Isocrates, Panathenaicus


Isocrates says that he began Panathenaicus when he was 94 (3), just before the celebration of the Great Panathenaea (17), and completed it at age 98 (270); this was just before his death in 338. Like Panegyricus of 380, to which the discourse is often compared, Panathenaicus purports to be an address to a festival gathering, in this case, the Panathenaic festival at Athens.1 The speech represents display oratory common at such festivals; it celebrates a special occasion of a group with narrative of its history and comment on its interests and values. In this case, the speech celebrates the greatness of Athens by discussing its notable history, its culture, and its leadership role among the Greeks.

The Panathenaea was held each year at Athens in late July or August, with a particularly elaborate version called the “Great Panathenaea” celebrated every fourth year. The festival lasted for several days and climaxed in a procession from the Ceramicus cemetery just outside Athens, through the marketplace (Agora) along Panathenaic Way, and up to the Acropolis. Tradition says that this procession is represented in the sculpted frieze of the Parthenon, the first time average humans were depicted in monumental sculpture.2 Before this time, only gods and heroes were presented on buildings; but the Parthenon, built under the influence of Pericles in the high Classical Age of Athens, represents in many ways Pericles’ perception of the greatness of Greek culture generally and Athenian culture specifically. The spirit of the Parthenon, which demonstrates the greatness of Athens, is also the spirit of the Panathenaea.3

The ceremony included the presentation of a new robe to the goddess, carried in a procession from the harbor up to the city and presented to the cult statue of the goddess in the Erectheium, a second temple on the Acropolis to the north of the Parthenon.4 Like other panhellenic gatherings such as the Olympic or Pythian games, the festival included athletic and musical contests.5 Oratory was also certainly a part of the festival and would celebrate the greatness of Athenian culture, as Isocrates’ discourse does.

Ceremonial oratory tends to be formulaic, offering common themes in traditional ways. Standard topics of such discourse appear in this speech: praise of the people, their ancestors, their city, and their important accomplishments. In addition to themes characteristic of the genre, there are also themes particularly characteristic of Isocrates, which can also be seen in Panegyricus of 380 and To Philip of 346. Jebb (1962: 2.125-127) has outlined the arguments shared by Panegyricus and this speech: early service to Greece by Athens, early wars of Athens, Athens’ leadership in the Persian Wars, the naval empire, and the crimes of Athens and Sparta against Greece. Isocrates also repeats his lifelong desire that the Greeks make a unified campaign against the Persians under strong leadership. Notions of who the leader should be changed over the years for Isocrates because of changing political circumstances, but the basic idea lasted throughout his life.

In other ways, Panathenaicus is unique. Isocrates emphasizes the greatness of Athens, as he had done in Panegyricus, but here he combines this with a stunning comparison with the Spartans, where the Spartans do not come off very well.6 Most notably, however, toward the end of the discourse there is an unusual presentation of a discussion between Isocrates and a former student (12.199-265). Isocrates relates how he called together some of his students to read the speech as he had composed it to that point. Since the speech included criticism of Sparta, he then summoned a former student who favored Sparta to see if the speech pleased him. After polite praise, as is normal from a student about the work of his former teacher, the man criticized the treatment of Sparta as too harsh and inaccurate. Isocrates points out the difficulties in the student’s claims, but he also describes how he was led to adjust his presentation because of the comments.7

The speech also shows the adaptability of Isocrates, probably as a lesson to his students, in his revision of the text. He is open to criticism, and even if the criticism is not exactly accurate, as Isocrates points out, it can still help him think through the composition process and is therefore welcome and helpful.

The analysis of the student’s claims echoes the dialectic/elenchic method of Socrates as seen in the dialogues of Plato. After the initial narrative of the student’s objection (199-203), Isocrates sets out the discussion between teacher and student in direct discourse: Isocrates, 204-214; student, 215-217; Isocrates, 219-228; student, 235-263. Isocrates works here in the dialogue genre that was popular in the fourth century, but he does so in the form of alternating extended speeches. The Platonic dialogue that presents the Socratic method of question and answer is familiar to all, but it tends to include discussion that is much more pointed and brief. The parallel for Isocrates’ method may be the socalled Aristotelian dialogue, less well known but more apposite. In that form, the dialogue is carried on in longer speeches, as here. Norlin (1929: 371) has criticized this section of the speech, perhaps with some validity, but the dialogue may serve to show Isocrates working in yet another genre and presenting an example to his school.8

The speech is difficult to outline in any detail. On a superficial level, it can be broken into four sections: introduction (1-41 ), praise of Athens (42-198), digression about a discussion with a student (199-265), conclusion (266-272). Yet there is even controversy about where the introduction leaves off and how the introduction is to be understood. The regular body of the speech is made up of traditional topics of praise, many similar to those found in Panegyricus, as mentioned above, but they are not set out in a clearly defined organization.

The discourse presents many of Isocrates’ ideas on his teaching, since it began as a defense against some sophists who not only criticized his work but were successfully making people—who remain unidentified—hostile to Isocrates (17-20). There is much self-defense here, parallel to what Isocrates says in Antidosis (15) or the discourse Against the Sophists (13). This self-defense becomes something of a characteristic of lsocratean discourse, where he says that his enemies admire his work but then abuse him, hoping to draw people away from him. Isocrates uses self-defense often as a preface to his topic—his discourse Helen (10) is a good example—and is artistic in the way that he unifies his introductory self-defense with the overarching themes of the discourse, such as the seriousness of purpose found in the call to a united expedition, the desire for elegant presentation, and the framing of the discourse by the introductory comments (1-41) and the closing scene with his pupil (199-265).9 Panathenaicus is the last major composition of Isocrates. The only later document is a brief letter to Philip of Macedon (Ep. 3), which was written perhaps shortly after Philip’s victory over the Greek forces at Chaeronea in 338.


When I was younger, I chose not to write discourses (logoi) that were mythic (mythōdes)10 or full of wonders and fictions, the sort that the multitude enjoy more than those that concern their own security; I also avoided those that related the great deeds of the past and the wars fought by Greeks (although I knew that these were justly praised) and also those that when spoken seem simple and unadorned, such as people who are skillful in courts teach the young to practice if they want to have the advantage in litigation.11 [2] I rejected all these and devoted myself to discourses that gave advice about what would be advantageous (sympheron) to Athens and the rest of the Greeks, and that were full of many ideas (enthymēmata), with frequent antithesis and parisosis and other figures (ideai) that make oratory shine and compel the audience to applaud and cause a stir.12 But now, no more of this at all.13 [3] For I do not think that it is appropriate for me to continue speaking in that manner, now that I am 94 years old,14 nor generally for those who have gray hair, but instead to speak as all would hope they could, if they wished, though no one could do so easily except those who are willing to work hard and pay careful attention. [4] The purpose of these preliminary remarks is that if it becomes evident to some that the discourse to come is weak, they would not compare it to the ornamentation of those earlier ones but would judge it according to the thesis that I have chosen for the present occasion.15

[5] I will discuss the great deeds of our city and the valor of our ancestors; I will not begin with them, however, but with my own situation, for I think this is more urgent. Although I have tried to live a life free from error without hurting anyone else, I have been continually slandered by obscure and evil sophists, and then others assumed me to be what they heard from others, although they do not know me as I really am.16 [6] I want to speak, then, first about myself and about those who feel this way about me so that, if possible, I can stop some of them from slandering me and make others know how I really spend my time. For if I can manage this properly in my discourse, I hope that I will be able to live the rest of my life without trouble and that those who are present will pay closer attention to the speech I am about to deliver.

[7] I will not hesitate to speak out about the present turmoil in my mind, the oddness of what I am thinking at present, or whether I am doing what I should. I have enjoyed the greatest benefits that anyone would wish to have: first, I have had health, both in body and soul, and not just to an average degree but as much as those who are particularly fortunate in each of these respects. Second, I have had a prosperous life, so that I never lacked the ordinary necessities of life or anything that reasonable men desire. [8] Next, I am not one of those who are slandered or ignored but one whom the best men would remember and speak of as excellent.17 Though all these things are mine, some in abundance, others in sufficient amount, I do not enjoy living in this way, but my old age is so unpleasant, trivial, and full of complaints that I have often blamed my own nature (which no one ever despised) [9] and lamented my fate, though I have nothing to fault this for— except for some difficulties and malicious accusations (sykophantiae) that attach to the life of philosophy (philosophia)18 that I have chosen— and I know that my nature is weaker and softer than it should be for practical matters, and not perfect or entirely useful for speeches either. It is more able to make reasoned judgments (doxasai) about the truth of any matter than are those who say that they have certain knowledge (eidenai),19 but it is inferior to almost all others in speaking on this very subject in a public gathering of many men. [10] For as much as any other citizen I know, I lacked both things that possess the greatest power among you, a strong voice and confidence before the public.20 Those who lack these are more dishonored (atimoteroi) in their public reputation than those who are in debt to the state. 21 For the latter can still hope to pay off their fine, but the former have no hope of changing their nature. [11] Nonetheless, I was not discouraged about these things and did not allow myself to lose my reputation or my visibility entirely, but because I lost the chance to take part in politics, I retreated to the life of philosophy and hard work and writing down my thoughts, choosing not to treat trivial things like private contracts or things that others babble on about, but the affairs of Greeks and kings and our city. In this way I thought it would be more appropriate if I received more honor than those who spoke in public22 just as the subjects of my discourse were more serious and more noble than theirs.23 [12] But none of this happened. Yet everyone knows that most public speakers (rhētores) have the daring to give people not advice that will benefit the city but what they expect will be profitable for themselves; I and the people around me, however, not only keep away from public funds more than others but we spend our own funds beyond our means for the needs of the city.24 [13] Furthermore, while they are insulting each other in the Assembly about security deposits or abusing the allies or bringing suit against anyone they can find, I have become the leading proponent of discourses that urge the Greeks to unity (homonoia) with one another and to a campaign against the barbarians. [14] I also advocate discourses advising that we all together should send out a common colony to a land so large and fertile that whenever someone hears of it they agree that if we are wise and stop our foolishness against each other, we would quickly settle it without work or danger, and it would easily take in all of us who are in need of daily necessities. If we all came together in this plan, we would never find any achievement more noble or greater or more beneficial to us all.

[15] But nonetheless, even though we differ so much in our attitude and I have made a career choice much more serious than they have, most people have formed their opinion about us unjustly, in confusion, and quite illogically. For although they criticize the behavior of the orators, they set them up as leaders of the city and put them in charge of everything; by contrast, they praise my discourses, yet they envy me for no other reason than these very discourses, which they actually welcome. Such is the unfortunate treatment I get from them.

[16] Why should you be amazed at those who naturally feel this way about all who excel, when even some of those who think they are superior and who vie with me and strive to imitate me are even more hostile than private citizens are?25 Would someone find anyone more wicked— for I will say it, even if I seem to some to speak more rashly and severely than befits my age— than those who cannot even present to their students a small part of my teachings and yet use my discourses as their examples and, even though they are making their living from my work, show so little gratitude for it that, not even content with simply ignoring me, they always spread some insult about me? [17] Therefore, while they abused my discourses, comparing them with their own in the worst manner possible, analyzing them wrongly, and tearing them apart and mistreating them in every conceivable way, I took no account of the reports brought to me and was indifferent. A little before the Great Panathenaea,26 however, I grew angry at them. [18] Some of my associates came up to me and said that three or four of the common sophists who say they know (eidenai) everything and quickly appear everywhere were sitting in the Lyceum and were discussing the poets, especially the poetry of Hesiod and Homer. They were saying nothing of their own but were reciting the poets’ words and repeating the best of what others had said before. [19] As their audience was enjoying their presentation (diatribē), one of the more daring tried to slander me, saying that I look down upon all those topics and that I would destroy the philosophies of others and every educational system and that I claim that everyone else talks nonsense except those who attend my presentations (diatribē). When they said this, some of those present expressed their dislike of me. [20] I could not tell you how pained I was and upset that some had accepted these slanders. For I thought it was quite clear that I fought against those who thought too highly of themselves and that I always spoke modestly, even rather humbly, about myself, so that no one would ever believe those who said that I behaved so pretentiously. [21] So it was not without reason that in the beginning of this discourse27 I lamented the misfortune that followed me all the time in this way. For this is the cause of the falsehoods going around about me and of the slanders and the envy; this is why I cannot gain the reputation I deserve, either the reputation that all agree I should have or one that some have attained by studying with me and watching me on many occasions. [22] It seems these things cannot be otherwise, but I must be content with what has already happened.

Although I have many ideas about this, I am uncertain whether to counterattack against those who always lie and speak maliciously about me. But if I should invest energy and make a lot of speeches about people whom no one thinks worth talking about, I would quite rightly seem a fool. [23] So should I ignore these men and defend myself against those individuals who unjustly bear a grudge against me and try to show them that they have this opinion about me unjustly and inappropriately? Who would not judge me stupid indeed if I thought that those who are hostile to me precisely because I seem to have spoken gracefully on some topic will stop being displeased at my words if I argue in the same way as before, and will not rather be even more upset, especially if it seems to them that even at my present age, I have not stopped speaking nonsense? [24] I am sure, however, that no one would advise me to ignore this issue, stop here in the middle, and complete the speech that I selected when I wanted to show that our city has been responsible for more benefits for the Greeks than Sparta. For if I did that now, not finishing up what I have been writing and not joining the beginning of the planned discourse to the conclusion of what I have now been saying, I would look like those who say whatever occurs to them, randomly, coarsely, and without a sense of order. I must avoid this. [25] Therefore, the best thing is for me to make clear my views on their most recent slanders and then to speak about those things I had originally planned; I think that if I bring these out in my writing and clarify my view of education (paideia) and the poets, then I will stop them from creating false accusations and saying whatever occurs to them.

