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Many times have I wondered at those who first convoked the national assemblies and established the athletic games,Pan-Hellenic gatherings at the Olympic, Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian games, including also the Pan-atheniac festival at Athens. See Gardner and Jevons, Manual of Greek Antiquities, pp. 269 ff. amazed that they should have thought the prowess of men's bodies to be deserving of so great bounties, while to those who had toiled in private for the public good and trained their own minds so as to be able to help also their fellow-men they apportioned no reward whatsoever,This is not quite exact （see Lys. 33.2）, nor consistent with § 45 where he mentions contests of intellect and prizes for them. But the mild interest which these evoked served but to emphasize the excess of enthusiasm for athletics against which Isocrates here and elsewhere protests. Cf. Isoc. 15.250 and Isoc. Letter 8.5. The complaint is older than Isocrates. See Xenophanes, Fr.
Do not be surprised, Philip, that I am going to begin, not with the discourse which is to be addressed to you and which is presently to be brought to your attention, but with that which I have written about Amphipolis.Amphipolis, a city in Macedonia near the mouth of the Strymon river, conquered and colonized by Athenians in 437 B.C. It was taken by Philip in 358 B.C., but the war with Athens was delayed until Philip seized Potidaea, 356 B.C. For I desire to say a few words, by way of preface, about this question, in order that I may make it clear to you as well as to the rest of the world that it was not in a moment of folly that I undertook to write my address to you, nor because I am under any misapprehension as to the infirmityIsocrates had now passed his ninetieth birthday. which now besets me, but that I was led advisedly and deliberately to this resolution.
Many of you are wondering, I suppose, what in the world my purpose isStrictly, what my purpose was. The aorist tense reflects the fact that the Athenian orators had to give written notice, in advance, of any subject they proposed to discuss before the General Assembly. See Isoc. 7.15. in coming forward to address you on The Public Safety, as if Athens were in danger or her affairs on an uncertain footing, when in fact she possesses more than two hundred ships-of-war, enjoys peace throughout her territory, maintains her empire on the sea,The second Athenian Confederacy, organized in 378 B.C. See General Introduction p. xxxvii.
But why need I mention remote instances? Even now we should find that those states which are foremost—Athens and Thebes, I mean—have not derived their great progress from peace, but that, on the contrary, it was in consequence of their recovery from previous reverses in war that one of them was made leader of the Hellenes,The Athenians won their second naval supremacy after the reverses of the Peloponnesian war. while the other has at the present time become a greater state than anyone ever expected she would be. Indeed, honors and distinctions are wont to be gained, not by repose, but by strugg
I draw my inference from their actions while they lived. For your father, in dealing with those states which I am urging you to cultivate, kept on friendly termsWith Athens, Aeschin. 2.26; with Sparta, Xen. Hell. 5.2.38. with them all. And the founder of your empire, although he aspired higher than did his fellow citizensOf Argos. and set his heart on a king's power, was not minded to take the same road as others who set out to attain a like ambition.
And so it came about, owing to his unique insight in this regard, that his kingship has proved to be quite set apart from that of the generality of kings: for, because he alone among the Hellenes did not claim the right to rule over a people of kindred race, he alone was able to escape the perils incident to one-man power. For history discovers to us the fact that those among the Hellenes who have managed to acquire such authority have not only been destroyed themselves but have been blotted, root and branch, from the face of the earth;The Pisistratidae of Athens. A recent case in point was the murder of Alexander of Pherae. Cf. Isoc. 2.5. while he, on the contrary, lived a long and happy life and left his seed in possession of the same honors which he himself had enjoyed.