On the Antidosis.
2. On the Antidosis
[Or. XV.] The discourse was written when Isokrates had completed his 82nd year (§ 9), i.e. later than midsummer1
, 354 B. C.; and alludes to the fine imposed upon Timotheos (§ 129), who was now dead (§ 101). Timotheos was brought to trial about midsummer, 354, and died at Chalkis later in the same year. This speech may probably, then, be placed in the first half of 353
B. C. The latest work of Isokrates quoted in it is the Speech On the Peace
(§ 66), which belongs probably to the earlier half of 355 B. C. Isokrates had lately been called upon to undertake the trierarchy, or to make exchange of properties (antidosis
) with his challenger. The case had come to a trial; the trierarchy had been imposed upon Isokrates, and he had discharged it (§ 5). Vexed, however, by the general prejudice against his pursuits to which he felt that the verdict had been due, he determined to publish an Apologia—a discourse ‘which should be an image of his mind
and life’ (§ 7). This he throws into the form of a speech made in court against one Lysimachos (§ 14),
who, by working on popular prejudice, is seeking to cast the burden of the trierarchy upon him. Much of the discourse is not, he allows, in the forensic style (§ 10); yet, by the concluding allusion to a verdict (§ 323), he aims, in a measure, at sustaining the fiction to the end.
It is known that, in 355 B. C.2
, Isokrates had
The fiction based on fact.
really been challenged to an exchange of properties by one Megakleides; and, being unable through illness to appear in court, had been represented by his adopted son Aphareus, whose speech on the occasion is quoted by Dionysios3
. Now this is probably the trial to which Isokrates refers as having been decided against him. It must have taken place at least a year before the date of this discourse, since it is implied that the public service had now been discharged (§ 5). Lysimachos is a fictitious person who stands for the Megakleides of the real trial4
‘If this speech were an ordinary specimen of the Forensic
or Epideictic class, it would need no preface. As it is of a new kind, its origin must be explained. I had long known that some of the sophists slandered my pursuits, and represented me as a writer of speeches for the law-courts. They might as well have called Pheidias a doll-maker, Zeuxis or
Parrhasios a sign-painter. Believing that I had made it clear that my subjects are not private disputes but the greatest and highest questions, I supposed such idle calumnies to be powerless. Now, however, at the age of 82, I have discovered that they influence the general public. A person who had been called upon to serve as trierarch challenged me to exchange properties with him, or else to take the duty. A lawsuit followed. The plaintiff dwelt upon the evil tendency of my writings, upon my wealth and the number of my pupils; and the court imposed the trierarchy upon me. The expense I bore with equanimity; but I wish to correct the prejudices which led to such a verdict. This discourse is
Motive and nature of this piece.
meant as an image of my mind and life. It is cast into the form of a defence in an imaginary trial. It contains some things that might be said in a lawcourt; some, unsuited to such a place, but illustrative of my philosophy; some, which may profit young men anxious to learn; some, taken from my former writings and introduced here in harmony with a special purpose. The resulting whole must not be judged as representing any one class of speech, but as made up of several distinct elements brought in with several distinct aims. It ought to be read, not continuously, but part by part. (§§ 1—13.)
‘The worst knave is he who brings against another
charges to which he himself is liable. Lysimachos, delivering a composed speech, has dwelt most of all upon the insidious skill of my compositions. Do not be swayed by calumny; remember the oath taken yearly by judges that they will hear impartially accuser and accused. Ere now Athens has regretted a hasty verdict; and it would be shameful that Athenians, reputed in all else the most merciful of the Greeks, should be rashly cruel in their own law-courts. No one of you, the judges, can tell that he will not be the next victim of Lysimachos. A good life is no protection from such men; they show their power upon the innocent in order to be bribed by the guilty. Never till this day have I been brought before judge or arbitrator; now, if you will hear me, I hope to prove my real character.—Read the indictment. [Indictment.