[26] To begin, then: far from disparaging the education handed down by our ancestors, I even approve the education we have established today— I mean geometry, astronomy, and the so-called eristic dialogues, though the young enjoy the latter more than is proper, even while none of the older students would say that they are even tolerable.28 [27] Nevertheless, I advise those who are setting out on these studies to work hard and pay close attention to all of them, for I would say that even if these studies are able to accomplish nothing else, they will at least turn the young away from many other harmful activities. Thus I think young students will never find subjects more useful or appropriate for them than these. [28] For older students, however, and those who have achieved adulthood, I do not think that these studies are appropriate any longer. For I see that some of those who are so devoted to precision in these exercises that they even teach others do not use the knowledge they have in the right way (eukairōs) and, in fact, in other subjects they have less good sense (phronēsis) than their students (dare I say even than their slaves).29 [29] I have the same opinion about those who can speak in public assemblies and those who are famous for writing speeches and generally about all those who excel in arts (technai), in sciences (epistēmai), and in specialized abilities (dynameis).

For I know that most of these do not manage their own affairs well, are intolerable in private gatherings, have contempt for the opinions of their fellow citizens, and are filled with many other serious faults. As a result, I do not think even these men have the qualities I am talking about. [30] Whom then do I call educated, since I exclude those in the arts (technai) and sciences (epistēmai) and abilities (dynameis)? First, those who manage well the daily affairs of their lives and can form an accurate judgment (doxa) about a situation (kairos) and in most cases can figure out (stochazesthai) what is the best course of action (to sympheron). [31] Next, those who behave appropriately and fairly toward people who are always with them, endure the rudeness and unpleasantness of others calmly and easily, and conduct themselves as gently and modestly as possible toward those they come in contact with. Next, those who are always in control of their pleasures and are not excessively overwhelmed by their troubles but endure them with a stout heart and a nature worthy of our common humanity. [32] Fourth, and most important, those who are not corrupted by their good fortune, do not abandon their true selves, or become arrogant, but on the contrary, remain in the ranks of those with good sense and do not rejoice more in the successes that come to them by chance than in those that come through their own nature and good sense (phronēsis). So then, I say that the ones who are wise and complete and possess all the virtues are those whose minds are well fitted not only for one of these areas of life but for all them. [33] This then is what I know about those who are educated (pepaideumenon).

Now although I want to speak about the poetry of Homer and Hesiod and the others—for I think I could stop those who recite their works and talk nonsense about them in the Lyceum—I sense that I am going beyond the limits that are set out for an introduction.30 [34] A wise man should not be too fond of his ability to say more than others on the same topics but should keep a proper sense of proportion (eukairia) about any subject he happens to address. This is what I must do. Therefore, I will speak another time on the poets,31 unless old age takes me first, since I have topics more serious to speak about than this.32

[35] I will now begin my discourse about our city’s good deeds toward the other Greeks. It is not that I have not already expressed more praise about it than all the other poets and prose writers together, but the present speech will be different. For in the past I recalled the city in discourses concerned with other issues, but now I am making the city my main subject. [36] I am not unaware how great a task I undertake at my age, but I understand clearly and have often said that it is easy to magnify small deeds with words but difficult to make praise even equal to achievements that are superior in both size and nobility.33 [37] Nevertheless, I must not shy away from this but must complete the task while I still have breath, especially since many things spur me on to write it: first, those who wantonly accuse our city; next, those who praise it pleasantly but rather amateurishly and weakly; [38] further, others who dare to praise it too much, not in human terms but in such a grandiose way that they turn many against them; finally and most of all, my present age, which would naturally frighten others away. For I hope that if I succeed, I will gain greater reputation than I have now, while if my discourse turns out to be insufficient, I hope my listeners will be very understanding because of my age. [39] This then is what I wanted to set out about myself and other things as an introduction, like a chorus before a drama contest.34

Now, I think that those who wish to praise a city accurately and fairly must devote their discourse not only to the city they have selected but just as when we view purple or gold and examine them by setting other things that have similar appearance and are of the same value alongside them for comparison, [40] we should do the same thing with cities: we should not compare small cities with great ones, or those that have always been under someone’s control with those that are accustomed to rule, or those that need to be rescued with those that are able to rescue, but rather we should compare cities that have similar power, are involved in the same affairs, and have similar resources. For thus we would best get to the truth. [41] If someone looks at us in this way and does not compare us with just any city but with Sparta, which most people praise moderately but some recall it as though its government had been run by demigods, then it will be evident that we Athenians, in power, achievements, and benefits provided to the Greeks, are as superior to Sparta as Sparta is to everyone else. [42] I will speak later about the ancient struggles on behalf of the Greeks,35 but now I will begin by speaking about when the Spartans took possession of the Achaean cities and divided the land with Argos and Messene, for it is appropriate to narrate from that point.36

You will see that our ancestors preserved their unity of spirit toward the Greeks and their hatred toward the barbarians (which they had from the Trojan War) and have kept it in the same way since then.37 [43] First there were the Cycladic islands, about which there were many disputes during the rule of King Minos of Crete until finally the Carians occupied them. Throwing them out, our ancestors did not venture to appropriate the land for themselves, but they settled there those who were most in need of a livelihood.38 [44] After this, they founded many great cities on both sides of the Aegean, and they drove the barbarians from the sea and taught the Greeks how to govern their own homelands and against whom they should fight so that they might make Greece great. [45] About this same time, the Spartans refrained from doing any of the same things we were doing, and, far from fighting the barbarians or helping the Greeks, they were not even willing to live in peace. Although they held a city that was not originally theirs, and land that was not only sufficient but larger than that of any other Greek city, they were not content with this [46] but learned from experience that according to the law, cities and regions are thought to belong to those who acquired them rightly and legally, but in truth they belong to those who are best prepared and can defeat their enemies in battle. With this in mind, they ignored farming and the arts and other such things and never stopped attacking and violating every single city in the Peloponnese until they had subdued them all, except Argos. [47] The result of our actions, then, was that Greece grew greater and Europe became stronger than Asia; in addition, impoverished Greek cities, in fact, gained territory, and the barbarians, who were usually insulting, lost their own land and were less arrogant than before. The result of the Spartans’ actions, however, was that their city alone grew great, they ruled over all the cities in the Peloponnese, and they were a cause of fear to other cities and thus well served by them. [48] It is right, then, to praise the city that is responsible for many benefits for other cities but to consider dangerous the city that acts only in its own interests; we should make friends with those who treat themselves and others alike but dread and fear those who consider their own interests as much as possible, while the government of their city is most inhospitable and violent toward others. Thus was the beginning for each of these cities.

[49] Later, however, during the Persian Wars when Xerxes was king,39 he gathered 1,300 triremes and a land force of five million soldiers in all, including 700,000 fit soldiers, and with this great force led a campaign against the Greeks. [50] The Spartans, though they controlled the Peloponnesians, provided only ten triremes for the naval battle that would decide the entire war, whereas our ancestors, though they were overpowered and had to abandon their city because it was not walled in at that time, provided more ships, and more powerful ones, than all their allies put together. [51] The Spartans sent the general Eurybiades, who, if he had accomplished the objective he had in mind, would have done nothing to keep all the Greeks from being destroyed; we, on the other hand, sent Themistocles, the one universally recognized to be responsible for the naval battle being fought as it was and for all the other successes at that time. [52] The greatest sign of this is that those who fought with us took the hegemony away from the Spartans and gave it to our ancestors. And indeed, whom would anyone select as more qualified and reliable judges of those events than those who were at our side in those very same battles? And what greater service could anyone name than this, one that was able to preserve all Greece?

[53] After this, it happened that each city gained control of a naval empire, and whichever has this command has most of the cities under its control. In general I praise neither of the cities, for someone could fault them for many things.40 Nonetheless, we were better than the Spartans in our oversight,41 just as we were in the events already mentioned. [54] For our ancestors persuaded the allies to make their government the one they consistently preferred. It is a sign of goodwill and friendship when people recommend that others use the same system that they take to have helped their own situation. The Spartans, on the other hand, did not set up governments that resembled their own or that were found anywhere else, but they put just ten men in charge of each city.42 If someone were to lay complaints against them for three or four days continuously, it would still seem that he had not covered even a small portion of their crimes. [55] Therefore, it would be foolish to catalogue each of their many serious crimes, but if I were younger, I might perhaps have found a way to describe the whole situation in a few words that would rouse anger in the audience appropriate to what they did. As it is, however, I have no such words but only what comes to everyone, namely, that those men went so far beyond their predecessors in lawlessness and greed that they not only destroyed themselves and their friends and their homelands, but by discrediting the Spartans in the eyes of their allies, they caused them such great troubles as no one ever imagined would happen to them.

[56] From these events one could most clearly see how much fairer and gentler we were in managing these affairs, but one will see it again in what I am about to say. For the Spartans had the rule for barely ten years, while we held our empire for sixty-five years continuously.43 And yet, all know that cities that fall under the control of others remain for the longest time with those under whom they suffer as little harm as possible. [57] At the end of their rule, moreover, both cities were hated and ended up in war and turmoil; but one would find that in this period, when our city was attacked by all the Greeks and barbarians, it was able to hold out against them for ten years, whereas when the Spartans were still powerful on land, they fought against the Thebans alone and were defeated in just one battle, losing all they had and experiencing nearly the same misfortune and troubles that we did.44 [58] In addition, our city took back its power in fewer years than it took to defeat it, whereas the Spartans after their loss were not able to regain the same position from which they fell even after a much longer time, yet even now are still the same.

[59] I must also show how each city behaved against the barbarians, for this still remains. During the period of our empire, the Persians were not allowed to lead a land army past the Halys river or sail past Phaselis with its warships. In the period of Spartan supremacy, by contrast, not only did the Persians take the liberty to march and sail wherever they wanted, but they also became despots of many Greek cities. [60] The city, then, that made the treaty with the King that was nobler and prouder, the city that was responsible for the most and greatest troubles for the barbarians and benefits for the Greeks, the one, furthermore, that took the coast of Asia and much other land away from our enemies and gave it to our allies, [61] that puts an end to the arrogant violence of one side and to the distress of the other, and in addition that fights for its own security better than the city with a reputation for doing this, that gets rid of troubles faster than these same people, how is it not right to praise and honor this city above the one that was inferior in all these areas? This, then, is what I had to say at the moment about the contrast between the deeds of each side and the dangers they faced at the same time and against the same enemies.

[62] Now, I think those who are not happy to hear these arguments will not object to what I have said on the grounds that it is not true, and they will not be able to mention any other actions by which the Spartans were responsible for many benefits for the Greeks, but I think that they will try to accuse our city45 [63]— as they always do— and will relate the most unpleasant things that happened during the time of our naval empire, and will criticize the trials and verdicts imposed on the allies as well as the war taxes we collected. And they will spend most time on the sufferings of the Melians and the Scionians and the Toronians,46 thinking that these accusations might taint the benefits I mentioned a little before. [64] I could not deny everything that might justly be said against our city, nor would I even try. For I would be ashamed— as I have already said before47—if I were to work hard to persuade you that our government has never done anything wrong when people think that even the gods make mistakes. [65] Nevertheless, I think I will do the following: I will show that the city of the Spartans was much more harsh and cruel in the matters I just spoke of, that those who criticize us to defend them are as foolish as anyone can be and are, in fact, responsible for the bad reputation their friends have among us. [66] For whenever they level accusations against us that are more appropriate for the Spartans, then I have no trouble describing crimes of theirs that are worse than what was said about us. For example, as I just noted, they may try to mention the trials we hold for the allies in Athens; but who is so foolish that he cannot find a response to this, that the Spartans killed more Greeks without a trial than stood trial in our city from the time we first settled it?48

[67] If they mention the collection of war taxes, I will have the same sort of response: we will show that we provided far more advantages than the Spartans to the cities that contributed these taxes. First, they did not do this at our command, but they decided it themselves right when they entrusted the naval hegemony to us. [68] Second, they did not make these payments for our security but to preserve democracy and their own freedom so they would not experience such huge misfortunes if an oligarchic government should take over, such as happened during the time of the decarchies and the Spartan regime.49 Next, they did not make these payments from funds that they had saved by themselves but from funds that they received with our help.50 [69] They would rightly have been grateful to us for these funds, if they had taken the time to do even a small calculation. For when we took control of their cities, some entirely destroyed by the barbarians and others plundered, we brought them to such prosperity that even giving us a small portion of their revenues, they still had estates that were no smaller than those of the Peloponnesians, who paid no war taxes. [70] Next, as for the cities that were destroyed by each of our cities— a charge some make against us alone— we will show that those whom they continually praise did much more terrible things. It fell to us to commit our crimes against little islands so unimportant and small that many of the Greeks do not even know of them.51 The Spartans, by contrast, on their own destroyed the most important cities in the Peloponnese and ones that were superior in every way to other cities. And they now have their wealth, [71] although these cities, even if they had not otherwise distinguished themselves, deserved to receive the greatest possible gifts from the Greeks because of their expedition against Troy where they offered themselves as leaders and gave generals with such great virtues, not only virtues that all share, even many of the lowly, but also those virtues that no bad person could have. [72] For Messene offered Nestor, the wisest man of all those alive at that time; Sparta gave Menelaus, who, because of his good sense (phronēsis) and justice, was alone thought worthy to be the son-in-law of Zeus;52 the city of the Argives gave Agamemnon, who had not one or two virtues but all that one could mention, and these not just in an average way but in abundance. [73] For we will find no one anywhere who accomplished tasks more notable, more noble, more important, or more beneficial to the Greeks or worthy of more praise. Now, some might not believe these things when they are set out like this, but if the details were stated in each case, then they would admit that I am telling the truth.

