[Or. v.]—Philip had taken Amphipolis in 358 B. C. and Potidaea in 356. The hostilities between him and Athens, carried on intermittently
, were closed in March, 346, by the socalled Peace of Philokrates. Before that event Isokrates had been composing a letter to Philip ‘On Amphipolis,’ urging peace on the ground that Amphipolis, the chief cause of the war, was not a desirable possession either for Athens or for the king of Macedon (§§ 1, 3).
This letter had not been sent when peace was concluded (§ 7). Isokrates now writes on another
and a larger subject. He sees in Philip, at length reconciled to Athens, the man who can lead the united Hellenes against Persia. Ever since the failure of the Panegyrikos
to bring about such an expedition under the joint leadership of Athens and Sparta, he had been looking for an individual powerful enough to execute his favourite plan (§§ 84, 128, 129). He had already applied to Dionysios I.— probably about 368 B. C. (Ep.
I. § 8)—and in 356 to Archidamos III. (Ep.
IX. § 16). This oration was addressed to Philip soon after the peace (§§ 8, 56), but before the conclusion of the Sacred War (§§ 54,
74); that is, between March and July2
, 346 B. C.
‘Do not be surprised, Philip, if before entering upon the
immediate subject of this address I say a few words upon another. The war between Athens and you, which arose out of your acquisition of Amphipolis, has just been closed by a Peace (§ 7). Before this Peace was concluded, I was preparing to write to you in reference to Amphipolis. It was my purpose to show that it was not your interest to hold that town, since, if you surrendered it to Athens, you would still
be virtual master of it, and enjoy our goodwill besides; nor yet the interest of Athens to receive it from you, since she would, in return, have been obliged to consult your designs in that quarter—paying you the same kind of homage which the elder Amadokos3
formerly received for protecting our colonists in the Chersonese. This argument for peace has become unnecessary; but the desire that the Peace itself should be permanent leads me to offer you counsel on another subject. (§§ 1—9.) This subject is a noble one—too great, perhaps, for my failing powers. I am going to urge you to place yourself at the head of a united Hellas, and to make
Philip must lead Greece against Asia.
war upon the barbarian. (§§ 10—16.) Friends at first dissuaded me from the presumptuous design of offering advice to the statesman who has brought Thessaly to acquiesce in obeying, instead of ruling, Macedonia—to the general who has subdued the Magnetes, the Perrhaebi, the Paeonians, all Illyria save the seaboard of the Adriatic; and who has given to Thrace what masters he pleased. But when my dissuaders heard what I had to say, their opposition was changed into encouragement. (§§ 17—23.) Advice on great and pressing questions is more effective when it is given orally. Mine will not have that advantage; nor is it set off with rhetorical ornament. It is a plain statement of facts; but these facts are so supremely important to you that I hope for your attention. (§§ 24—29.)
‘I say, then, that you ought, as their common friend, to
bring into amity the four great cities of Hellas—Argos, Sparta, Thebes, Athens.
‘This obligation is laid upon you by your descent. Argos
was the native city of your ancestors4
. Thebes honours above other deities Herakles, the founder of your line. Sparta has long been ruled by the Herakleidae: and Athens was their friend at need. No quarrel should ever have divided these cities from you or from each other. There have been faults on all parts. But now you have a glorious opportunity of benefiting them and yourself too,—when harassed by war, each of them resembles rather a single combatant, following a blind, vindictive impulse, than a State with a government and a policy. (§§ 30—38.)
‘The attempt which I propose to you can be shown to be feasible:—and first, on general grounds. The difficulty which would have been presented by the great predominance of any one State, as of Athens and Sparta, has vanished; changes of fortune have placed all the cities of Greece upon one level. Your position, on the other hand, is supreme. Experience
It is possible for him to reconcile the Greeks.
proves that no enmities are too bitter to be overcome. Greece was reconciled to Xerxes; Athens has been the ally successively of Sparta and of Thebes. The interest of the moment is, in fact, the sovereign controller of political combinations. (§§ 39—45.)
‘The practicability of the attempt may be shown, further, on particular grounds. It is favoured by the respective conditions of the several States concerned.
‘Sparta wishes for peace, because, deprived of her empire
Leuktra, she is now harassed by her neighbours and by her own serfs—distrusted and disliked throughout Hellas—and in daily dread of the Thebans making up their quarrel with the Phocians and turning upon her.
‘Argos desires peace, because her distress resembles, but
exceeds, that of Sparta. She, too, is constantly harassed by her neighbours—with this difference, that they are stronger than herself. And in the intervals of war she is a prey to fierce democratic risings.
