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When he was a boy, he was as well educated as any of the Athenian children, being under the tuition of Prodicus the Cean, Gorgias the Leontine, Tisias the Syracusan, and Theramenes the rhetorician. And when Theramenes was to be apprehended by the order of the Thirty Tyrants, and flying for succor to the altar of the senate, only Isocrates stood his friend, when all others were struck with terror.
For a long time he stood silent; but after some time Theramenes advised him to desist, because, he told him, it would be an aggravation of his grief, if any of his friends should come into trouble through him. It is evident that he composed orations for others to use, but delivered only one, that concerning Exchange of Property. Having set up a school, he gave himself much to writing and the study of philosophy, and then he wrote his Panegyrical oration, and others which were used for advice, some of which he delivered himself, and others he gave to others to pronounce for him; aiming thereby to persuade the Greeks to the study and practice of such things as were of most immediate concern to them.
He was the first that made a separation between wrangling pleas and political arguments, to which latter he rather addicted himself. He instituted a form of magistracy in Chios, much the same with that at Athens. No schoolmaster ever got so much; so that he maintained a galley at his own charge. He had more than a hundred scholars, and among others Timotheus the son of Conon was one, with whom he visited many cities, and composed the epistles which Timotheus sent to the Athenians; who for his pains gave him a talent out of that which he got at Samos.
The last of these had a monument in the way to the shrine of Cyamites, as we go to Eleusis by the Sacred Way, of which now remains only rubbish. Leodamas also the Athenian, and Lacritus who gave laws Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] to the Athenians, were both his scholars; and some say, Hyperides and Isaeus too.
They add likewise, that Demosthenes also was very desirous to learn of him, and because he could not give the full rate, which was a thousand drachms, he offered him two hundred, the fifth part, if he would teach him but the fifth part of his art proportionable: to whom Isocrates answered, We do not use, Demosthenes, to impart our skill by halves, but as men sell good fish whole, or altogether, so if thou hast a desire to learn, we will teach thee our full art, and not a piece of it.
He lived ninety-eight years, or, as some say, a hundred, not being able to behold Greece the fourth time brought into slavery. The year or, as some say, four years before he died, he wrote his Panathenaic oration.
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He labored upon his Panegyric oration ten years, or, as some tell us, fifteen, which he is supposed to have borrowed out of Gorgias the Leontine and Lysias. His oration concerning Exchange of Property he wrote when he was eighty-two years old, and those to Philip a little before his death. When he was old, he adopted Aphareus, the youngest of the three sons of Plathane, the daughter of Hippias the orator.
He was very rich, both in respect of the great sums of money he exacted of his scholars, and besides that, having at one time twenty talents of Nicocles, king of Cyprus, for an oration which he dedicated to him. By Edition: current; Page: [ 30 ] reason of his riches he became obnoxious to the envy of others, and was three times named to maintain a galley; which he evaded twice by the assistance of his son and a counterfeit sickness, but the third time he undertook it, though the charge proved very great.
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A father telling him that he had allowed his son no other companion than one slave, Isocrates replied, Go thy way then, for one slave thou shalt have two. He strove for the prize which Aretemisia dedicated to the honor and memory of her husband Mausolus; but that oration is lost.
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He wrote also another oration in praise of Helen, and one called Areopagiticus. His son Aphareus likewise wrote several orations. He lies buried with all his family near Cynosarges, on the left hand of the hill. On these tombs were erected six tables, which are now demolished.
And upon the tomb of Isocrates himself was placed a column thirty cubits high, and on that a mermaid of seven cubits, which was an emblem of his eloquence; there is nothing now extant. There was also near it a table, having poets and his schoolmasters on it; and among the rest, Gorgias inspecting a celestial globe, and Isocrates standing by him. There is likewise a statue of his of bronze in Eleusis, dedicated by Timothy the son of Conon, before the entry of the porch, with this inscription:.
This statue was made by Leochares. There are three-score orations which bear his name; of which, if we credit Dionysius, only five and twenty are genuine; but according to Caecilius, twenty-eight; and the rest are accounted spurious. He was an utter stranger to ostentation, insomuch that, when there came at one time three persons to hear him declaim, he admitted but two of them, desiring the third to come the next day, for that two at once were to him as a full theatre.
He used to tell his scholars that he taught his art for ten minas; but he would give any man ten thousand, that could teach him to be bold and give him a good utterance. And being once asked how he, who was not very eloquent himself, could make others so, he answered, Just as a whetstone cannot cut, yet it will sharpen knives for that purpose.
Some say that he wrote institutions to the art of oratory; others are of opinion that he had no method of teaching, but only exercise. He would never ask any thing of a free-born citizen. He used to enjoin his scholars being present at public assemblies to repeat to him what was there delivered. He conceived no little sorrow for the death of Socrates, insomuch that the next day he put himself in mourning. Being asked what was the use and force of rhetoric, he answered, To make great matters small, and small great. At a feast with Nicoceon, the tyrant of Cyprus, being desired by some of the company to declaim upon some theme, he made answer, that that was not a season for him to speak what he knew, and he knew nothing that was then seasonable.
