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However, if one could see that the domestic policy of Athens was well managed he might be of good cheer as to our other affairs. But is it not about this very thing that he would feel most aggrieved? For we assert that we are sprung from our very soilSee Isoc. 4.23-24. and that our city was founded before all others,See Isoc. 4.37. but although we ought to be an example to all the world of good and orderly government, we manage our state in a worse manner and with more disorder than those who are just founding their cities.
And indeed what is most astonishing of all in your conduct is that you prefer as leaders of the people, not those who are of the same mind as the men who made Athens great, but those who say and do the same kind of things as the men who destroyed her power; and you do this albeit knowing full well that it is not alone in making the city prosperous that good leaders are superior to the base,
I intend to discuss the achievements of Athens and the virtues of our ancestors, although I shall not begin with them but with a statement of my personal experience, since it is more urgent, I think, to begin with this. For notwithstanding that I strive to live in a manner above reproach and without offence to others, I am continually being misrepresented by obscure and worthless sophists and being judged by the general public, not by what I really am, but by what they hear from others.Cf. Isoc. 15.4-8.
Nevertheless, as long as they confined themselves to abusing my discourses, reading them in the worst possible manner side by side with their own, dividing them at the wrong places, mutilating them, and in every way spoiling their effect, I paid no heed to the reports which were brought to me, but possessed myself in patience. However, a short time before the Great Panathenaia,The Panathenaic festival was celebrated in Athens each year but with special magnificence every fourth year, when it was called the Great Panathenaia. they stirred me to great indignation.
I shall now proceed to discourse upon the benefactions of Athens to the Hellenes, not that I have not sung the praises of our city more than all others put together who have written in poetry or prose.Cf. Isoc. 15.168. I shall not speak, however, as on former occasions; for then I celebrated Athens incidentally to other matters, whereas now Athens herself shall be my theme.
as is ever their habit—to denounce our city, to recount the most offensive acts which transpired while she held the empire of the sea, to present in a false light the adjudication of lawsuits in Athens for the alliesMembers of the Confederacy of Delos had to bring certain lawsuits, especially those which involved disloyalty to the league in any way, to Athens for trial. See Isoc. 4.113, note. and her collection of tributeSee Isoc. 7.2, note. from them, and above all to dwell on the cruelties suffered at her hands by the Melians and the Scionians and the Toronians,For the treatment of Melos and Scione see Isoc. 4.100, note, and 109. Torone was captured by Cleon in 422 B.C. The men of the town were sent as prisoners to Athens, and the women and children sold into slavery （Thuc. 5.3）. thinking by these reproaches to sully the benefactions of Athens which I have just descr
For whenever they make such charges against us, to which the Lacedaemonians are more open than ourselves, we do not find it difficult to cite against Sparta a graver offence in each case than that which has been charged against Athens.For example, in the present instance, if they bring up the fact that the law-suits of the allies were tried in Athens, is there anyone so slow of wit as not to find the ready retort that the Lacedaemonians have put to death without trial more of the HellenesSee Isoc. 4.113, note. than have ever been brought to trial and judgement here since the founding of our city?
and yet he held that army together for ten years, not by great bribes nor by outlays of money, by which means all rulers nowadays maintain their power,Mercenary armies were now commonly relied upon even in Athens. See Isoc. 8.44 ff. but by the supremacy of his genius, by his ability to provide from the enemy subsistence for his soldiers, and most of all by his reputation of being better advised in the interest of others than others in their own interest.