] (§§ 14—29)
‘Here, in the indictment, he charges me with corrupting
Isokrates has been conversant,
the youth by teaching them to be tricky litigants. In his speech, on the other hand, he represents me as the most wonderful of men;—as one among whose pupils have been public speakers, generals, kings, despots. He thinks that I shall be envied on the latter account, and detested on the former. Dismiss prejudice, and decide upon the merits of the case. That my literary skill has not been used for bad purposes, appears from the fact that I have no enemies. If I had, they would have profited by this trial to appear against me. This skill itself, if it has been well used, is a claim to esteem. The difference between me and a writer of lawspeeches will appear if you compare our modes of life. Men
not with Forensic Rhetoric,
frequent the places from which they draw their subsistence. Those who subsist by your litigation almost live in the lawcourts. No one has ever seen me in a council-chamber, at the archon's office, before judges, before arbitrators. Pettifoggers thrive at home; my prosperity has always been found abroad. Is it probable that Nikokles of Cyprus, sovereign judge among his people, should have rewarded me for aiding him to become a pleader? No mere writer of law-speeches has ever had pupils; I have had many. But it is not enough to show that my line of work has not been this. I will shew you what it has been. (§§ 30—44.)
‘First, it must be remembered that there are as many branches of prose as of poetry. Some prose-writers have spent their lives in tracing the genealogies of the Heroes. Others have been critics of the poets. Others have compiled histories of wars. Others have woven discussions into dialogues. My work has lain in yet another field,—in the composition of discourses bearing upon the politics of all Hellas, and fitted for recitation at Panhellenic
but with Panhellenic Politics.
gatherings. Such discourses evidently stand nearer to poetry than to forensic rhetoric. Their language is more imaginative and more ornate; there is greater amplitude, more scope for originality, in the thoughts which they strive to express. They are as popular as poems; and the art of writing them is much studied. Unlike forensic speeches, they deal with matters of universal interest; they have a
lasting value, independent of any special occasion. Besides, he who is a master of these could succeed also in a law-court; but not vice versa.
At these I have worked; and have got by them a reputation better than law-courts could give. (§§ 45—50.)
‘I am ready to impose the severest terms upon myself.
Punish me, not merely if my writings are proved harmful, but if they are not shown to be matchless. It is not necessary here to argue on probabilities. My writings are themselves the facts in question. Samples of them shall be shown to you, and you shall judge for yourselves. The discourse from which the first sample shall be taken was written when Sparta was at the head of Greece and Athens in a low estate. It seeks to rouse Hellas against Persia; and disputes the claim of Sparta to sole leadership.—(Begin at the mark in the margin, and read them the passage about the hegemony.) [Here is read an Extract from the
Panegyrikos, §§ 51—99.]
(1) Quotation from the ‘Panegyrikos’.
‘Is the writer of this a ‘corrupter of young men,’ or their inciter to noble daring? Does he deserve punishment; or is he to be thanked for having so praised Athens and your ancestors that former writers on the same theme feel remorse, and intending ones, despair? (§§ 60—61.)
‘Some who, themselves unable to create, can only criticise, will say that this is ‘graceful’ (they could not bring themselves to say ‘good’); but that praise of the past is less valuable than censure of present mistakes. You shall hear, then, part of another speech in which I assume this office of censor. Its immediate subject is the peace with Chios, Rhodes and Byzantium; it goes on to show the drawbacks to a maritime supremacy; and ends by addressing to Athens exhortation, censure and advice.—(Begin there, and read this extract to them.) [Here is read an Extract from the Speech
(2) Quotation from the Speech ‘On the Peace.’
Peace, §§ 25—56: §§ 1325
ff. to the end.] (§§ 62—66.)
‘You have now heard parts of two discourses; a short passage from a third shall be read, in order that you may see
how the same tendency goes through all that I have written. Here, addressing Nikokles of Cyprus, I did not aim at regular composition, but merely strung together a number of detached precepts upon government. It is not for their literary merit, but simply as showing the spirit of my dealing with princes as well as with private men, that they are quoted here. One who so boldly advised a king to care for his people, would surely be no less frank in the popular cause
(3) Quotation from the Discourse ‘To Nikokles’.
under a Democracy.—I begin by blaming the usual neglect of special preparation by a monarch; and then urge Nikokles to regard his office as a task calling for serious labour. [Here is read an Extract from the Discourse
To Nikokles, §§ 14— 39.] (§§ 67—72.)