[74] I cannot see clearly but am at a loss what sort of arguments to use after this to give the right advice. I would be ashamed if I said such high things about Agamemnon’s virtue but then brought up none of the deeds that he did, making my audience think I am just like those who boast and say whatever occurs to them. But I see that accounts of deeds that lie outside of the subject (hypothesis) are not well received and seem confusing; there are many who behave like this, but even more who fault them for it. [75] Thus, I am afraid that such a thing might happen to me. Nonetheless, I choose to help out someone who has had the same experience as I and others have experienced, namely, of missing out on the reputation that he should have; although he was responsible for many benefits at that time, he is praised less than those who accomplished nothing of note.53

[76]54 What did that man lack, who had a position so honorable that no one would find a better one if everyone came together and searched for it? He alone was judged worthy to be the commander of all Greece. I cannot say whether he was chosen by all or whether he obtained this position himself, but whichever way it happened, he left no opportunity for a higher reputation for those who might be honored in some other way. [77] Taking this authority, he did not injure a single Greek city but rather was so far from wronging any of them that, finding the Greeks in war and turmoil and many difficulties, he relieved them of these troubles and established harmony among them; he ignored tasks that would be amazing and wondrous but of no practical use to anyone and instead formed an army and led it against the barbarians. [78] You will find no one, either among the best of that time or those who followed, who has made a more noble campaign than this, or one more beneficial to the Greeks. But he did not gain the reputation that he should have for what he did and for the example he set for others, because of people who love wonders more than real benefits and false stories more than the truth; instead, although he was so great, he had a lower reputation than those who did not have the courage to emulate him.55

[79] One might praise him not just for these reasons but also for the things he did at this same time, for he was so great-hearted that he was not satisfied to recruit as many soldiers as he wanted from the private citizens of each city he wanted, but he persuaded the kings, who do whatever they want in their own cities and give orders to others, to come under his command, to follow him no matter whom he led them against, to do what he ordered, and to give up the royal life and live as a soldier. [80] He also convinced them to put their lives at risk and fight not for their own homeland and kingship but in theory for Helen, the wife of Menelaus, though in reality so that Greece would not suffer at the hands of the barbarians the same sorts of indignities that they suffered before, during the time of the capture of the whole Peloponnese by Pelops or the capture of Argos by Danaus or Thebes by Cadmus.56 Who else will you find who took such forethought for these things, or would have stood in the way of their happening again, if not someone of the nature and power of Agamemnon? [81] There is one thing left, less than what I have already said but more than what has been often praised and more worthy of mention. The army he gathered together from all the cities was of such a size as you would expect when it had so many soldiers, some from divine lineage, some born from the gods themselves. These were not similar to the common people and did not have the same character as the rest, but they were filled with anger, aggression, envy, and love of honor. [82] Nonetheless, he kept them together for ten years without resorting to large salaries or the lavish expenditures that all now use to maintain their control, but through superiority in practical wisdom, being able to provide supplies to the soldiers from the enemy, and especially because they recognized that he could plan better for their security than the others could do for themselves. [83] And his last accomplishment was even greater than all these and is no less worthy of admiration: although clearly he did nothing inappropriate or unworthy in all that I have already described, he also used the pretext of fighting against one city, when in reality he fought not only against all those who inhabit Asia but also against many other races of barbarians, and he did not cease or turn back until he had enslaved the city of that man who dared to wrong us and had put an end to the arrogance of the barbarian.

[84] I am aware that I have said many things about the excellence of Agamemnon and that if people were to examine each one of these to find which they would reject, no one would dare remove any. Still, when they are read out continuously, everyone would fault me for having said much more than is necessary. [85] For my part, if I were unaware that I went on too long, I would be ashamed that I was so imperceptive when I tried to write on a subject that no one else had dared undertake. But, in fact, I knew more clearly than those who would dare abuse me that many will fault this. Nonetheless, I thought that it would not be so terrible if I should seem to some to miss the mark in this section of my speech, rather than if I should leave out of my description of such a man some good thing that belongs to him and would be appropriate for me to mention. [86] I thought that I would gain a good reputation among the best members of the audience if I were seen to make my discourse about the excellence of this man and to be more concerned about how I might speak in a manner worthy of that excellence than about the symmetry of the discourse. I did this although I knew clearly that even if the absence of proportion in my discourse would make me less popular, my sound judgment in assessing their accomplishments would benefit those who receive my praise.57 In spite of this, however, passing over any advantage to me, I chose what was right to do.58 [87] And I will not be found to adopt this attitude only in what I said now, but I do the same in all my writings, since it will be clear that I take more joy in my students who gain a good reputation for their life and deeds than those who have a reputation for cleverness in their discourse. And yet when one of them says things well, even if I add nothing to it, all would give the credit to me, whereas when someone achieves success in action, even if everyone knew that I was an advisor, still everyone would praise the person who actually performed the deeds.

[88] But I do not know where I am being taken, for since I always think that I need to add the next point to what I have already said, I am now very far from my subject. There is nothing left to do, then, but to ask pardon in my old age for my forgetfulness and longwindedness, common habits of people of my age, and then return to that place from which I veered into this digression. [89] I think that I already see where I went astray.59 I was responding to those who abused our city for the sufferings of the Melians and other such villages not by arguing that these were not crimes but by pointing out that the people my attackers esteem have destroyed more and more important cities than we have. It was in this context that I talked about the excellence of Agamemnon and Menelaus and Nestor, saying nothing false, though perhaps a bit longer than appropriate. [90] I was doing this on the assumption that there is clearly no greater crime than that of daring to destroy cities that bore and raised such great men about whom one could even now deliver many fine speeches. But it is foolish to focus on one topic as if there were a lack of things one might say about the cruelty and harshness of the Spartans, when, in fact, there is a great abundance. [91] It was not enough for them to wrong these cities with their great men, but they also wronged those who set out from the same place, made a common expedition, and shared in the same dangers; I mean the Argives and Messenians. Wanting to heap the same troubles on these men as on those others, they besieged the Messenians and did not stop until they had driven them from their land, and even now they make war against the Argives for this same purpose. [92] Further, after saying all this, it would be strange not to recall what they did to the Plataeans, in whose land they once60 joined forces with us and the other allies, took up their position against the enemy, and sacrificed to the gods worshiped by the Plataeans. Together, then, we freed not only the Greeks who were with us [93] but also those who had been forced to side with the Persians. We did this even though among the Boeotians we had only the Plataeans on our side.61 Yet not long after this, the Spartans, to please the Thebans, besieged and put to death all the Plataeans except those who could escape.62 Our city was completely different from the Spartans in its treatment of these people. [94] For they dared to commit such crimes against them when they were benefactors of Greece and related to them by birth;63 but our ancestors by contrast resettled to Naupactus those Messenians who had been saved and made the Plataeans who survived Athenian citizens, sharing everything they had with them. Consequently, if we had nothing else to say about the two cities, from this it would be easy to learn what each city was like and which had destroyed more and greater cities.

[95] Now, I perceive my attitude becoming contrary to what I said a little earlier, for at that point I became uncertain and lost and forgetful, but now I know clearly that I am not preserving the gentleness in my discourse that I had when I began to write it, but I am now taking up matters I had not planned to address, and I am becoming bolder than I normally am, as well as losing control over some of the things I am saying because of the number of points rushing to me to mention. [96] Therefore, since the desire to speak frankly has come over me, and I have unleashed my tongue, and I have created such a large thesis that it is neither good nor possible for me to leave out those actions by which I can show that our city had become more worthy among the Greeks than that of the Spartans, I must not be silent about the other evils I have not yet related but that occurred among the Greeks. Rather, I must show that our ancestors were slow to learn such crimes, whereas the Spartans were either the first to commit them in some instances or the only ones to do so in others.

[97] Most people accuse both cities because they pretended to be fighting against the barbarians for the sake of Greece, but then they did not allow other cities to be independent and to manage their own affairs as they saw fit. Instead, as if they had captured prisoners of war, they divided the cities up and enslaved them all; they acted like those who take slaves away from others as if to give them their freedom but then compel them to be their own slaves. [98] Yet for these crimes or many others more bitter than these, we are not the ones responsible but those who are opposed to us, both in what they say now and more generally in everything they do. For no one could show that our ancestors, in all the countless years before, ever tried to rule over any city, either great or small, but all know that the Spartans, from the time they first arrived in the Peloponnese, have done and planned for nothing other than how they might rule over all Greece, or if not all, at least the Peloponnese. [99] And as for the accusations of factions, murders, and overthrow of governments that some people bring against both our cities, the Spartans clearly filled all the cities except a few with such troubles and afflictions, but no one would ever dare say that about our city, before the disaster in the Hellespont,64 that it had done such things to its allies. [100] But when the Spartans, who had been masters of Greece, lost power over our affairs, and the other cities were mixed in factionalism, during this time two or three of our generals65—for I will not hide the truth— committed crimes regarding some of the cities, hoping that if they copied Spartan actions, they would be able to control them better. [101] Thus, all would rightly accuse the Spartans of being the leaders and teachers of such actions, but it would be only reasonable to forgive our ancestors, as you would forgive pupils who are deceived by their teachers’ promises and have been disappointed in their hopes.

[102] Finally then, consider what they did alone and on their own: who does not know that during the time when we both together felt hostility toward the barbarians and their kings, and found ourselves in many battles and at times overcome by troubles, when our land was often ravaged and destroyed, we never looked to friendship or alliance with our enemy but continued to hate them because of their designs on Greece even more than we hate those who now treat us badly? [103] The Spartans, on the other hand, although they suffered no harm and had no expectation or fear that they would suffer, became so greedy that they were not satisfied with having an empire on land but were so eager to take control of the sea as well that they induced our allies to revolt with the promise to free them, and also negotiated with the King for a treaty of friendship and alliance, offering to hand over all those who lived in Asia. [104] But after they gave pledges to both these parties and then defeated us, those whom they had pledged to free they enslaved more than helots, and to the King they showed such gratitude that they persuaded his brother Cyrus, although younger, to contest the kingship. They gathered an army to support him, put Clearchus in command of it, and sent it against the King. [105] When fortune failed them in these plans,66 since their intentions were known and they were hated by all, they were thrown into war and confusion such as might be expected when someone wrongs both the Greeks and the barbarians.

I do not know that I need to spend more time talking about this, except to say that after they were defeated at sea by the King’s forces under Conon’s command,67 they then concluded a peace treaty.68 [106] You could not ever find any peace treaty that was more shameful or more open to reproach or more demeaning to the Greeks or more contrary to what some call the virtue of the Spartans.69 When the King made them despots over the Greeks, they tried to take away his kingship and all his success, but when he defeated them at sea, they handed over to him not just a small part of Greece but all Asia. [107] They wrote explicitly in the treaty that he should treat them as he wished, and they were not ashamed of making such agreements about men they had as allies when they defeated us and became masters of Greece and hoped to take control of all Asia. They inscribed treaties like this on stones,70 placed them in their temples, and forced the allies to do this too.

[108] I do not think that others will want to hear about any more deeds, but they will assume that they have learned enough from what I have said about how each city has behaved toward the Greeks. I have a different view, however. I think the subject I proposed needs many other additional arguments, especially those that will demonstrate the foolishness of those who will try to oppose what I have said. I think that it will be easy to find such arguments, [109] for of those who approve all the achievements of the Spartans, those whom I consider the best and wisest will praise the Spartan constitution and will have the same opinion about it as before but will agree with what I have said about their treatment of the Greeks. [110] Those critics who are worse than this first group and, in fact, worse than most people, and who cannot say anything tolerable on any subject but cannot stay quiet about the Spartans, these imagine that if they make their praise of them excessive, they will gain the same reputation as those who are more eloquent and seem much better than they are. [111] Such men, when they sense that all their points have been anticipated, and they have nothing to say against my arguments, will turn, I think, to an argument about governments, comparing the one there with the one here in Athens, and particularly setting their prudence and obedience against our slackness, and they will praise Sparta on these grounds. [112] If they try to do this, sensible people should realize that they are talking nonsense, for I set this out not to have a discussion about constitutions but to show that our city is much more praiseworthy than Sparta in its relations with the Greeks.71 Therefore, if they were to refute any of these points or mention other joint actions in which the Spartans were better, they would deserve credit. But if they try to speak about things I have not mentioned, all would rightly consider them senseless. [113] Not only that, but since I think that they will bring their discussion of constitutions into this discussion, I shall not hesitate to talk about that topic. For I think that in this too I will show that our city is even more superior than in what I have already said.

[114] And let no one assume that I am speaking about our present constitution that we were forced to accept but about the government of our ancestors. Our fathers did not find fault with this older one when they adopted the present government. Indeed, they judged the older one much more serious in many regards but thought that the present one would be more suited for a naval empire; they adopted the new one, and, caring for it well, they were able to ward off the plots of the Spartans and the whole Peloponnesian force, for it was important for our city to prevail over them in battle, especially at that time. [115] Thus, no one could justly fault those who chose this government, and indeed they did not err in their hopes and were not wrong about the advantage and disadvantage stemming from each; they knew clearly that hegemony by land is maintained by order, prudence, obedience, and other such qualities yet power by sea is not increased by these [116] but by the skills pertaining to ships and by men who can row them, namely, those who have lost their own livelihood and are used to making a living by receiving pay from others. With the arrival of these factors in the city, it was clear that the order established in the former constitution would be destroyed and the goodwill of the allies would quickly be reversed when they forced those states to whom they had formerly granted land and cities to hand over contributions and war taxes so that they might have money to pay the men I just mentioned. [117] But nevertheless, although they were aware of these considerations, they thought that for a city of such size and reputation, it was both advantageous and proper to endure all these problems rather than be ruled by the Spartans. For when two actions that are unappealing are presented, the better choice is to do something terrible to someone else rather than suffer it yourself and to rule unjustly over others rather than avoid this reproach but end up unjustly as slaves to the Spartans.72 [118] This is what all who are wise would choose and prefer, but there are a few who claim to be wise who would disagree if asked. These then are the reasons, though perhaps I have spent too much time discussing why they changed their form of government from one praised by all to one faulted by some.

