, Attic Oratory, ii. 14, Isocrates at this period journeyed to Thessaly to put himself under the tuition of Gorgias: but, considering his pecuniary circumstances, it does not seem likely that he would have been in a position to pay the high fees demanded by the famous sophist.
6. Here again authorities differ; according to some (e.g. (?) Plutarch, Life of Isocrates), he went to Chios as early as B.C. 404, and actually set up a school there, which was attended by nine pupils; but this is generally rejected, as nothing further is known of this school, and the number of pupils mentioned corresponds suspiciously with the number of those mentioned in the Antidosis, who are all Athenians.
7. Although not actually one of his pupils, Demosthenes seems in certain passages to have taken Isocrates as his model.
8. For Isocrates and his school, cp. Cicero, de Oratore, ii. §94, Ecce tibi est exortus Isocrates, cuius e ludo tanquam. ex equo Troiano meri principes exierunt: sed eorum partim in pompa, partim in acie illustres esse voluerunt, itaque et illi Theopompi, Ephori, Philisti, Naucratae multique alii naturis differunt, voluntate autem similes sunt et inter sese et magistri : et ii qui se ad causas contulerunt, ut Demosthenes, Hyperides, Lycurgus, Aeschines, Dinarchus aliique complures.
9. The mention of two lawsuits in the (?) Plutarch life of Isocrates is considered erroneous.
10. In a letter to the government officials of Mitylene (Ep. viii. §7).
11. Niebuhr says: "he was at least in his old age a thoroughly bad citizen, as well as an ineffable fool."
12. See Appendix II. in Thompson's Phaedrus.
13. The mina may be reckoned at about £4.
14. Antidosis, §§ 111, 234; Peace, §126.
15. See Introduction to the Archidamus.
16. See Sandys, Introduction to the ad Demonicum and Panegyricus (Catena Classicorum), p. xiv.
17. Patriarch of Constantinople in the ninth century A.D.
18. See article "Isocrates," in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
19. Sandys, note on Panegyricus, §11.
20. (J.) denotes the date as given by Professor Jebb, (B.) as given by Blass in the Index to the Teubner text (Benseler revised), 1888. It will be observed that the dates assigned by different scholars to the compositions of Isocrates are often considerably at variance, and that in most cases they can only be regarded as approximate.
21. See Sandys, Introduction to the Demonicus, p. xxxviii.
22. For the above, see Teubner text, vol. ii. pp. 274, 275.
23. Quint. ii. 15, 4, "si tamen revera ars, quae circumfertur, eius est."
24. See Rauchenstein, Introduction to his edition of the Panegyricus and Areopagiticus, p. 24 (fifth ed.), and Blass, Attic Oratory, ii. pp. 104-106 (second ed.).
From Isocrates' Orations Vol. I, translated by J. H. Freese. London: George Bell & Sons, 1894.
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