or The Cyprians.
[Or. III.]—In the last Discourse Isokrates had traced for Nikokles the duty of a king: in this it is Nikokles who sets forth the duty of subjects (§ 11). The piece was no doubt written to order; Nikokles perhaps thinking that the perception of a king's obligations which the former work may have quickened in some Salaminians might be usefully complemented by a sense of their own. Since the prince can appeal
to his people's past experience of him as a ruler (§ 63), the date can hardly be earlier than 372; on the other hand it cannot be later than 355; and may probably be placed between 372 and 365.
I. ‘Some people are hostile to all discussion on the
ground that selfish gain, not virtue, is its aim. Why do not those who blame the endeavour to reason well blame also the desire to act rightly? Action, not debate, is the chief instrument of selfishness. It is the faculty of persuading which has civilized life.
‘For a king, the first questions are of the relations between rulers and ruled. Isokrates has traced the duty of a king; I will now attempt to trace the duty of subjects (§ 11). But first I will try to show (1) that monarchy is the
best form of government; and (2) that I am entitled, historically and personally, to be your king (§§ 1—13).
II. ‘A Monarchy, as compared with a limited or with a pure Republic, has these advantages:—1. It discriminates the different degrees of merit. Equality is the principle of republics. A Monarchy gives the first place to the best man, the second to the second-best, and so on (§§ 14, 15). —2. It has, more than other forms of government, an insight into the natures and actions of men; merit, wherever it exists, is therefore sure of recognition.—3. It is the mildest of governments; since it is easier to propitiate one man than many (§ 16).—4. Its ministers, being not annual but permanent, learn and discharge their duties more thoroughly and composedly (§§ 17, 18).—5. It is prompt in action. A popular assembly consists of men who are immersed in private affairs, and who meet only to wrangle: in a cabinet there are fewer distractions and delays (§ 19).—6. It has no jealousies. In a Republic there are always at least two parties, each of which hopes that the other will mismanage the country as grossly as possible. A monarch, having no rivals, has no spite (§ 20).—7. It has a more direct interest in good government. Republicans regard themselves as stewards, a monarch regards himself as the owner, of the State (§ 21).—8. It is more effective in war. Secret preparation, striking display, versatile intrigue, are easier for it than for other governments (§ 22).
‘Experience shows that these advantages are not imaginary. In Persia, devotion to Monarchy has been rewarded with unequalled greatness. In Sicily, the absolutism of Dionysios has not only delivered an enslaved country, but has made it the first in Greece. Carthage and Sparta, oligarchies at home, become monarchies in the field. Athens, the most anti-monarchical of States, has generally failed when she sent out a committee of generals, and succeeded when she gave the command to one. Lastly—Is not Zeus monarch of the gods? Whether the gods really live under that form of government or not, the fact of men ascribing it to them proves at least a human sense that it is the best (§§ 22—26).
‘Having shown the advantages of Monarchy, I will show more briefly that I am entitled to be your monarch. First, historically. Teukros, the founder of our house, brought hither the forefathers of the present Cyprians. His throne, lost for a time by his descendants, was regained by my father Evagoras, who put down Phoenician rule at Salamis and restored it to its original kings (§§ 27, 28). Next, personally. At my accession, I found the treasury empty, the State disturbed, Cyprus on bad terms with the rest of Greece and with Persia: and I met all these difficulties without wronging any man (§§ 29—35). Nor have youth (§ 45) and opportunity ever drawn me into licence (§§ 36—46).
III. ‘As the lawful holder, then, of a beneficent power, I may advise with a right to be heard—Let each man do his appointed task carefully and fairly (§ 48).—Do not make haste to be rich (§ 50).—Murmur not at one of my commands, knowing that those who serve me best will best serve their own fortunes.—Let everyone be sure that nothing of which his own conscience is aware will escape me (§ 51).— Form no clubs, hold no meetings, without my knowledge (§ 54).—Guard the present constitution, and desire no sort of change (§ 55).—Be humble to me, and magnificent in the service of the State (§ 56).—Consider that the greatest and surest wealth which you can leave to your children is my favour (§ 58).—Be not jealous, but emulous, of my counsellors (§ 60).—Think my words, laws—and keep them.— In short, be to your king what you wish your subordinates to be to you (§ 62).
‘If you follow this course, while I do not change mine, your prosperity and my power will grow together. Such a hope might well encourage to any toils. But you need not toil at all. You need only to be just and loyal’ (§§ 63—64).
Perhaps the most interesting part of this Discourse is that in which the writer, putting himself at the king's point of view, offers a popular plea for Monarchy as against Republic. Here Isokrates is
essentially the professional rhetor—it being distinctive of Rhetoric as an art that, like its counterpart Dialectic, it is equally ready to argue either side of a question1
. Isokrates has given us the other side in the Panathenaikos
and the Areopagitikos
, where he interprets his own ideal—a democracy tempered by a censorship.