[119] So I will now turn to the topic I proposed, the constitution and our ancestors, starting from the time when the names oligarchy and democracy were not even known but when monarchies governed the tribes of barbarians and all the Greek cities. [120] I have chosen to begin in the distant past, first because I thought that those who lay claim to excellence should be better than others right from the beginning, and next because I would be embarrassed if, having talked at length about good men— though men quite different from me— I did not make even a small mention of our ancestors who governed our city very well and [121] who were just as superior to those who hold monarchies, as the wisest and gentlest men are superior to the wildest and most savage beasts. For what example of extreme impiety or terrible behavior would we not find in those other cities and especially in those that we considered the greatest then and are reckoned so now? Has there not been an abundance of crimes: murders of brothers and fathers and guests? [122] Also the slaughters of mothers and incest and bearing of offspring from their own parents? And the eating of children that was planned by family members? Were there not exposures of children, drownings, blindings, and a multitude of other evils? With so many, there will never be any shortage for those who present stories of such calamities in the theater every year.73

[123] I went through this not because I wanted to abuse them but to point out that no such crimes ever occurred with our ancestors. This is not a sign of their excellence but only that they did not have the same nature as those who are most impious. Those who try to praise anyone extravagantly must demonstrate not only that they are not base but that they are superior to others past and present, in all the virtues. And one can say this about our ancestors. [124] They managed both the affairs of the city and their own affairs piously and well, as was only fitting for those who were born from gods, who were the first to inhabit their city and establish laws, and who always cultivated piety toward the gods and justice toward humans. They were not of mixed race nor invaders but the only autochthonous Greeks,74 [125] for this land was their nurse from the time they were born, and they loved it as the best children do their fathers and mothers. In addition, they were so loved by the gods that they alone had what seems to be a most difficult and unusual achievement, the stability of a royal or tyrannical family lasting four or five generations.75 [126] For Erechthonius, who was born from Hephaestus and Ge (Earth),76 took the household and kingship of Athens from Cecrops, because he had no male children. Beginning with him, all those born afterwards, and there were many, handed down their possessions and their power to their children, down to the time of Theseus. I would much prefer not to have spoken about Theseus’ excellence and his accomplishments already,77 for it would have been much more fitting to discuss them here in a discourse about the city.78 [127] For it would be difficult, even impossible, to move the thoughts I had at that time to this occasion, which I did not then foresee would come. Therefore, I will pass over these matters, since for now I have used them up. I will mention only one thing, which turns out not to have been addressed before, nor to have been accomplished before by anyone else but Theseus, which is the greatest sign of that man’s excellence and prudence. [128] For although he had the safest and greatest kingdom, where he had accomplished many noble things, both in war and in governing the city, he looked past all these things and chose the glory that will be remembered for all time because it comes from labor and struggle instead of the leisure and prosperity that was available at that time because of his kingship. [129] And he did this not when he was older and had already experienced all the good things available to him but when he was in the prime of life. It is said that he handed over the city to the people to govern and himself turned to warfare on behalf of the city and the other Greeks.

[130] Thus I have recalled the excellence of Theseus now as best I could, even though I related all his deeds with some care earlier. As for those who took over management of the city that he passed on, I do not know what kind of praise I could give that would adequately express their wisdom. Although they were not experienced in government, they did not fail to choose a constitution that was acknowledged by all as not only the most inclusive and just but also the most advantageous to all and the most pleasant for those affected by it. [131] For they established a democracy (dēmokratia), not one that was administered arbitrarily, where lack of restraint was considered freedom or happiness was being able to do whatever you wished, but one that found fault with such attitudes and relied on the guidance of the best citizens (aristokratia).79 Now, most people wrongly count this sort of government, which is, along with rule by the wealthy, the most useful, to be one of the distinct types of government, making this mistake not through ignorance but because they have never been concerned with what they ought to have cared for. [132] I assert, however, that there are only three forms of government: oligarchy, democracy, and monarchy. Those who live in such governments and who generally put in charge of the government and other matters the most capable citizens who will oversee affairs in the best and most just manner, these men will have the best life in each type of government, both for themselves and in their relations with others. [133] The ones, however, who enlist the worst and most daring men for these positions, the kind who do not consider the interests of the city but are ready to endure whatever they must for their own advantage, the cities of these people will be managed in a way similar to the baseness of those in charge of it. A third group, different from the two groups I have mentioned, who, when they are confident, honor those who say what they want to hear but when fearful, run to those who are the best and wisest, will do well or ill alternately. [134] This, then, is the nature and power of each form of government. I think, however, that these topics will provide much more material for others than what I have said just now, though I must not say any more about them;80 I will speak only about that of our ancestors, for I propose to show that this was more serious and brought more benefits than the constitution in Sparta.

[135] For those who gladly listen to me discussing the useful kinds of government, this discourse will not be troublesome or inappropriate but fitting and in accord with what I said before. To those, however, who do not take pleasure in things said with great earnestness but prefer abusive discourses at gatherings, or if they do not go in for this foolishness, those who celebrate either things that are very trivial or the most lawless people who ever existed, to these sorts of people I think my discourse will seem longer than necessary. [136] But I have never cared about this sort of audience, and neither do most wise people. I am concerned, rather, with those who will remember what I have said before in the preface to the discourse and who will not fault the length of my discourse, not even if it extends to tens of thousands of words,81 but who will understand that it is up to them to read and consider as large a part of it as they wish; and I am especially interested in those who especially enjoy hearing a discourse that presents the virtues of men and the structure of a well-governed city. [137] If someone wishes and is able to imitate these examples, they will themselves lead a life of great reputation and will make their own cities prosperous.

This, then, is the sort of audience I want to have, but I fear that if I had them, my discourse would fall far short of the topic I intended to treat in it. Nonetheless, I will try to speak about it as best I am able. [138] It would be fair, then, to give credit for our city being governed better than others at that time to its kings about whom I spoke a little earlier. For they were the ones who instructed the people in excellence (aretē) and justice (dikaiosynē) and great prudence (sōphrosynē) and who taught by their example the lesson that I will describe long after they actually practiced it, that every government is the soul of its city and has as much power as practical wisdom (phronēsis) has in the body. For it is this that plans everything and preserves the good things we have and avoids troubles and is responsible for all that happens in cities.

[139] The people learned this and did not forget it when they changed to democracy,82 but more than anything else, they paid attention to how they might get leaders who favored democracy, but had the same character as their earlier leaders had, and would not intentionally choose leaders for the government to whom no one would entrust their private affairs. [140] They did not want to let anyone handle the affairs of the city who was recognized to be evil, or listen to people who have reprehensible personal lives and yet think that they should advise others about how they might govern their city prudently and thus fare better, or who use up what they received from their fathers in shameful pleasures while trying to aid their own private needs from public funds, who are always eager to say what people want to hear and then bring great discomfort and pain on those who are persuaded by them. [141] Everyone will agree that one should keep all such men away from advising them and also those who say that the property of others belongs to the city while daring to steal and plunder the city’s own property and who pretend to be friends of the people but make the people hated by everyone else. [142] They say that they fear for the Greeks’ welfare, but in their actions they mistreat them, maliciously accuse them, and make them so hostile toward us that some cities going to war would more gladly and quickly take in their besiegers than accept help from us. But anyone would soon tire of writing if he tried to enumerate every crime and depravity.

[143] Our ancestors hated these faults and the people who had them. They appointed as their advisors and leaders not any random people but the best and the wisest, those who had lived the finest lives, and they chose these same men as their generals and sent them as ambassadors too, whenever they had need. They bestowed all leadership positions in the city on them, because they considered those who wish to and can give counsel from the speaker’s platform would also have the same views on their own in any place and facing any task. This is what happened. [144] Because of these decisions, they saw their laws written down in just a few days, not like those we have now, full of such confusion and contradictions that no one is able to understand which are useful and which are not. First of all, there were just a few of them, but enough for those who would use them and easy to understand; second, they were just, useful, and consistent, as well as more serious about public conduct than private contracts, as must be the case where cities are well governed.

[145] About this same time they appointed as magistrates those who had already been selected by their tribes (phylae) and demes (dēmoi).83 They made the offices not so much something to fight for or desire but much more like liturgies,84 which are a burden for those assigned them but also bring some honor. For those chosen to lead had to set aside concern for their own possessions and refrain from taking the profits that often are given to people in office as well as the temple proceeds. What current leader would endure such restrictions? [146] Those who were careful about these things were praised appropriately and assigned another similar duty, but those who transgressed even a little met with the greatest shame and punishment. Thus, none of the citizens had the same attitude toward the magistracies as people do now, but they avoided them in those days even more than citizens pursue them now. [147] And everyone thought that there never was a democracy more honest, stronger, or more advantageous for most of the people than one that removed such concerns from the people but gave them authority over filling offices and punishing those who misused them. This is what happens to the best of tyrants too. [148] The greatest proof that they valued this government even more highly than I say is that elsewhere the people fought against governments they did not like, overthrew them, and killed their leaders, but people kept this form of government no less than a thousand years85 and remained with it from the time they got it to the time of Solon and the tyranny of Peisistratus; Peisistratus became a demagogue, did much harm to the city, exiled the best citizens by claiming they were oligarchs, and finally overthrew the people’s power and set himself up as a tyrant.

[149] Now, perhaps some might say it is strange— for nothing keeps me from interrupting this discourse— that I dare to speak as though I know precisely about events at which I was not present. But I think that I am doing nothing unreasonable in this. If I were the only one who trusted what was said about ancient times and what was written at that time and handed down to us, I might reasonably be faulted. But, in fact, many sensible people clearly feel the same way as I do. [150] And apart from this, if I had to prove this logically, I could show that everyone gets more knowledge (epistēmē) from what they hear than from what they see, and the actions they hear from others are more numerous and better than those at which they were actually present. Nonetheless, it is not right to ignore such responses— for perhaps they might injure the truth if no one refutes them— nor is it right to waste a lot of time refuting them but only as much as shows other material with which they could prove that they are speaking nonsense; then you should go back and finish up, beginning where you left off. This is what I will do.

[151] Thus, I have sufficiently shown the organization of their government and how long they had it. There remains only to relate the actions that resulted from their good government. For from these you will understand even better that the government of our ancestors was better and wiser than others and that they had leaders and advisors who were the kind of men the wise should have. [152] Still, I must not address these points before I say a few preliminary words about them. For if I overlook the criticisms of those who can do nothing except complain, and describe in order all their achievements, especially the military practices they used to overcome the barbarians and become famous among the Greeks, there is no way that someone would not say that I am actually describing the laws established by Lycurgus that the Spartans use.

[153] I agree that I should talk about many of the customs at Sparta not because Lycurgus found or invented them, however, but because he was imitating the government of our ancestors as best he could: he established a democracy for them that was mixed with aristocracy, just as it was with us, prescribed that offices not be assigned by lot but by election, [154] passed a law prescribing the selection of a council of elders to oversee all matters with the same seriousness as they say our ancestors had concerning matters that came before the Areopagus, and gave them the same power that he knew the Council of the Areopagus had among us. [155] Anyone who wants to know the truth can learn from many sources that Lycurgus established the same kind of government there as existed in our city in ancient times among us. That the Spartans did not cultivate military skills before us or use them better than our ancestors, I think I can show clearly from the wars that people agree took place at that time. Thus, even the foolish adherents of Sparta will not be able to disagree, nor will those who admire our deeds and at the same time abuse them but then strive to imitate them.

[156] I will begin what I am going to say with something that may be unpleasant for some to hear but not unhelpful to say. For if someone should say that these two cities were responsible for the most benefits for the Greeks and also for the most harm after the time of Xerxes’ campaign, to those who know something about the past he would certainly seem to speak the truth. [157] For they struggled in the best way possible against his forces, and having done this, when they ought to have planned well about the things to follow, they became not just so stupid but so crazy that though they could easily have defeated him both on land and at sea, they concluded a permanent peace treaty with the man who marched against them and who wanted to completely destroy our two cities and enslave the rest of the Greeks, [158] as if they were making a treaty with someone who had been a benefactor. 86 On the other hand, jealous of each others’ strengths, they entered into war and rivalry against each other and did not stop destroying each other and the rest of the Greeks until they had put their common enemy, the King, in control so that he could put our city in the greatest danger because of the force of the Spartans and similarly could put their city at risk because of our city. [159] And although they fell so far short of the cleverness of the barbarian, at that time they did not feel the pain they deserved for what they suffered or that was fitting for them, and even now, the greatest cities of Greece do not feel ashamed to fawn on his wealth, but the cities of Argos and Thebes fight together with him against Egypt, so that he might have the greatest force possible when he plots against the Greeks. But we and the Spartans, although we had an alliance, were more hostile to each other than to those against whom either of us happened to be fighting in battle. [160] No small sign of this is that although we do not plan together about a single issue, separately each of us sends ambassadors to him, hoping that he will put whomever he more prefers in charge of the surplus funds of the Greeks. We do not understand very well that he usually mistreats those who curry his favor but tries in every way possible to make amends with those who oppose him and show contempt for his power.

[161] I have gone through this, not ignorant that some will have the daring to say that I have gone beyond the subject of my discourse with these arguments. I, however, think that never have words been spoken that were more directly connected to the preceding argument than these, nor could any words show someone more clearly that our ancestors were wiser about our most important affairs than those who managed our city or Sparta after the war against Xerxes. [162] For it is clear that these cities during those times were making peace with the barbarians and were destroying themselves and the other Greeks. Now they think they deserve to rule over the Greeks while sending ambassadors to the King to negotiate friendship and an alliance. But those who lived in our city in the past did none of these things, and in fact quite the opposite. [163] For they had made a firm commitment to stay away from other Greek cities just as the pious keep their hands off the offerings in the temples, and they assumed that the most necessary and most just war, after the war all humans wage against the savage beasts, was the one between the Greeks and the barbarians, who are by nature hostile toward us and are always plotting against us. [164] The principle I have stated is not my own invention but was drawn from their actions. For when they saw that the other cities were caught in great troubles, and wars, and conflicts, and that only their own city was well governed, our ancestors did not believe that those who were wiser and better off than others should ignore this and allow cities of the same lineage to perish,87 but should, rather, investigate and take action to free all cities from their present evils. [165] With this in mind, they tried by means of embassies and negotiation to alleviate discord from those who were less troubled, but to those cities that were more divided by factionalism, they sent their citizens who had the best reputations to advise those cities about their current situation. Finally, they met with those who could not live in their own cities and who were in worse condition than the law allows, who for the most part do harm to a city, and persuaded them to join their campaign and seek a better life than the one they had. [166] As there were many who wanted this and were persuaded by them, they gathered an army from these men, overthrew the barbarians who occupied the islands and the coast of either continent, expelled them all, and then settled those lands with those Greeks who were especially destitute. They continued to do this, providing an example for others, until they heard that the Spartans, as I had said, had put all the cities in the Peloponnese under their control. After this, they were compelled to pay attention to their own situation.