Happening once to see Sophocles the tragedian amorously eying a comely boy, he said to him, It will become thee, Sophocles, to restrain not only thy hands, but thine eyes.
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When Ephorus of Cumae left his school before he had arrived at any good proficiency, his father Demophilus sent him again with a second sum of money in his hand; at which Isocrates jocosely called Edition: current; Page: [ 32 ] him Diphorus, that is, twice bringing his fee. However, he took a great deal of pains and care with him, and went so far as to put him in the way of writing history. He was wantonly given; and used to lie upon a. He never married while he was young; but in his old age he kept a miss, whose name was Lagisce, and by her he had a daughter, who died in the twelfth year of her age, before she was married.
He afterwards married Plathane, the wife of Hippias the rhetorician, who had three sons, the youngest of which, Aphareus by name, he adopted for his own, as we said before. This Aphareus erected a bronze statue to him near the temple of Jupiter, as may be seen from the inscription:. He is said to have run a race on a swift horse, when he was but a boy; for he is to be seen in this posture in the Citadel, in the tennis court of the priestesses of Minerva, in a statue.
There were but two suits commenced against him in his whole life. One whereof was with Megaclides, who provoked him to exchange of property; at the trial of which he could not be personally present, by reason of sickness; but sending Aphareus, he nevertheless overcame. The other suit was commenced against him by Lysimachus, who would have him come to an exchange or be at the charge of maintaining a galley for the commonwealth.
In this case he was overthrown, and forced to perform the service.
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There was likewise a painting of him in the Pompeum. Aphareus also wrote a few orations, both judicial and deliberative; as also tragedies to the number of thirty-seven, of which two are contested. He began to make Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] his works public in the year of Lysistratus, and continued it to the year of Sosigenes, that is, eight and twenty years. That of the mother is placed just by the image of Health, the inscription being changed; that of Anaco is no longer there.
Isaeus was born in Chalcis. He flourished after the Peloponnesian war, as we may conjecture from his orations, and was in repute till the reign of Philip. He taught Demosthenes — not at his school, but privately — who gave him ten thousand drachms, by which business he became very famous. Some say that he composed orations for Demosthenes, which he pronounced in opposition to his guardians. He left behind him sixty-four orations, of which fifty are his own; as likewise some peculiar institutions of rhetoric.
He was the first that used to speak or write figuratively, and that addicted himself to civil matters; which Demosthenes chiefly followed. Theopompus the comedian makes mention of him in his Theseus. He was the son of Atrometus — who, being banished by the Thirty Tyrants, was thereby a means of reducing the commonwealth to the government of the people — and of his wife Glaucothea; by birth a Cothocidian.
He was neither nobly born nor rich; but in his youth, being strong and well set, he addicted himself to all sorts of bodily exercises; and afterwards, having a very clear voice, he took to playing of tragedies, and if we may credit Demosthenes, he was a petty clerk, and also served Aristodemus as a player of third parts at the Bacchanalian festivals, in his times of leisure rehearsing the ancient tragedies. When he was but a boy, he was assisting to his father in teaching little children their letters, and when he was grown up, he listed himself a private soldier.
Some think he was brought up under Socrates and Plato; but Caecilius will have it that Leodamas was his master. Being concerned in the affairs of the commonwealth, he openly acted in opposition to Demosthenes and his faction; and was employed in several embassies, and especially in one to Philip, to treat about articles of peace.
For which Demosthenes accused him for being the cause of the overthrow and ruin of the Phocians, and the inflamer of war; which part he would have him thought to have acted when the Amphictyons chose him one of their deputies to the Amphissians who were building up the harbor [of Crissa].
Though some tell us, that there were orations prepared by the orators, but the news of the conquest of Chaeronea put a stop to the present proceedings, and so the suit fell.
Some time after this, Philip being dead, and his son Alexander marching into Asia, Aeschines impeached Ctesiphon for acting against the laws, in passing a decree in favor of Demosthenes. But he having not the fifth part of the voices of the judges on his side, was forced to go in exile to Rhodes, because he would not pay his mulct of a thousand drachms.
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Others say, that he incurred disfranchisement also, because he would not depart the city, and that he went to Alexander at Ephesus. But upon the death of Alexander, when a tumult had been excited, he went to Rhodes, and there opened a school and taught. And on a time pronouncing the oration which he had formerly made against Ctesiphon, to pleasure the Rhodians, he did it with that grace, that they wondered how he could fail of carrying his cause if he pleaded so well for himself.
But ye would not wonder, said he, that I was overthrown, if ye had heard Demosthenes pleading against me. He left a school behind him at Rhodes, which was afterwards called the Rhodian school. Thence he sailed to Samos, and there in a short time died. He had a very good voice, as both Demosthenes and Demochares testified of him.
Four orations bear his name, one of which was against Timarchus, another concerning false embassage, and a third against Ctesiphon, which three are really his own; but the fourth, called Deliaca, is none of his; for though he was named to plead the cause of the temple at Delos, yet Demosthenes tells us that Hyperides was chosen in his stead. He was the first that brought the Athenians the news of the victory obtained at Tamynae, for which he was crowned for the second time.