Isokrates and Athens.
The first concern of Isokrates was with Greece. But two of his speeches relate specially to Athens; the De Pace
to her foreign policy, the Areopagitikos
to home affairs.
The root of all the troubles which beset Athenian
Foreign Affairs of Athens.
action abroad was this, that few citizens performed military service. Campaigns were longer than they used to be; war had become a profession in which amateurs were at a disadvantage; and the spirit of sacrifice for the State was extinct. A General, representing the city, commanded mercenaries. When things went wrong, the citizens at home avenged themselves directly on their representative. Hence the standing strife between the orators and the
Generals. On the other hand, the General could keep his mercenaries together only by payment. He was obliged to turn the war, now and then, to some lucrative quarter. Burdened with this necessity, he could neither obey definite orders from home nor form any large plan for himself. His situation forced him to become more and more independent of the other States. It was natural that he should often form connexions with foreign princes on his own account. Timotheos was in alliance with Jason of Pherae, with Alketas the Molossian and with Amyntas of Macedonia. He is said to have received the towns of Sestos and Krithôtê as a gift from Ariobarzanes. Iphikrates was the ally of Kotys, whose sister he married and from whom he received the town of Drys in Thrace. Charidemos was the ally and brother-in-law of Kersobleptes; Chares was in alliance with Artabazos and had his residence at Sigeion; Chabrias did almost as he pleased in Egypt1
. Home affairs were in no better condition.
Politics had ceased to have a living interest for the best men; such men held aloof; while in the ekklesia ‘one went and another came, and there was no one to care for the common good2
.’ There was an active and intelligent public opinion, but it had no organised or effective expression; there were cliques but there were no parties. While the higher aspects of the festivals were vanishing, the Theôrikon, or money given by the Treasury to the citizens to pay for their places at the theatre—
already doubled and trebled since the time of Perikles—had become the most important item of the budget. It must never be forgotten that the Theôric fund meant essentially a provision for public worship and only accidentally a provision for public amusement. When Eubulos took office as Treasurer in 354, he brought in a law making it capital to propose any diversion of the Theôrikon to other purposes. It was the sacred character of the fund which made it possible for him to do this and so hard for Demosthenes to get it undone3
. On the other hand, in a religion which identified worship with festivity the merely festal spirit was sure to prevail more and more over the devotional as the general tone of the community became lower. The policy of Eubulos found favour with the people mainly because it provided them with shows. This was the true significance of the phrase used by Demâdes when he called the Theôrikon the ‘cement of the democracy4
.’ Eubulos was further supported by that party of commercial interests which the Essay ‘On the Revenues of Athens’—ascribed, but no doubt wrongly, to Xenophon5
—represents with an
almost grotesque candour. The social life which
this political life implies hardly needs to be described. On the one hand there was an intellectual world apart; on the other, there was the people, consoled for what was unsatisfactory abroad and at home by a certain provincial joviality. Philip is said to have offered the sum of a talent for a report of the proceedings at the meetings of an Athenian club called the Sixty who dined together at the Herakleion6