[167] What good, then, came from this war and other colonizing activity (for I think that many people especially want to hear this)? The Greeks became more prosperous with respect to life’s necessities and were more unified once they got free of the large number of people like this; the barbarians fell from power and had less confidence than before; and those who were responsible for these results had a great reputation and appeared to have made Greece twice as powerful as it was in the beginning. [168] I could not find a greater benefit from our ancestors, or one more advantageous to all Greece, than this. But perhaps I can mention one that is more relevant to preparing for war, no less deserving of fame and better known to all. For who does not know or has not heard from the tragedians at the Greater Dionysia88 of the troubles that befell Adrastus in Thebes?89 [169] Wanting to restore the son of Oedipus to power, who was his own son-in-law, he lost many Argive soldiers and saw all his captains killed. He himself escaped, though with reproach, and when he could not arrange a truce or take back his dead for burial, he came as a suppliant to Athens while Theseus was king and asked him not to allow such men to go unburied or allow an ancient practice and ancestral law to be broken that all people continue to use, not because it was established by human nature but because it was decreed by divine authority. [170] Hearing this, the people lost no time sending ambassadors to Thebes; they advised the Thebans to have a more pious attitude on the issue of collecting the bodies and to give a more lawful response to the request than they had made earlier; in this way, they also used this as an example to show that their city would not allow others to violate a law that was common to all Greeks. [171] When they heard this, those who were in charge at Thebes made a decision at odds with the reputation they have among some people, as well as with their previous thinking, but after fairly presenting their own case and the case against those who had attacked them, they granted our city the right to recover the bodies.

[172] And let no one think that I am unaware that I am saying the opposite of what you will find I said in my Panegyricus, when I wrote about the same topic.90 For I surely do not think that anyone who can understand these things is so foolish or envious that he would not praise me and consider me prudent for speaking about them in that way then and this way now. [173] I know that I have written about them nobly and appropriately, but I think this event will make it clear to all our city’s superiority in war at that time, which is what I wanted to show when I related the events at Thebes, for it forced the king of Argos to become a suppliant at our city [174] and influenced the Theban authorities to choose to abide by the advice given by our city more than the laws set down by divine authority. Our city would not have been able to manage any of this if it had not been far superior to others in reputation and power.

[175] With so many noble actions of our ancestors to mention, I wonder how I should talk about them, for this is a bigger concern for me than anything else. I am now at the topic I have saved for the end, in which I said I would show that our ancestors are superior to the Spartans in wars and battles far more than in other areas.91 [176] My argument will contradict the opinion of most people, but in this way it will seem true to the rest. Just now I was at a loss about whether I should relate the dangers and the battles of the Spartans or of our ancestors first, but I have now decided to speak about theirs first so that I might finish my discussion of this subject with the more noble and just events.

[177] When the Dorians who marched into the Peloponnese had divided into three parts the cities and lands that they had taken from their rightful owners, those who were allotted Argos and Messene managed their affairs just like the rest of the Greeks; according to those who know these things best, however, the third part that we now call Lacedaemon92 was factionalized as no other Greek city ever was, and when those who scorn the masses got control, they devised policies about what happened that were not at all the same as those of others who had already been through similar events. [178] For the rest of the Greeks allowed those who had opposed them to live with them in the city and to share in everything except public offices and honors; the Spartans who were sensible thought these people were mistaken if they thought they could run a state securely while living with those men against whom they had committed the greatest crimes. So the Spartans did not do this but rather established for themselves the kind of equality before the law and democracy that those who are always going to agree ought to have, and they made the people into serfs (perioikoi), enslaving their souls no less than the souls of actual slaves.93 [179] After this, they divided the land: although there were just a few of them, they took for themselves not only the best part (which all should have shared equally) but also more of it than any Greeks ever possessed before; to the common people they granted only a small portion of the worst land, just enough that with hard work, they could scarcely obtain their daily needs. After this, they divided up the people as best they could into very small groups, settled them into many small areas, and gave them names as if they lived in cities, but they actually had less power than our demes have.94 [180] And after robbing them of all the things that free people should have, they subjected them to the greatest dangers, for in military campaigns that the king led, they were arranged in order, man to man, next to each other; some were put in the front ranks, and if the Spartans ever needed to send help somewhere and feared the work, the danger, or the length of time involved, they would send the perioikoi to face the risk instead of the others. [181] Yet why should we go on at great length, listing all the outrages they committed against the people and not just mention the greatest of their crimes and leave the rest be? The Ephors had the right to put to death without trial as many as they wanted of these people, who had from the beginning suffered terribly but were now useful to them, whereas for the rest of the Greeks, it is impious to stain their hands with the murder of even the worst of slaves.

[182] I have described their internal relations and their crimes against the perioikoi at greater length so that I might ask those who approve all the actions of the Spartans if they approve these too and if they think that their battles against the perioikoi are pious and noble. [183] For I think that these are the most terrible acts, which have caused many evils for the losers and many gains for the winners, though the Spartans continue to fight for these all the time, but they are not pious or noble or appropriate for those who claim to be virtuous, at least if virtue is defined not as a matter of technical or artistic skill or any other such thing but as a quality found in the souls of good men together with piety and justice. This virtue (aretē) is the topic of this whole discourse. [184] Some people dismiss this virtue and praise those who commit more crimes than others, not realizing that they are showing their own character when they praise those who have more than they need but would dare to kill their own brothers and friends and associates so as to get the possessions of these people too. These sorts of deeds are similar to those of the Spartans, and those who approve these must have the same opinion about those I just described. [185] But I am amazed if some do not think that battles and victories that are contrary to justice are more shameful and more full of reproach than defeats that one suffers without doing wrong, especially when they know that great but evil powers are often stronger than men who are worthy and choose to face dangers for their country. [186] It would be much more just to praise these men than those who are willing to die to gain the prosperity of others and who are similar to mercenaries in foreign armies. For these are the deeds of evil men, and even though sometimes noble men fare worse in these contests than those who willingly do evil, this might be said to be due to the inattention of the gods. [187] I could make this argument about the Spartan misfortune at Thermopylae,95 and all who have heard about it praise and admire it more than victorious battles over enemies who should not have been attacked. Some dare to praise the latter, not understanding that there is nothing pious or noble in words or deeds that are without justice. [188] The Spartans never cared about such things, for they look to nothing other than how they might get possession of as much of other peoples’ property as possible; our ancestors, on the other hand, strove for nothing so much as having a good reputation among the Greeks. For they realized that no judgment would ever be more true or more just than the one made by an entire people. [189] It was clear that they had this view both in the regular governing of the city and in the greatest of their actions. For in all three wars, not counting the Trojan War, that the Greeks waged against the barbarians, they put Athens at the front: one was against Xerxes where the Athenians’ superiority to the Spartans in every battle was greater than the Spartans’ superiority over the others; [190] second was the fighting over the founding of colonies, where none of the Dorians came to fight along with us, while our city became the leader of those who could not provide for themselves and of others who willingly went, and we caused such a change that although the barbarians were used to capturing the greatest of the Greek cities before, we made the Greeks able to inflict on the barbarians the same fate that they themselves had suffered before.

[191] I think I have said enough about the two earlier wars,96 and so will move on to address the third war that occurred after the Greek cities had just been founded and our city was still ruled by kings. At that time, we faced many wars, and great dangers fell upon us, all of which I could not find out about or describe, [192] and so will leave aside the bulk of the things that happened at that time and that do not need to be discussed now. I will try, as briefly as I can, to describe the men who marched against us, the battles we faced that are worth remembering and discussing, and their leaders; in addition, I will try to show the excuses they gave and the power of the different peoples that accompanied them. This will be enough to say in addition to what we said about our opponents.

[193] First, the Thracians invaded our land led by Eumolpus, son of Poseidon, who contended with Erechtheus for control of the city, claiming that Poseidon had acquired it before Athena did. The Scythians invaded too, with the Amazons, born from Ares, who made the campaign to recover Hippolyta because she had transgressed their existing laws by falling in love with Theseus, returned with him from there, and lived with him in Athens. [194] The Peloponnesians also invaded, with Eurystheus, who refused to compensate Heracles for all the wrong he had done him and even made a campaign against our ancestors in an attempt to seize by force the children of Heracles who had fled to us for protection. He suffered what he deserved; far from gaining control over the suppliants, after being defeated in battle and taken prisoner by our ancestors, he ended his life as a suppliant himself of those people he had come to demand from us. [195] After this, those sent by Darius to sack Greece landed at Marathon and, meeting with more troubles and greater disasters than they had hoped to inflict on our city, left in flight from all Greece.

[196] All these groups I have mentioned did not invade all together or at the same time but as the opportunity and the self-interest and desire occurred to each.97 Our ancestors conquered all of them in battle, put an end to their arrogance, and in spite of the magnitude of their accomplishments, did not betray themselves in the process,98 avoiding the experience of those who by planning well and wisely, obtain great wealth and a fine reputation but then because of an excess of these benefits become arrogant, lose their good sense, and are brought down to lower and poorer circumstances than they experienced before. [197] Instead, our ancestors escaped such dangers and kept to the character they always had by governing their city well and paying more attention to the conditions of their souls and the quality of their minds than to the battles they had fought; they were admired by others for their strength of character and prudent wisdom more than for the valor they displayed in battle. [198] For all saw that many people have spirits adept at war, even when they are experts in vice, but base men have no share in a spirit that is adept at everything and can help everyone, for this belongs only to those who are nobly born and raised and educated well, as were those who governed our city then and were responsible for all the goods I have mentioned.

[199] Now, I see others ending their discourses with the greatest and most memorable deeds, but although I think they are wise to think this way and do this, it turns out that I cannot do the same as they, but I am compelled to keep speaking. I will explain the reason for this a bit later, after a very few preliminary remarks.

[200] I was revising this discourse up to the point just read with three or four young people who regularly spend time with me. Although it seemed fine to us when we had gone through it, lacking only a conclusion, I decided to send for one of my former students, who was now part of an oligarchic government and liked to praise the Spartans, thinking that he would notice and point out if we had inadvertently said something wrong. [201] When I sent for him, he came and read through the discourse. I will not waste time reporting the inter-vening events, but nothing I had written troubled him, and he praised it as much as he could and discussed each of the parts just as we were doing. Nonetheless, it was clear that he was not pleased with what I had said about the Spartans. [202] He pointed this out quickly, for he ventured to say that even if the Spartans had done nothing else good for the Greeks, still, all should rightly be grateful to them because when they discovered the finest way of life, they adopted it themselves and revealed it to others.

[203] This brief and insignificant statement was responsible for my not completing the discourse as I had wished. It caused me to realize that I would be acting shamefully and shockingly if I would allow one of my former students to use inferior arguments in my presence. With this intention, I asked him if he thought nothing of those who were present and was not ashamed to have made an assertion that was impious, false, and full of many inconsistencies. [204] “You will see that it is such, if you ask some of the wise what way of life they consider to be the best, and then how long the Spartans have lived in the Peloponnese. For there is no one who would not prefer a life of piety towards the gods, justice towards other people, and good sense (phronēsis) in all other actions, but they would also say that the Spartans had inhabited their land no more than seven hundred years. [205] If these things are true, and if you turn out to be speaking the truth when you claim that they are the discoverers of the best way of life, then it is necessary that those who were born many generations before the Spartans settled there did not live such a life, not those who campaigned against Troy or who lived at the time of Heracles or Theseus, or Minos the son of Zeus, or Radamanthus or Aeacus or any other of those we praise in song for their virtues; they must all have a false reputation. [206] But if you turn out to be speaking nonsense, and, in fact, it is fitting that those born from the gods had this way of life more than others and showed it to their descendants, then there is no way that the whole audience will not think you are crazy, since you praise anyone you happen to think of so randomly and unjustly.

“Next, if you praise them when you have not heard my arguments, then you might be talking nonsense, but you at least would not seem to contradict yourself. [207] But as it is, when you have praised my discourse, which shows that the Spartans have done many terrible things both to their own people and to the rest of the Greeks, how could you still say that they have been leaders for the best way of life when they are responsible for such things? [208] In addition, you have failed to see that it is not just random persons who discover the customs, the skills, and everything else that was previously unnoticed but those who excel by nature and who are able to learn the most about earlier discoveries and more than anyone else want to focus their attention on finding others. The Spartans are further from this than even the barbarians. [209] For the barbarians can be considered to have learned and taught others many discoveries, but the Spartans are so far behind in general culture (paideia) and study (philosophia) that they do not even learn their letters, which have such great power that those who know and use them gain experience not only of events in their own time but of all the events of the past too. [210] Nevertheless, you have the audacity to say that those who are ignorant of such things are the discoverers of the finest way of life, even though you know that they teach their own children to develop ways of behaving that, they hope, will not make them benefactors of others but will make them most able to mistreat the Greeks.

[211] “If I were to go through all their crimes, it would be burdensome for me and my listeners, so I will mention only one, which they love and are particularly enthusiastic about, and by this I think I will show their whole character. The Spartans send out their sons every day, as soon as they get up, with any friends they want, allegedly to hunt but actually to steal from those who live in the country. [212] Those who are caught doing this pay a fine and are beaten, but those who do the most evil and are able to escape detection have a higher reputation among the children than the rest, and when they reach adulthood, if they maintain the way they practiced as children, they will be ready for the highest offices. [213] If someone can show any lesson they love more or consider more important than this one, I will admit that I have never said anything true on any topic at all. Yet is there anything noble or righteous in this practice? Is it not shameful? Must we not think that they are idiots when they praise those people who are so far outside common decency and share none of the attitudes that are common to Greeks and barbarians? [214] Others think that criminals and thieves are the most wicked slaves, but the Spartans assume that those who are the best at such acts are the finest of their children, and they honor them particularly. And yet what sane man would not prefer to die three times rather than be known as one who trains himself in excellence by means of such practices?”