‘This shall be the last of these long extracts; but I reserve the right of referring in detail to my own writings whenever it can be useful. I offered just now to bear any penalty, not
merely if it could be shewn that my writings were harmful, but unless it could be shewn that they were incomparable. That boast has been justified. What attempt could be holier or more righteous than the attempt to praise our ancestors worthily of their exploits; what theme nobler than his who urges Hellenes to unite against barbarians? Good laws are allowed to be the greatest blessings to human life. Yet these benefit only the individual city; my discourses profit all Hellas. It is easier to be a legislator than to be a competent adviser of Athens and Hellas. The legislator, in an advanced stage of civilisation, is often little more than a compiler; the thoughts of an effective speaker must be his own. Teachers of moral philosophy differ from each other and from the world as to what is virtue; the virtue which I inculcate is recognised by all. Those theorists seek only to draw disciples to themselves; my object is to impress a public duty upon Athens. The alleged vices of my teaching are disproved by the affection of my pupils; who, at the end of three or four years, have left me with regret. Lysimachos has accused me, without a shadow of proof, of corrupting them; but I will refute him formally. (§§ 74—92.)
‘You know my writings; you shall now hear who have
His friends have been good men.
been my associates from childhood, and the evidence of my
contemporaries shall prove the statement. Among my friends in youth were Eunomos, Lysitheides, Kallippos; afterwards Onetor, Antikles, Philonides, Philomelos, Charmantides6
. All these were crowned with golden crowns for their services to Athens. Whether you suppose me to have been their adviser and teacher, or merely their companion, my character is vindicated. If it is not, what would it have been if among my intimates had been such a man as Lysimachos? Some will perhaps say that I am citing good men whom I barely knew, but keeping out of sight the rascals who were my pupils. I am ready to waive all credit for honourable friendships, and to bear the full discredit of any which can be shown to have been disreputable. (§§ 93—100.)
‘The general charge against me in the indictment—that
of corrupting my associates—has been sufficiently answered. But special stress has been laid upon my friendship with Timotheos; and, since the interests which he long controlled were so great, especial pains have been taken to slander him. I, therefore, who am supposed to have been his adviser and teacher, cannot be silent. If he is shown to have been a bad man, let me share the blame. If he is proved to have been incomparable as a general and as a citizen, let the honour be his alone. Now, in the first place, no general ever took so many and such important cities. Corcyra, important in regard to the Peloponnesos,—Samos, for Ionia,—Sestos and Krithôtê, for the Hellespont,—Potidaea, for Thrace,—were taken by him with slender resources. He forced Lacedaemon
into the present peace7
, the most advantageous ever concluded by Athens. In a word, he took 24 towns at a smaller outlay than the single siege of Melos cost our fathers. These exploits were achieved at a time when we were weak and our enemies strong. By what qualities did Timotheos achieve them? He was not of the ordinary type of your generals,— neither of a robust frame, nor trained in the camps of mercenaries. But he knew against whom, and with whose aid, to make war; how to form, and to use, a force suitable for each attempt; how to bear privations, and to remedy them; how to win for Athens the trust and the love of Greece. A general who, like Lysander, has one brilliant success is less great than one who for years deals wisely with ever-varying difficulties. Yet Timotheos was brought to trial for treason; and, although Iphikrates took the responsibility for what had been done, Menestheus for what had been spent, they were acquitted, while Timotheos was fined in an unheard-of sum8
. Ignorance, envy, excitement, go far to explain this result; but it must be owned that the character of Timotheos contributed to it. He was no anti-democrat,
Why Timotheos was condemned.
no misanthrope, not arrogant; but his unbending loftiness of mind made him liable to seem all this. Against my advice, he refused to conciliate the speakers who sway the ekklesia and those who direct the opinion of private circles. These men made it their business to frame falsehoods about him— falsehoods which, had I space, I could bring you to see and hate. But I must go back to my own case. (§§ 101—139.)
