Isokratis -436 - -338 (98)

Our Democracy destroys itself because it has abused the right to freedom and equality, because has learned the citizens to consider the insolence as right, illegality as freedom, the impudence of speech as equality and anarchy as bliss.


Isocrates was one of the ten Attic orators. Among the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his time, Isocrates made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works. Greek rhetoric is commonly traced to Corax of Syracuse, who first formulated a set of rhetorical rules in the fifth century BCE. His pupil Tisias was influential in the development of the rhetoric of the courtroom, and by some accounts was the teacher of Isocrates. Within two generations, rhetoric had become an important art, its growth driven by social and political changes such as democracy and courts of law.

Isocrates was born to a wealthy family in Athens and received a first-rate education. He was greatly influenced by his sophist teachers, Prodicus and Gorgias, and was also closely acquainted with Socrates. After the Peloponnesian War, his family lost its wealth, and Isocrates was forced to earn a living. .

His professional career is said to have begun with logography: he was a hired courtroom speechwriter. Athenian citizens did not hire lawyers; legal procedure required self-representation. Instead, they would hire people like Isocrates to write speeches for them. Isocrates had a great talent for this since he lacked confidence in public speaking. His weak voice motivated him to publish pamphlets and although he played no direct part in state affairs, his written speech influenced the public and provided significant insight into major political issues of the day. .

Around 392 BC he set up his own school of rhetoric (at the time, Athens had no standard curriculum for higher education; sophists were typically itinerant), and proved to be not only an influential teacher, but a shrewd businessman. His fees were unusually high, and he accepted no more than nine pupils at a time. Many of them went on to be philosophers, legislators and historians. As a consequence, he amassed a considerable fortune. .

Of the 60 orations in his name available in Roman times, 21 remained in transmission by the end of the medieval period. Three more were found in a single codexduring a 1988 excavation at Kellis,[8][9] a site in the Dakhla Oasis of Egypt. We have nine letters in his name, but the authenticity of four of those has been questioned. He is said to have compiled a treatise, the Art of Rhetoric, but there is no known copy. Other surviving works include his autobiographical Antidosis, and educational texts such as Against the Sophists.