Πρὸς Νικοκλέα (or. II.) was addressed to the young king soon after his accession. It is a series of precepts on the duty of a ruler to his subjects. The Νικοκλῆς ἢ Κύπριοι is a companion piece to the former. Here it is Nicocles who is supposed to speak, and who instructs his Salaminian subjects in their duties towards their king. Since the prince can appeal to his people's past experience of his rule (§ 63), the date can hardly be earlier than 372 B.C.: on the other hand it cannot be later than 355 B.C., and may probably be placed between 372 and 365 B.C. In the following passage the king urges the advantages of a Monarchy as compared with an Oligarchy or a Republic. Here Isocrates is essentially the professional rhetor — it being distinctive of Rhetoric that, like its counterpart Dialectic, it is equally ready to argue either side of a question (τἀναντία συλλογίζεται, Ar. Rhet. I. 1). Isocrates has given the other side in his Ἀρεοπαγιτικός (p. 151) as well as in the Panathenaicus, where he interprets his own political ideal, — a Democracy tempered by a censorship. — Attic Orators, II. 87, 90 f. The advantages claimed for Monarchy, it will be seen, are briefly these: (1) it discriminates merit, §§ 14, 15: (2) it has more insight into the natures and actions of men: (3) it is the mildest of governments, § 16: (4) its ministers learn and perform their duties more thoroughly, §§ 17, 18: (5) it is prompt in action, § 19: (6) it has fewer jealousies, § 20: (7) it has a more direct interest in good government, § 21: (8) it is more effective in war, § 22. — As a plea for monarchy by the citizen of a Greek Republic, compare the brief speech invented by Herod. for Dareius in the debate of the Persian conspirators, III. 82.
§§ 14 — 24.τὰς ἰσότητας ‘Now Oligarchies and Democracies aim at conditions of equality for all who participate in the franchise, and the principle which they approve is that no one should be permitted to have the advantage of his neighbour’. τὰς ἰσότητας, plur., because the two forms of ‘civic equality’ are different: οἱ μετέχοντες τῆς πολιτείας are in the one case the many, in the other the few. Cp. Thuc. III. 62, ὀλιγαρχία ἰσόνομος, i.e. constitutional oligarchy, opp. to a δυναστεία. τό γε βούλημα ‘the intention’, — that to which its theory points, — that which it purposes to achieve. Plat. Laws 769 D, ἆρ᾽ οὐ τοιοῦτον δοκεῖ σοι τὸ τοῦ νομοθέτου βούλημ̓ εἶναι; Arist. Pol. VI [IV] 2. § 1 (speaking of ἀριστοκρατία and βασιλεία), βούλεται γὰρ ἑκατέρα κατ᾽ ἀρετὴν συνεστάναι κεχορηγημένην: and De Anim. Gen. IV. ad fin., βούλεται μὲν οὖν ἡ φύσις (tends) — οὐκ ἀκριβοῖδέ, ‘but does not attain a perfect result’.
τὰς τυραννίδας ‘Again, all would allow that despotic governments have superior insight into men's natures and actions’. Here, as in § 22, the μοναρχία is tacitly identified with the τυραννίς. The τύραννος is a ruler whose power is above and against the laws; it is characteristic of him that he rules in his own interest (τὸ ἑαυτοῦ συμφέρον σκοπεῖ, Arist. Eth. Nic. VIII. 12). Depending much on the choice of instruments (Arist. Polit. VIII [V] 11. § 12), he has, indeed, practice in the study of character: only, as Arist. says, the τυραννίς is apt to be πονηρόφιλον, to favour bad men. The founder of a despotism was usually a man of exceptional energy and sagacity: the fallacy here consists in crediting the τυραννίς with the merits of some τύραννοι. φέρεσθαι μ. τοῦ πλήθους ‘to be carried with the stream of the crowd’. — ἀλλὰ μήν, ‘then, again’.