‘I hardly know how to arrange the topics on which it remains for me to speak; perhaps it will be best to take each as it occurs. But here I am checked by the warning of a
friend,—which you shall hear. ‘If you describe your blameless life,’ he said, ‘you will only provoke jealousy. That you should have so written as to deserve public gratitude,
and that your intimates should have been men whom Athens delighted to honour; that, till now, you should have been a stranger to lawsuits; that, while seeking no public emoluments, you should have enrolled yourself and your son among the twelve hundred who pay the war-tax and bear the public services; that you and he should thrice have discharged the trierarchy, and performed the other services at a greater cost than the laws enjoin; that you should receive presents from abroad, and avoid all display at home—these things will but irritate your judges.’ When my friend said this, it seemed to me that it would be strange if any reasonable men could object to my bearing the city's burdens and yet declining its rewards. I decline its rewards not from arrogance, but from preference for a quiet life. It is not because I am very rich that I take so large a share of its burdens. No sophist has ever made a great fortune. Gorgias
The wealth of Sophists exaggerated.
of Leontini, who passed much time in Thessaly when it was the richest part of Greece—whose life was spent in seeking wealth from city to city, and who had no family burdens— left only 1000 staters. The income of a sophist must not be judged by that of a popular actor. Compare me, if you will, with the most successful men in my own profession; and you will find that I have been at once a thrifty householder and a liberal citizen. (§§ 140—158.) Things have changed at Athens since I was a boy. Then wealth was not only dignified but safe, and every one affected to be richer than he was. Now it is more dangerous to be suspected of wealth than of
The new dangers of riches.
the worst crime. When my fortune was wrecked in the Peloponnesian war, and I resolved to repair it by teaching, I hoped that success in my new profession would bring credit and respect. It has brought, however, only envy and slander. Lysimachos, who lives by the informer's trade, is accuser—I, who have not preyed on you, but have prospered through the gratitude of men whom I had saved, stand in danger. Our ancestors made Pindar their public friend (proxenos), and
voted him 10,000 drachmas9
because he bore witness that
Athens is the stay of Hellas. It would be hard if I, who have given her praise ampler and nobler than that, should not be allowed even to end my days in peace. (§§ 159—166.)
‘The indictment has now been answered. But from the first I have foreseen that I should have to combat, not merely the charges against myself, but the prejudice against these studies generally. Reflection, however, assured me that among you I should find fairness, and that the cause of Philosophy could be satisfactorily defended. In the fact of the prejudice against it there is nothing strange. Athens is large and populous. Public opinion here is irregular
Public Opinion at Athens.
and vehement as a winter-torrent. It sweeps down all men and all things that it chances to seize. This has befallen my studies. But you must decide calmly. Remember that it is not my case alone which is at issue, but the education of our youth—upon which the future of Athens must depend. If Philosophy is a bad thing, it should be absolutely banished; if it is a good thing, it should be encouraged, and its detractors should be silenced. I wish that this accusation had been brought against me (if it was to be brought) at a time when I could have pleaded the cause of philosophy with the vigour of a younger man. However, I will try to set before you, as well as I can, its nature—its power—its relation to other sciences—the benefits which it is able to confer—and the degree in which I profess to impart them. If the style of the defence is singular, pardon it to the difficulty of the subject. (§§ 167—179.)
‘What Gymnastic is for the body, Philosophy is for the
Analogy of Philosophy to Gymnastic.
mind. In the one as in the other, the pupil learns first the technical rudiments, and then how to combine them. The physical and the mental training will alike improve natural powers. But the master of the palaestra cannot make a great athlete, nor the teacher of Philosophy a great speaker. To make the latter, three things are needed—capacity,
training, and practice. Capacity—which includes intellect, voice, and nerve—is the chief requisite. Practice, however, can by itself make a good speaker. Training is by far the least important of the three. It may be complete, and yet may be rendered useless by the absence of a single quality— nerve. (§§ 180—192.)
‘Do not suppose that my claims are modest only when I
Proof that Isokr. has always discountenanced false claims.
address you, but larger when I speak to my pupils. In an essay published when I first began to teach, the excessive pretensions of some teachers are expressly blamed.—This passage will explain my view.
[Here is read an Extract from the Essay
Against the Sophists, §§ 14—18.]
You see, then, that at the outset as at the close of my career, in safety as in danger, I have held this language.
‘This, I well know, will not satisfy those against whose prejudices I am contending. Much more must be said before they can be converted or refuted. Their prejudice utters itself in one of two assertions:—that the system of the sophists is futile; or that it is effectual, but immoral. (§§ 193—198.)
