[Or. IV.]—The date of the speech is determined by § 126. It is there said that the Spartans are besieging Olynthos and Phlius. Olynthos was besieged in 383 B.C., Phlius early in 380; both fell towards the close of 379. The speech cannot, then, have been published before 380 or after 379. Now the year 380 B.C. was the first of the hundredth Olympiad. The title Panegyrikos
— given to the speech by Isokrates himself—points only to some great festival, and has been referred by one critic1
to the Greater Panathenaea. But, taking the other circumstances into account, it seems hardly doubtful that the Panegyrikos
was published at the time of the Olympic festival in the autumn
of 380 B.C.2
The duty of Hellenic unity against the barbarian had already been the theme of Gorgias and of Lysias in speeches delivered at Olympia3
. It is not likely
that, like theirs, the oration of Isokrates was recited at the festival by its author. His want of nerve and voice, and much in the contents of the speech itself, would probably have deterred him from such an attempt. The speech may, indeed, have been recited for him; but it is more likely that it was first introduced to the Greek public by copies circulated at Olympia, and sent to cities in which Isokrates had friends among the leading men4
His appeal to Panhellenic patriotism was made
State of the Greek world in 380 B.C.
at a time when such patriotism was sorely needed. By the Peace of Antalkidas in 387 B. C. Artaxerxes II. had become master of the Asiatic Greeks, and ultimate arbiter in the affairs of western Hellas; the
Aegean, no longer protected by an Athenian fleet, was infested by pirates; the party strife which the dekarchies had exasperated was everywhere filling the smaller cities with bloodshed; and Sparta, regardless of the autonomy which the Peace had guaranteed to every state, was using these troubles for her own ends. In 385 the Spartans had destroyed Mantineia; in 383, besieged Olynthos; in 382, seized the Kadmeia; in 380, besieged Phlius.
falls into two main divisions.
In the first (§§ 1—132) Isokrates urges that Athens and Sparta, laying aside their jealousies, should assume the joint leadership of Greece. He argues that, if Sparta at present holds the first place, Athens has the better historical claim to it; and that, therefore, a compromise might well be made. In the second part (§§ 133—189) he shows the direction in which the forces of Greece, once consolidated, ought to be turned — namely against Persia.
I. ‘It is strange that the founders of the great Festivals should have kept all their rewards for a physical prowess which serves only the athlete himself, and should have assigned no honour to the mental toil from which flow benefits to all. Content, however, with the hope of simple approbation, I am here to offer counsels of unity among Greeks and
war against the barbarian (§§ 1—3). If the theme is not new, it admits of better treatment than it has received (§§ 4 —5). The crisis is not yet past,—nor, therefore, the season for advice (§§ 3—5); and it is of the essence of oratory that it seeks to put familiar facts in a more impressive way (§§ 7—10). There are some who dislike all elaborate speaking, and who cannot distinguish between occasions for safe plainness and for a loftier effort. I address myself to those who
expect speakers on a great theme to rise above the common level; and I crave no indulgence if I fail to do so (§§ 11—14).
‘That the various cities of Greece should renounce their
Obstacle to Greek concord— Sparta.
feuds and turn together against the barbarian, has often been urged; but the point from which such unity must begin has been missed. Hellas is divided, for the most part, between oligarchies dependent on Sparta and democracies dependent on Athens. Before the lesser States can be in harmony, the leaders must be reconciled, and must consent to share the headship (τὰς ἡγεμονίας διελέσθαι
, § 17). Sparta is the obstacle. She fancies that she has an ancestral right to sovereignty. If it can be shown that this right belongs rather to Athens, Sparta will either yield something, or, if she does not, will be clearly in the wrong (§§ 15—20).
‘Maritime Empire belongs of right to Athens, whether
Claims of Athens to Empire.
the test be (a
) naval efficiency, (b
) antiquity, or (c
) services done to Greece. Her services have been of two kinds, (1) civil, and (2) military (§§ 21—27).
(1.) ‘The first things which human life needs came to
Gifts of Athens to primitive Greece.
