ERCHIA (Ancient demos) SPATA
Xenophon. An Athenian, the son of one Gryllus, born about B.C. 444. In his early life he was a pupil of Socrates; but the turningpoint in his career came when he decided to serve in the Greek contingent raised by Cyrus against Artaxerxes in 401. Xenophon himself mentions (Anab. iii. 1) the circumstances under which he joined this army. Proxenus, a friend of Xenophon, was already with Cyrus, and he invited Xenophon to come to Sardis, and promised to introduce him to the Persian prince. Xenophon consulted his master, Socrates, who advised him to consult the oracle of Delphi, as it was a hazardous matter for him to enter the service of Cyrus, who was considered to be the friend of the Lacedaemonians and the enemy of Athens. Xenophon went to Delphi, but he did not ask the god whether he should go or not: he probably had made up his mind. He merely inquired to what gods he should sacrifice in order that he might be successful in his intended enterprise. Socrates was not satisfied with his pupil's mode of consulting the oracle, but as he had got an answer, he told him to go; and Xenophon went to Sardis, which Cyrus was just about to leave. He accompanied Cyrus into Upper Asia. In the battle of Cunaxa (B.C. 401) Cyrus lost his life, his barbarian troops were dispersed, and the Greeks were left alone on the wide plains between the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was after the treacherous massacre of Clearchus and others of the Greek commanders by the Persian satrap Tissaphernes that Xenophon came forward. He had held no command in the army of Cyrus, nor had he, in fact, served as a soldier, yet he was elected one of the generals, and took the principal part in conducting the Greeks in their memorable retreat along the Tigris over the high table-lands of Armenia to Trapezus (Trebizond) on the Black Sea. From Trapezus the troops were conducted to Chrysopolis, which is opposite to Byzantium. The Greeks were in great distress, and some of them under Xenophon entered the service of Seuthes, king of Thrace. As the Lacedaemonians under Thimbron, or Thibron, were now at war with Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus, Xenophon and his troops were invited to join the army of Thimbron, and Xenophon led them back out of Asia to join Thimbron (399). Xenophon, who was very poor, made an expedition into the plain of the Caicus with his troops before they joined Thimbron, to plunder the house and property of a Persian named Asidates. The Persian, with his women, children, and all his movables, was seized, and Xenophon, by this robbery, replenished his empty pockets. He tells the story himself, and is evidently not at all ashamed of it. In other ways also he showed himself the prototype of an adventurous leader of condottieri, with no ties of country or preference of nationality. He formed a scheme for establishing a town with the Ten Thousand on the shores of the Euxine; but it fell through. He joined the Spartans, as has been seen, and he continued in their service even when they were at war with Athens. Agesilaus, the Spartan, was commanding the Lacedaemonian forces in Asia against the Persians in 396, and Xenophon was with him at least during part of the campaign. When Agesilaus was recalled (394), Xenophon accompanied him, and he was on the side of the Lacedaemonians in the battle which they fought at Coronea (394) against the Athenians. As a natural consequence a decree of exile was passed against him at Athens. It seems that he went to Sparta with Agesilaus after the battle of Coronea, and soon after he settled at Scillus in Elis, not far from Olympia, a spot of which he has given a description in the Anabasis. Here he was joined by his wife, Philesia, and his children. His children were educated in Sparta.
Xenophon was now a Lacedaemonian so far as he could become one. His time during his long residence at Scillus was employed in hunting, writing, and entertaining his friends; and perhaps the Anabasis and part of the Hellenica were composed here. The treatise on hunting and that on the horse were probably also written during this time, when amusement and exercise of this kind formed part of his occupation. On the downfall of the Spartan supremacy, at Leuctra in 371, Xenophon was at last expelled from his quiet retreat at Scillus by the Eleans, after remaining there about twenty years. The sentence of banishment from Athens was repealed on the motion of Eubulus, but it is uncertain in what year. There is no evidence that Xenophon ever returned to Athens. He is said to have retired to Corinth after his expulsion from Scillus, and as we know nothing more, we assume that he died there. In the battle of Mantinea (B.C. 362) the Spartans and the Athenians were opposed to the Thebans, and Xenophon's two sons, Gryllus and Diodorus, fought on the side of the allies. Gryllus fell in the same battle in which Epaminondas lost his life. The events alluded to in the epilogue to the Cyropaedia show that the epilogue at least was written after 362. The time of his death, for reasons given above, seems to have been later than 357.
The following is a list of Xenophon's works: (1) The Anabasis (Anabasis), a history of the expedition of the Younger Cyrus, and of the retreat of the Greeks who formed part of his army. It is divided into seven books. As regards the title it will be noticed that under the name "The March Up" (ana, i. e. inland from the coast of Cunaxa) is included also the much longer account of the return march down to the Euxine. This work has immortalized Xenophon's name. It is a clear and fascinating narrative, written in a simple style, free from affectation, and giving a great deal of curious information on the country which was traversed by the retreating Greeks, and on the manners of the people. It was the first work which made the Greeks acquainted with some portions of the Persian Empire, and it showed the weakness of that extensive monarchy. The skirmishes of the retreating Greeks with their enemies, and the battles with some of the barbarian tribes, are not such events as elevate the work to the character of a military history, nor can it as such be compared with Caesar's Commentarii. There is no weight whatever in the argument that, because Xenophon speaks of the expedition of Cyrus as having been related by Themistogenes, the Anabasis is therefore not Xenophon's work. The statement can be explained either on the theory that Xenophon speaks of his own work under a fictitious name (which was possibly the case also with the Oeconomicus), or, more simply, by supposing that another account was actually written by Themistogenes. It is known that a separate account was written by Sophaenetus, and there may have been others. If the latter theory be correct, it would be a natural inference that Xenophon's Anabasis was written after the third book of the Hellenica. (2) The Hellenica (Hellenika) of Xenophon is divided into seven books, and covers the forty-eight years from the time when the History of Thucydides ends to the battle of Mantinea (B.C. 362). The Hellenica is generally a dry narrative of events, and there is nothing in the treatment of them which gives a special interest to the work. Some events of importance are briefly treated, but a few striking incidents are presented with some particularity. The Hellenica was not written at one time. Differences are traced between the first two and the later books as regards the arrangement, which in the earlier books is year by year, while, in the later, events growing out of one another are grouped together; and, as regards political sentiment, in the diminished admiration for Sparta which appears in the last three books. It is clear that book vi. was written after 357, since it mentions the death of Alexander of Pherae; but the first four books were probably written a good deal earlier. (3) The Cyropaedia (Kuropaideia), in eight books, is a kind of political romance, the basis of which is the history of the Elder Cyrus, the founder of the Persian monarchy. It shows how citizens are to be made virtuous and brave; and Cyrus is the model of a wise and good ruler. As a history it has no authority at all. Xenophon adopted the current stories as to Cyrus and the chief events of his reign, without any intention of subjecting them to a critical examination; nor have we any reason to suppose that his picture of Persian morals and Persian discipline is anything more than a fiction. Xenophon's object was to represent what a State might be, and he placed the scene of his fiction far enough off to give it the colour of possibility. His own philosophical notions and the usages of Sparta were the real materials out of which he constructed his political system. The Cyropaedia is evidence enough that Xenophon did not like the political constitution of his own country, and that a wellordered monarchy or kingdom appeared to him preferable to a democracy like Athens. (4) The Agesilaus (Agesilaos) is a panegyric on Agesilaus II., king of Sparta, the friend of Xenophon. The genuineness is disputed, not without reason, and a recent critic holds it to be the work of a young rhetorician of the school of Isocrates. (5) The Hipparchicus (Hipparchikos) is a treatise on the duties of a commander of cavalry, and it contains many military precepts. (6) The De Re Equestri, a treatise on the horse (Hippike), was written after the Hipparchicus, to which treatise he refers at the end of the treatise on the horse. This essay is not limited to horsemanship as regards the rider: it shows how a man is to avoid being cheated in buying a horse, how a horse is to be trained, and the like. (7) The Cynegeticus (Kunegetikos) is a treatise on hunting; and on the dog, and the breeding and training of dogs; on the various kinds of game, and the mode of taking them. It is a treatise written by a genuine sportsman who loved the exercise and excitement of the chase, and it may be read with pleasure by a sportsman of the present day. (8, 9) The Respublica Lacedaemoniorum and Respublica Atheniensium, the two treatises on the Spartan and Athenian States (Lakedaimonion Politeia and Athenaion Politeia), were both ascribed to Xenophon, but the Respublica Atheniensium is certainly not by his hand. It was written by some one of the oligarchical party, and possibly it is right to date it as early as 420, and therefore to regard it as the earliest Attic prose work. On the other hand, a modern critic of Xenophon (Hartmann) believes it to be by a later writer compiling from Xenophon, Aristophanes, and other sources of information. The same critic denies the genuineness of the Resp. Laced., which is more generally accepted. (10) The De Vectigalibus, a treatise on the Revenues of Athens (Poroi e peri Prosodon), is designed to show how the public revenue of Athens may be improved. (11) The Memorabilia of Socrates, in four books (Apomnemoneumata Sokratous), was written by Xenophon to defend the memory of his master against the charge of irreligion and of corrupting the Athenian youth. Socrates is represented as holding a series of conversations, in which he develops and inculcates his moral doctrines. It is entirely a practical work, such as we might expect from the practical nature of Xenophon's mind, and it professes to exhibit Socrates as he taught. It is true that it may exhibit only one side of the Socratic argumentation, and that it does not deal in subtleties of philosophy. Xenophon was a hearer of Socrates, an admirer of his master, and anxious to defend his memory. The charges against Socrates for which he suffered were, that "Socrates was guilty of not believing in the gods which the State believed in, and introducing other new daemons (daimonia): he was also guilty of corrupting the youth." Xenophon replies to these two charges specifically, and he then goes on to show what Socrates' mode of life was. The whole treatise is intended to be an answer to the charge for which Socrates was executed, and it is therefore, in its nature, not intended to be a complete exhibition of Socrates. That it is a genuine picture of the man is indisputable, and its value therefore is very great. (12) The Apology of Socrates (Apologia Sokratous pros tous Dikastas) is a short speech, containing the reasons which induced Socrates to prefer death to life. It is not one of the author's best works, and was possibly a rhetorical exercise much later than Xenophon. (13) The Symposium (Sumposion), or Banquet of Philosophers, in which Xenophon delineates the character of Socrates. The speakers are supposed to meet at the house of Callias, a rich Athenian, at the celebration of the Great Panathenaea. Socrates and others are the speakers. The piece is interesting as a picture of an Athenian drinking-party, and of the amusement and conversation with which it was diversified. The nature of love and friendship is discussed. It is probable that Plato wrote his Symposium later, to some extent as a corrective. (14) The Hiero (Hieron e Turannikos) is a dialogue between King Hiero and Simonides, in which the king speaks of the dangers and difficulties incident to an exalted station, and the superior happiness of a private man. The poet, on the other hand, enumerates the advantages which the possession of power gives, and the means which it offers of obliging and doing services. (15) The Oeconomicus (Oikonomikos) is an excellent treatise in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and Critobulus, in which Socrates gives instruction in the art called economic, which relates to the administration of a household and of a man's property.