‘Those who say that it is futile try it by a standard
The Sophistic system is (1) effectual,
which they apply to none of those arts in which they believe. They demand that all its disciples shall become finished speakers in a year. The success of the sophists is, in fact, equal to that of any other class of teachers. Some of their pupils become powerful debaters; others become competent teachers; all become more accomplished members of society, better critics, more prudent advisers. And what proves the training to be scientific, is that all bear the stamp of a common method. These who despise such culture assume that practice, which develops every other faculty, is useless to the intellect; that the human mind can educate the instincts of horses and dogs, but cannot train itself; that tame lions and learned bears are possible, but not instructed men. (§§ 199—214.)
‘Others maintain that Philosophy has an immoral
tendency, and hold it responsible for the faults of a few who pervert it. I am not going to defend all who say
that they are
sophists, but only those who say so truly. And first—What are
What motive has a Sophist for being dishonest?
the objects which tempt men to be dishonest? I answer that the object is always one of three things—pleasure, profit, or honour. Could it be pleasant, profitable, or honourable for a sophist that his pupils should be known as rascals? It may perhaps be replied that men do not always calculate; that a margin must be left for intemperate impulse. But, even if a sophist indulged such impulses in himself, it could be no more for his pleasure than for his interest to encourage them in his pupil. Are the strangers who come from Sicily, from the Euxine and other quarters to the rhetorical schools of Athens brought hither by the desire to become knaves? Or, if that were their wish, could they not find teachers at home? But the whole tenor of their life among us proves them honest men. Again, if power in discourse is in itself a corrupting thing, all those who have possessed it, and not some only, ought to have been tainted by it. Yet the best
The best statesmen have been orators.
statesmen of our generation and of the last were those who had most studied oratory. To go back to old times, Solon, Kleisthenes, Themistokles, Perikles, were all distinguished orators: Solon was even called one of the Seven Sophists. Perikles studied under Anaxagoras of Klazomenae, and under Damon10
, who was the ablest Athenian of his time (§§ 215—236).
‘But I can point out the places in which may be found
The real corrupters are the sycophant.
those who are really liable to the charges falsely brought against the sophists. Read the tablets, giving notice of lawsuits, which are published by the Thesmothetae, by the Eleven, and by the Forty11
. Among the names of wrongdoers and of false accusers which figure there will be found those
of Lysimachos and his friends,—not mine, nor that of any member of our profession. Were we really corrupters of youth, our accusers would have been the fathers and relatives of those whom we corrupted,—not such men as Lysimachos, whose interest it is that Athens should be demoralised. Just now I spoke of the hostility which some educated men feel towards our art. That hostility, I venture to hope, will have been disarmed by these plain statements. But there is, I think, a jealousy which is even more widely spread. It is
How men worship ‘Persuaston’ at Athens.
because all ambitious men wish to be able speakers, but are too indolent to work for that end, that they dislike those who are ready to go through the necessary toil. It is strange that, while Athenians reproach the Thebans and others with neglecting culture, they should revile their fellow-citizens for seeking it; that the goddess of Persuasion should be honoured with yearly sacrifice, while those who wish to share her power should be regarded as desiring something evil; that bodily training should be esteemed, while mental training— to which Athens owes her place in Hellas—is slighted (§§ 237—257).
‘If a man used his inherited wealth, his skill as a hoplite or as an athlete, in doing harm to his fellow-citizens, he would be punished, though the founders of his fortune, the teachers of his skill, might be praised. The gods have given
Speech— man's noblest gift
us speech—the power which has civilised human life; and shall we not strive to make the best use of it? (§§ 251—257.)
‘Lysimachos and such as he are not the only enemies of Rhetoric. It is attacked also by the professors of Eristic.
The true place of ‘Eristic’ in education.
Instead of retorting their reproaches, I wish simply to aid you in estimating their studies relatively to ours. Eristic discussion, like Astrology or Geometry, seems to me not to deserve the name of Philosophy, since it has no practical bearing; but, rather, to be a good preparation for Philosophy. Schoolboys are trained to work and to think accurately by grammar and literary study; Philosophy forms a more manly discipline of the same sort for young men. But no one should allow his mind to be dried up by barren subtleties, or to drift into such speculations as those with which the Ionic physicists juggled (§§ 258—269).