Hellas through Athens. Demeter, visiting Attica in her search for Persephone, gave to its inhabitants two gifts,—the corn-crop, and the rite of the Mysteries. Athens did not keep these blessings to herself, but freely shared them with all. If the tradition be questioned because it is lost in antiquity, on the other hand this antiquity implies wide acceptance. It is accredited by the fact that most Greek cities pay to Athens a yearly tribute of first-fruits. It has also an a priori
likelihood. The earliest men, most needing, were most likely to obtain, direct help from the gods; and the people of Attica are confessedly the oldest of races (§§ 28—33).
‘The next great boon which Athens bestowed on early
Athens the mother of Colonisation.
Greece, was the enlargement of the area covered by Greeks. Seeing the barbarians widely spread and the Hellenes straitened for space, she provided the cities with leaders under whom they conquered from the alien new homes both in Europe and in Asia; peopled islands in every sea; and, in opening a career to colonists, saved the mother country (§§ 34—37).
‘These primary benefits were followed by others. Athens
Athens the founder of civil life.
was not content with having given the Hellenes the necessaries of life; she gave them civilisation. Hers were the earliest laws, hers was the earliest Constitutional Polity. With her originated the arts which minister to men's needs or pleasures. The central emporium of Hellas, the Peiraeus, was established by her. All the advantages, all the charms of those great gatherings at which Greeks of every city forget their differences in a sense of common worship and of common blood, are supplied in an unequalled measure by the
festivals of Athens; nay, she herself is for all visitors a perpetual festival. Practical philosophy, the deviser and organiser of all these things—rational eloquence, the permanent distinction of high natures—are honoured by her as by no other city. So pre-eminently is she the seat of national culture that a man is not considered in the fullest sense a Hellene merely because he is of Hellenic blood, unless, further, he bears the stamp of the Athenian mind (§§ 38—50).
(2.) ‘Such are the services which Athens has rendered
Athens the military champion,
to the civil life of Hellas. Her military services have been equally great, both in wars between Greeks, and in wars of Greek against barbarian.
‘In Greece she has always shown herself the unselfish
champion of the oppressed. Thus she successfully aided Adrastos against the Thebans and the Herakleidae against Eurystheus. The greatness of Sparta was founded by the succour which Athens lent to the Heraklid invaders of the Peloponnese—a recollection which ought to restrain Sparta from injuring, or claiming to rule, Athens. Argos, Thebes, Sparta, were in early times, as they are now, the foremost cities of Hellas; but Athens was greater than them all—the avenger of Argos, the chastiser of Thebes, the patron of those who founded Sparta (§§ 51—65).
‘Against the barbarians Athens has waged more wars
(2) of Greeks against barbarians.
than could fitly be told here: a few of the chief only shall be named. In the infancy of Hellas, Attica was invaded by the Thracians under Eumolpos, son of Poseidon, and, later, by the Scythians leagued with the Amazons, daughters of Ares. The Thracians were so crushed that they withdrew
from their old seats on the Attic frontier to a more distant abode. Of the Amazons, not one who came hither returned; and those who had stayed behind were driven from their realm on account of the disaster (§§ 66—70).
‘Similar in spirit and in result were the wars against
Dareios and Xerxes. In these, Athens won a double victory; she drove back the apparently irresistible hordes of the enemy, and took the prize for valour from allies whose bravery it seemed impossible to surpass. Lacedaemon, indeed, did brilliant service; the greater the glory for Athens of having outshone such a rival. The Persian Wars claim special mention here, illustrating, as they do at once the heroism of our ancestors and the hostility of Greek to barbarian. The subject has been well-nigh exhausted by the speakers of Funeral Orations5
; but, as it relates to my present purpose, I must not shrink from touching upon it (§§ 71—74).
‘Praise is due, first of all, to those earlier generations of
Athenian and Spartan statesmen who sowed the seed of the valour which afterwards saved Hellas. They were characterised in all things by unselfish public spirit. They were thrifty of the resources of the state; they were sensitively loyal to its honour and to its interest in their personal conduct and in their legislation. Political parties, political clubs then vied only in benefits to the city. Thus were formed the men who, surpassing the captors of Troy, vanquished Asia; men whose merit transcends all that has been said or sung of them. Surely some god must have ordained that struggle in order to bring into full light natures worthy of the demigods of old (§§ 75—84).