‘Thebes wishes for peace, because, through abusing the
results of her great victory, she is now worse off than if it had been a defeat. No sooner had she won Leuktra than she began to interfere in the Peloponnese; enslaved Thessaly; threatened Megara; encroached upon Athens; ravaged Euboea; sent a fleet to Byzantium. Lastly she has made war upon Phokis,—a war which she thought to finish rapidly and to pay for out of the treasures of Delphi; but which, in the event, has brought her to the brink of despair.
‘Athens is no longer yearning for peace; she has had the
good sense to embrace it already. (§§ 46—56.)
of reconciling Hellas may be seen from
these considerations. The ease
, for you, of the attempt may be judged from the cases of other men, who, though less favoured by circumstances, have changed the destinies of whole countries. Alkibiades, exiled from Athens and resolved to force his way back, effected it by first throwing all Greece into a tumult. Konon, disgraced through no fault of his own, not only retrieved the disgrace by his own unaided energy, but lived to restore the glory of Athens. Dionysios, an ordinary Syracusan, made himself master of Sicily. The elder Cyrus, whom, in his infancy, his mother left to perish at the roadside, became sovereign of Asia. Shall not the achievements of these men be equalled by one who is, from the outset the descendant of Herakles, the king of Macedonia, the lord of such great multitudes? (§§ 57—67.)
‘The enterprise is one which may well rouse your ambition. What nobler position can be imagined than that of president of Greece—acknowledged arbiter of her destinies? It is also an enterprise which would silence certain calumnies now current against you. Some ill-disposed persons pretend
What illnatured people say of Philip.
that your avowed purpose of helping the Messenians merely veils a scheme for subjugating the Peloponnesos, as a step to subjugating all Greece. These slanders are heard gladly by
three classes of people—by those who, like the slanderers, secretly desirc such an event; by those who, themselves indifferent to the public safety, are grateful to those who affect to care for it;—and by men who, admiring you, fancy that imputations such as these are fitted to raise your importance in the eyes of Greece;—not seeing that a project, which, if imputed to the king of Persia, would increase his reputation for courage, would be infamy for a Greek—for a Heraklid. Having a perfectly good conscience, you perhaps think it beneath you to notice such calumniators. Still you ought not to underrate the importance of being cordially trusted by all Greece,—trusted as your own friends trust you, or as Sparta trusts her Heraklid kings. (§§ 68—80.)
‘The counsel which I offer to you—as I offered it to Dionysios after he became master of Syracuse5
—does not come from a General, from a public speaker, from a person of influence in any way—but merely from one who lays claim to common sense and to education. (§§ 81, 82.)
‘Your duty towards Greece has been spoken of; it
remains to speak of the expedition against Asia. The Panegyrikos
has left me little that is new to say upon this topic —but I will attempt to trace its outlines with additional clearness.
‘The first condition of a successful attack upon Persia is
First condition of success.
this—that you should have all the Greeks either as helpers or at least as favouring spectators. It was here that Agesilaos failed. He tried to do two things at once—to make war
upon the Great King, and to restore his friends6
to power in
their respective cities. The feuds engendered by the latter purpose defeated the former. (§§ 83—88.)
‘All would admit that the sympathy, active or passive, of Hellas is a primary requisite. But most people, if they wished to encourage you by example, would quote wars in which Greece triumphed over Asia. I prefer to cite an expedition in which we were considered to have been worsted
—that which was led by the younger Cyrus and Klearchos. The Greeks, victorious at Kynaxa, missed the rewards of victory by the death of Cyrus. Yet, though they were left forlorn and in danger by his loss, the Great King did not dare to attack them openly. He resorted to treachery in order to seize their leaders.—The example has been used by me before7
; but fact, not literary novelty, is important here.
‘Next, consider how far more favourable circumstances
Comparative advantages of Cyrus the younger and Philip.
will be for you than they were for Cyrus. First, as regards facility of raising troops. The Asiatic Greeks looked coldly on his
expedition, thinking that its success would probably aggravate the Spartan tyranny under which they groaned:— they will favour your
expedition; and the great multitudes of homeless exiles and wanderers, ready to serve as mercenaries, will make it easy to raise a large army. Secondly, as regards the character of the former, and the actual, king of Persia. The father8
of the present king proved too strong both for
Their respective opponents.
Athens and for Sparta; the reigning king9
is unable even to hold the towns given up to him by the treaty of Antalkidas. Thirdly, as regards the position of Persia. Then, as now,
Egypt was in revolt10
; but then Egypt dreaded an attack of the
Great King; now, the attack has been made—and has failed. Cyprus, Phoenicia, Cilicia, were then11
arsenals of the Persian navy: now, Cyprus and Cilicia have revolted, Phoenicia is desolate. Idrieus12
, the wealthiest prince in Asia Minor, is bitter against Persia. Not he alone, but some of the satraps also will come over to you if you make heard throughout
Asia that word—Liberty
—which in Hellas has been the spell before which our empire, and the Spartan empire, vanished. (§§ 89—104.)