In language as well as in politics, Xenophon was a cosmopolitan. His long residence in other lands resulted in his losing or abandoning pure Attic: he admits words from all dialects; hence he cannot be adduced as an authority for strict Attic usage, and it has been well shown by abundant instances that his diction is in many respects an anticipation of the common dialect of the Macedonian period. Of each of Xenophon's treatises there are from thirty to forty manuscripts. Of the Anabasis, the best is a Codex Parisinus (No. 1640), and dating from the fourteenth century. Of the Cyropaedia, the most esteemed is also in Paris (No. 1635), of the fifteenth century, though a copy at Wolfenbuttel (Codex Guelferbytanus) of about the twelfth century is also valuable. Of the twenty-one manuscripts of the Hellenica, the best are two Codices Parisini (Nos. 1642 and 1738) of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Xenophon, the son of Gryllus, was born at Athens during the early years of the Peloponnesian War into a family of knights; he died either in Athens or Corinth sometime after 355, making him about seventy-five at the time of his death. He may have been educated by the sophist Prodicus at Thebes, and in all likelihood established some type of connection with Socrates in the last decade of the fifth century. It also seems likely that he was knight under the rule of the Thirty Tyrants at Athens and may have even taken part in the battle of Munychia which brought an end to that regime. In 401 he accepted the invitation of his Theban guest-friend Proxenus to join the Greek mercenaries in the service of the Achaemenid prince Cyrus the Younger who was attempting to usurp the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes. Following the death of Cyrus at the battle of Cunaxa near Babylon (late summer 401) and the murder of the commanders of the Ten Thousand (as the Greek mercenaries are known), Xenophon was appointed strategos or general and commanded a portion of the troops. After leading them back from the heartland of the Persian empire to the Black Sea and then the coast of Asia Minor, he along with his contingent enrolled in the service of the Spartans then operating in Asia Minor. Fighting there under three successive Spartan commanders Xenophon formed a strong and lasting friendship with the last one, King Agesilaus. In 395, when the home authorities recalled Agesilaus from Asia to lead the Spartan forces against Thebes, Corinth and Athens, Xenophon followed and took part in the battle of Coronea (394). It was shortly after this that Xenophon was exiled from Athens, either because of his participation in the battle of Coronea, or because of this service with Cyrus (an enemy of Athens in the second phase of the Peloponnesian War), or perhaps both. Without a homeland Xenophon's attachments to Sparta became even stronger: sometime shortly after Coronea he was granted an estate by the Spartans at Scillus, a town near Olympia. He had two sons, both born on his estate and educated at Sparta in the agoge (the rigorous Spartan education system designed to produce Spartiates or full citizen-warriors). During his time at Scillus he probably wrote many of his works, remained in touch with his friends at Sparta, but also established and kept up international contacts at the panhellenic festival at Olympia. Although his exile may have been repealed as early as 386, it seems he did not return to Athens but remained at Scillus. After the Spartan defeat at Leuctra in 371 Xenophon was forced to give up his estate and probably went to Corinth. Whether he returned to Athens or stayed at Corinth is uncertain: that some reconciliation took place between Xenophon and his native city seems to be indicated by the focus of his later works on Athenian matters, and by his growing commitment to Spartan and Athenian cooperation. Indeed his eldest son Gryllus was killed fighting for Sparta in an Athenian cavalry contingent in a skirmish before the decisive Spartan defeat at Second Mantinea in 362. References to contemporary events in his last work allow us to say that he was alive in 355; given his extreme old age he surely did not live much longer.
Xenophon's work may be divided into three main categories: historical, Socratic, and Minor Works.
The Anabasis or ?Trip Up Country? (late 370s or 360s) is Xenophon's story of the journey of the ten thousand mercenaries under the command of Cyrus the Younger into the heart of the Persian empire and then back again to the Greek world. It is of particular significance because Xenophon himself served on the expedition and he is prominent from Book 3 onwards. It was probably composed after Xenophon's return to Greece from a memoir he kept while with the Ten Thousand. The Hellenica or ?Hellenic Affairs?, is a history of Greece from 411-362 (early in Xenophon's career; early 350s). This work appears to have been written in two phases: the first portion of the work, going down to the beginning of the Thirty Tyrants at Athens in 403 ( Xen. Hell. 2.3.10), may well have been one of the first things Xenophon wrote; the second, much larger portion, goes from 403 and extends down to the battle of Second Mantinea (362), and was probably composed very late in Xenophon's life. Due to certain superficial similarities with the work of Thucydides, and especially to the fact that the work picks up roughly where Thucydides leaves off, it is thought to have been conceived originally as a continuation of Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War. The testimony of Marcellinus' life of Thucydides (Chap. 45) supports this view. A major break is argued for at 2.3.10 on a number of grounds: stylometric (chiefly distribution of particle usage), change in chronological conventions, change in viewpoint (from Athens to Sparta), and subtle changes in thematic focus (increasing attention to the moral evaluation of individuals). Although frequently faulted for its omissions and Spartan bias, especially when compared with the fragmentary remains of another continuator of Thucydides, the Oxyrhyncus Historian, the Hellenica is our major continuous historical narrative for the crucial period between the latter stages of the Peloponnesian War to the years immediately preceding the rise of Macedon. The Cyropaedia or 'The Education of Cyrus' (370s, revised later) is a long (8 books) biographical treatment of Cyrus the Great of Persia (6th century). This work, which also has a strong claim to be categorized under 'philosophy', is a massive account of the education and training of the ideal king. It comprises elements of historiography, legend, ethnography, and romance, and is thought to be a precursor of the later novel. It contains an epilogue (Xen. Cyrop. 8.8) on the decline of Persia since the time of Cyrus which seems to have been written after the work was completed. The Agesilaus is a biography of King Agesilaus of Sparta (c.444/3-360), composed in all likelihood sometime after the winter of 360, when the king died. It too is a study of leadership, but clearly also contains apologetic elements. It overlaps significantly with portions of the Hellenica. Together with the Evagoras of Isocrates Isoc. 9 (374) it is one of the first true biographies in Greek literature.
It is difficult to date precisely any of the Socratic works of Xenophon, only that they must have been composed after the philosopher's death in 399. Like Plato and other Socratics, Xenophon felt the need to compose an Apology or defense of Socrates in response to the charges brought against him by his accusers. Like Plato he also composed a Symposium. The most important of the Socratic works of Xenophon is the Memorabilia, a collection of discussions between Socrates and (typically) young Athenian men which begins in much the same spirit as the Apology, that is in defense of the philosopher. The Oeconomicus is a dialogue between Socrates and an Athenian, Ischomachus, on the subject of house management; it is actually comprised mostly of a reported set of discussions between Ischomachus and his (unnamed) young wife. The work is probably the best introduction into the mind of Xenophon, foregrounding as it does the topic of order, an issue central to his thought. While the Hiero does not actually feature Socrates, it is clearly a combination of a Socratic dialogue and a Herodotean meeting between a sage and a powerful king (e.g. Solon and Croesus), though interestingly the main speaker is Hieron (king of Syracuse from 478 to 467), not the sage (Simonides the poet, c.557/6-468/7); the conversation, on the subject of tyranny, is imaginary.
Xenophon's interest in practical knowledge and didactic literature is clearly evidenced by a number of smaller works. Like his contemporary Aeneas Tacticus , Xenophon composed two technical handbooks on matters of practical knowledge, On the Cavalry Commander and On Horsemanship; the On Hunting is widely regarded as not belonging to Xenophon. He also wrote a Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, what is not so much a picture of Spartan government as a valuable description of the Spartan educational system thought to have been set up by the legendary lawgiver Lycurgus (11th-8th?); it, like the Cyropaedia, contains an epilogue (actually the penultimate chapter, Xen. Cyrop.14) which suggests that Spartan society has degenerated. The Poroi or On Revenues is the probably the last thing Xenophon wrote; it attempts to persuade the Athenians to abandon hegemonic war as a way to increase state revenue and adopt instead programs aimed at improving the existing resources of the city-a proposal and conceptual framework virtually without parallel in all antiquity.
Xenophon, the Athenian, was the son of Gryllus, and a native of the demus Ercheia.
The time of his birth is not known, but it is approximated to by the fact mentioned
in the Life of Xenophon by Diogenes Laertius, and in Strabo that Xenophon fell
from his horse in the flight after the battle of Delium, and was taken up by Socrates,
the philosopher, on his shoulders and carried a distance of several stadia. The
battle of Delium was fought B. C. 424 between the Athenians and Boeotians (Thucyd.
iv. 96), and Xenophon therefore could not well have been born after B. C. 444.
The time of his death also is not mentioned by any ancient writer. Lucian says
(Macrob. 21) that he attained to above the age of ninety, and Xenophon himself
in his Hellenica (vi. 4.35) mentions the assassination of Alexander of Pherae
which happened in B. C. 357, according to Diodorus (xvi. 14). Between B. C. 424
and B. C. 357, there is a period of sixty-seven years, and thus we have evidence
of Xenophon being alive nearly seventy years after Socrates saved his life at
Delium. There has been much discussion on the age of Xenophon at the time when
he joined the expedition of the younger Cyrus, B. C. 401. Those who would make
him a young man between twenty and thirty must reject the evidence as to the battle
of Delium. Plutarch has a story that Socrates saved the life of Alcibiades at
Potidaea, and that Alcibiades protected Socrates in the retreat after the defeat
at Delium (Alcib. 7). The passage in the Anabasis (ii. 1.12) in which Xenophon
is called neaniskos is not decisive, for in this passage of the Anabasis the best
MSS. read " Theopompus" instead of " Xenophon" and, besides this, the term neaniskos
is not used in such a way as to limit it to a young man. Xenophon seemed to Seuthes
(Anab. vii. 2.8) old enough to have a marriageable daughter. This question is
discussed at some length by C. W. Kruger (De Xenophontis Vita Quaestiones, Halle,
1822). The most probable conclusion seems to be that Xenophon was not under forty
at the time when he joined the army of Cyrus. The mode in which Xenophon introduces
himself in the Anabasis (iii. 1) would almost lead to the conclusion that his
name ought not to occur in the first two books.
Xenophon is said to have been a pupil of Socrates at an early age, which is consistent with the intimacy which might have arisen from Socrates saving his life. Philostratus states that he also received instruction from Prodicus of Ceos, during the time that he was a prisoner in Boeotia, but nothing is known of this captivity of Xenophon from any other authority. Photius (Biblioth. cclx.) says that Xenophon was also a pupil of Isocrates, which may be true, though Isocrates was younger than Xenophon, being born in B. C. 436. A story reported by Athenaeus (x.) of something that Xenophon said at the table of Dionysius the tyrant, may probably refer to the elder Dionysius who lived till B. C. 367; and if the statement is true, Xenophon must have visited Syracuse. Letronne, endeavours to show that Xenophon wrote the Symposium and the Hiero before B. C. 401; but his conclusion can hardly be said to be even a strong probability. Xenophon was the editor of the History of Thucydides, but no time can be fixed for this; nor can we assent to Letronne's conclusion that he published the work before B. C. 401. Xenophon may have been at Athens in B. C. 402, and Thucydides may have been dead then; but these two facts prove nothing as to the time when the work of Thucydides was published.
Xenophon in the Anabasis (iii. 1) mentions the circumstances under which he joined the army of Cyrus the younger, who was preparing his expedition against his brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon, the king of Persia. Proxenus, a friend of Xenophon, was already with Cyrus, and he invited Xenophon to come to Sardis, and promised to introduce him to the Persian prince. Xenophon consulted his master Socrates, who advised him to consult the oracle of Delphi, for it was rather a hazardous matter for hint to enter the service of Cyrus, who was considered to be the friend of the Lacedaemonians and the enemy of Athens. Xenophon went to Delphi, but he did not ask the god whether he should go or not: he probably had made up his mind. He merely asked to what gods he should sacrifice in order that he might be successful in his intended enterprise. Socrates was not satisfied with his pupil's mode of consulting the oracle, but as he had got an answer, he told him to go; and Xenophon went to Sardis, which Cyrus was just about to leave. The real object of the expedition was disguised from the Greeks in the army of Cyrus, or at least they affected not to know what it was. But Clearchus knew; and the rest might suspect. Cyrus gave out that he was going to attack the Pisidians, but the direction of his march must have very soon shown that he was going elsewhere. He led his forces through Asia Minor, and over the mountains of Taurus to Tarsus in Cilicia. From thence he passed into Syria, crossed the Euphrates, and met the huge army of the Persians in the plain of Cunaxa, about forty miles from Babylon. In the affray that ensued, for it was not a battle, Cyrus lost his life, his barbarian troops were dispersed, and the Greeks were left alone on the wide plains between the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was after the treacherous massacre of Clearchus and other of the Greek commanders by the Persian satrap Tissaphernes, that Xenophon came forward. He had held no command in the army of Cyrus, nor had he in fact served as a soldier. In the commencement of the third book of the Anabasis he states how he was called to take a part in conducting the hazardous retreat. Instead of attempting to return by the road by which they advanced, where they would have found no supplies, at least till they reached the Mediterranean, the Greek leaders conducted their men along the Tigris and over the high table lands of Armenia to Trapezus, now Trebizond, a Greek. colony on the south-east coast of the Black Sea. From Trapezus the troops were conducted to Chrysopolis, which is opposite to Byzantium. The Greeks were in great distress, and some of them under Xenophon entered the service of Senthes, king of Thrace, who wanted their aid, and promised to pay for it. The Greeks performed what they agreed to do, but Seuthes was unwilling to pay, and it was with great difficulty that Xenophon got from him part of what he had promised. The description which Xenophon gives (Anab. vi. 3,&c) of the manners of the Thracians is very curious and amusing. As the Lacedaemonians under Thimbron were now at war with Tissaphernes and Pharnal azus, Xenophon and his troops were invited to join the army of Thimbron, and Xenophon led them back out of Asia to join Thimbron B. C. 399. Xenophon, who was very poor, made an expedition into the plain of the Caicus with his troops before they joined Thimbron, to plunder the house and property of a Persian named Asidates. The Persian, with his women, children, and all his moveables was seized; and Xenophon, by this robbery, replenished his empty pockets (Anab. vii. 8. § 23). He tells the story himself as if he were not ashamed of it.
