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His death.

In 338 B.C. Isokrates was in his 98th year; his health, which had been strong throughout his long life, had broken down under an illness which had attacked him three years before. According to the
Difficulties in the ordinary account of it.
usual account, he was in the palaestra of Hippokrates when he heard the news of Chaeroneia. He repeated three verses from Euripides—verses commemorating three aliens who had been conquerors of Greeks—Danaos,—Pelops,—Kadmos1; and four days afterwards, on the burial-day of those who fell at Chaeroneia, he died of voluntary starvation. This dramatic picture of a violent disenchantment and a mortal despair—a picture consecrated by tradition and by poetry—is hard to reconcile with the repeated testimony of Isokrates himself to his own views and hopes. There is no good reason for doubting the genuineness of his Third Letter —a Letter which was evidently written just after Chaeroneia, and which ends with these words:— ‘For this only do I thank old age, that of those early aspirations which I sought to express in my Panegyrikos and in my Address to you, I see part already coming to pass by your agency, and the rest, I hope, soon to come’2. That is to say, there was now an established leader for Greece; and there would soon be a war with Persia. Suppose, however, that the Third Letter is spurious. Still, how is the motive of the suicide to be explained? Undoubtedly Isokrates regretted the struggle between Athens and Philip; it had been brought on by a policy which he disapproved. But the result of the struggle was that the idea of his life—the idea on which depended, as he thought, the welfare of Athens and of Greece—had become practicable. Isokrates cannot have destroyed himself because Philip had won. The conduct of Philip to Athens after Chaeroneia was studiously temperate and conciliatory; there was nothing in it to estrange Isokrates from his ideal Panhellenic chief, who, having struck one necessary blow, was now bent on healing the discords of Greece. It is more conceivable that Isokrates should have destroyed himself because he saw Athens still resolved to resist, and because he dreaded the conflict, when Philip should be at the walls, between his duty to Athens and his duty to Greece. If the tradition of the suicide is considered too strong to be set aside, this seems the most reasonable account of it3.

Isokrates was buried on a piece of rising ground near the Kynosarges,—a sanctuary of Herakles, with a gymnasium, just outside the Diomeian Gate on the east side of Athens4. The tombs of his kindred were there,—covered once by six tablets of stone, which had disappeared, however, before the Plutarchic Life was written. On the tomb of Isokrates himself was a column about forty-five feet high, crowned with the image of a siren,— a symbol of winning eloquence in which only a thoroughly modern ingenuity could discover an unconscious irony. Near this column was a pictorial stone tablet representing Isokrates with his teachers and with some of the poets. It is significant that Gorgias, looking at an astrological sphere, was the central figure, with his pupil standing at his side. A bronze statue of Isokrates, on a column near the Olympieion, bore a votive inscription by his adopted son; another, the work of Leôchares, in the temple of Eleusis, recorded the admiring friendship of Timotheos5.

1 Each the first line of a drama —a fact which adds some point to the story:—(1) Δαναὸς πεντήκοντα θυγατέρων πατήρ. (v. 1 of the lost Archelaos:—Nauck frag. Trag. p. 340.)(2) “Πέλοψ Ταντάλειος εἰς Πῖσαν μολώνIphig. in Taur. v. 1.) (3) Σιδώνιόν ποτ᾽ ἄστυ Κάδμος ἐκλιπών. (v. 1 of the lost Phrixos:— Nauck p. 493)

2 Ep. III. § 6.

3 The authorities for the story of the suicide are (1) Dionys. Isocr. 1 (2) Pans. I. 18. 8: (3) Philostr. Vit. Sophist. 1. 17. 4: (4) Lucian(?) Μακρόβιοι § 23: (5) [Plut.] Vit. Isocr. § 14: (6) Anon. Biogr. (Dind.'s Isocr. p. XII).The story has been examined by Blass in the Rheinisches Museum for 1865, pp. 109—116. Aphareus, the adopted son of Isokrates, had written some forensic speeches as well as tragedies—and had appeared for his father in the lawsuit brought by Megakleides. [Plut.]: Dionys. Isocr. c. 18. Blass suggests that the suicide may have been a fiction to which Aphareus first gave currency in a forensic speech, and which friends diligently spread, in order to redeem the name of Isokrates from imputations of disloyalty to Athens.Blass points out that the Third Letter is too moderate in tone for any but the most skilful of forgers —supposing him to have had a hostile motive; and, except a hostile motive, there could have been no motive for going against the ordinary account.—Schäfer (Demosth. III. p. 5 note) gives no reason for pronouncing the letter spurious except its conflict with the tradition.—Cartelier (Le Discours d'Isocr. sur lui-même, Paris 1862, p. xcix) ingeniously suggests that the whole tradition of the suicide may have arisen from the accident of Isokrates dying on the burialday of those who fell at Chaeroneia. [Plut.]—Kyprianos (p. 42) and Oncken (Isokr. und Athen, p. 17) believe in the suicide.— Curtius observes that the authority of the Third Letter—which he thinks doubtful—cannot invalidate the tradition; and offers the explanation noticed above. (Hist. Gr. v. 459 Ward.)

4 For the Kynosarges, see Dr Dyer's Ancient Athens (1873), pp. 285 f.

5 [Plut] Vit. Isocr.: Paus. I. 18: Philostr. I. 17.—The inscription at Eleusis wasΤιμόθεος φιλίας τε χάριν ξύνεσίν τε προτιμῶν
Ἰσοκράτους εἰκὼ τήνδ̓ ἀνέθηκε θεαῖς
. Leôchares ranked as a sculptor beside his contemporaries Skopas and Praxiteles. On his work, see Curtius v. 198 f. (Ward.)

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