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Isocrates on Panhellenism

Throughout his life Isocrates tried to put his doctrines to use by addressing works to powerful leaders whose policies he wanted to influence. In his later years he believed the state of Greece had become so unstable that he promoted the cause of Panhellenism1— political harmony among the Greek states— by urging Philip II2, king of Macedonia, to unite the Greeks under his leadership in a crusade against Persia. This radical recommendation was Isocrates's practical solution to the persistent conflicts among Greek city-states and to the social unrest created by friction between the richer communities and the many poor areas in Greece. Isocrates believed that if the fractious city-states accepted Philip as their leader in a common alliance, they could avoid wars among themselves and relieve the impoverished population among them by establishing Greek colonies on land to be conquered and carved out of Persian-held territory in Anatolia. That a prominent Athenian would openly appeal for a Macedonian king to save the Greeks from themselves reflected the startling new political and military reality that had emerged in the Greek world by the mid-fourth century B.C.

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