Socrates was put to death in B. C. 399, and it seems probable that Xenophon was banished either shortly before or shortly after that event. His death during Xenophon's absence in Asia appears to be collected from the Memorabilia (iv. 8.4). Xenophon was not banished at the time when he was leading the troops back to Thimbron (Anab. vii. 7.57), but his expression rather seems to imply that his banishment must have followed soon after. It is not certain what he was doing after the troops joined Thimbron. The assumption of Letronne. that he went to Athens is unsupported by evidence. As we know nothing of his movements, the conclusion ought to be that he stayed in Asia, and probably with Thimbron and his successor Dercyllidas.
Agesilaus, the Spartan king, was commanding the Lacedaemonian forces in Asia against the Persians in B. C. 396, and Xenophon was with him at least during part of the campaign. When Agesilaus was recalled B. C. 394, Xenophon accompanied him (Anab. v. 3.6), and he was on the side of the Lacedaemonians in the battle which they fought at Coroneia B. C. 394 against the Athenians (Plutarch, Agesil. 18). It seems that he went to Sparta with Agesilaus after the battle of Coroneia, and soon after he settled at Scillus in Eleia, not far from Olympia, a spot of which he has given a description in the Anabasis (v. 3.7, &c). Here he was joined by his wife Philesia and his children. It has been said that Philesia was his second wife; but when he married her, or where, is unknown. His children were educated in Sparta, or at least Agesilaus advised him to educate them there (Plut. Agesil. 20). Xenophon was now an exile, and a Lacedaemonian so far as he could become one.
His time during his long residence at Scillus was employed in hunting, writing, and entertaining his friends; and probably his historical writings, the Anabasis and the Hellenica, or part of the Hellenica, were composed here, as Diogenes Laertius says. The treatise on hunting and that on the horse were probably written during this time, when amusement and exercise of that kind formed part of his occupation. Xenophon was at last expelled from his quiet retreat at Scillus by the Eleans, but the year is uncertain. It is a conjecture of Kruger's that the Eleans did not take Scillus before B. C. 371, the year in which the Lacedaemonians were defeated by the Thebans at the battle of Leuctra. Diogenes says that the Lacedaemonians did not come to the aid of Xenophon when he was attacked by the Eleans, a circumstance that may lead to the probable inference that they were too busily employed in other ways either to prevent his expulsion or to reinstate him; and this is a reason why Letronne supposes that the Eleans probably attacked Scillus in B. C. 368 during the invasion of Laconica by Epaminondas. Xenophon's residence at Scillus in either case was above twenty years. The sentence of banishment from Athens was repealed on the motion of Eubulus, but it is uncertain in what year. In the battle of Mantineia which was fought B. C. 362, the Spartans and the Athenians were opposed to the Thebans, and Xenophon's two sons, Gryllus and Diodorus, fought on the side of the allies. He sent them, says Diogenes, to Athens to fight on behalf of the Spartans. Gryllus fell in the same battle in which Epaminondas lost his life. From the circumstance of Xenophon's two sons being in the battle. Letronne assumes that the decree for Xenophon's banishment must have been repealed before B. C. 362, a conclusion which is far from being necessary. Kruger concludes for other reasons that it was repealed before the battle of Mantineia. There is no evidence that Xenophon ever returned to Athens. He is said to have retired to Corinth after his expulsion from Scillus, and as we know nothing more, we assume that he died there (Diog. Laert.).
The Hipparchicus was written after the repeal of the decree of banishment, and the treatise on the revenues of Athens. The events alluded to in the Epilogus to the Cyropaedia (viii. 8.4) show that the Epilogus at least was written after Ol. 104. 3 (Diod. xv. 92). Diogenes quotes Stesicleides as authority for Xenophon having died in the first year of the 105th Olympiad, or in B. C. 359. The time of his death may have been a few years later.
The titles of the works of Xenophon which Diogenes enumerates are the same as those which are now extant. He says that Xenophon wrote about forty books (biblia), and that they were variously divided, which expression and the list of works which he gives, show that by the word books he meant the several divisions or books of the larger works, and the smaller works which consist of a single book. The number of books of Xenophon thus estimated is thirty-seven, which is tolerably near the number mentioned by Diogenes, and shows that a division of Xenophon's works into books existed at that time. Of the historical writings of Xenophon, the Anabasis, or the History of the Expedition of the Younger Cyrus, and of the retreat of the Greeks, who formed part of his army, has immortalised his name. It is a clear and pleasing narrative, written in a simple style, free from affectation; and it gives a great deal of curious information on the country which was traversed by the retreating Greeks, and on the manners of the people. It was the first work which made the Greeks acquainted with some portions of the Persian empire, and it showed the weakness of that extensive monarchy. The skirmishes of the retreating Greeks with their enemies and the battles with some of the barbarian tribes are not such events as elevate the work to the character of a military history, nor can it as such be compared with Caesar's Commentaries. Indeed those passages in the Anabasis which relate directly to the military movements of the retreating army are not always clear, nor have we any evidence that Xenophon did possess any military talent for great operations, whatever skill he may have had as a commander of a division. The editions of the Anabasis are numerous...
In a passage in the Hellenica (iii. 1.1), the author says, "Now how Cyrus got his army together and marched up the country with it against his brother, and how the battle was fought, and how he died, and how after this the Greeks made their retreat to the sea, has been written by Themistogenes of Syracuse." This passage seems sufficiently to indicate the Anabasis, though the extract says nothing of the course which the Greeks took from Trapezus to Byzantium. Plutarch (De Gloria Athen.) says, that Xenophon attributed the Anabasis to Themistogenes in order that the work might have more credit, than if it appeared as the narrative of one who had to say so much about himself. We might suppose that there was a work on the expedition of Cyrus by Themistogenes, and that Xenophon wrote his Anabasis after he had written this passage in the Hellenica. But this is merely a conjecture, and not a satisfactory one. When we read the Anabasis we never doubt that Xenophon was the author of it, for he speaks of himself in many places in a way in which no other person could speak: he records, for instance, dreams and thoughts, which no one could know except from his evidence. The Anabasis, then, as we have it, was either written by Xenophon, or compiled from his notes; and the reference to the work of Themistogenes either proves that there was such a work, or that Xenophon's work passed under the name of Themistogenes, at the time when the passage in the Hellenica was written, if Xenophon wrote the passage in the Hellenica. Bornemann's proposal to translate the words in the Hellenica, Themistogenei toi Surakousioi gegraptai, " das habe ich fur den Themistogenes geschrieben" is altogether inadmissible.
The Hellenica (Hellenika) of Xenophon are divided into seven books, and comprehend the space of forty-eight years, from the time when the history of Thucydides ends to the battle of Mantineia, B. C. 362. But the fact of the assassination of Alexander of Pherae is mentioned (vi. 4. 35), as to which the reference already made to Clinton's Fasti may be consulted. It is the opinion of Niebuhr and others that the Hellenica consists of two distinct parts or works written at different times. The History of Thucydides would be completed by the capture of Athens, B. C. 404, which is described in the second book (Hellen. ii. 2); the remainder of this book carries the history to the restoration of Thrasybulus and the exiles, B. C. 403. The second paragraph of the third book in which Themistogenes is mentioned, may be considered as completing the history up to B. C. 399; and a new narrative appears to begin with the third paragraph of the third book (Epei mentoi Tissaphernes, &c). But there seems no sufficient reason to consider the Hellenica as two works, because an expression at the end of the second book refers to the Athenian amnesty (eti kai nun omou, &c) of B. C. 403, and because the death of Alexander of Pherae is recorded in the sixth. This would only prove that Xenophon had the work a long time under his hands. The division into books proves nothing, for that was posterior to Xenophon's time.
The Hellenica is generally a dry narrative of events, and there is nothing in the treatment of them which gives a special interest to the work. Some events of importance are briefly treated, but a few striking incidents are presented with some particularity.
The Cyropaedia (Kuropaideia) in eight books, is a kind of political romance, the basis of which is the history of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian monarchy. It shows how citizens are to be made virtuous and brave; and Cyrus is the model of a wise and good ruler. As a history it has no authority at all. Xenophon adopted the current stories as to Cyrus and the chief events of his reign, without any intention of subjecting them to a critical examination; nor have we any reason to suppose that his picture of Persian morals and Persian discipline is any thing more than a fiction, for we know that many of the usages of the Persians in the time of the first Dareius and his successors were different from the usages which Xenophon attributes to the Persians; and Xenophon himself affirms this. Besides this, Xenophon could know no more of the Persians in the time of the first Cyrus than other Greeks; and, setting aside the improbability of his picture, we are certain that he could not know many things which he has introduced into his romance. His object was to represent what a state might be, and he placed the scene of his fiction far enough off to give it the colour of possibility. His own philosophical notions and the usages of Sparta were the real materials out of which he constructed his political system. The Cyropaedia is evidence enough that Xenophon did not like the political constitution of his own country, and that a well-ordered monarchy or kingdom appeared to him preferable to a democracy like Athens. The genuineness of the Epilogus or conclusion, in which Xenophon shows how the Persians had degenerated since the time of Cyrus, is doubted by some critics; but there seem to be no sufficient reasons. The author here says that the " Persians of his time, and the rest who were among them, were proved to be both less reverential towards the gods and less just to their kin, and more dishonest towards others, and less courageous in war now than they were before; and if any man has a contrary opinion, he will find, if he looks to their acts, that they testify to the truth of what I say." The Cyropaedia is one of the most pleasing of Xenophon's works, and it contains many good hints on the training of youth. Xenophon's remarks are practical; we do not find in his writings any thoughts that strike us as very profound or new, but we always discover careful observation of human life, good sense, and honest purpose. The dying speech of Cyrus (viii. 7) is worthy of the pupil of Socrates, and Cicero (de Senectute, 22) has transferred the substance of it to enforce his argument for the immortality of the soul. This passage may be assumed as evidence of Xenophon's belief in the existence of the soul (Psuche) independent of the organised being in which it acts. " I never could be persuaded," says Cyrus, " that the soul lives so long as it is in a perishable body, and that it dies when it is released from it." The argument of Xenophon bears some resemblance to the argument of Bishop Butler, in his Analogy, where he treats of a future life (chap. i.). There is an English translation of the Cyropaedia, by Maurice Ashley Cowper.
The Agesilaus (Agesilaos) is a panegyric on Agesilaus II., king of Sparta, the friend of Xenophon. That Xenophon wrote such a work is proved by the list of Diogenes, and the testimony of Cicero (ad Fam. v. 12), who considers it a monument more glorious than all the statues of kings. Some modern critics do not consider the extant work as deserving of high praise, to which it may be replied, that it will be difficult to find a panegyric which is. It is a kind of composition in which failure can hardly be avoided. However true it may be, it is apt to be insipid and to appear exaggerated.
The Hipparchicus (Hipparchikos) is a treatise on the duties of a commander of cavalry, and it contains many military precepts. One would be inclined to suppose that it was written at Athens, but this conclusion, like many others from internal evidence, is not satisfactory. A strain of devotion runs through the treatise; and on this the author makes the following remark near the end: " Now if any one admire that I have often used the expression ` God willing,' he must know that if he happen to be frequently in a state of danger, he will admire the less; and if he consider, that when there is war, the hostile parties form their designs against one another, but very seldom know what designs are formed against them severally. But all these things the gods know, and presignify them to whom they please by means of sacrifices, birds, voices, and dreams."