‘The rivalry between Athens and Sparta was never so noble as in the Persian wars. When the army of Dareios
invaded Greece, the Athenians, without waiting for the allies, met it at Marathon; the Lacedaemonians, on hearing of the
peril, had no thought but to hasten to the rescue. When, later, Xerxes came with his host, marching over the Hellespont and sailing through Athos, Sparta won glory at
Thermopylae, Athens at Artemision. Then began the last period of the war: and in this the Athenians distanced all competitors. Scorning the overtures of an enemy who actually held their city, and true to allies who had forsaken them, they made ready to fight alone at Salamis. Shame brought the
Peloponnesians to their side; but, of the Greek ships engaged, Athens furnished more than all the other States together.
‘If there is now to be an expedition against the barbarians, who ought to lead it? Who but the foremost fighters, the most unselfish sufferers, in the former war; the founders, in ancient days, of cities to which, later, they became saviours? Would it not be hard if, having borne most evil, we did not receive most honour; if, having once been chosen to lead, we should now be forced to follow? (§§ 85—99.)
‘Everyone must allow that, up to the close of the Persian
wars, Athens had deserved the supremacy. But it is objected that, after her attainment of maritime empire, she did much evil to Greece; notably in the cases of Melos and of Skione6
. Now, these were towns which had made war upon her; they were treated simply with a rigour usual in war. The true test of Imperial Athens is to be found in the condition of her
loyal subjects. These, during seventy years, enjoyed exemption from tyrants, from barbarians, from the strife of factions, from enmity in any quarter. The settlement of Athenian citizens upon the lands of conquered rebels has been quoted in evidence of her rapacity. But such settlements
were meant merely as defensive garrisons, not as outposts of
aggression. If Athens is indeed so acquisitive, why has she never seized Euboea? (§§ 100—109.)
‘Though we have given such proofs of moderation, we
are actually accused of selfishness and harshness by those partisans of Sparta who supported the dekarchies in the various cities;—who inflicted on their own countries a fate worse than that of Melos;—who enslaved themselves to a Helot7
, and honoured the assassins of their fellow-citizens more than their own parents;—who brought such misery to every hearth that no man had time to grieve for his neighbour. These presume to criticise the tribunals of Imperial Athens,—although they, in three months, put to death untried a greater number of persons than Athens put on trial during the whole period of her empire. A single decree might have cancelled the ‘severities’ of our rule; the bloodshed and lawlessness of theirs are irreparable (§§ 110—114).
‘Sparta has, indeed, given nominal peace8
Present condition of Greece.
independence to the Greek cities. But the state of Hellas is very different from what it was in the days of Athenian ascendancy. Pirates on the sea, marauders on land render life insecure. The ‘independent’ towns, if not desolate, are subject to despots, to harmosts, or to Persia. Formerly, when the Great King invaded our territory, Athens made him tremble for his own: she even forbade him to launch a warship west of Phaselis9
. Now, he has landed troops in Laconia,
taken Cythera, ravaged the Peloponnesos. The treaty made with Persia under our empire was a notable contrast to that which has just been concluded. Sparta went to war for the purpose of freeing the Greeks, and has ended by giving up a large proportion of them to Persia. The Ionians are not merely tributaries to the barbarian, they do not merely see his garrisons in their citadels: they suffer worse bodily usage than our bought slaves. Sparta is answerable for this. She has become the ally of absolutism against constitutional freedom. She has devastated Mantineia, seized the Kadmeia, besieged Olynthos and Phlius; she is in league with Amyntas of Macedon10
, with Dionysios of Syracuse, and with the master
of Asia. Is it not monstrous that the city which claims to lead the Hellenes should have formed against them a perpetual alliance with the barbarians?
‘I have spoken harshly of Sparta; but not as an enemy who would denounce,—rather as a friend who would admonish. Instead of making her neighbours helots to herself,
let her make the barbarians dependents of Greece. Instead of crushing the Aegean islands with taxation, let her seek wealth on the continent of Asia (§§ 115—132).
II. ‘To lookers-on our conduct would seem madness. While we quarrel among ourselves, the king of Persia profits by our divisions. We suffer him to blockade one Greek
armament [that of Evagoras] in Cyprus11
; while another—the
Ionian contingent with Teiribazos12
—fights his battles. If,
instead of disputing about the Kyklades13
, we united in marching on Asia, these very Ionians would be with us. As it is, Artaxerxes holds such a position as no Persian king ever reached before. He is king of all Asia and master of the Asiatic Greeks (§§ 133—137).