[215] Hearing this, he did not respond to anything I said rashly, but he was not entirely silent either.99 He said, “You (he meant me) have presented your argument as if I approved of everything there and thought everything was just fine in Sparta. In my opinion, however, it is reasonable to fault them for the freedom they give their children and on many other grounds, but you accuse me unfairly. [216] For when I read your discourse, I was pained by what you said about the Spartans, but even more because I could not reply to what you had written about them, since I usually praise them. But I was so perplexed that I gave the only answer left to me, that if for no other reason, at least we should all justly be grateful to them since they have the best way of life. [217] But I said this not with an eye to their piety or justice or good sense (phronēsis)— topics that you treated— but to the gymnastic training they have there and to the cultivation of bravery and their sense of unity and in general their preparation for war; all would praise these practices and would say that the Spartans are particularly good at them.”

[218] When he said this, I accepted it not because he had refuted any of my criticisms, but because he had covered over the most bitter part of what he had said, not crudely, but quite thoughtfully, and had defended himself on the other points, more prudently than when he spoke frankly before. In any case, I let that go and replied that I had a much stronger attack on these very points of his than on their children’s habit of stealing. [219] “For they harmed their own children with this practice, but with the ones you mentioned a little earlier, they destroyed the Greeks. And it is easy to see that this is the case. For I think all would agree that those who are the worst men and deserve the greatest punishment are those who take acts invented to help others and use them instead to do harm, [220] not against the barbarians or against those who wrong them or those who invade their land but against their closest friends and kinsmen. This is what the Spartans do. So how can you righteously say that they make good use of the practice of war when they spend their whole time destroying those they ought to be protecting? [221] Nonetheless, you are not alone in your ignorance of who makes good use of these practices, for nearly all Greece is ignorant too. For when they see or hear from someone that some people are devoting their time to practices that are thought to be good, they praise them and make great speeches about them, though they do not know the results. [222] But those who want to reach a correct judgment (orthōs dokimazein) about such people must hold their peace in the beginning and not form an opinion about them; but when they come to that time when they see them speaking and acting, in private matters and in public affairs, then they should examine each of them carefully. [223] They should praise and honor those who make lawful and good use of their preparation, but they should criticize and hate and avoid the lifestyle of those who do wrong, whether deliberately or not, keeping in mind that things in themselves are neither helpful nor harmful, but the use people make of them and their actual conduct are responsible for all that happens to us. [224] You can understand this from the following: things that are entirely the same and not at all different turn out to be useful for some people and harmful for others. And yet it is not logical that each thing should have a nature that is not the same but the opposite of itself. On the other hand, what right-thinking person would not think it quite reasonable that nothing turns out the same for those who act rightly and justly as for those who act wantonly and wrongly?

[225] “This same argument would apply to their sense of unity too, for this is not different in nature to what I have already mentioned, but we would find that some of them are responsible for the greatest goods, while others are responsible for the greatest evils and misfortunes. And I would say that the Spartans’ sense of unity is like this. For I will tell the truth, even if some of my claims appear to be completely contrary to general belief. [226] For the Spartans, by their unanimity among themselves about outside issues, were like professionals at making the Greeks fall into factions, and they thought that if the other Greek cities suffered the harshest misfortunes, this would be the most advantageous thing of all for them, for they could do what they wished with these cities if they were in such circumstances. Thus, no one could justly praise them for their sense of unity, no more than pirates and robbers and other criminals. For these too agree among themselves but then destroy others. [227] Now, if I seem to some to make a comparison that is inappropriate for their reputation, I will let this one go and bring up the Triballoi.100 All agree that they have a sense of unity unmatched among men, but they destroy not only their neighbors and those who live near them but everyone else they can reach. [228] Those who lay claim to virtue (aretē) must not imitate these people but should much rather imitate the force of wisdom and justice and the other virtues. For these do not benefit others by their own natures but make those people happy and blessed with whom they permanently reside. The Spartans, however, are quite the opposite; they destroy those they are near, and they appropriate for themselves all the goods of others.”

[229] With these words, I put the man to whom I made these arguments in his place, even though he was clever, very experienced, and trained in discourse no less than any of my former students. But the young men who were present for all this did not have the same opinion as I; although they praised me for having argued more vigorously than they expected and for making a fine argument, and they showed contempt for him, they were wrong to do so and misjudged both of us. [230] For he went away wiser and more humble in his mind, as sensible men should, and he experienced what it says at Delphi, so that he “knew himself” as well as the nature of the Spartans better than before. I, on the other hand, was left thinking that I may have argued successfully, but I felt that I was more foolish because of it and that I thought more of myself than is fitting for someone my age, so I was filled with youthful agitation. [231] This state of mind was clear to me, for when I calmed down, I did not stop before I had dictated to my slave the discourse that shortly before I had recited with such pleasure, but a little later would cause me pain. When three or four days had passed and I reread it and examined it, I was not bothered by what I had said about Athens, for everything I had written about the city was right and fair, [232] but I was pained and troubled by the things I said about Sparta. The passages about them seemed to me too immoderate and not like the other parts; they were demeaning, excessively harsh, and entirely thoughtless. Often I started to erase them or burn the work, but I changed my mind, taking pity on my own old age and the hard work I had put into the discourse.

[233] While I was so upset and kept making many changes, I decided it would be best to summon my former pupils who were in the city and consult with them whether the discourse should be entirely destroyed or distributed to those who wished to have it so they could do with it whatever they wished. Once I had decided this, I did not delay but immediately summoned those I had mentioned, and after I told them why they had been gathered, the discourse was read out loud to them; it was praised and applauded, getting a reception like the ones that win in oratorical contests (epideixeis). [234] When all this was finished, the others began talking with one another; clearly, they were discussing what had been read. But the man whom I had summoned at the beginning to give advice, the one who always praised Sparta, to whom I had said more than I should, after a period of silence looked at me and said that he was uncertain what to make of the present situation, for he said he did not want to doubt my words, but he was unable to trust them entirely either.

[235] “I am wondering if you were so pained and troubled, as you say, by your remarks about the Spartans—for I see no such problem in what you have written—or if you gathered us together because you wanted to get our advice about the discourse, when you know clearly that we praise everything that you say or do. But intelligent people generally seek advice on matters that are important to them, especially from those who are wiser than themselves or else with those who will give their honest opinion. But you have done the opposite. [236] Therefore, I accept neither of these reasons; rather, you seem to me to have summoned us together and made your eulogy of Athens not simple-mindedly nor for the reasons you explained to us but because you wanted to test us to see if we were still lovers of wisdom, if we remember what you said during our studies, and if we could understand how you happened to write this discourse—[ 237] that you were wise to choose to praise your own city so that you might please the bulk of the citizens and have a good reputation among those favorably disposed toward you. Having decided this, you assumed that if you devoted your discourse to Athens alone and told the mythic stories about it that everyone keeps telling, your words would appear just like what others had written, and this would be most disgraceful and painful for you. [238] But if you put aside those myths and described those achievements that are acknowledged by all and have brought so many benefits for the Greeks, and if you contrasted them with the achievements of the Spartans and praised the actions of your ancestors but criticized those of the Spartans, then the discourse would appear more splendid to the audience, and you would remain true to your purpose, which some would admire more than those discourses written by others. [239] At the beginning, you seemed to me to organize and plan your discourse in this way, but since you knew that you had praised the Spartan government as no one else has, 101 you feared that the audience would view you like those who say whatever comes to them because now you criticize those whom you earlier praised more than others.102 Reflecting on this, I think you studied how you could describe each group and still appear to speak the truth about both— how you could praise your ancestors as you wish but also make it appear to those who are hostile to the Spartans that you are accusing them while they do not notice that, in fact, you are not doing this but praising them. [240] Seeking such approaches, you seemed to find arguments easily that had subtext (amphiboloi),103 and were equally supportive of those who praise and those who criticize, but could be used on both sides and would provide many points for debate. If someone uses such arguments in disputes over private contracts or for his own gain, it is shameful and a sure sign of wickedness, but when used in discussions of the nature of human beings or their behavior, it is noble and philosophical (philosophon). [241] Such, in fact, was the discourse that was just read, in which you made your own ancestors peace-loving, devoted to the Greeks, and the leading supporters of equality among cities but made the Spartans haughty (hyperoptikous), warlike (polemikous), and interested in gain (pleonektas), just like all people assume them to be.

“But although each city has this sort of a nature, the Athenians being praised by all and appearing to be well disposed toward the people, while most envy the Spartans and are hostile toward them, there are nonetheless those who praise and admire them [242] and have the courage to say that they, in fact, have more good qualities than your ancestors possessed. For haughtiness (hyperopsia) shares in dignity, a respected quality, and people with this quality seem to everyone to be more high-minded than the proponents of equality. Those who are warlike (polemikos) are far superior to peace-loving people, for the peace-loving are not grabbers of other people’s possessions nor intimidating protectors of their own, but the warlike can do both: they can take what they want and protect anything they have, once they have it, and those who do this seem to be men in the most complete sense.104 [243] They also think they have better arguments regarding the idea of being ‘interested in gain’ (pleonexia) than those you presented, for they do not think that those who break private contracts and deceive and cheat should rightly be called interested in gain, since in any situation they end up losing because of their bad reputation. In fact, this desire for gain by the Spartans and by kings and tyrants is something people pray for and that all people want. [244] Moreover, those who have such power are abused and cursed, but there is no one whose nature is such that he would not pray to the gods to have this power above all for himself or, if he cannot have it, then that his closest family members have it. From this it is clear that we all think the greatest benefit is to have more than others.105

“It seems to me, then, that this was your intention when you designed the overall plan of the work. [245] If I thought you would leave what you said alone and let the work be unedited, I would not have tried to say anything more. But now, I do not think you will be worried that I ignored the matter I was summoned to advise on, for even when you summoned us, you did not seem to me to be serious about it. [246] Rather, you chose to compose a discourse unlike any other, one that seemed simple and easy to understand for those who read it cursorily, but for those who went through it carefully (akribos) and tried to detect what others had failed to see, it was evidently difficult and hard to learn, full of much history and philosophy, and all sorts of decoration and fiction106-not the usual fiction that with evil intent harms fellow citizens but the kind that can help or please its hearers through education.107 [247] But you will say108 that I do not allow the discourse to have the quality you planned for it, but by showing the force of your words and explaining your plan, I do not notice that to the extent that I made the discourse clearer and more understandable for the readers, I also made it less distinguished. By clarifying its insight to those who did not understand it, I made the discourse empty and robbed it of the honor it would have been accorded by those who study hard and did the work themselves.

[248] “Now, I admit that my intelligence is as inferior to yours as it can be; not only that, but just as I know that truth, I also am aware that when your city deliberates about the most important issues, those who are reputed to be the most intelligent are wrong about what is best for the city, and there are times when someone who is considered foolish and is viewed with scorn turns out to succeed and give the best advice. [249] So it is not surprising if something like this happened in the present situation, where you think that you will be especially famous if you conceal as long as possible the intention you had when you composed this discourse. I, on the other hand, think that you will best achieve your goal if you can as quickly as possible make clear to everyone your intentions in composing the discourse, especially to the Spartans, who are the objects of many of your arguments, some just and reverent, others reckless and excessively contentious. [250] If someone were to show the discourse to the Spartans before I discussed it with them, there is no way they would not hate you and be very hostile to you for having written an accusation against them. But now I think that although most Spartans will continue to live in the same way they always have, and will pay no more attention to discourses written here than to those written outside the pillars of Heracles, [251] nevertheless the wisest of them, who have a few of your works and admire them, if they find someone to read it and have the time to spend on it, will not miss anything in it but will recognize the praise of their city and the arguments supporting it and will scorn the random abuse of their actions and the harsh words. They will conclude that envy provoked the slander found in the book (biblion) [252] and that you have written for all to remember the achievements and battles, on which they pride themselves and their reputation with others is based, gathering them all together and setting them next to each other, and that you are responsible for many people wanting to read them and examine them in detail not just because they want to hear their acts but because they want to learn what you said about them. [253] Keeping this in mind and working it over, they will not forget the ancient deeds for which you have praised their ancestors, but they will often relate them to each other: first, that when they were still Dorians, they despised the condition in which they saw their own citieswithout reputation, small, and extremely poor-and so they led their army against the leading cities in the Peloponnese: Argos, Lacedaimon, and Messene. [254] Victorious in battle, they drove the defeated people out of their cities and their land, and they themselves took all their property, which they still hold even now. No one will point to a greater or more admirable deed at that time than this, nor one more fortunate or blessed by the gods, for it freed those who accomplished it from their own need and made them masters of other peoples’ happiness. [255] They achieved these successes together with all who had marched with them. But when they had divided the land with the Argives and the Messenians and settled in Sparta themselves, you say that at that moment (kairos) they had so much confidence that though they were no more than two thousand, they thought they would not deserve to live unless they could become lords over all the cities in the Peloponnese. [256] With this in mind, they engaged in war and did not stop, although they encountered many dangers and hardships, until they had gained control of all of them except the city of the Argives. In control of the most land and with the greatest power and a reputation befitting those who have accomplished such great deeds, they were no less proud because they alone among the Greeks had a uniquely fine reputation. [257] For they could say that although they were so few in number, they never were the followers or obeyed the orders of any of the wellpopulated cities but had always been independent and, in fact, were themselves the leaders of all the Greeks in the war against the barbarians. They achieved this position not illogically but because, although they had fought the most battles of any people at that time, they did not lose a single one of them when one of their kings was in command but won them all. [258] No one could give a greater sign of courage, strength, and unity of purpose than this, except for the following: of the large number of Greek cities then in existence, among the others you could not mention or find a single one that has not encountered the troubles that usually plague cities, [259] whereas in Sparta, no one could point to any faction, or slaughter, or illegal exile, or seizure of property, or abuse of wives and children, or change of government, or cancellation of debts, or redistribution of land, or any other sort of incurable trouble.109 When they list all these things, there is no way that they will not remember that you gathered these deeds all together and spoke so nobly about them, and they will be very grateful for this.