The treatise on the Horse (Hippike) was written after the Hipparchicus, to which treatise he refers at the end of the treatise on the Horse. " Since," says Xenophon, at the beginning of this treatise, " it happens that I have been accustomed to riding a horse for a long time, I consider that I am well acquainted with horses, and I wish to show my younger friends in what way I think that they may best meddle in the matter of a horse." The treatise is not limited to horsemanship, as regards the rider : it shows how a man is to avoid being cheated in buying a horse, how a horse is to be trained, and the like. In the beginning of the treatise Xenophon refers to a treatise on the same subject by Simon.
The Cynegeticus (Kunegetikos) is a treatise on hunting, an amusement of which Xenophon was very fond; and on the dog, and the breeding and training of dogs, on the various kinds of game, and the mode of taking them. It is a treatise written by a genuine sportsman, who loved the exercise and the excitement of the chase; and it may be read with delight by any sportsman who deserves the name. The two treatises on the Spartan and Athenian states (Lakedaimonion Politeia, and Athenaion Politeia) were not always recognised as genuine works of Xenophon, even by the ancients. They pass, however, under his name, and there is nothing in the internal evidence that appears to throw any doubt on the authorship. The writer clearly prefers Spartan to Athenian institutions.
A treatise on the Revenues of Athens (Poroi e peri Prosodon) is designed to show how the public revenue of Athens may be improved: it treats of the mode of increasing the number of resident strangers (metoikoi), by improving their condition at Athens, which improvement would ultimately be beneficial to the revenue, and attract strangers; and it recommends such facilities to be given to strangers trading to Athens, as would induce them to come to a port where they were not compelled, as in many ports, to take merchandise, for want of a good current coin, but where they could take silver as a commodity in exchange, if they preferred it : he then proceeds to discuss the mode of improving the revenue by a better management of the Athenian silver mines, and to show that provision may thus be made for the poorer citizens and other purposes, without levying contributions on the allies and the subject states.
In the Memorabilia of Socrates, in four books (Apomnemoneumata Sokratous) Xenophon defends the memory of his master against the charge of irreligion (i. 1 ) and of corrupting the Athenian youth. Socrates is represented as holding a series of conversations, in which he developes and inculcates moral doctrines in his peculiar fashion. It is entirely a practical work, such as we might expect from the practical nature of Xenophon's mind, and it professes to exhibit Socrates as he taught. It is true that it may exhibit only one side of the Socratic argumentation, and that it does not deal in those subtleties and verbal disputes which occupy so large a space in some of Plato's dialogues. Xenophon was a hearer of Socrates, an admirer of his master, and anxious to defend his memory. The charges against Socrates for which he suffered were (Mem. i. 1), that "Socrates was guilty of not believing in the gods which the state believed in, and in introducing other new daemons (daimonia) : he was also guilty of corrupting the youth." Xenophon (c. 1, 2) replies to these two charges specifically; and he then goes on to show (c. 3) what Socrates' mode of life was. The whole treatise is intended to be an answer to the charge for which Socrates was executed, and it is, therefore, in its nature, not intended to be a complete exhibition of Socrates. That it is a genuine picture of the man, is indisputable, and it is the most valuable memorial that we have of the practical philosophy of Socrates. The Memorabilia will always be undervalued by the lovers of the transcendental, who give to an unintelligible jargon of words the name of philosophy : it comes too near the common understanding (communis senses) of mankind to be valued by those who would raise themselves above this common understanding, and who have yet to learn that there is not a single notion of philosophy which is not expressed or involved by implication in the common language of life. The Apology of Socrates contains the reasons which induced Socrates to prefer death to life. It is not a first-rate performance; and because they do not consider it worthy of Xenophon, some critics would deny that he is the author; but this is an inconclusive reason. Laertius states that Xenophon wrote an Apologia, and the original is as likely to have come down to us as a forgery.
In the Symposium (Sumposion), or Banquet of Philosophers, Xenophon delineates the character of Socrates. The speakers are supposed to meet at the house of Callias, a rich Athenian, at the celebration of the great Panathenaea. Socrates, Cratibulus, Antisthenes, Charmides, and others are the speakers. The accessories of the entertainment are managed with skill, and the piece is interesting as a picture of an Athenian drinking party, and of the amusement and conversation with which it was diversified. The nature of love and friendship is discussed. Some critics think that the Symposium is a juvenile performance, and that the Symposium of Plato was written after that of Xenophon; but it is an old tradition that the Symposium of Plato was written before that of Xenophon.
The Hiero (Hieron e Turannikos) is a dialogue between king Hiero and Simonides, in which the king speaks of the dangers and difficulties incident to an exalted station, and the superior happiness of a private man. The poet, on the other hand, enumerates the advantages which the possession of power gives, and the means which it offers of obliging and doing services. Hiero speaks of the burden of power, and answers Simonides, who wonders why a man should keep that which is so troublesome, by saying that power is a thing which a man cannot safely lay down. Simonides offers some suggestions as to the best use of power, and the way of employing it for the public interest. It is suggested by Letronne that Xenophon may have been led to write this treatise by what he saw at the court of Dionysius; and, as already stated, there is a story of his having visited Sicily in the lifetime of the tyrant of Syracuse.
The Oeconomicus (Oikonomikos) is a dialogue between Socrates and Critobulus, in which Socrates begins by showing that there is an art called Oeconomic, which relates to the administration of a household and of a man's property. Socrates (c. 4), when speaking in praise of agriculture, quotes the instance of the younger Cyrus, who was found of horticulture, and once showed to the Spartan Lysander the gardens which he had planned and the trees which he had planted with his own hands. Cicero copies this passage, in his treatise on Old Age (de Senectute, c. 17). Xenophon gives the same character of Cyrus, in this passage of the Oeconomicus, which he gives in the Anabasis (i. 8, 9), which tends to confirm his being the author of the Anabasis, if it needs confirmation. In answer to the praises of agriculture, Critobulus speaks of the losses to which the husbandman is exposed from hail, frost, drought, and other causes. The answer of Socrates is that the husbandman must trust in heaven, and worship the gods. The seventh chapter is on the duty of a good wife, as exemplified in the case of the wife of Ischomachus. The wife's duty is to look after the interior of the household: the husband labours out of doors and produces that which the wife must use with frugality. The wife's duty is to stay at home, and not to gad abroad. It is an excellent chapter, abundant in good things, worthy of a woman's careful perusal, and adapted to practice. A wife who is perpetually leaving her home, is not the wife that Xenophon would have. It is a notion which one sees in some modern writers, that the attachment of husband and wife, independent of the sexual passion, and their permanent love after both have grown old, is a characteristic of modern society, and that the men of Greece and Rome were not susceptible of that affection which survives the decay of a woman's youth and beauty. The notion is too absurd to need confutation. The duties of a wife, says Ischomachus, give her great opportunities, by exercising which she will not have to fear " that as she grows older she will receive less respect in the house hold, but may be assured that as she advances in life, the better companion she becomes to her husband and the better guardian of her children, the more respect she will receive." This is one of best treatises of Xenophon.
A man's character cannot be entirely derived front his writings, especially if they treat of exact science. Yet a man's writings are some index of his character, and when they are of a popular and varied kind, not a bad index. Xenophon, as we know him from his writings, was a humane man, at least for his age, a man of good understanding and strong religious feelings : we might call him superstitious, if the name superstition had a well-defined meaning. Some modern critics, who can judge of matters of antiquity with as much positiveness as if all the evidence that exists were undoubted evidence, and as if they had all the evidence that is required, find much to object to in Xenophon's conduct as a citizen. He did not like Athenian institutions altogether; but a man is under no moral or political obligation to like the government under which he is born. His duty is to conform to it, or to withdraw himself. There is no evidence that Xenophon, after his banishment, acted against his native country, even at the battle of Coroneia. If we admit that his banishment was merited, and that is more than can be proved, there is no evidence that he did any thing after his banishment for which an exile can be blamed. If his preference of Spartan to Athenian institutions is matter for blame, he is blameable indeed. If we may form a conjecture of the man, he would have made an excellent citizen and a good administrator under a constitutional monarchy; but he was not fitted for the turbulence of an Athenian democracy, which, during a great part of his lifetime, was not more to the taste of a quiet man than France under the Convention. All antiquity and all modern writers agree in allowing Xenophon great merit as a writer of a plain, simple, perspicuous, and un-affected style. His mind was not adapted for pure philosophical speculation : he looked to the practical in all things; and the basis of his philosophy was a strong belief in a divine mediation in the government of the world. His belief only requires a little correction and modification, to allow us to describe it as a profound conviction that God, in the constitution of things, has given a moral government to the world, as manifestly as he has given laws for the mechanical and chemical actions of matter, the organisation of plants and animals, and the vital energies of all beings which live and move.
There are numerous editions of the whole and of the separate works of Xenophon. The Hellenica, the first of Xenophon's works that appeared in type, was printed at Venice, 1503, fol. by the elder Aldus, with the title of Paralipomena, and as a supplement to Thucydides, which was printed the year before. The first general edition is that of E. Boninus, printed by P. Giunta, and dedicated to Leo X., Florence, 1516, fol.; but this edition does not contain the Agesilaus, the Apology, and the treatise on the Revenue of Athens. A part of the treatise on the Athenian Commonwealth is also wanting. This edition of Giunta is a very good specimen of early printing, and useful to an editor of Xenophon. The edition by Andrea of Asola, printed by Aldus at Venice, 1525, folio, contains all the works of Xenophon, except the Apology ; though the Apology was already edited by J. Reuchlin, Hagenau, 1520, 4to., with the Agesilaus and Hiero. The Basel edition, printed by N. Brylinger, 1545, fol. is the first edition of the Greek text with a Latin translation. The edition of H. Stephens, 1561, fol., contains an amended text, and the edition of 1581 has a Latin version. The edition of Weiske, Leipzig, 1798--1804, 6 vols. 8vo., did something towards the improvement of the text. The most pretending edition is that of Gail, Paris, 6 vols. 4to. 1797--1804; a seventh volume, in three parts, published afterwards, contains the various readings of three MSS., notices on the MSS. and observations, literary and critical, and an Atlas of maps and plans. This edition contains the Greek text, the Latin version, a French version and notes; the Latin version is that of Leunclavius, occasionally corrected; and the French is not entirely new, for the author took the French versions already existing of various parts of Xenophon's works. Letronne, in his article on Xenophon (Biog. Univ.), has given an account of this pompous edition, which has very little merit. J. G. Schneider revised the edition of Zeune, and the various parts of the works of Xenophon appeared between 1791 and 1815. The editions of the several works are too numerous to be mentioned.
Fabricius (Bibliotheca Graeca), Scholl (Geschichte der Griechischen Literatur), Letronne (Biog. Univ. art. Xenophon), and Hoffmann (Lexicon Bibliographicum) will furnish full information about the numerous editions and translations. As to the seven Epistles attributed to Xenophon, among the one and forty so-called Socratic Epistles, the same remark applies to them as to most of the Greek literary remains of that class; they are mere rhetorical essays.
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Isocrates (Isokrates). The fourth among the ten Attic orators. He
was born at Athens in B.C. 436, the son of Theodorus, the wealthy proprietor of
a flute manufactory, who provided for his son a thorough education. Accordingly,
he had the advantage of being instructed by Prodicus, Protagoras, Theramenes,
and above all by Gorgias, his character was also moulded by the influence of Socrates,
although he never belonged to the more restricted circle of that philosopher's
Bashfulness and a weak voice prevented him from taking part in public life. After the fall of the Thirty, as his father had lost his means in the calamitous years that closed the Peloponnesian War, he turned his attention to composing forensic speeches for others. After having taught rhetoric at Chios (probably about B.C. 404), he returned to Athens in 403, and there opened a regular school of rhetoric about 392. It was largely attended by both Athenians and non-Athenians, and gained for him considerable wealth. The total number of his pupils has been given at one hundred, including Timotheus, son of Conon, the orators Isaeus, Hyperides, and Lycurgus, and the historians Ephorus and Theopompus. Each pupil paid him 1000 drachmae. Isocrates also had friendly relations with foreign princes, especially with Evagoras of Cyprus and his son Nicocles, who loaded him with favours. He kept himself completely aloof from any personal share in the public life of his day; yet attempted to influence the political world, not only within the narrow bounds of his native land, but also throughout the whole of Greece, by a series of rhetorical declamations, not intended to be delivered, but only to be read. This he did in the first place in his Panegyricus (Panegurikos), which he published in B.C. 380, after spending ten or, according to another account, as many as fifteen years over its preparation. It is a kind of festal oration, eulogizing the services of Athens to Greece, exhorting the Spartans peacefully to share the supremacy with Athens, and calling on the Greeks to lay aside all internal dissensions and to attack the barbarians with their united strength. In the ninetieth year of his age, in a discourse addressed to Philip in B.C. 346, he endeavoured to induce that monarch to carry out his policy by reconciling all the Greeks to one another and leading their united forces against the Persians. Other discourses relate to the internal politics of Athens. Thus, in the Areopagiticus (B.C. 354), he recommends his fellow-citizens to get rid of the existing weaknesses in their political constitution by returning to the democracy as founded by Solon and reconstituted by Clisthenes, and by reinstating the Areopagus as the supreme tribunal of censorship over public decorum and morality. He retained his mental and bodily powers unimpaired to an advanced age, and in his ninety-eighth year completed the Panathenaicus, a discourse in praise of Athens. He lived to see the total wreck of all his hopes for a regeneration of Greece, and died B.C. 338, a few days after the battle of Chaeronea. He is said to have died of voluntary starvation, owing to his despair at the downfall of Greek liberty; but this account of his death, made familiar to the English world by Milton in his fifth English sonnet, must be considered as doubtful.