‘Some stand in awe of his strength. Were he indeed
The real weakness of Persia.
strong, that would be but another reason for attacking him before he is stronger. But he is not strong. His importance has been due to our dissensions. Even Chios14
has ere now made a difference by throwing itself into one or other of two trembling scales. Egypt resisted for three years15
, and finally discomfited, the three best generals of the great king—
Abrokomas, Tithraustes and Pharnabazos. Evagoras has kept him at bay for six years. In the war around Rhodes16
Artaxerxes allowed the whole fleet,—led by the ablest living commander, Konon, and favoured by the sympathy of Sparta's oppressed subjects—to be held in check17
for three years by
100 Lacedaemonian triremes. It was only the formation of the league18
of which Corinth was the centre which at last drove him to fight—and conquer. I pass over the successes, against Persia, of Derkyllidas, of Drakon, of Thimbron19
, of Agesilaos. Nor is the mettle of Persian troops better than the quality of Persian generalship. This was well seen in the case of the Greeks who accompanied Cyrus. After the loss of their leader, surrounded by difficulties of every kind,
they effected their retreat as smoothly as if the Persian force which sought to harass it had been a guard of honour. Chastised when he invaded Europe—defeated on the seaboards of Asia—the Persian king has actually been mocked under the walls of his own palaces20
. (§§ 138—149.)
‘This weakness naturally results from the political and
Causes of Persian weakness.
social system of Persia. The country cannot have good soldiers while the mass of the people is an unruly, nerveless, slavish mob. It cannot have good generals while the men of the upper classes are insolent and abject by turns, with pampered bodies and craven spirits, grovelling before their human master, and scorning the gods. The satraps who come down to the coast of Asia do not belie their home training. Faithless and arrogant to friends, they quail and cringe before enemies. Thus they lavished gifts on the army of Agesilaos, but maltreated the Greeks who helped them against Cyprus. Konon, who led them to victory, was seized that he might be put to death21
: Themistokles, who defeated them, was enriched. (§§ 150—154.)
‘They merit our hatred; and they are hateful also to our
Greek hatred of Barbarians.
gods, whose shrines they have desecrated. The Ionians did well when they swore that every temple burnt by the Persians should remain in ruins, a perpetual record of the impiety which had destroyed it. Nor has Athens been less constant in its enmity. The business of our Ekklesia and of our Senate is always prefaced by an anathema upon any citizen who shall make overtures to Persia. We delight most in those legends which immortalise the disasters of Asia. Nay, we find a special charm in the poetry of Homer, because it embodies our hereditary loathing of the barbarians. (§§ 155 —159.)
‘We have every motive, then, for attacking Persia. The
Reasons for a War on Persia.
moment is favourable. Egypt and Cyprus22
are in revolt; Phoenicia and Syria23
are desolate; Tyre has been stormed; the greater part of Cilicia is with us. The prince of Karia, Hekatomnos24
, has virtually, if not openly, rebelled. From Knidos to Sinope the Greeks are impatient to rise. If we delay, Rhodes, Samos and Chios may incline to the enemy; but, if we preoccupy them, Lydia, Phrygia and the up-country generally will probably come into our power. Our fathers, having allowed Persia to be beforehand with them and to get Ionia, were forced to stand a death-struggle at home. Let us take warning. Let us go in time to Asia. There is a further reason for making war now.
The present generation has a claim to be indemnified for long sufferings and privations. There never was in Hellas a greater mass of individual distress; though, indeed, the troubles of individuals seem
almost trivial at a time when whole countries are afflicted—
has been devastated and Sicily26
enslaved by Dionysios. (§§ 160—169.)
‘Since the leading statesmen of the various cities are apathetic or timid, it is the more incumbent on men outside the political sphere to press this grave question. Before we can have firm peace, we must have common war against Asia. Before we can shake off our poverty, we must cease to prey upon each other, and must unite in gathering spoils elsewhere.