[260] “I do not have the same opinion of you as I had before, for in the past, I admired your nature, the organization of your life, your industriousness, and especially the truth of your philosophy, but now I envy you and congratulate you on your good fortune. For it seems to me in your life that you will not have gotten a reputation greater than you deserve- that would be hard- but one that will be recognized by more people and more unanimously approved than it is now. When you die, you will have a share of immortality, not that of the gods but the kind that creates memories of those who have excelled in some noble deed for those who come afterward)110 [261] And you have come upon this justly, for you have praised both cities well and appropriately. The one, Athens, is praised according to the judgment of the multitude, a judgment that no famous person would despise; all long for it and would endure anything in order to get it. The other, Sparta, is praised according to the reasoning of those who try to get at the truth, among whom some would prefer to have a better reputation than among other people, even if the latter were twice as many as they are now.

[262] “Though I have a great desire to keep speaking at present, and still have many things to say about you and the two cities and your discourse, I will put these aside and will only reveal my thoughts on those matters you say you summoned me to address. I advise you not to burn the discourse or conceal it but if it needs anything, edit it and then add an account of all the discussion of it that has occurred and give it to those who want it, [263] if you want to bring pleasure to the best of the Greeks and to those who are truly devoted to philosophy and do not just make a pretense of it. Do it also if you want to bring pain to those who admire your works more than others but criticize them to the crowds at the panegyric festivals, where those who sleep are more numerous than those who actually listen. They expect that if they mislead this kind of audience, their own works will rival yours, for they fail to understand that their work is further behind yours than that of those who write the same kind of poetry as Homer are behind his reputation.”

[264] When he had said all this, he urged those present to reveal their opinions on the matter for which they had been summoned, and they did not just applaud, as they usually do when they are pleased with what has been said, but they cried out that he had spoken superbly. Gathering around him, they praised him, admired him, congratulated him; they had nothing to add to or remove from what he had said, but they expressed the same opinion and advised me to do what he suggested. [265] I too did not stand there in silence but praiised his nature and his concern, but I did not comment at all on what he said, either how his suppositions had hit on or missed my own thoughts, but I let him continue to hold the opinions he had expressed.111

[266] I think, then, that I have now said enough about the subject I set myself, for a detailed review of my argument is not appropriate for discourses such as this one.112 But I want to discuss my own personal experience while I was composing this discourse. I started it at the age that I said at the beginning.113 [267] When it was already half written, I contracted a disease that is not appropriate to discuss.114 but that can in three or four days kill older men, and even many who are in the prime of life. I fought this disease continually for three years, each day working so hard that those who knew the situation or who learned of it from them admired me more for my perseverance in this than for my achievements that had been praised before. [268] Thus I had already given up the project, both because of the disease and because of my old age, when some of those who used to visit me and who had often read the part of the discourse that I had written, begged and urged me not to leave it behind half finished and unrevised but to work a bit longer and attend to what remained to be done. [269] They did not say this as if they were just fulfilling their duty, but instead they accorded the written text such extreme praise that if someone heard them who was neither my friend nor favorably disposed toward me, there would be no way that he would not assume these people were mocking me and that I was deranged and a complete fool if I believed what they said. [270] Although I felt this way about what they said, I was persuaded-for why should I dwell on this point?-to return to work on the rest, although I was now just three years shy of one hundred,115 and my condition was such that no one else in the same condition would have tried to write and would not even have wanted to be in the audience when another person was presenting the work he had done.

[271] Why then have I reported all this? Not because I thought I deserved sympathy for what I have written-for I do not think that my discourse is the sort that needs this116-but because I want to show what happened to me and to praise those of my audience who approve of this discourse and who think that discourses that are written to instruct (didaskalikous) and are carefully written (technikous) are more serious and philosophic than those that are written for public display (epideixis) or for litigation (agones), those that aim at the truth (tes a/etheias stochazomenous) rather than those that seek to deceive the opinions (doxas) of the audience, and those that rebuke and admonish wrongdoers more than those delivered to please or delight. [272] I also have this advice for those who think the opposite of this: first, they should not trust their own views or think that decisions made by those who are lazy are true. Next, they should not make rash pronouncements about subjects they know nothing about but should wait until they can agree with those who have much experience in these types of discourses. If they form their opinions this way, there is no one who would think such people are fools.

Translated by Translated by Terry L. Papillon from Isocrates II. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.

1 On panhellenic gatherings in general, see the Introduction to Panegyricus. On the Panathenaea, see Neils 1992. ^

2 Though Connelly (1996) has recently suggested that the frieze represents a myth. See Neils 1992, 2001 for other possibilities. ^

3 The festival was organized in 566 and was modified by the tyrant Peisistratus to bring attention to Athens and elevate its status among the city-states of Greece. In myth, its origins were attributed to Theseus or Erichthonius (Neils 1992: 13- 27). ^

4 This procession may be found on the east end of the Parthenon frieze. ^

5 On the nature of the contests, see Neils 1992: 13-27, 52-75. ^

6 This comparison strongly contrasts with the one Isocrates makes at the end of On the Peace (8.142-144), where the Spartans look much more favorable. ^

7 On the interpretation of Isocrates’ reaction to the student, see Kennedy 1989 and Gray 1994. ^

8 On Isocrates’ awareness of genres and his mixture of them, see Papillon 1998b. ^

9 On the connection between a self-conscious introduction and the body of a work, see Papillon 1996a. ^

10 Isocrates echoes Thucydides (1.22) here with his view of the mythic. Both authors want to avoid the mythic, which might be perceived as aiming at entertainment and pleasure and to aim instead at discourse that will be useful for the reader. On Thucydides and myth, see Flory 1990. On myth in Isocrates, see Papillon 1996b. ^

11 On the types of prose, see Wilcox 1943. ^

12 Usher (1999: 318-319) discusses the stylistic individuality of this speech. It is less ornate in its use of some figures, but sentence length is considerably longer than the norm for Isocrates, and antithesis is about the same as in the earlier work Panegyricus. Cf. Usher 1973. On idea, see Lidov 1983 and Sullivan 2001. ^

13 Isocrates makes a similar claim in his discourse To Philip (5.27-28). ^

14 Isocrates was 94 years old in 342. He says at the end of the discourse (266-270) that he then fell ill and did not complete the work until he was 98, in 338. ^

15 Norlin (1929: 369- 370), Jebb (1962: 2.125), and Usher (1999: 318-319) are among those who judge it inferior to his earlier work, Panegyricus^

16 For more extensive remarks about the slander from others and a defense of his life, see Isocrates’ Antidosis (15) and Against the Sophists (13) in Isocrates I of this series. ^

17 An odd claim, given his complaint in section 5 that he is, in fact, slandered. Here, however, Isocrates refers to the success of his school and talks about a different group, those who admire him, rather than those who have attacked him. ^

18 Isocrates calls his manner of life philosophia and sees himself in the tradition of Socrates when he calls himself and those around him to be responsible citizens. ^

19 On judgment vs. knowledge, see 8.8n. ^

20 Most scholars have taken Isocrates’ comments about his physical limitations at face value, but Too ( 1995: 7 4-112) has suggested that this may be a rhetorical pose. ^

21 Those in debt to the state also incurred atimia or disenfranchisement, which entailed loss of certain citizen rights, e.g., admittance to temples, the Agora, and the lawcourts (cf. MacDowell 1978: 74-75). ^

22 Isocrates refers here to the bēma or platform where a speaker addressed a gathering in the Assembly or a jury in a court case. ^

23 Isocrates also prioritizes his work at the beginning of Panegyricus, when he says his effort is more valuable than that of athletes in the panhellenic games (4.1-4). ^

24 For a vivid picture of evil speakers and their desire for personal financial gain, see On the Peace (8.124-131). ^

25 For a fuller treatment of Isocrates’ rivals in education, see his speech Against the Sophists (13). ^

26 On the Great Panathenaea, see the Introduction to this speech. ^

27 In section 5. ^

28 Isocrates also talks of such subjects as preliminary in Antidosis (15.261-269) and in To Alexander (Ep. 5.3-4). ^

29 On phronesis, cf. Ep. 7.1n. ^

30 Isocrates did not reject the poets, as some claimed, but took ideas from the poetic tradition that could raise the moral and political level of rhetorical discourse because of the moral advisory role poetry played in Greek society. Oratory had come under attack in the fourth century because of the questionable morality of the sophists, and Isocrates sought to counter this by taking the serious advisory role of poetry into his own discourse. To do this, he borrowed from the poets’ organizational principals, topics, and sense of needing an appropriate style for a given situation. See further Papillon 1998a. ^

31 With this dismissal, Isocrates ignores one of the two topics he introduced in section 25, education and the poets. ^

32 There is a textual difficulty in this last sentence. The Loeb edition of Norlin, following the most important manuscript (G) reads “or unless I have topics more serious to speak about.” I prefer the reading of the vulgate tradition, followed in the Budé edition of Brémond, which reads “since I have topics more serious.” This reading makes the clause an explanation for why he does not treat the poets. ^

33 It is a commonplace of epideictic oratory, especially funeral orations, to point out that words cannot match deeds. Cf. 4.74, 6.100; Thuc. 2.35; Lys. 2.1; and, later, Hyp. 6.2 and Dem. 60.1. On funeral orations, see 4.74n. ^

34 Aristotle mentions a flute prelude to contests in the Rhetoric (3.14), where he specifically mentions the introductory section of Isocrates’ Helen (10). For discussions of Isocratean notions of unity, see Papillon 1996a, 1997a. ^

35 He treats the Persian Wars in section 49, the Ionian colonization in 164, and the early mythic history of Athens (Eumolpus, Amazons) in 191. ^

36 Tradition says that the Dorians came into the Peloponnese in the tenth century and took control of the area, subjugating the native populations. Cf. 6.7n. ^

37 Cf. sections 42-48 on the early history with Panegyricus (4.34-37). ^

38 Isocrates refers to the Ionian Migration during the years after the Trojan War; he does so again in section 164 and in Panegyricus (4.34-42). ^

39 The Persian Wars lasted from 490 to 479. They are treated here (49-52) and again in 189. Cf. this treatment with that of Panegyricus (4.71-74, 85-98). ^

40 On the difficulties of the naval empires, see On The Peace (8.74-105). ^

41 Isocrates changes from the word for empire (archē) to the much more general and less pejorative word oversight (epimeleia). ^

42 At the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War in 404, the Spartans set up oligarchic panels of ten men (decarchies) in each city to oversee their government. These were accompanied by a garrison and commander and were often perceived as tyrannical by the cities occupied. See too Panegyricus (4.110). ^

43 Athens’ empire lasted from 479 to 404 (cf. 4.106n). Sparta by tradition was considered to be in power from 404 to 371 , when it lost power at the battle of Leuctra. Isocrates has been talking about naval powers, however, so he may be thinking of Athens losing her fleet in Syracuse in 415 and Sparta’s loss at Cnidus in 394. ^

44 That is, after the disastrous defeat at Syracuse, the Athenians held out for another ten years before finally surrendering to Sparta in 404. The Spartans lost their empire at the battle of Leuctra in 371 against the Boeotian League, which was led by Thebes (Hammond 1986: 493-494). For rhetorical effect, Isocrates exaggerates about Thebes being alone. In any event, it is a very odd argument that Athens should be praised because it was able to avoid collapse longer than Sparta was. ^

45 Cf. the treatment of the misdeeds of both sides here (62-107) with the treatment in Panegyricus (4.100- 132). ^

46 Isocrates lists these events of the Peloponnesian War in order of fame, not chronology. Scione was besieged in 423 (Thuc. 4.120-123, 129-133) and destroyed in 421 (5.32). The Plataeans colonized the area until they were thrown out again at the end of the war. Torone was a city at the tip of the second finger of the Chalcidice in northern Greece. It was sacked by the Athenians in 422 under Cleon (Thuc. 5.1-3). The men were sent to Athens as prisoners of war, the women and children enslaved. In 416 the people of Melos wanted to assert their independence when Athens wanted them to join their side. Thucydides describes this situation in an unusual and famous passage called the Melian Dialogue (5.84- 116). The two cities talk as if characters in a play, the Melians asserting their rights based on justice, the Athenians asserting the interest of the stronger. The Athenians eventually took the island, killed all the men, and enslaved the women and children. Thucydides makes the act look tyrannical on the part of Athens, bullying a small independent island, but inscriptional evidence seems to show that Melos was contributing to the Spartan cause (Meiggs and Lewis 1969: 181-184). Cf. 4.100. ^

47 Ep. 2.16 is very similar. ^

48 Probably a reference to the carnage that occurred under the Thirty at Athens in 411. This is also mentioned in Panegyricus 4.113. ^

49 See above, 54n. ^

50 Isocrates’ description is accurate for the Delian League at its founding in the 470s. The difficulties come when that association is transformed from the Delian League into what tradition has called the Athenian Empire as the fifth century progressed. It is not the Delian League that led to the Peloponnesian War but the way Athens reacted to its position of authority in that league as time passed. See further, Norlin 1929: ad loc^

51 A morally questionable argument, but from the point of view of practical politics and military tactics, perhaps a bit more acceptable. ^

52 Menelaus was married to Helen, the daughter of Zeus by Leda. Tradition says that Zeus came to her in the form of a swan. In Isocrates’ discourse Helen (10.61-63), the treatment of Menelaus is different; there he is only important as the husband of Helen and, in fact, achieves heroic status only through his connection with her. ^

53 Thus Isocrates joins himself to Agamemnon; he has suffered the same slight as Agamemnon. Isocrates follows two different poetic arguments here, seen most vividly elsewhere in the victory odes of Pindar. First, he connects himself with the object of praise, so that by raising up the object of praise, he raises himself. Second, he joins Pindar in asserting that some heroes of the period of the Trojan War receive less credit than they are due. Pindar says that Ajax gets less credit than he deserves, and Odysseus more, because of the influence of Homer (Nemean 7.20 – 34). Pindar hopes to give Ajax a larger reputation through his poetry, just as Odysseus has received a greater reputation through the poetry of Homer. Isocrates will try to increase Agamemnon’s reputation through his prose encomium here. On Isocrates’ debt to the poetic tradition, see Papillon 1998a. ^

54 Sections 76-88 are an extensive digression in praise of Agamemnon. Cf. Race 1978. Blass (1892: 2.331-334) thought it was meant to represent Philip of Macedon. Norlin (1929: 418-419) thought he represented an example of the leadership of Greece against the east. See Papillon 1996b on the use of such myths in lsocratean discourse. ^