There were sixty compositions bearing his name known to antiquity, but less than half that number were considered genuine. Of the twenty-one which have come down to us, the first, the letter to Dominicus, is often regarded as spurious, but there is no reason to doubt the genuineness of nine of the ten other letters. It is only the letter prefixed to the nine in the older editions that is not genuine, having been really written by Theophylact Simocatta early in the seventh century A.D. Of the speeches, six are forensic orations, written to be delivered by others; the rest are declamations, chiefly on political subjects. By his mastery of style, Isocrates had a far-reaching influence on all subsequent Greek prose, which is not confined to oratorical composition alone. His chief strength lies in a careful choice of expression, not only in his vocabulary, but also in the rhythmical formation of his flowing periods, in a skilful use of the figures of speech, and in all that lends euphony to language. Even in Latin the oratorical prose of Cicero is, on its formal side, based chiefly on that of Isocrates; and as modern literary prose has, in its turn, been largely modelled on that of Cicero, the influence of Isocrates has endured to the present day.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Isocrates (436-338 BC) considered himself a philosopher, not an orator or rhetorician.
Although he was a poor speaker himself, he began his career as a logographer,
writing speeches for others. He ceased this practice in about 390 and turned to
writing and teaching. In several long essays he set forth his political views,
which favored accommodation with Philip and a panhellenic unity, and his theory
of education based on a broad concept of rhetoric. His school attracted pupils
from the entire Greek world and became the main rival of Plato's celebrated Academy.
Although Plato is better known and more highly regarded today, Isocrates had a
much greater influence than his rival during the Hellenistic and Roman periods
and down into modern times, for until the eighteenth century education in most
European schools was based on his principles.
Life and Works
Isocrates came from a wealthy Athenian family. His interest in philosophical issues led him to study with the sophists Prodicus and Gorgias, and also to associate with Socrates. In Plato's Phaedrus (Plat. Phaedrus 279a) Socrates prophecies (perhaps ironically) a bright future for him. During the Peloponnesian War his father lost most of his property, and so after the democracy was restored, Isocrates turned to logography from financial need. Six speeches for a variety of private cases survive from this period, and Isocrates probably wrote many more. Later he scorned the profession of logographer and sought to disavow this period of his past.
After a decade or so as a logographer, Isocrates abandoned that career and founded a school, first in Chios and then in Athens (in c. 388 BC), to train young men in the true practice of rhetoric. The earliest work proclaiming this new educational undertaking is probably the fragmentary Against the Sophists (c. 390), in which he attacks other teachers of rhetoric and seeks to distance himself from them on the grounds that they teach only rhetoric. His education, on the other hand, combines teaching of rhetoric with ethics and politics, thereby preparing his pupils more fully for their future lives. The school was very successful. Although only six students were enrolled at any one time, they included young men from some of the best known families all over the Greek world, and they were willing to pay a high fee for tuition. Among the students were political leaders, historians and other writers, foreign nobility, and orators, including Isaeus, Lycurgus and Hyperides. (Demosthenes, it is said, could not afford the tuition fee.)
The fame of Isocrates and of his school was spread especially by the publication of several long essays expounding his views on political, philosophical and educational issues. To mention just a few of these: Panegyricus (c. 380), which he spent about ten years composing, is Isocrates? earliest call for Hellenic unity under the spiritual and political leadership of Athens; in Areopagiticus and On the Peace (both c. 355 BC), he advocates a policy of peace abroad and political reform at home; and in Panathenaicus (339), completed as he lay ill and near death, and especially in his longest essay Antidosis (354), Isocrates sets forth his views on broad philosophical and educational issues, as well as on political matter, all within the context of defending himself and his career and attacking the views and practices of his opponents. In his ninety-eighth year (338) he starved himself to death.
Isocrates considered himself a teacher of philosophia but his concept of ?philosophy? differed considerably from Plato's and resembled rather what we call ?practical? or ?applied philosophy? (as when philosophy professors today teach courses in ?business ethics? or ?contemporary moral issues?- usually abortion and the like). Philosophy, for Isocrates, helped people understand political and ethical issues more clearly, while rhetoric helped them express their views clearly and persuasively to others. Isocrates was not interested in the abstract metaphysics and his moral views were less rigorously absolute than Plato's; moreover, a degree of relativism underlies his belief that rhetoric should concern itself with what is appropriate (prepon) and comes at the right time (kairos). But like Plato Isocrates attacks ?sophists? (whom he sees as rivals) for having no moral values, and he affirms his own belief in rather traditional moral values, arguing that it is the job of rhetoric to express these. Novelty is important in the expression of one's views but not in the views themselves.
Isocrates is also known for a characteristic style involving long complex periodic sentences full of balanced, often antithetical subordinate clauses, reinforced by Gorgianic types of assonance. The effect of individual sentences is striking, and their underlying structures can profitably be analyzed, and indeed have been analyzed by generations of students of Greek prose style. The effect of this style over dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of pages is considerably less pleasing. Unlike Demosthenes, he does not have the ability to mix different styles and he is thus best read in small doses.
As noted above, Isocrates? significance lies primarily in his influence on later generations, who for centuries were guided by his model of education grounded in rhetoric. Since this model has little influence today, Isocrates is little read, but for the historian of rhetoric or especially of education, he cannot be ignored.
- Blass, Friedrich, Die attische Beredsamkeit, 3nd ed. vol. 2. Leipzig 1892.
- Jebb, R. C. The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeus, vol. 2. London 1893.
- Kennedy, George, The Art of Persuasion in Greece. Princeton 1963.
- Kennedy, George, ?Oratory? in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I: Greek Literature. Ed. by P. E. Easterling and B. M. W. Knox (Cambridge 1985), pp. 498-526.
- Marrou, H. I. A History of Education in Antiquity. London 1956.
- Usher, S. Greek Orators III: Isocrates. Warminster 1990.
- Usher, S. ?The Style of Isocrates,? BICS 20 (1973) 39-67.
statue of: Paus. 1.18.8
his repute: Paus. 1.18.8
voluntary death: 1.18.8
Isocrates (Isokrates). A celebrated Attic orator and rhetorician, was the son
of Theodorus, and born at Athens in B. C. 436. Theodorus was a man of considerable
wealth, and had a manufacture of flutes or musical instruments, for which the
son was often ridiculed by the comic poets of the time; but the father made good
use of his property, in procuring for the young Isocrates the best education that
could be obtained : the most celebrated sophists are mentioned among his teachers,
such as Tisias, Gorgias, Prodicus, and also Socrates and Theramenes (Dionys. Isocrat.
1; Plut. Vit. X. Orat.; Suidas, s. v. Isokrates; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 260). Isocrates
was naturally timid, and of a weakly constitution, for which reasons he abstained
from taking any direct part in the political affairs of his country, and resolved
to contribute towards the development of eloquence by teaching and writing, and
thus to guide others in the path for which his own constitution unfitted him.
According to some accounts, he devoted himself to the teaching of rhetoric for
the purpose of ameliorating his circumstances, since he had lost his paternal
inheritance in the war against the Lacedaemonians (Plut. l. c.; Phot. Bibl. Cod.
l. c. 176; Isocrat. de Permut. 172). He first established a school of rhetoric
in the island of Chios, but his success does not appear to have been very great,
for he is said to have had only nine pupils there. He is stated, however, to have
exerted himself in another direction, and to have regulated the political constitution
of Chios, after the model of that of Athens. After this he returned to Athens,
and there opened a school of rhetoric. He met with the greatest applause, and
the number of his pupils soon increased to 100, every one of whom paid him 1000
drachmae. In addition to this, he made a large income by writing orations ; thus
Plutarch relates that Nicocles, king of Cyprus, gave Isocrates twenty talents
for the oration pros Nikoklea. In this manner he gradually acquired a considerable
property, and he was several times called upon to undertake the expensive trierarchy;
this happened first in B. C. 355, but being ill, he excused himself through his
son Aphareus. In 352 he was called upon again, and in order to silence the calumnies
of his enemies, he performed it in the most splendid manner. The oration peri
antidoseos pros Lusimachon refers to that event, though it was written after it.
In his earlier years Isocrates lived in the company of Athenian hetaerae (Plut.
l. c.; Athen. xiii.), but at a later period he married Plathane, the widow of
the sophist Hippias, whose youngest son, Aphareus, he adopted. Isocrates has the
great merit of being the first who clearly saw the great value and objects of
oratory, in its practical application to public life and the affairs of the state.
At the same time, he endeavoured to base public oratory upon sound moral principles,
and thus to rescue it from the influence of the sophists, who used and abused
it for any and every purpose; for Isocrates, although educated by the most eminent
sophists, was the avowed enemy of all sophistry. He was, however, not altogether
free from their influence; and what is most conspicuous in his political discourses
is the absence of all practical knowledge of real political life, so that his
fine theories, though they were unquestionably well meant, bear a strong resemblance
to the visions of an enthusiast. The influence which he exercised on his country
by his oratory must have been limited, since his exertions were confined to his
school, but through his school he had the greatest possible influence upon the
development of public oratory; for the most eminent statesmen, philosophers, orators,
and historians of the time, were trained in it, and afterwards developed each
in his particular way the principles they had imbibed in his school. No ancient
rhetorician had so many disciples that afterwards shed lustre on their country
as Isocrates. If we set aside the question as to whether the political views he
entertained were practicable or wise, it must be owned that he was a sincere lover
of his native land, and that the greatness and glory of Athens were the great
objects for which he was labouring; and hence, when the battle of Chaeroneia had
destroyed the last hopes of freedom and independence, Isocrates made away with
himself, unable to survive the downfal of his country, B. C. 338 (Plut.; Dionys.
Photius, ll. cc.; Philostr. Vit. Soph. i. 17).
The Alexandrian critics assigned to Isocrates the fourth place in the canon of Greek orators, and the great esteem in which his orations were held by the ancient grammarians is attested by the numerous commentaries that were written upon them by Philonicus, Hieronymus of Rhodes, Cleochares, Didymus, and others. Hermippus even treated in a separate work on the pupils of Isocrates; but all these works are lost, with the exception of the criticism by Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The language of Isocrates is the purest and most refined Attic dialect, and thus forms a great contrast with the natural simplicity of Lysias, as well as with the sublime power of Demosthenes. His artificial style is more elegant than graceful, and more ostentatious than pleasing; the carefully-rounded periods, the frequent application of figurative expressions, are features which remind us of the sophists ; and although his sentences flow very melodiously, yet they become wearisome and monotonous by the perpetual occurrence of the same over-refined periods, which are not relieved by being interspersed with shorter and easier sentences. In saying this, we must remember that Isocrates wrote his orations to be read, and not with a view to their recitation before the public. The immense care he bestowed upon the composition of his orations, and the time he spent in working them out and polishing them, may be inferred from the statement, that he was engaged for a period of ten, and according to others, of fifteen years, upon his Panegyric oration (Quintil. x. 4. 4). It is owing to this very care and labour that in the arrangement and treatment of his subject, Isocrates is far superior to Lysias and other orators of the time, and that the number of orations he wrote is comparatively small.
