Isocrates

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Isocrates

(īsŏk`rətēz), 436–338 B.C., one of the Ten Attic Orators. He was a pupil of Socrates and of the Sophists. Perhaps the greatest teacher in Greek history, he taught every younger orator of his time. He did not deliver his speeches, but either wrote for litigants (six such speeches survive) or wrote discourses to be read (15 of which remain) dealing mainly with politics and education. Panegyricus (in which he urges Hellenic unity against Persia) is his most celebrated oration. Isocrates committed suicide (according to tradition) after the defeat of Athens by Philip II of Macedon at Chaeronea.

Isocrates

 

Born 436 b.c. in Athens; died there in 338 b.c. Ancient Greek publicist.

A student of the sophists and influenced by Socrates, Isocrates was the author of political pamphlets written in the form of speeches. He consistently upheld the interests of the upper class of slaveholding society. In his first and most important publicistic work, the Panegyricus (380), he urged the Greeks to unite politically for a joint military campaign against the East. Isocrates regarded a Panhellenic war against the Persians as a means of overcoming the political fragmentation of Hellas and solving social problems, including poverty. In his subsequent works he argued the advantages of a monarchy over a republic (known as the speeches to the citizens of Cyprus) and criticized democracy as a form of government, in particular condemning the foreign policy of Theban democracy (the speeches Plataicus and Archidamus) and the policies of Athens (On the Peace and Areopagiticus). In his last years Isocrates appealed to the Macedonian king Philip II to unify Hellas and lead the Greeks against the Persians. His extant works consisting of 21 speeches and nine letters, of which some are thought to be spurious, are a valuable source for studying the sociopolitical history and culture of Greece in the fourth century B.C.

WORKS

Discours, 4 vols. Paris, 1928–62.
In Russian translation:
Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1965, nos. 3, 4; 1966, nos. 1–4; 1967, nos. 1, 3–4; 1968, nos. 1-; 1969, nos. 1–2.

REFERENCES

Borukhovich, V. G., and E.D. Frolov. “Publitsisticheskaia deiatel’nost’ Isokrata.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1969, no. 2.
Blass, F. Die attische Beredsamkeit, 2nd ed., part 2. Leipzig, 1892.
Cloché, P. Isocrate et son temps. Paris, 1963.

E. D. FROLOV

Isocrates

436--338 bc, Athenian rhetorician and teacher
References in periodicals archive ?
1965) , Studien zu denpolitischen Ideen des Isokrates, Gottingen; Campbell, B.
In adapting the story of the Great War to the taste of his own age Ephoros, himself a pupil of Isokrates and a professional historian, was led astray by the combined influences of rhetoric and rationalism; as neither the rationalism nor the rhetoric was of the best quality, the intrusion of both at this stage could have inflicted irreparable damage on the tradition of the war if the text of Herodotus had not survived to refute the inventions grafted on the authentic record by Ephoros.
On the other hand, I am fairly confident that most readers will wonder that Isokrates has done to deserve two pages to himself (185-7), when Solon's seisakhtheia rates no more than an unsatisfactory ten lines (84-5).
Those who have advocated the view that Isokrates used his school as a podium of propaganda designed to influence contemporary politics have never yet proven their case.