‘The Treaty of Antalkidas is no real obstacle. Its more
creditable articles—those guaranteeing the autonomy of the Greek cities in Europe—have been violated already. Only its shameful articles—those which surrender our allies to Persia—have been observed. These must forthwith be annulled: they were never compacts—they were dictates. The negociators of the Treaty are much to blame. One of three courses ought to have been taken by them. They ought to
have stipulated that each Greek State should hold (1) simply its own original territory; or (2) all
that it had ever acquired by conquest; or (3) as much as it actually held at the time of the treaty.—As it was, the terms of peace were left to be settled arbitrarily by the Great King. As if he were parcelling out the world between himself and Zeus, he has taken one-half of it27
; and this stands recorded in our public temples. If, for Helen's sake, our fathers rallied against Troy,
The invasion will be a theoria.
ought not an insult to Hellas to kindle a war now—a war which will move forward, not liable to repulse, but with the stately progress of a sacred embassy28
? (§§ 170—182.)
‘From every point of view this is the right course. Those who look to nothing but abstract justice cannot refuse to punish our malignant foes. Those whom the sight of unmerited prosperity provokes, indeed, yet leaves prudent, may safely resent a grandeur almost superhuman which is, at the same time, divorced from merit. Those who wish to consult both justice and expediency see before them evil-doers who are rich and helpless. The cities will gladly bear the burden of the campaign; and its fame will surpass that of the war against Troy. (§§ 183—186.)
‘At the outset I had hopes of doing some justice to my subject; now, at the close, I feel how inadequately I have handled it. Try, then, to imagine for yourselves what an
Asia shall pour its wealth into Europe.
achievement it would be to transfer to Europe the prosperity of Asia. And let aspirants to oratorical distinction, instead of engaging in petty rivalries, vie in the treatment of this great theme. So shall they benefit themselves, and be regarded as benefactors by others.’ (§§ 187—189.)
is the greatest work of Isokrates. The renown which it enjoyed in antiquity is attested by Dionysios29
; and the tradition, found in several writers31
, that it employed Isokrates for ten or more years, whether literally true or not, at least shows that the speech was recognised as a masterpiece of careful work. It is, indeed, artistic in a double relation, in regard to expression and in regard to structure.
The expression has not only a finished and uniform— almost too uniform—brilliancy; it has also in some
places a wonderful felicity, a deep poetical suggestiveness; as when it is said that the expedition to Asia will be less a march through an enemy's country than such a solemn and secure procession as, at the seasons of the great Festivals, goes forth from each city to the welcoming shrine of the Delphian Apollo or the Olympian Zeus (§ 182); and that Sparta, instead of making Greeks helots to herself, ought to make the barbarians dependents of Greece (περίοικοι
, § 131). It is, however, in the structure of the
entire work that the highest power of the master is seen. The central idea is simple:—‘To give counsel about war against the barbarian and unity among Greeks’ (§ 3). But in the development of this idea a vast range of topics must be surveyed;— the historical claims of Athens and of Sparta to lead Greece; the recent history and actual state of Persia, with all the multitude of particulars which group themselves round each of these large questions. As the speech goes on, the mass of facts with which it has to deal is ever growing. Yet so thorough is the writer's grasp that each thought leads to the next without violence and without confusion. As the circle of ideas gradually widens, the central point is still kept clearly in view; and the details, even where most complex, are seen to belong to an organic whole.
Foremost among its author's works in merits of
execution, the Panegyrikos
stands first also in the interest of its subject-matter. Its value as a political pamphlet has been considered in a former chapter32
and on this head, one remark only need be added here. Isokrates emphatically claims (§§ 15—17) to be not only more philosophical, but more practical, than previous speakers on the same subject; alluding, no doubt, to Gorgias and Lysias among the rest. As regards Gorgias, this claim cannot now be decided. As regards Lysias, it is questionable: at least the large fragment of his Olympiakos
offers advice not less definite or less sensible than that in the Panegyrikos33
. But whatever was, at the time, the political worth of the Panegyrikos
, its permanent historical worth can hardly be overrated. To the history of Greece it contributes a vivid picture of the whole Hellenic world, and of the barbarian world34
in contact with Hellas, at a critical moment. To the history of Athens it contributes a striking sketch of the growth and influence in Greece of the specially Athenian ideas, religious, political and social35
. For the personal history of Isokrates it is of surpassing interest; it is the earliest36
and most complete37
expression of the ruling thought of his life; the thought which he afterwards urged upon Dionysios, upon Archidamos,—at last upon Philip.