There were in antiquity sixty orations which went by the name of Isocrates, but Caecilius, a rhetorician of the time of Augustus, recognised only twenty-eight of them as genuine (Plut. l. c.; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 260), and of these only twentyone have come down to us. Eight of them were written for judicial purposes in civil cases, and intended to serve as models for this species of oratory ; all the others'are political discourses or show speeches, intended to be read by a large public : they are particularly characterised by the ethical element on which his political views are based. Besides these entire orations, we have the titles and fragments of twenty-seven other orations, which are referred to under the name of Isocrates. There also exist under his name ten letters, which were written to friends on political questions of the time; one of them, however (the tenth), is in all probability spurious. A scientific manual of rhetoric (techne rhetortke) which Isocrates wrote is lost, with the exception of a few fragments, so that we are unable to form any definite idea of his merits in this respect.
The orations of Isocrates are printed in the various collections of the Greek orators. The first separate edition is that of Demetrius Chalcocondylas (Milan, 1493), which was followed by numerous others, which, however, are mainly based upon the edition of Aldus (e. g. those published at Hagenau, 1533, 8vo.; Venice, 1542, 1544, 1549, 8vo.; Basel, 1546, 1550, 1555, 1561, 8vo.). A better edition is that of H. Wolf (Basel, 1.553, 8vo.), and with Wolf's notes and emendations, Basel, 1570, fol., the text of which was often reprinted. Some improvements were made in the edition of H. Stephens (1593, fol., reprinted in 1604, 1642, 1651, 8vo., in London 1615, 8vo, and at Cambridge 1686, 8vo.). The edition of A. Auger (Paris, 1782, 3 vols. 3vo.) is not what it might have been, considering the MSS. he had at his disposal. The best modern editions are those of W. Lange (Halle, 1803, 8vo.), Ad. Coraes (Paris, 1807, 2 vols. 8vo.), G. S. Dobson (London, 1828, 2 vols. 8vo., with a Latin transl., copious notes and scholia), and Baiter and Sauppe (Zurich, 1839, 2 vols. 12mo.). There are also many good editions of separate orations and of select orations, for which the reader must be referred to bibliographical works (Hoffmann, Lexicon Bibliogr. vol. ii. p. 615, &c.) A useful Index Graecitatis was published by Th. Mitchell, Oxford, 1827, 8vo. (Comp. Westermann, Gesch. der Griech. Beredts. §§ 48, 49, and Beilage iv. pp. 288--293; Leloup, Commentatio de Isocrate, Bonn, 1823, 8vo.; J. G. Pfund, de Isocratis Vita et Scriptis, Berlin, 1833.
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
by J.F.Dobson, The Greek Orators, London, 1919)
Isocrates was born in 436 B.C., and lived to the remarkable age of ninety-seven in full possession of his faculties. His childhood and youth were passed amid the horrors of the Peloponnesian War; he was already of age when the failure of the Sicilian expedition turned the scale against Athens. In mature manhood he saw the ruin of his city by the capitulation to Lysander. He lived through the Spartan supremacy, saw the foundation of the new Athenian League in 378 B.C., and the rise and fall of the power of Thebes. At the time when Philip obtained the throne of Macedon he was already, by ordinary reckoning, an old man, but the laws of mortality were suspended in the case of this Athenian Nestor. Some of his most important works were composed after his eightieth year; the Philippus, which he wrote at the age of ninety, shows no diminution of his powers; he produced one of his longest works, the Panathenaicus, in his ninety-seventh year, and lived to congratulate Philip on his victory at Chaeronea in 338 B.C.
In a life of such extent and such remarkable variety of experience we should expect to find many changes of outlook and modifications, from time to time, of earlier views. But Isocrates was a man of singularly fixed ideas. With regard to education, he formulated in the discourse against the Sophists (391 B.C.) views which are practically identical with what he expressed nearly forty years later in the Antidosis, (see also Antidosis) views which he maintains in his last work of all, the Panathenaicus (339 B.C.). With regard to Greek politics, he held till the close of his life the opinions propounded in the Panegyricus of 380 B.C. His aims were unchanged, though of necessity he modified the means by which he hoped to carry them out.
We have little information about the orator's early life. He tells us himself that his patrimony was dissipated by the Peloponnesian War (Antid., § 161), so that he was forced to adopt a profession to make a living.
The story contained in the 'Life,' that he endeavoured to save Theramenes when condemned by the Thirty, has no other authority but the Pseudo-Plutarch. It appears from Plato's Phaedrus (pp. 278-9) that he was intimate with Socrates, that Socrates had a high opinion of him, and considered that the young man might distinguish himself either in oratory or in philosophy. Tradition names the Sophists Prodicus, Protagoras, and Gorgias among his early teachers. He is believed to have visited Gorgias in Thessaly.
Plutarch asserts that Isocrates at one time opened a school of rhetoric, with nine pupils, in Chios; and that while there he interfered in politics and helped to institute a democracy. The story may be accepted with reservations. Isocrates himself never refers to it, and in Ep. vi. § 2 (to the children of Jason) excuses himself from visiting Thessaly on the ground that people would comment unfavourably on a man who had 'kept quiet' all his life if he began travelling in his old age. Jebb assumes a short stay in Chios in 404-403 B.C.
Between 403 and 393 B.C. Isocrates composed a certain number of speeches for the law-courts, in which, however, he never appeared as a pleader, for natural disabilities--lack of voice and nervousness, to which he refers with regret--made him unfitted for such work.
About 392 B.C. he opened a school at Athens, and in 391 B.C. published, in the discourse Against the Sophists, his views on education. His pupils were mostly Athenians, many of them afterwards being men of distinction (Antid., §§ 159 sqq.).
It was probably between 378 and 376 B.C. that Isocrates went on several voyages with Conon's son, Timotheus, who was engaged in organizing the new maritime league. From this time down to 351 B.C. he had many distinguished pupils from far countries-- Sicily and Pontus as well as all parts of Greece--and amassed, as he tells us, a reasonable competence, though not a large fortune.
In the year 351 B.C., when a great contest of eloquence was held by Artemisia, widow of Mausolus of Caria, in honour of her husband, it is reported that all the competitors were pupils of Isocrates.
In the last period of his life, 351-338 B.C., Isocrates still continued to teach, and was also busily occupied in writing. He published the Philippus, which is one of his most important works, and one of the greatest in historical interest, in 346 B.C.; in 342 B.C. he began the lengthy Panathenaicus, which he had half finished when he was attacked by an illness, which made the work drag on for three years. It was finished in 339 B.C. In the following year, a few days after the battle of Chaeronea, he died. A report was current in antiquity that he committed suicide, by starving himself, in consequence of the news of this downfall of Greek liberty; the story is quite incredible when we consider that the result of the battle gave a possibility of the fulfilment of the hopes which Isocrates had been cherishing for half his life, the end to which he had been labouring for over forty years--the concentration of all power into the hands of one man, who might redeem Greece by giving her union and leading her to conquest in the East.
His last letter, in fact, written after the battle of Chaeronea, congratulates Philip on his victory; and even if this letter is spurious, the probability, to judge from the tone of his earlier works, is that he would have hailed the Macedonian success as a victory for his imperial ideas.
Though Isocrates composed, in his youth, a few forensic speeches, it is not by such compositions that he must be judged; indeed he himself, far from claiming credit for his activity in that direction, in later life adopted an apologetic tone when speaking of his earlier work. As a teacher of rhetoric he won great renown, numbering, as he boasts, even kings among his pupils; and he had a complete mastery of all the technique of the rhetorical art.
He was also a master of style, having theories of composition which he exemplified in practice with such skill that he must occupy a prominent place in any treatise on the development of Greek prose.
But his highest claim to consideration is as a political thinker. His bold and startling theories of Greek politics were expressed indeed in finished prose, and in rhetorical shape; but the artistic form is only an added ornament; if Isocrates had written in the baldest style he must have made a name by his treatises on political science, and by the fact that he took a broader and more liberal view of Hellenism than any Athenian before or after. Thus he, who perhaps never delivered a public speech, is of more importance than any of the other orators; and though no politician in the narrow sense, he exerted a wider influence than any, not excepting Demosthenes, who devoted their lives to political activity, for he originated and promulgated ideas which completely changed the course of Greek civilization. It was probably he who was the first to instigate Philip to attempt the conquest of Asia, as he had before urged Dionysius and others to make the attempt--all for the sake of the union of Greek States and the spread of Hellenism; certainly he encouraged the Macedonian in his project, and perhaps it may be said to be due to him that on Philip's death Alexander found the way prepared.
Isocrates could not fully foresee the results of Alexander's conquests; Alexander himself modified and expanded his ambitions as he advanced; but undoubtedly Isocrates urged the general desirability of the undertaking and saw clearly, up to a certain point, the lines on which it ought to be carried out. The petty law-suits which occupied Lysias and Andocides seem trivial and unimportant, even the patriotic utterances of Demosthenes seem of secondary weight, compared with these literary harangues of Isocrates, in cases where civilization and barbarism, unity and discord, are the litigants, and the court is the world.
Isocrates is named by Dionysius as an example of the smooth (or florid) style of composition, which resembles closely woven stuffs, or pictures in which the lights melt insensibly into the shadows (de Comp. Verb., ch. xxiii).
It is clear that to aim consciously at producing such effects as these is to exalt mere expression to supreme heights, and to risk the loss of clearness and emphasis. We may gather the opinions of Isocrates on the structure of prose partly from his own statements, partly from the criticisms of Dionysius, and partly from a study of his compositions. The subject has been very fully and carefully dealt with by Blass, and in the present work only a summary of the chief results can be attempted.
The most noticeable feature of the style is the care taken to avoid hiatus. This is particularly remarked by Dionysius, who, after quoting from the Areopagiticus a long passage which he particularly admires, notes, 'You cannot find any dissonance of vowels, at any rate in the passage which I have quoted, nor any, I think, in the whole speech, unless some instance has escaped my observation.'
We should expect to find that, to produce this effect, it was necessary to depart frequently from natural forms of expression, either by changing the usual order, or by inserting unnecessary words. It is probable that Isocrates resorted to both these devices; but such is the skill with which he handles his materials that careful reading is necessary to detect the distortions.
Dionysius further notes that dissonance or clashing of consonants is rare, and herein Isocrates seems to have been at pains to follow the rules of euphony laid down in his own Techne. In a fragment preserved by Hermogenes he tells his readers to avoid the repetition of the same syllable in consecutive words--as helika kala, entha Thales. The ingenuity of Blass has discovered passages in which the natural form of a phrase has been altered to avoid such juxtaposition of similar syllables. Certain combinations of consonants, too, are hard to pronounce, and must therefore be avoided. There is, in truth, much justice in the remark of Dionysius that in reading Isocrates it is not the separate words but the sentence as a whole that we must take into account.
The third characteristic of Isocrates' style is his attention to rhythm.
The extravagance of Gorgias had hindered the development of the language by introducing into prose the rhythms and language of poetry; Thrasymachus, as we know from Aristotle's Rhetoric, had studied the effect of the foot 'paeonius' (-uuu or uuu-) at the beginning and end of periods (Rhet., Book iii. 8. 4). Isocrates, while deprecating the use of poetical metres in any strict sense, asserted that oratorical prose should have rhythms of its own, and favoured combinations of the trochee and the iambus. In this he differed from Aristotle, who disapproved of the iambic rhythm as being too similar to the natural course of ordinary speech, and of the trochaic, as being too light and tripping--in contrast to the hexameter, which he classed as too solemn for spoken language.
The periods of Isocrates are remarkable for their elaboration. The analyses of Blass show us a complication of structure in some of the longer sentences which may almost be compared to that of a Pindaric ode. Never, perhaps, has there been a writer who attained such luxuriant complexity in his composition of sentences. But Isocrates is too much the slave of his own virtues; his periods are so long, so complete, so uniformly artistic, that their everlasting procession is monotonous. Lysias, less perfect in form, has in consequence more variety; Demosthenes, who could compose long periods, did not confine himself to them, but enlivened his style by contrast.
The structure of the period lends itself naturally to antithetical forms of expression. We observed in Antiphon the frequency of verbal antitheses of various kinds--the logoi and ergoi, the men and de, and others. Isocrates, having before him the examples of his predecessors and the precepts of rhetoricians, and having theories of his own on sentence-construction, developed very fully a scheme of parallelism in word, sense, and sound.