ὅτι μὲν ὀ̂ν...ῥᾴδιόν ἐστι] ‘That Monarchy is the more agreeable, the milder and the juster form of government, might be proved in ampler detail; however, the general view just given may perhaps suffice’: lit. ‘not but that (οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ) it is easy to see this comprehensively (συνιδεῖν) by means of the foregoing considerations’: διὰ τούτων, i.e. in §§ 15, 16. Cp. Xen. Cyr. I. 4. § 8, ὁ ἵππος πίπτει εἰς γόνατα, καὶ μικροῦ κἀκεῖνον ἐξετραχήλισεν (threw him over his head), οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾽ ἐπέμεινεν, ‘nevertheless he kept his seat’: where, after οὐ μήν, supply ἐξετραχήλισεν, as here, ἀποδεῖξαι δεῖ. — συνιδεῖν: cp. Arist. Rhet. I. 2. § 12, διὰ πολλῶν συνορᾶν, ‘to take in a long chain of reasoning at one view’, joined with πόρρωθεν λογίζεσθαι, ‘to reason from far back’, i.e. to connect a series of syllogisms. περὶ δὲ τῶν λοιπῶν See introd. ad fin. Eight points of advantage are claimed for Monarchy. Three — graduation of merit, — insight, — clemency, — have now been noticed. Five (τὰ λοιπά) remain. ‘As to the other points, the superiority of Monarchies [to Oligarchies or Democracies] with respect to deliberation or action in needful matters may best be judged by us, if we endeavour to institute a systematic comparison in the most important provinces of activity’. Lit., ‘if, comparing the most important actions [as performed by Monarchy and by its rival forms of government respectively], we attempt to examine these’ (αὐτάς,=τὰς μεγίστας πράξεις). ἰδιῶται γίγν ‘return into private life’ (their year of office having expired).
οἱ δ᾽ ἀεὶ...γίγνεσθαι] ‘while the ministers of a Monarchy, having permanent charge of their duties, even if their natural abilities are inferior, have at least (οὖν) a decided preeminence in the lessons of experience. Further, the one class [οἱ μέν the ministers of an Oligarchy or a Democracy] betray many interests by neglect, because they rely upon each other [i.e. what is every one's business is no one's]; but the ministers of a Monarchy neglect nothing, since they know that everything must pass through their hands’. — The plur. αἱ μοναρχίαι, § 17, leaves room for doubt whether οἱ δ᾽ ἀεὶ τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐπιστατοῦντες, κ.τ.λ.,=οἱ μόναρχοι, or the monarch and his ministers: the context favours the latter view: cp. §§ 15, 16. οἱ μὲν ἐν ταῖς ὀλιγ. — οἱ δ᾽ ἐν ταῖς μοναρχ.] οἱ ἐν ταῖς ὀλιγ. καὶ ταῖς δημοκρ. mean the citizens of oligarchical or democratical states; lit., those who are in these forms of government, i.e. who hold their powers. So οἱ ἐν ταῖς μοναρχίαις ought to mean, those who hold monarchical power, viz. οἱ μόναρχοι. But, for the sense of the context, πάντων βέλτιστα πράττουσιν ought to mean that the subjects, as well as the monarch, are eminently prosperous. Now the clause, οὐκ ἔχοντες ὅτῳ φθονήσουσι, is not against this: since Monarchy is here conceived (§ 15) as a system which fixes each man in his proper rank, and thus precludes uneasy rivalry. Therefore I take οἱ ἐν ταῖς μοναρχίαις ὄντες here as meaning ‘those who live in monarchical States’.
συνέδρια...χρόνων] συνέδρια, ‘public conferences’, a general term, including (e.g.) the Athenian βουλή, ἐκκλησία, δικαστήρια. — χρόνων, limits of tenure: § 17, κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν εἰς τὰς ἀρχὰς εἰσιόντες. — οὐκ ἀπολείπονται τῶν καιρῶν, ‘do not allow the right moments to slip’, do not ‘lag behind’ them.
δυσμενῶς ἔχουσι ‘The ministers of other govern ments (οἱ μέν) cherish enmities;...monarchs, (οἱ δέ,) having a life-long tenure of office, maintain their friendships also through life’.
οἱ μὲν ὡς ἰδίοις ‘The monarch regards the public interests as his own, — the citizen, as belonging to others’: — a remark utterly untrue to the spirit of the Athenian democracy as described by Pericles, ἔνι δὲ τοῖς αὐτοῖς οἰκείων ἅμα καὶ πολιτικῶν ἐπιμέλεια, κ.τ.λ. Thuc. II. 40. The essence of Greek political life, while vigour remained to it, was the identification of the citizen's interests with the city's: αὕτη γὰρ ἡ σῴζουσα, καὶ ταύτης ἔπι | πλέοντες ὀρθῶς τοὺς φίλους ποιούμεθα, Soph. Ant. 189. ἐν τοῖς ὄχλοις ‘before mobs’; i.e. ‘before the Ecclesia or law-courts’: cp. Eur. Hipp. 989, οἱ γὰρ ἐν σοφοῖς | φαῦλοι, παρ᾽ ὅχλῳ μουσικώτεροι λέγειν.