55 Isocrates here vies with Homer, because Homer paints an uncomplimentary picture of Agamemnon in the Iliad, a poem meant to praise Agamemnon’s rival, Achilles, who was called “the best of the Achaians.” Pindar had made a similar argument on behalf of Ajax (cf. above, 75n). From the point of view of rhetorical strategy, it is interesting to look at the motivations of Isocrates and Pindar. Pindar champions Ajax because he is the mythic ancestor of the athletic victor he seeks to praise in Nemean 7, Sogenes from the island of Aegina, which was connected in ancient times with Ajax. Isocrates defends Agamemnon because he provides the perfect example of Isocrates’ political goal of leadership of a unified Greece against an eastern enemy (cf. Papillon 1996b). ^

56 These are examples of foreign invasions. Pelops invaded from the north and took control of the whole of the Peloponnese. This is the mythic explanation of the historic occurrence of the Dorian invasion from the north. Cadmus came to Thebes from the east and Danaus to Argos from Egypt. The Near Eastern and North African influences on Greek culture and history are evident in their myths as well as their archaeology. Many Greek cities celebrated these influences; only the ethnocentric Athenians argued for their autochthonous “purity” and therefore superiority. ^

57 He refers to his praise of Agamemnon here, even though he speaks in the plural. The plural reference allows this statement to be more programmatic and allows him latitude elsewhere too. Isocrates digresses on Theseus (10.18-37) and Paris (10.41-48) in Helen and on Heracles in To Philip (5.109-115). A similar approach can be seen with his treatment of the fourth-century general Timotheus in Antidosis (15.101-139). Isocrates uses a similar, and perhaps more expected, form of this argument in On The Peace (8.39), where he says that he would be ashamed if he were more worried about his reputation than the security of the state, whereas in the current speech, he is more concerned about his literary topic than his reputation. ^

58 Isocrates remarkably alludes to political and deliberative motivations by inserting the ideas of advantage and justice into a statement about literary judgment. He chose to do what was right (dikaion) for his literary topic rather than to do what would be advantageous (lusiteles) for himself. ^

59 Sections 70-73. ^

60 he battle of Plataea was the last and decisive battle of the Persian Wars in 479. ^

61 The other major city in Boeotia, Thebes, had “Medized” (cf. 4.157n, 14.30n). ^

62 Plataea was the location of one of the first battles of the Peloponnesian War. Thebes attacked it unsuccessfully in 431 (Thuc. 2.2- 6) and then again with a siege begun in 429 (Thuc. 2.71-78). The Plataeans eventually surrendered in 427; the men were killed, the women enslaved, and the town razed (3.20-24, 52-68). A period of fifty-two years intervened between the battle of Plataea and the razing of Plataea in 427; Isocrates calls this “not long” here for rhetorical effect. ^

63 The Spartans and the Plataeans were both of Dorian descent. ^

64 The naval defeat at Aegospotami in 405 is regularly mentioned only euphemistically by the orators. ^

65 hares and others of the Second Athenian League (cf. Hammond 1986: 516; Ghirga and Romussi 1999: 467. ^

66 Cyrus was killed at the battle of Cunaxa in 403. The whole expedition is described by Xenophon, a participant, in the Anabasis. ^

67 At the battle of Cnidus in 394. ^

68 The Peace of Antalcidas, also known as the King’s Peace, of 387/6. Notice how quickly Isocrates moved through Spartan history in this section. Events that occurred over seventeen years (from the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 to the Peace in 387/6) are narrated as if they came in rapid succession. Such rapidity increases the energy of the passage and also the sense of Spartan wrongdoing. ^

69 Cf. Isocrates’ comments in Panegyricus (4.120-125) written forty years earlier. For a similar view of Spartan skepticism about peace, see Archidamus (6). ^

70 On inscribed treaties, see 4.176n. ^

71 It is true that when Isocrates sets out his thesis in sections 39-42, he makes it a comparison of the two cities and their “power, achievements, and benefits provided to the Greeks” (41). ^

72 Quite in contrast to Socrates, who, in Plato’s Gorgias (469) says that doing injustice is worse than suffering injustice. ^

73 These are general references to famous myths of the Greeks. The list is organized by activity, not by myth, though the references highlight the Theban house and the Argive house. Oedipus killed his father; Orestes murdered his mother; Oedipus committed incest with his mother and produced offspring; Thyestes unknowingly ate his own children because of a plot of his brother Atreus; Oedipus was exposed; Orestes was exiled; Danae and her son were sent into the sea to drown by her father; Oedipus blinded himself. There is no mention of one of the more objectionable stories from myth-at least it was so to Lucretius-the sacrifice of Iphigenia by Agamemnon. There are two reasons for this. Isocrates cannot criticize this act, since he has just finished praising Agamemnon, and if he made a general reference to the sacrifice of daughters, it could also recall the sacrifice by Erechtheus, the early king of Athens. Isocrates avoids the stories of Athens that might be objectionable to make his point (cf. Papillon 1996b). ^

74 The notion of autochthony, being born from the land and therefore native, is common in praise of Athens (cf. 4.24-25). ^

75 It is true that the house of Athens lasted many generations according to their own myth, but this longevity is also true of other cities, such as Thebes or Argos. ^

76 The story of the birth of Erichthonius is variously told. Hephaestus is usually the father, but the mother is sometimes Earth (here and in the Iliad) and sometimes Athena (Apollodorus 3.14.6; Hyginus, Fabula 166). In the latter story, Hephaestus tries to rape Athena, but she escapes, and his semen falls on the ground, from which Erechthonius springs. Thus, Athena can stay a maiden, a virgin goddess, while still narratively the “mother” of Erechthonius and Athens. ^

77 Isocrates treated Theseus at length in his discourse Helen (10.18-37). ^

78 For the idea that the discourse on Helen was, in fact, really about the city and Greece at large, see Kennedy 1958. For an alternate view that she did not function as an analogy for Greece, see Papillon 1996a. ^

79 This passage (130-134) is a good example of Isocrates’ thinking on government, where he espouses democracy but considers an aristocratic form of it best. He presents a traditional division, as seen in Pindar (Pythian 2.87) or Herodotus (3.80-83), that will be treated with more specificity by Plato (Republic 8-9) and Aristotle (Politics 3.7). Norlin (1929: ad loc.)

points out that Isocrates argues that the best form of any of his three categories is the aristocratic version, where the best man is king, or the best people make decisions, or the best people lead the group. Statements like these have led some scholars to question Isocrates’ dedication to democratic Athens, but he advocates only what most democracies advocate, that the best people should hold the leadership positions (cf. Areopagiticus [7.22]). ^

80 This could be an instance of Isocrates laying out an example of how to treat a topic (130-134) and then leaving room for his pupils to do exercises on it. It is important to note here that this topic is not trivial but a serious one of types of government and what makes each attractive. Exercises (or topics for them) were not trivial, as some detractors of rhetorical education have said. ^

81 This translation of Panathenaicus is something over twenty-five thousand words. ^

82 Traditionally assigned to the reforms of Solon and Cleisthenes in the sixth century, but Isocrates makes Theseus responsible. Isocrates discusses the Athenian polity also in Areopagiticus (7.19-28). ^

83  Tribes (phylae) were local units, originally by family, then geographic, used to organize the Athenian population. The ten tribes of Athens were created to assist in the choice of leaders by Cleisthenes during his political reforms of the late sixth century. These were broken into geographical demes (dēmoi) to ease the process. Cf. 8.88n. ^

84 On liturgies, see the Series Introduction. ^

85 A very general number. Isocrates is thinking from the time that Theseus passed the government to the people (cf. 130) until Peisistratus. ^

86 The Peace of Antalcidas, also known as the King’s Peace, in 387/6. ^

87 Isocrates refers in these sections to historical migrations of different clans of Greeks, who shared local dialects. The Athenians spoke a version of the Ionian dialect, and the people connected with this dialect spread to the east in the ninth and eighth centuries. In section 166, he will make this period of colonization coincide with the Dorian invasion. This will help his persuasive presentation, even though historically the Dorian invasion occurred earlier. ^

88 The Dionysia was the major dramatic festival at Athens, where three poets would present plays as part of the worship of the god and as part of the dramatic competition. ^

89 Eteocles and Polynices, sons of Oedipus, contested for control of Thebes, and Polynices brought an army from Argos to assist his attack on his brother, including the Argive king Adrastus. When the two brothers died at each other’s hands, Adrastus enlisted Theseus to rescue the fallen Argives for proper burial. This was a common story for tragedy, as seen in Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Euripides’ Phoenissae^

90 Cf. 4.54-60. The story of Adrastus and the Argives is also told in Plataicus (14.53-54). Usher (1990: 162) points out parallels with other authors. The version told here gives Athens more active involvement, but the tellings are quite similar. ^

91 Cf. this section on the early history (175-198) with that in Panegyricus (4.51-70). ^

92 Cf. 6.16n. ^

93 Spartan society consisted of three parts: Spartan citizens; helots, the people who were conquered by the Spartans when they entered the region and were then subjected by them (cf. 5.49n); and perioikoi (lit. “dwellers around”), free persons who owned land and businesses outside Sparta proper but were under the control of the Spartan government. Perioikoi had civic rights and responsibilities but no say in the Spartan government. On perioikoi, see Demand 1996: 121-123 and Hammond 1986: 99-100. ^

94 That is, they pretended that they were separate communities, though they were smaller than the demes (precincts) of Attica. ^

95 On the battle at Thermopylae, see 4.90. The battle became an emblem of sacrifice for the good of the cause and was commemorated in ancient times by the poetry attributed to Simonides, still seen today on an inscription on the top of the burial mound where the Spartans lay.  ^

96 He spoke of the Persian Wars in sections 49-52 and the colonization of Asia in sections 164-168. ^

97 Isocrates points out here that he is gathering a broad array of evidence. In fact, he combines what traditionally would be called both historical occurrences (Darius) and mythic accounts (Theseus and Hippolyta, the children of Heracles). Elsewhere, he refers to both the Persian Wars and the Trojan Wars as mythoi, thus making fewer distinctions between these than modern scholars and even many ancients such as Thucydides would. See further Papillon 1996b. ^

98 Isocrates says in section 32 that keeping true to oneself is one of the signs of an educated person. For the fu ll description of an educated person, cf. 30-32. ^

99 The rhetorical device of presenting an absent person as though he were present and speaking directly is called prosōpopoieia. It is rare in Isocrates. When Isocrates presents the former student, though, he seems to give the student his own style. The student uses guarded phrases like “seems” and “appears to be” frequently, as would be appropriate for a student who wishes to criticize but still feels subordinate. The student also uses extended infinitive constructions more than Isocrates normally does. ^

100 On the Triballoi, see 8.50n. ^

101 Isocrates speaks highly of the Spartans throughout Archidamus (6) and in a section of On the Peace (8.142-144). ^

102 The issue here is whether Isocrates will be considered hypocritical, praising Sparta in one place and criticizing it in another. Isocrates does not want to be put in a category with groups such as the sophists. The sophists of the fifth and fourth centuries were reputed to display their talent by speaking on any topic suggested by the audience, by giving speeches defending controversial topics, by arguing both sides of an issue, by praising trivial or evil subjects, and by making “the lesser seem the greater cause.” Plato’s Gorgias, Aristophanes’ Clouds, and Isocrates’ own discourse Against the Sophists (13) discuss orators who present any idea given to them, without thought for whether the issue was just or not. On the last phrase, which might better be trans lated “make the weaker argument stronger,” see Schiappa 1999: chap. 6 and Gagarin 2002: 24-26. ^

103 On Isocrates’ use of arguments with subtext or double meaning (amphiboloi), see Bons 1993. ^

104 The pupil’s point here–is it Isocrates’ point too?–is that Isocrates is using terms that people hostile towards Sparta will take in a negative way but that those friendly to Sparta can take positively. There is an interesting parallel notion in the History

of Thucydides, where the historian talks of how words changed their meaning to rationalize behavior that would otherwise be thought blameworthy. In his commentary on the revolution at Corcyra (3.82.4), Thucydides points out that audacity became known as courage, hesitation as cowardice, or moderation as unmanliness. Isocrates’ former pupil is arguing for a positive outlook for Spartan characteristics, but one can see how easily it could be taken as rationalizing negative traits; this is precisely Isocrates’ intent, according to the student. This is what makes the passage amphibolos, having double meaning. ^

105 Sections 243-244 sound very much like the sort of argumentation attributed to the sophists and faulted by the Greeks, as described in the preceding note. But “wanting more” (pleonexia) is not always a bad trait, in Isocrates or elsewhere in Greek thought, and so the pupil has a valid point. Isocrates makes a similar defense of true and honorable pleonexia in Antidosis (15.275-284). ^

106 Cf. the opening section of this speech. ^

107 The best manuscript, G, gives paideias, education; other manuscripts give paidias, sport or game. ^

108 In a discourse that is a fictive presentation of a real situation, we have the fictive orator presenting a fictive student presenting a fictitious response of the orator. ^

109 Isocrates uses a very similar paragraph to describe Athens under the general Timotheus in Antidosis ( 15.127). Many of these troubles can be found in Athenian history. ^

110 A statue of Isocrates was set up in Athens by his son Aphareus, as well as one at Eleusis by Timotheus. Cf. Richter 1965: 151-152. ^

111 Isocrates allowed his former pupil to exercise his training and then did not tell him if his thoughts were correct or not. He apparently wanted the process to be a creative one for the pupil. ^

112 Isocrates means an epideictic work like a panegyric address, since for a judicial and deliberative oration, one of the chief functions of a peroration is to summarize the arguments given earlier. Cf. Eden 1987: 60-63. ^

113 Isocrates had said in section 3 that he was 94 years old. ^

114 Isocrates does, however, discuss it for a whole section. To discuss something after you say that you will not discuss it came to be called praeteritio^

115 Isocrates was now 98 years old (in the Greek inclusive way of counting, 98 is three less than 100); the year is 338. ^

116 See above, section 4, where he entertains the possibility. ^