Thus a period will consist, as we have seen, of a succession of kola or limbs, each one corresponding to another in size, and pairs of corresponding kola will contain pairs of words parallel in sense, form or sound. So the whole period is bound closely together.
His vocabulary avoids excess; he is, in the judgment of Dionysius, the purest of Atticists, with the exception of Lysias. But if we compare the two we find much more tendency to fine writing in Isocrates. Using ordinary words he can produce notable effects, and he is always consciously striving after a certain pomposity of diction. This is most noticeable in the exhibition-writings, such as the Helen and Busiris, where grandiloquent compound words are not infrequent, and metaphors are commoner and more striking than in the speeches on real subjects.
One of his affectations, copied by nearly all subsequent orators, is the unnecessary piling up of words almost synonymous to express one idea. On the other hand we sometimes find synonyms apparently contrasted in different parts of the sentence; such contrast is only verbal, and is made for the purpose of rounding the period; in either case we must note that the writer departs from simplicity in order to improve the sound of his words, but does not add much to the sense.
Another characteristic is the use of the plural of abstract nouns, in much the same sense as the singular. All these details--the partiality for compounds, for the accumulation of synonyms and for the use of the plural instead of the singular, may be classed together under the head of exaggerations of expression, and recorded as characteristics of the epideictic style.
In general, the tone is heightened, and Isocrates tends to appear florid when compared with Lysias; if, on the other hand, we take Gorgias as a standard, we see how far Isocrates, who undoubtedly imitated the Sicilian style, has surpassed his model in the direction of refinement.
Prevented by natural disabilities from exercising his talents in public, but urged on by the necessity of earning a living, since the Peloponnesian War had dissipated his fortune, Isocrates turned to a profession for which he was well fitted, that of an educator. During many years he was, like Gorgias, a teacher of rhetoric, and like Gorgias he may be classed as a Sophist. This title is misleading. In itself it means nothing more than an educator, or teacher of wisdom, and early writers use it in a laudatory sense; Herodotus applies it to the Seven Sages. In the fourth century it was debased, partly by the comic poets, as representing the popular habit of sneering at anything which the mob cannot understand, but more honestly and systematically by Plato, who, though he admitted that some of the Sophists, such as Protagoras, were men worthy of the highest respect, took many opportunities of disparaging Sophists as a class, and Sophistry as a profession.
There can be no doubt that he was quite sincere, for he takes great pains to bring out the distinction between the educators and his own master Socrates, whom Aristophanes had already marked as one of the crowd (Clouds, passim).
To us it seems that the marked distinction cannot be maintained; apart from Socrates' peculiarity of refusing to take fees from his pupils, he is distinguished only by possessing a higher moral tone than the rest of the Sophists. Like them he was a sceptic as far as philosophy was concerned, and like them he was an educator.
We have, however, accepted the word at the value which Plato chose to put upon it; but we must not suppose that this was the value at which it was usually current. This is clear from the fact that Isocrates can use the word without any idea of disparagement.
Though he wrote a speech Against the Sophists, it is directed not against the profession as a whole, but against certain classes, whom he calls the agelaioi sophistai--'Sophists of the baser sort.'
Isocrates' earliest work on education, the speech or tract Against the Sophists (Or. xiii.), dates from the beginning of his professional career, perhaps about the year 390 B.C. We possess only part, perhaps less than half, of the speech. What remains is purely destructive criticism which, as is clear from the concluding words, was meant to lead up to an exposition of the writer's own principles and theory. The loss is to be regretted, but is not irreparable, since the speech On the Antidosis, composed thirty-five years later, supplements it by a full constructive statement.
The introduction on the Sophists is sweeping in its severity:
He proceeds to criticize various classes:
If all our professional educators would be content to tell the truth and not promise more than they ever intend to perform, they would not have a bad reputation among laymen. As it is, their reckless effrontery has encouraged the opinion that a life of incurious idleness is better than one devoted to philosophy.
The general tone of this censure recalls the attacks of the Platonic Socrates on the 'eristic' Sophists; but it is certain that the 'eristics,' whom Isocrates here attacks, are some of the lesser Socratics. This is made obvious by the reference in § 3 to the knowledge (episteme) which, according to these teachers, will lead to right conduct or virtue, and so to happiness. The Socratic view that knowledge is the basis of virtue, and virtue of happiness, is well known. Socrates himself did not profess to teach virtue for a fee; but the Megarians, the followers of his pupil Euclides, did, and at them the sarcasm of Isocrates seems to be directed. Elsewhere, indeed, Isocrates refers definitely to the Platonic school as belonging to the eristic class.
We cannot help hating and despising the professors of contentious argument (eristic), who, while claiming to seek for Truth, introduce falsehood at the very beginning of their pretensions. They profess in a way to read the future, a power which Homer denied even to the gods; for they prophesy for their pupils a full knowledge of right conduct, and promise them happiness in consequence. This invaluable commodity they offer for sale at the ridiculous price of three or four minae. They affect, indeed, to despise money--mere dross of silver or gold as they call it-- yet, for the sake of this small profit they will raise their pupils almost to a level with the immortals. They profess to teach all virtue; but it is notable that pupils, before they are admitted to the course, have to give security for the payment of their fees.
Here again Isocrates, who himself composed an 'Art' of rhetoric, does not condemn all who may try to teach the subject; his complaint is that the majority of such teachers have confined themselves to the ignoble branch of the profession. This criticism is obviously a valid one, and is echoed by Aristotle, who declares that speaking before a public assembly is less knavish (kakourgon) than speaking in a law-court (Rhet., i. 1. 10).
They profess to teach litigation, choosing for themselves this offensive title which would be more appropriate in the mouths of their detractors. They are worse than those who wallow in the mire of "eristic," for they at least pretend to be concerned with virtue and moderation, while those whom we are considering now undertake only to teach men to be busy-bodies from motives of base covetousness. (§§ 19 sqq).
These two treatises taken together, and supplemented by a few passages from other speeches, give us a fair idea of Isocrates' system. His 'Philosophy' is to be distinguished from all merely theoretical speculation, such as the physical theories of the Ionians, or the logic of Parmenides; from 'eristic'--the art of arguing for argument's sake--from geometry and astronomy; from literary work which has no practical use; from the rhetoric of the law-courts. Boys at school may profitably study grammar and poetry; at a later age the applied mathematics, and even 'eristic,' are good mental training; but it must be recognized that they are only a preparation for the Isocratean 'philosophy,' which is for the soul what gymnastic is for the body.
The gymnastic trainer teaches his pupils first to perform the separate movements, then to combine them. The educator follows the same order, and both insist on long and diligent practice; but the trainer of the body cannot always make a man an athlete, nor can the trainer of the mind make everybody an orator. There are three essentials requisite for success--natural aptitude, proper teaching, and long practice; and moreover there must be a will on the part of both teacher and pupil to persevere. The natural ability is by far the most important element. Training, however complete, may break down utterly if the speaker lacks nerve.
Some people expect a marked improvement after a few days of study with a Sophist, and demand a complete training in a year. This is ridiculous; no class of education could produce such results; and there is no need to disparage us as a class because we cannot do more than we profess. We cannot make all men orators, but we can give them culture.
Others assert that our philosophy has an immoral tendency. I shall not defend all who claim to be educators, but only those who have a right to the name. We have nothing to gain by making men immoral; on the contrary the greatest satisfaction for a Sophist is that his pupils should become wise and honourable men, respected by their fellows. Our pupils come from Sicily, from Pontus, and from other distant regions; do they come so far to be instructed in wickedness? Surely not; they could find plenty of teaching at home. They incur the trouble and expense because they think that Athens can give them the best education in the world.
Again, power in debate is not in itself a demoralizing thing. The greatest statesmen of this and earlier generations studied and practised oratory--Solon, who was called one of the Seven Sophists, Themistocles, Pericles. You blame the Thebans for lacking culture; why blame us who try to impart it? Athens honours with a yearly sacrifice the Goddess Persuasion; our enemies attack us for seeking the faculty which this goddess personifies.
We are even attacked by the "Eristics": far from retorting, I am ready to admit that there is good to be got even from eristic disputation, from astronomy, and from geometry: they are useful as a preliminary to higher studies.
My own view of philosophy is a simple one. It is impossible to attain absolute knowledge of what we ought or ought not to do; but the wise man is he who can make a successful guess as a general rule, and philosophers are those who study to attain this practical wisdom. There is not, and never has been, a science which could impart justice and virtue to those who are not by nature inclined towards these qualities; but a man who is desirous of speaking or writing well, and of persuading others, will incidentally become more just and virtuous, for it is character that tells more than anything.
Thoughtful speaking leads to careful action. Your superior culture raises you above the rest of Greece, just as mankind is superior to the lower animals and Greeks to barbarians: do not, then, punish those who would give you this culture. Antid., Summary of §§ 181-303.
A summary of a few extracts will indicate the tenor of the speech.
I decided (he writes) to broach the subject to you, not as a special compliment, though I should be glad if my words could find favour with you, but from the following motive. I saw that all other men of distinction have to obey their cities and their laws, and may do nothing beyond what they are told; and moreover none of them are capable of dealing with the matter I now intend to discuss.
You alone have had given you by fortune a full authority to send embassies to whom you will, and receive them from where you choose, and to say whatever you think expedient. Besides, you possess wealth and power beyond any other Greek--the two things which are the most potent either to persuade or to compel: and you will find persuasion useful for the Greeks and compulsion for the barbarians. Ibid. (Or. v.), §§ 14-17.
It may be said that Isocrates overrated the purity of Philip's motives. On the other hand, it may be conceived that Philip would have greatly preferred to march to Asia as the general of a Greek force willingly united. He, whom Isocrates reckons as a Greek of royal or semi-divine descent, whom Demosthenes stigmatized as a barbarian of the lowest type, had much more of the Greek than the barbarian in his nature. To Athens at least he always showed extraordinary clemency, treating her with a respect far beyond her merits, and honouring her for her ancient greatness. He did all that was possible to conciliate her, and this policy he handed on to his son. But he could not start for the East, leaving so many irreconcilable enemies behind him; and the refusal of the States to accept his hegemony made Chaeronea inevitable.
'It is your duty to try to reconcile the four great cities --Argos, Sparta, Thebes, and Athens; bring these four to their right mind, and you will have no difficulty with the rest, which all depend on them (§§ 30-31). Your ancestors are Argive by descent, and these cities should never have been at enmity with you or each other. All must make allowances, as all have been at fault (§§ 33-38). If Athens or Sparta were now, as once, predominant, nothing could be done; but all the great cities are now practically on a level. No enmities are so deep-seated that they cannot be overcome: Athens has at different times been allied with both Thebes and Sparta. Sparta, Argos, and Thebes all desire peace; Athens has come to her senses before the others, and already made peace. She will be ready to give you her active sympathy' (§§ 39-56).
'History provides many instances of men who, with few advantages, even with disabilities, have achieved great tasks: you, with all your resources, should find the present task easy' (§§ 57-67).
'Success in such a cause would be magnificent; even failure would be noble: your slanderers impute to you the design of subjugating Greece; you will convince them of their error' (§§ 68-80).
'So much for your duty to Greece; now turn to the conquest of Asia. Agesilaus failed because he stirred up political animosities.'
'The Greeks under Cyrus defeated the Persian army, and though left leaderless they made good their retreat. All conditions are favourable for you. The Greeks of Asia were hostile to Cyrus, but will welcome you. The present King of Persia is less of a man than his predecessor, against whom Cyrus fought; and Persia is divided against itself. Cyprus, Cilicia, and Phoenicia, which provided the king with ships, will do so no longer' (§§ 83-104).
'You may aim at conquering the whole Persian Empire; failing of that you might win all that is west of a line drawn from Cilicia to Sinope. Even this would be an enormous advantage. You could found cities for the hordes of mercenaries who are driven by destitution to wander and prey upon the settled inhabitants--a growing menace to Greeks and Persians alike. You would thus render these nomads a great service, and at the same time establish them as a permanent guard of your own frontiers. If this proved too much for you, at the very least you could free the Greek cities of Asia. However great or little is your success, you will at least win great renown for having led a united expedition from all Greece' (§§ 119-126).
