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κράτιστον μὲν κτἑ, ‘the best thing is to hit the exact course which the occasion demands’ (F.). ἀκμή, lit. ‘edge’, so ‘highest point’, ‘zenith’, and of time the ‘right moment’, is here used in a slightly different sense of ‘the right course’.

ἐπειδὴ δὲ δυσκαταμαθήτως ἔχουσιν: sc. οἱ καιροί. ἀκμή would be the more natural subject, but Isocr. prefers a plural verb in order to avoid hiatus. For ἔχειν, with an adverb, see note on E. 30 ὥσπερ εἶχεν.

ἐλλείπειν αἱροῦ καὶ μὴ πλεονάζειν κτἑ, ‘choose not to go far enough rather than to go too far; for the mean consists in defect rather than in excess.’ ἐλλείπειν and πλεονάζειν are used absolutely, lit. ‘to fall short . . . to go beyond bounds’. It is a characteristically Greek idea that right action consists in an avoidance of the two extremes of excess and defect, and is the ‘golden mean’ between them. The idea is elaborately worked out by Aristotle, cp. Eth. Nic. ii. 5 (= 1106^{a} 28 ff.) τὸ δ᾽ ἴσον μέσον τι ὑπερβολῆς καὶ ἐλλείψεως. λέγω δὲ τοῦ μὲν πράγματος μέσον τὸ ἴσον ἀπέχον ἀφ̓ ἑκατέρου τῶν ἄκρων; one of the examples he gives is courage (ἀνδρεία), which, he says, is the mean between rashness (θρασύτης) and cowardice (δειλία). The advice here given by Isocr. is exactly that of Cicero, Orat. xxiietsi suus cuique rei modus est, tamen magis offendit nimium quam parum.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Isocrates, Evagoras, 30
    • Cicero, Orator, 22
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