οὐ μόνον δ ...περιειλήφασιν ‘It is not only in matters of routine and in the affairs of every day that monarchies are superior; they hold in their grasp [perf.] also all the gains of war’. ὥστε καὶ λαθεῖν...προσαγαγέσθαι ‘for purposes of surprise or of display [ὀφθῆναι, so as to strike terror], — in order to persuade or to compel, — to buy advantages in one quarter, or to conciliate by attentions in another’. Cp. Andoc. De Pace § 37, p. 47, which Isocr, may have had in mind, τὰ μὲν πείσαντες τοὺς Ἕλληνας, τὰ δὲ λαθόντες, τὰ δὲ πριάμενοι, τὰ δὲ βιασάμενοι. — ταῖς ἄλλαις θεραπείαις, attentions, flatteries, other than money (implied in ἐκπριάμενοι): for the idiom, see Lysias or. VII. § 25, τὴν ἄλλην οὐσίαν, note, p. 272. — Observe τυραννίς tacitly identified with μοναρχία, as in § 16.
Περσῶν...Διονύσιον In illustrating the advantages of μοναρχία, Isocr. takes the word in its widest sense, and draws his examples from the most diverse forms of government, viz. (1) the Persian monarchy, — a hereditary and constitutional despotism, — μοναρχία τυραννική, but κατὰ νόμον καὶ πατρική, Arist. Pol. III. 14: (2) the τυραννίς, an unconstitutional despotism, which is only a perverted form, παρέκβασις, of monarchy, and not properly a πολιτεία at all: (3) the constitutions of Sparta and of Carthage, in both of which the general tendency was oligarchical, and the ‘royal’ office meant principally the chief command in war: Arist. Pol. II. 9. § 11. τηλικαύτην γεγ The real lessons taught by the Persian Wars were that free men fight better than slaves, and that good strategy is incompatible with the caprices of a feeble despot. πολιορκ When Dionysius became tyrant of Syracuse in 406 B.C. the Carthaginians were rapidly conquering the Sicilian cities. His first operations against them failed: and the words in the text refer, not to an actual siege of Syracuse (τὴν αὑτοῦ πατρίδα), but to its imminent danger after the fall of Gela and Camarina. The peace which he made with Himilcon in 405 B.C. was a compromise which gave him leisure to confirm his own power. His tyranny was disastrous to all the higher interests of Hellenic civilisation. Cp. Lysias or. XXXIII. § 5 (above, p. 51).
τοὺς ἄριστα τῶν Ἑ. πολιτ.] An awkward clause, referring as it does to Λακεδ. only: for grammatical clearness, it should stand between καὶ and Λακεδ. ὀλιγαρχ. — βασιλ.] Arist. (Pol. II. 11) compares the Carthaginian Council of One Hundred and Four with the Spartan Ephors, and the Carthaginian Elders (γέροντες) and Kings (βασιλεῖς) with those of Sparta. — The Carthaginian ‘Kings’ or Suffetes seem to have been chosen annually from a few principal families: Corn. Nepos speaks of Hannibal being made rex when appointed to his foreign command (c. 7), and Diod. (XIV. 54) of Himilcon, and Herod. of Hamilcar (VII. 166); Grote. X. 548. — Of the Spartan kingship, Arist. says, δοκεῖ μὲν εἶναι βασιλεία μάλιστα τῶν κατὰ νόμον, οὐκ ἔστι δὲ κυρία πάντων, ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν ἐξέλθῃ τὴν χώραν, ἡγεμών ἐστι τῶν πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον...αὕτη μὲν οὖν ἡ βας. οἷον στρατηγία τις αὐτοκράτωρ καὶ ἀΐδιός ἐστιν, Pol. III. 14. πολλούς...ἑνός] πολλούς — e.g. in the case of the Sicilian expedition, and of the defeat at Aegospotami: ἑνός — e.g. Cimon, Phormio. The argument might be illustrated by the story of the dissension among the Athenian commanders before the battle of Marathon, when the four who agreed with Miltiades resigned to him their days of command (Her. VI. 109 f.).