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Letter III., To Philip.

9. To Philip. [Ep. III.]—The biographical question raised by this Letter has been noticed in a former chapter1. The Letter was written in 338 B.C., some time after Chaeroneia, when Isokrates had completed his ninety-eighth year. It is thus the latest of all his extant writings.

‘I have already had some talk with Antipater about

your interests and those of Athens. But I resolved to write to you, too, regarding the course which, as I think, you ought to take after the peace. This letter will be to the same purpose as my discourse, but much shorter. (§ 1.) Formerly I urged you to bring about concord in Hellas by reconciling the chief states, Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Argos. Now, persuasion is no longer needed. The recent struggle has proved them to have no will but yours, and to admit that the war which they have been making upon each other ought to be turned against Asia. They ask me whether the idea of an expedition against the barbarians was originally yours or mine; and when I say that, to the best of my belief, it was yours, they entreat me to confirm you in it. No deed, they say, could be nobler, better for Hellas, or more timely. (§§ 2—3.) Had not my powers utterly failed, I would have come to you and urged this in person. In one thing it is good to be insatiable—in the desire of true glory; and your glory will be perfect only when you have
Philip's mission.
made the barbarians helots to the Greeks. To that result it will be an easier step than it was from the first to the present stage of your power. That result gained, nothing will remain for you but to become a god. I thank old age for this alone, that those youthful projects which I set forth in the Panegyrikos and in the discourse sent to you are in course of completion by your agency, and will, I hope, be completed.’ (§§ 4—6.)

1 Ch. XII., p. 31. I have there noticed the suggestion of E. Curtius that, if Isokrates did indeed commit suicide, the motive may have been despair at seeing that Athens was still resolved to resist. If we hold, as I do, the genuineness of the Third Letter, this explanation of the suicide is admissible only on the supposition that the Letter was written before the conclusion of the peace between Athens and Philip. Now I confess I think the Third Letter was written after the conclusion of the peace, and was taken to Philip by Antipater on his return from Athens: see §§ 1 —2. Cf. Schäfer, III. 25.The tradition of a suicide prompted by patriotic despair must then be given up altogether. But the tradition of the suicide itself may be true. The real motive may have been an access of his disease: and Aphareus, or some friend—availing himself of the coincidence that Isokrates died on the day when those who fell at Chaeroneia were buried— may have invented the heroic motive. See Blass, Att. Ber. II. 89 f., 300.

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