Publication Year: 2000
Published by: University of Texas Press
Series: The Oratory of Classical Greece
Title Page, Copyright
The Works of Isocrates
This is the fourth volume in a series of translations of The Oratory of Classical Greece. The aim of the series is to make available primarily for those who do not read Greek up-to-date, accurate, and readable translations with introductions and explanatory notes of all the surviving works and major fragments of the Attic orators of the classical period (ca. 420 –320 bc): Aeschines, Andocides, Antiphon, Demosthenes...
From as early as Homer (and undoubtedly much earlier) the Greeks placed a high value on effective speaking. Even Achilles, whose greatness was primarily established on the battlefield, was brought up to be ‘‘a speaker of words and a doer of deeds’’ (Iliad 9.443); and Athenian leaders of the sixth and fifth centuries,1 such as Solon, Themistocles, and Pericles, were all accomplished orators. Most Greek...
Introduction to Isocrates
Isocrates (436 –338) differs from the other Attic Orators in that his reputation was not based on speeches that he delivered in the courts or the Assembly, or wrote for others to deliver, but rather on ‘‘speeches’’ (logoi) that were intended to be circulated in writing and read by others. This is important for his representation of himself and his career (and his dissociation of himself from those he called ‘‘sophists’’) and...
Introduction to Part One
The works in Part One are from the early part of Isocrates’ career (approximately 401–380), before his interest in and influence on politics had become very significant.1 Aside from the speeches he wrote as a logographos (16 –21) or speechwriter for those lacking the expertise to compose speeches for themselves to deliver before the lawcourts, Isocrates is concerned with staking out his claims as a practitioner and...
Although this speech may seem to a modern reader to encompass simply a random collection of bland pieces of advice, it was widely read and quoted from antiquity through the Renaissance. Strangely enough, however, for a work so often identified with the values of Isocrates, its authenticity has been challenged, both in antiquity and in modern times. Nevertheless, the overwhelming consensus is that the work is Isocratean....
Encomium of Helen
An encomium is technically a speech of praise, but one can almost say that there are three speeches within this speech. The first is a critique of philosophers (1–15), the second is an encomium of Theseus, the Athenian national hero (16 –38), and the third is the encomium of Helen herself (39– 69). The beginning of the speech has much in common with...
This speech has much in common with Encomium of Helen (10): besides both being epideictic speeches, they both lack any specific occasion, they both take on ‘‘unpopular’’ themes, and they both claim to be improvements on attempts made by others. But in Isocrates’ mind they may also have differed significantly: he appears to take the Encomium of Helen very seriously throughout, but he admits in section...
Against the Sophists
This short work gives a quick, opening snapshot of Isocrates’ career as a teacher of politics, culture, and public speaking. It was probably written about 390. Its program shows a remarkable similarity to that of Antidosis (15), which was written thirty-five years later, but the goals of the two works are different. Later on, Isocrates will be on the defensive, defending his career and pleading for the importance of his...
On the Team of Horses
Like 20, this speech begins with only a reference to the witness testimony that supported the narrative of events lying behind the dispute. Much of what remains is a defense and praise of the life of the speaker’s father, the famous Athenian general Alcibiades. He had been one of Athens’ brightest lights and inspired the Athenians’ (ultimately disastrous) expedition to Sicily in 415. But after his recall on charges...
The defendant in this case, Pasion, is the most famous banker (trapezitēs) of classical Athens. A former slave, he was also the father of Apollodorus, the author of several speeches later included with those of Demosthenes (see Trevett 1992). The acrimony into which the case must have brought Pasion apparently did no serious or longterm damage to his professional reputation. In time, he would even...
Special Plea against Callimachus
From the speech itself the dating of 402 BC seems most likely. It is one of several speeches (by Andocides, Lysias and even, perhaps, Plato’s Apology of Socrates) that result from attempts to settle scores after the Peloponnesian War and the brief but tragic tyranny of the Thirty that followed it (404 – 403). The Athenians were remarkably successful in bringing an end to the civil strife that had plagued the...
This speech is unique in having been composed for presentation in a lawcourt outside Athens. In Athens, the dispute would be called a diadikasia, which occurs when two parties make a claim to an inheritance. But this dispute takes place on the island of Aegina (an independent polis in the Saronic Gulf about twenty-five kilometers [fifteen miles] south of Piraeus, Athens’ port), and that is where the speech is...
It is commonly believed that the beginning of this speech, which would have contained the narrative of events, has been lost. But it is possible that the speaker, who makes a point of his poverty, was able to afford only this short, prepared speech. The testimony of witnesses, together with his own improvised connecting comments, may have provided the bulk of the narrative. It was the function of this...
Against Euthynus, Without Witnesses
This speech, which was composed a short time after the tyranny of the Thirty in 404/403, illustrates how tangled personal relationships became at that time. It was written for a man named Nicias, who attempted to liquidate and hide his assets from the tyranny. He gave some of his money (he says it was three talents) to a relative named Euthynus for safekeeping, but Euthynus allegedly failed to return one-third...
Introduction to Part Two
The speeches contained in Part Two, Evagoras (9), To Nicocles (2), Nicocles (3), Areopagiticus (7), and Antidosis (15), are texts that characterize Isocrates as teacher. Together these five speeches show that ‘‘teacher’’ in classical Athens need not mean ‘‘sophist,’’ the figure caricatured in Aristophanes’ Clouds and in the dialogues of Plato as the unscrupulous charlatan who makes promises and then disappoints...
Evagoras, generally dated to 370, is an encomium written for a festival held by the king Nicocles to commemorate his deceased father, Evagoras. The subject of the speech was ruler of Salamis in east Cyprus, and his life is largely known from this speech....
Isocrates justifies writing To Nicocles by noting that, where ordinary individuals have many sources of instruction and correction— for example, laws, poetry, friends, and enemies—because of their social status and power, monarchs have none to teach them (2. 2–5). Kings are, however, precisely the people who require instruction more than any other. Isocrates writes within a particular didactic genre, the...
Nicocles is the final work in Isocrates’ Cyprian trilogy. Speeches 9 and 3 dramatize the instruction of Nicocles in his role as ruler, and in this third work, the former pupil of the rhetorician shows that he has learned his lessons well as he in turn assumes the role of political teacher. He offers a self-justification that draws attention to his virtues in a way that is reminiscent of the rhetorician’s instructive encomium...
The Areopagiticus is generally thought to have been composed between 358 and 352, either just before, during, or just after the disastrous Social War (357–355) in which Athens was left with a weakened naval empire after her stronger allies, Chios, Cos, Rhodes, and Byzantium, gained their independence from the Confederacy. The positive and confident mood of the work (7.1–3) suggests a date before the...
In classical Athens, the wealthiest citizens were liable to perform liturgies, a form of taxation that required them to finance various public concerns. These might relate to a festival, such as the training of a chorus (chorēgeia), or the fleet, such as the command and maintenance of a ship in the fleet (triērarchia). More rarely, the liturgy might entail the advance payment of a tax, known as...