Relations of Isokrates with Philip.
But next—how far was Isokrates deceived by Philip? Or is he to be called false to Athens or Greece?
Isokrates had despaired of Athens and of Greece
unless some strong State or some strong man could unite the discordant cities, by the spell of a national enthusiasm, under a leadership which must be military. He pictured this man as another Agamemnon. There had been a time when his hope was that Greece should be saved by Athens. He could hope that no longer. The best type of the individual State had been found wanting. He turned from the ambition, though not from the patriotism, of an Athenian to the ambition of a Greek; he looked for the deliverance of Greece by all the Greeks, united under one who could command them.
The whole thought of that age was setting in
Tendency of the age towards Monarchy.
the same general direction. Nothing is more characteristic of it than the new tendency in favour of monarchy. In the dialogue, attributed to Xenophon, between Hieron of Syracuse and Simonides, the despot fails to convince the poet that the estate of the absolute ruler is not enviable or that he may not be a public benefactor1
. So far as a speculative thinker may be supposed likely to be influenced, in the way of attraction as well as of repulsion, by the actual political tone around him, Plato is a witness to this bent2
. Where Aristotle is describing that unique combination of gifts which belongs to the Greek race—warlike, like the continental Europeans, but of greater subtlety, keen, like the Asiatics, but with a higher
spirit—here, he says, is a race, which, if brought under one polity, might rule the world3
. It was under the presidency of Macedonia that Aristotle foresaw a possible renewal and a larger future for the outworn life of the Greek republics. He is said to have advised Alexander to treat the Greeks in the spirit of a leader (ἡγεμονικῶς
), and the barbarians in the spirit of a master (δεσποτικῶς
. The same kind of leadership which in old times had been exercised by Argos, by Athens, by Sparta, or by Thebes, was now to be vested in the person of a Macedonian King. There is nothing to show whether Aristotle had considered any probable difference between the old hegemony of a city and the new hegemony of a strong dynasty except the obvious difference that the latter was likely to be steadier. But in one sense, at all events, his dream of a boundless sway for the Greek race, when ‘brought under one polity,’ came to pass. It has been too much the custom to speak of Chaeroneia as if it were something by which Grecian history was brought to an abrupt end. A crushing blow to the spirit of political freedom in the old Greek sense Chaeroneia indeed was. But it was also the beginning of a new life to replace the life so hopelessly decayed—of that new empire for Greek thought and
Greek art which opened in Macedonian times, an empire which made Greece to Asia and Europe what Athens had been to Greece, and by which Aristotle's prophecy was at last fulfilled in the world-wide and immortal dominion of which he was himself a founder5
Isokrates held with Aristotle that the first
The view of Isokrates compared with that of Aristotle.
condition of greatness for Greece was unity. Seeing that the old civic life was thoroughly corrupted, he did not believe that this unity could be attained under the hegemony of a State. But he believed that it could be attained under the hegemony of a chief who should draw together the sympathies of all the States. The difference between the view of Aristotle and the view of Isokrates seems to have been this. Aristotle conceived such a personal hegemony as political and permanent, without perhaps having formed to himself a definite idea of the manner in which it would affect the individual city. Isokrates conceived it as primarily military, and as assumed for the special purpose of an expedition to Asia. Absorbed in this scheme, and believing in it as a cure for all evils, he does not seem to have contemplated the probable permanency of such a leadership. But if he had been told that such permanency was a condition of the enterprise, he would unquestionably have consented. Only he would have insisted, as Aristotle did, on the distinction between leader and master. Isokrates idealized his Agamemnon of Pella; he could not read
Philip's mind. Had he been able to read it, however, what would have grieved him would not have been the idea of an established Macedonian hegemony, but the discovery that Philip desired this more for its own sake than for the sake of the expedition to Asia. On the other hand, assuredly Greece and Athens had no more loyal citizen than Isokrates, no one prouder of their glories, no one to whom their welfare was dearer; and, before he is judged, let it be remembered that his notion of the largest good possible for them differed only by lesser clearness from that of the greatest thinker in practical politics who then lived6