‘Having said what Philosophy is not, I musttry to explain
Philosophy is the art of conjecturing what should be done.
what (as I think) it is. My view is very simple. A wise man is one who can make a good guess (knowledge being impossible) as to what he ought to say and do. A philosopher, a lover of wisdom, is one who spends his time in the pursuits by which he may best gain such perception. And what are these pursuits? My answer will probably shock you; but I should be ashamed to betray the truth for the sake of peace in the fraction of life remaining to me. Well, then, I hold
that there is no communicable science of Virtue or Justice; but that a man ambitious of speaking well, of persuading others, and (in the true sense) of gain,
will incidentally become more virtuous and more just. Desirous of speaking
But the philosopher will be virtuous.
with applause, he will occupy himself with the noblest themes, and dwell upon the worthiest topics of these. Desirous of persuading, he will strive to be just, since nothing is so persuasive as a character which is felt to be upright. Desirous of real gain, he will seek the approval of the gods and the esteem of his fellow-citizens. It is only by a perversion of language that the ‘desire of gain’ has been associated with knavery; as ‘wittiness’ with buffoonery, and ‘philosophy’ with the mystifications of the elder sophists. This conception of philosophy as something unpractical—this tendency to discourage all systematic training for affairs— has its result in the lives of our youth. Their occupations
are to cool wine in the Enneakrunos,—to drink in taverns,— to gamble, —to haunt the music-schools. The informers do not molest those who foster these
pursuits. They attack us, who discourage them; and say that youths who spend on their education a tithe of what others spend on vice, are being corrupted (§§ 270—290).
‘Power of speaking, when simply natural, is admired; it
is strange, then, that blame should be cast upon the attempt to cultivate it. When acquired by labour, the faculty is more likely to be used discreetly than when it is an accident of genius. Athenians, of all men, ought not to despise culture. It is cultivated intelligence which distinguishes
men from beasts, Hellenes from barbarians, Athenians from Hellenes. Athens is regarded as the teacher of all who can
speak or teach others to speak; the greatest prizes, the best schools, the most constant practice are supplied by her. For her to disown the study of eloquence would be as if Sparta laid disabilities on military education or the Thessalians on skill in horsemanship. In athletic prowess, Athens has many rivals; in culture, none. Her intellectual culture is what
most commands the admiration of foreigners; as the prevalence of informers is the one blot to which they can point. You ought to punish those who bring disgrace upon you, and honour those who do you credit. Miltiades, Themistokles, Perikles, became great by the pursuits which these informers vilify. Remembering this, strive to keep the lawcourts pure for the citizens generally; and honour the ablest and most cultivated among them as the truest guardians of the democracy (§§ 291—309).
‘The length of my defence has already passed due limits;
but there are still a few words that I would say to you. It is bitter to me to see the informer's trade prospering better than the cause of education. Would our ancestors have
Ancient respect for culture. Solon.
looked for this? Solon, eldest of the Sophists, was put by them at the head of the State; against informers they appointed not one mode of procedure only but many,—indictment before the Thesmothetae, impeachment before the Senate, plaint to the Assembly. And informers are worse now than they were then. Their audacity has grown with
the licence of those demagogues to whom our fathers entrusted the protection of the Athenian empire; who, by reproaching our most distinguished citizens as oligarchs and partisans of Sparta, made them such,—who harassed, and so estranged, our allies,—who brought Athens to the verge of slavery. Time is failing me; I must cease. Others conclude by committing their cause to the mercy of their judges and the entreaties of their friends; I
appeal to my past life. The gods, who have protected it hitherto, will protect it now. Your verdict, whatever it may be, will be for my good. Let each of you give what sentence he will’ (§§ 310—323).
The speech On the Antidosis
falls into two main divisions. In §§ 1—166 Isokrates defends himself.
In §§ 167—323 he defends his Art—‘the discipline of discourse’, ἡ τῶν λόγων παιδεία
(§ 168). His own practice, as described in the first part, agrees with his theory, as set forth in the second. What that theory was—what Isokrates claimed, or did not claim to do—and how he was distinguished from his brother ‘sophists’—it has been attempted to explain in a former chapter12