'No other state or individual will undertake the task; you are free from restrictions, as all Hellas is your native land. You will fight, I know, not for power or wealth, but for glory. Your mission, then, is this:--To be the benefactor of Greece, the king of Macedon, the governor of Asia' (§§ 127-155).
VI. Remaining works
The general contents of the Panegyricus have already been discussed, but only a careful study of the speech will reveal the skill with which one topic is made to lead up to another, the nice proportion of the parts, and the adroitness displayed in gathering and binding together the various threads of the argument. Numerous paragraphs which seem at first to be almost digressions are found, when we take the speech as a whole, to be essential to its unity, and though in its course a large number of topics is handled, the main subject is never left out of view. The level of style is high throughout, and no extracts can properly represent it. A short analysis may, however, serve to indicate the coherence of the arguments:
'I am here to offer advice about the necessity of war with Persia and unity among the Greeks. Others have handled the same theme, but the fact of their failure renders any excuse for a fresh attempt superfluous, and the subject admits of being treated better than it has been' (§§ 1-14).
'My predecessors have missed an important point; that nothing can be done until the leaders--Athens and Sparta --are reconciled, and persuaded to share the leadership.
'Sparta has accepted a false tradition, that leadership is hers by ancestral right. I shall try to prove that the leadership really belongs to Athens; Sparta then should consent to a joint command' (§§ 15-20).
'Athens first possessed maritime empire, and her civilization is the oldest in Greece (§§ 21-25). Her claims to hegemony are as follows:
'A. (a) Tradition, which has never been refuted, records that Athens first provided the necessities of life. Demeter taught in Attica the cultivation of corn and instituted the Mysteries.
'(b) Athens undoubtedly led the way in colonization, thus enlarging the boundaries of Greek land, and driving back the barbarians (§§ 28-37).
'(c) Athens had the earliest laws, and the earliest constitution. She established the Piraeus, the centre of Greek trade. She provides in herself a perpetual festival, at which the arts are encouraged. Practical philosophy and oratory are so highly honoured at Athens that the name "Greek" is applied properly not by claim of blood but by virtue of the possession of Athenian culture (§§ 38-50).
'B. (a) From heroic times downwards Athens has shown herself the helper of the oppressed. Even Sparta grew great through her support (§§ 57-65).
'(b) Athens in the earliest times and in the Persian Wars distinguished herself against the barbarians (§§ 66-74).
'In old days the rivalries between opposite political parties and between Athens and Sparta were noble ones, and the honourable competition of the two cities shamed the other Greeks into taking arms against Xerxes. Athens, however, furnished more ships than all the rest put together. Her claim to leadership, up to the end of the Persian War, is therefore established' (§§ 75-79).
'It is true that Athens treated her revolted allies-- Melos and Scione--severely: rebels must expect punishment. On the other hand, our loyal subjects enjoyed for seventy years freedom from tyranny, immunity from barbarian attacks, settled government, and peace with all the world' (§§ 100-106).
'Sparta and her partisans inflicted more harm in a few months than Athens in the whole duration of her empire' (§§ 110-114).
'Our rule was preferable to the so-called "peace and independence" which Sparta has given the cities. The seas are overrun by pirates, and more cities are raided now than before the peace was made. Tyrants and harmosts make life in the cities intolerable. The Great King, whom Athens confined within stated limits, has raided the Peloponnese (§§ 115-119); Sparta has abandoned the Ionians to slavery, and herself caused devastation in Greece, and burdened the islanders with taxation. It is monstrous that we Greeks, owing to our petty quarrels, should devastate our own country, when we might reap a golden harvest from Asia' (§§ 120-132).
'We have allowed the Great King to attain unheard of power--simply through our quarrels, for he is not really strong.
'Numerous instances from history betray the inferiority of the Persian leaders and organization. They have often been defeated on the coast of Asia; when they invaded Greece we made an example of them; finally, they cut a ridiculous figure before the walls of their own palaces' (§§ 133-149).
'This is what we might expect from their manner of life; the mass of the people are more fit to be slaves than soldiers; the nobles are by turns insolent and servile, and being permanently corrupted by luxury they are weak and treacherous. They deserve our hatred, and, in fact, our enmity can never be reconciled. One of the reasons even of Homer's popularity is that he tells of a great war against Asia' (§§ 150-159).
'The time is favourable for attack; Phoenicia and Syria are devastated; Tyre is captured; Cilicia is mostly in our favour; Egypt and Cyprus are in revolt. The Greeks are ready to rise; we must make haste, and not let the history of the Ionic revolt repeat itself. The present suffering in Greece passes all records, and for this the present generation deserves some recompense--another reason for haste. The leading men in the cities are callously indifferent, so we who stand outside politics must take the lead, as I am doing' (§§ 160-174).
'The treaty of Antalcidas need not stand in our way; it has been broken already in spirit. We only observe the provisions which are to our own shame, i.e. those by which our allies are given over to the Persians. It was never a fair covenant--we submitted to terms dictated by the king.
'Honour and expediency alike demand that we should combine to undertake this war, whose fame will be greater than that of the Trojan war' (§§ 175-189).
We may now consider the group of speeches which deals with the internal affairs of Greece.
Plataicus (Or. xiv.). Plataea, destroyed in 427 B.C., was restored by Sparta in 386 B.C. as a menace to Thebes, but was forced into the Boeotian Confederacy in 376 B.C. In 373 B.C. it was surprised by a Theban army and again destroyed. The inhabitants escaped to Athens, and their case was discussed in the ecclesia, and also at the congress of allies. The present speech is professedly delivered by a Plataean before the Athenian ecclesia. It consists chiefly of an appeal to sentiment through history; the speaker recalls the ancient relations of Plataea and Athens, and thence infers the present duty of Athens. The speech is in a form suitable for delivery before the assembly, and may have been so delivered.
On the Peace (Or. viii.), on the other hand, is a political treatise. It dates from 355 B.C., when the Social War was near its end. The main theme of the speech is the necessity of peace between Athens and all the world, but the urging of this policy naturally brings in a criticism of the war-party, and a severe indictment not only of present politics but of the conditions of the old empire of Athens. The speech is remarkable from the fact that for once Isocrates abandons his even and temperate language, and allows indignation and even bitterness to give colour to his criticisms.
There is much truth in the invectives aimed at the old empire; Isocrates could see behind the glowing colours in which the glories of the Periclean age are sometimes painted, and equally with Demosthenes he realized, and did not shrink from noticing, the weakness of Athens in his own days. But his advice, though noble, is unpractical. He failed, in spite of his knowledge of history, to fathom the depth of Greek selfishness. No State that relied solely or chiefly on moral worth could have a voice in the council of Greece, far less dominiate its policy.
'The acquisition of empire,' he says, 'over unwilling subjects, is both unjust and impolitic. Ambition is like the bait which entices a wild beast into a trap. Our administration is rotten; our citizens have lost faith in personal effort, and we employ mercenaries to fight our battles. Our politicians are our worst citizens, and we appoint as generals incompetent men who are not fitted for any position of trust. We hold our own, but only because our rivals are as weak as we are. The follies of our assembly win allies for Thebes; their follies in turn are our salvation. It would pay either State to bribe the assembly of the other to meet more often.
'Our hope lies in abandoning our empire; it is unjust, and moreover, we could not maintain it when we were rich, and now we are poor. The statesmen of imperial Athens did all that they could to make their city's policy unpopular. They displayed the tribute extorted from the allies, thus reminding all the world of their tyranny; and paraded the children of those who had fallen in wars in various parts of the world--the victims of national covetousness. Far different was the position of Athens under Themistocles and Aristides. National life is demoralized by Empire. The history of Sparta's supremacy is another case to the point. Pericles was a demagogue, and led the city on a disastrous career, but he at least enriched the treasury, not himself. Our modern demagogues are merely self-seeking, and their covetousness reduces not only the state but the citizens to penury.
'Peace, at the price I have indicated, is the only remedy. We must deliver Greece, not despoil her. Athens should hold among Greek States the position that the kings occupy in Sparta; they are not tyrants; they have a higher standard of conduct than any private person, and are held in such respect that any man who would not throw away his life for them in the field is reckoned meaner than a deserter.'
Antidosis. In its literal and general meaning, an exchange, was, in the language of the Attic courts, peculiarly applied to proceedings under a law which is said to have originated with Solon (Dem. c. Phaenipp. init.). It is natural, however, to refer the law to more democratic times; and the orators were in the habit of ascribing to Solon all laws, especially those which they happened to be quoting in a favourable sense. By this law, a citizen nominated to perform a leiturgia, such as a trierarchy or choregia, or to rank among the property-tax payers in a class disproportioned to his means, was empowered to call upon any qualified person not so charged to take the office in his stead, or submit to a complete exchange of property--the charge in question, of course, attaching to the first party, if the exchange were finally effected. For these proceedings the courts were opened at a stated time every year by the magistrates that had official cognisance of the particular subject; such as the strategi in cases of trierarchy and rating to the property-taxes, and the archon in those of choregia. (Dem. c. Phaenipp. p. 1040; Meier, Att. Process, p. 471; proskaleisthai tina eis antidosin, Lysias, Or. 24, pro Inval. § 10.) If the person challenged could prove that he had already discharged the leiturgia, or was otherwise lawfully exempted, the magistrates might dismiss the case: otherwise the parties proceeded to a diadikasia or legal award of their respective claims. Each litigant could now repair to the houses and lands of his antagonist, and secure himself, as all the claims and liabilities of the estate were to be transferred, from fraudulent encumbrances of the real property, by observing what mortgage placards (horoi), if any, were fixed upon it, and against clandestine removal of the other effects, by sealing up the chambers that contained them, and, if he pleased, by putting bailiffs in the house. (Dem. c. Phaenipp. pp. 1040, 1041.) An oath was taken by both parties that each would deliver to the other, within three days, a correct inventory (apophasis) of their respective properties (Dem. c. Phaenipp. p. 1042, § 11): but in practice the time might be extended by consent of the challenger. All immovable and movable property was transferred in the exchange, with the exception of mines, which were exempted from the extraordinary taxes and leiturgiae, as being already taxed: and all claims and obligations attached to it, and particularly all debts, were included in the transfer, as may be seen from the speech against Phaenippus. The notion of some of the older scholars, that actions not referring to property were also transferred from the one to the other, is justly pronounced by Bockh too absurd to be imputed to the Athenian law (Publ. Econ. p. 582, E. T.). The case of Demosthenes, who was challenged to an antidosis by Thrasylochus, in collusion with his guardians, at the moment when he was bringing his action against the latter to recover his property, and who performed the trierarchy rather than surrender his claims, is an instructive example of the operation of this law in real life. (Dem. c. Aphob. ii. pp. 840-1; c. Meid. pp. 539-40.) The speech of Isocrates on the Antidosis is a fiction based on a fact (Jebb, Att. Or. ii. 135).
This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Panegyricus (panegurikos). The name given among the Greeks to a speech delivered before a paneguris--that is, an assembly of the whole nation on the occasion of the celebration of a festival, such as the Panathenaea and the four great national games. This oration had reference to the feast itself, or was intended to inspire the assembled multitude with emulation by praising the great deeds of their ancestors, and also to urge them to unanimous co-operation against their common foes. The most famous compositions of this kind which have been preserved are the Panegyricus and Panathenaicus of Isocrates, neither of which, however, was actually delivered in public. In later times eulogies upon individuals were so named. This kind of composition was especially cultivated under the Roman Empire by Greeks and Romans. In Roman literature the most ancient example of this kind which remains is the eulogy of the emperor Trajan, delivered by the younger Pliny in the Senate, A.D. 100, thanking the emperor for conferring on him the consulate --a model which subsequent ages vainly endeavoured to imitate. It forms, together with eleven orations of Mamertinus, Eumenius, Nazarius, Pacatus Drepanius, and other unknown representatives of the Gallic school of rhetoric from the end of the third and the whole of the fourth centuries A.D., the extant collection of the Panegyrici Latini. Besides these we possess similar orations by Symmachus, Ausonius, and Eunodius. There are also a considerable number of poetical panegyrics--e. g. one upon Messala, composed in the year B.C. 31, and wrongly attributed to Tibullus; one by an unknown author of the Neronian time upon Calpurnius Piso; and others by Claudian, Sidonius Apollinaris, Merobaudes, Corippus, Priscian, and Venantius Fortunatus.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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