We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Isocrates I

Translated by David C. Mirhady and Yun Lee Too

Publication Year: 2000

This is the fourth volume in the Oratory of Classical Greece series. Planned for publication over several years, the series will present all of the surviving speeches from the late fifth and fourth centuries B.C. in new translations prepared by classical scholars who are at the forefront of the discipline. These translations are especially designed for the needs and interests of today’s undergraduates, Greekless scholars in other disciplines, and the general public. Classical oratory is an invaluable resource for the study of ancient Greek life and culture. The speeches offer evidence on Greek moral views, social and economic conditions, political and social ideology, and other aspects of Athenian culture that have been largely ignored: women and family life, slavery, and religion, to name just a few. This volume contains works from the early, middle, and late career of the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates (436–338). Among the translated works are his legal speeches, pedagogical essays, and his lengthy autobiographical defense, Antidosis. In them, he seeks to distinguish himself and his work, which he characterizes as "philosophy," from that of the sophists and other intellectuals such as Plato. Isocrates’ identity as a teacher was an important mode of political activity, through which he sought to instruct his students, foreign rulers, and his fellow Athenians. He was a controversial figure who championed a role for the written word in fourth-century politics and thought.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: The Oratory of Classical Greece

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (43.1 KB)
pp. i-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (37.5 KB)
pp. v-vi

The Works of Isocrates

pdf iconDownload PDF (26.2 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (44.6 KB)
pp. ix-x

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...

read more

Series Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.5 KB)
pp. xi-xxxii

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...

read more

Introduction to Isocrates

pdf iconDownload PDF (82.7 KB)
pp. 1-12

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...

Part One

read more

Introduction to Part One

pdf iconDownload PDF (52.6 KB)
pp. 15-18

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...

read more

To Demonicus

pdf iconDownload PDF (78.4 KB)
pp. 19-30

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....

read more

Encomium of Helen

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.0 KB)
pp. 31-48

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (81.9 KB)
pp. 49-60

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...

read more

Against the Sophists

pdf iconDownload PDF (63.3 KB)
pp. 61-66

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...

read more

On the Team of Horses

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.4 KB)
pp. 67-79

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.4 KB)
pp. 80-95

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...

read more

Special Plea against Callimachus

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.6 KB)
pp. 96-111

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (77.3 KB)
pp. 112-122

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...

read more

Against Lochites

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.3 KB)
pp. 123-127

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...

read more

Against Euthynus, Without Witnesses

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.0 KB)
pp. 128-134

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...

Part Two

read more

Introduction to Part Two

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.4 KB)
pp. 137-138

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (101.1 KB)
pp. 139-156

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....

read more

To Nicocles

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.2 KB)
pp. 157-168

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (84.9 KB)
pp. 169-181

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (106.6 KB)
pp. 182-200

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...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (254.8 KB)
pp. 201-264

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...


pdf iconDownload PDF (54.6 KB)
pp. 265-268


pdf iconDownload PDF (53.6 KB)
pp. 269-272


pdf iconDownload PDF (51.2 KB)
pp. 273-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780292799011
E-ISBN-10: 0292799012
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292752375
Print-ISBN-10: 0292752377

Page Count: 311
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: The Oratory of Classical Greece

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Athens (Greece) -- Politics and government -- Early works to 1800.
  • Isocrates -- Translations into English.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc., Greek -- Translations into English.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access