‘If I went on to offer you advice as to the conduct
of the war, I might be reproached with want of military experience. But as to the object
of the war, and as regards the general
These counsels are in the spirit of Philip's ancestry.
spirit of my counsels, I feel sure that the voices of your ancestors, if they could be heard, would be with me. The voice of your father13
—for he was ever friendly to the cities which I urge you to befriend. The voice of the founder14
of the Macedonian kingdom—for, while establishing his own power securely, he abstained from every attempt to impose it upon Greece; and thus, alone of all Greeks, came safely through the perils of monarchy. The voice of Herakles, author of your line—for, after composing a distracted Hellas, he made war upon Troy—after conquering it, he slew all the kings of barbarian tribes15
on the shore of either continent,—
and then set up the pillars which bear his name as memorials of his victory over the barbarians, and as boundaries of the Hellenic territory. If you cannot rival him in all things, you can emulate the spirit of his dealing with Greece. You have only to look to the examples in your own family to learn with whom, and against whom, an Heraklid should fight. (§§ 105—115.)—You may think that I am saying too much on ‘gentleness’ and ‘kindliness.’ Yet are not the kindly and gentle gods called ‘Olympian,’ and honoured with shrines and temples, while expiatory rites express our horror of an omnipotence which is cruel? (§§ 116—118.)
‘The popularity which a Persian war would command in Greece may be estimated from the case of Jason of Pherae.
He rose to greatness through his profession—never fulfilled —of an intention to attack Persia16
. What will your reputation be, if you put such a scheme into act?
‘Three different degrees of success—the lowest of which is glorious—are possible. You may conquer the Persian empire.
Results possible for Philip.
Or you may detach from it the portion of Asia Minor west of a line drawn from Cilicia to Sinôpê, and found, in this, new cities for the homeless Greeks who now are roving mercenaries. Or, at the worst, you cannot fail to free from Persia the existing Greek cities of Asia. We should be mad if, instead of wasting our strength on quarrels at home, we did not turn it upon our certain prey, the effeminate Asiatics. (§§ 119—127.)
‘It may be made a reproach to me that I call upon you, and not upon my own city, to lead the enterprise. I have
already appealed to Athens; but she gives less heed to me than to the brawlers of the platform. The greater credit is mine for constancy in asserting my principle, and for seeking everywhere the agents who seem most capable of putting it into practice. (§§ 128—131.)
‘Shame should forbid us to see, unmoved, Asia more prosperous than Europe,—the descendants of Cyrus more prosperous than the descendants of Herakles. It is not power or wealth—you have more than enough of both already—it is glory that ought to be your motive. Hear, in this counsel of mine—would that it were more complete!—the suggestion of your forefathers,—of the heroes,—of the present opportunity. Do not believe that the despotism built up by a
Asia cannot resist Greece.
rude barbarian can defy a Greek champion of freedom. If, in a single city, the man who combines statesmanship and generalship is honoured, what honour will be yours, when the field of your statesmanship is Hellas,—of your strategy, Asia? No successor will surpass your fame; your have already outdone all your predecessors.
‘Beneficence, not brilliancy, is the ultimate test of
Beneficence is the test of achievement.
exploits, not only for the olden time, but in our own. Tantalos, Pelops, Eurystheus yield in popular repute to Herakles, Theseus and the captors of Troy. Athens took her highest glory, not from her empire or her wealth, but from Marathon and Salamis: Sparta owed more renown to the defeat at Thermopylae than to any of her victories. (§§ 132—148.)
‘If my words seem, in themselves, weak and poor, set it
down to old age; but receive the thoughts which they have strived to utter as a message from the gods. The gods do not benefit men directly, but through human agents. They have prompted me to speak for them—they have chosen you to act. Your triumphs hitherto have been given to prepare you for this crowning effort. It is no disparagement, but the best praise, to say that what you have already done falls short of what you are worthy to do. (§§ 149—153.)
‘This, then, is the sum:—“Be the benefactor of Greece;
the king (not the despot) of Macedonia; the governor, in a free Hellenic spirit, of Asia.”’ (§§ 154, 155.)
Dionysios extols the Philippos
as an appeal to
a powerful man to use his power for the noblest ends17
. That generous earnestness which the Discourse
certainly breathes is not for us, however, its most striking feature18
. The leading characteristic of the whole is emphatic recognition of Philip as the first of Hellenes and the natural champion of Hellas19
. It is an accident that his subjects are aliens; the Heraklid spirit is still as true in him as it was in the Argive founder of his dynasty. This was the sincere belief of Isokrates. For Demosthenes, Philip was no Hellene who chanced to rule barbarians; he was in his own person the representative barbarian20
—the head and front of the antihellenic interest.