1Ἰσοκράτης Ἀθηναῖος ἐγεννήθη μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς ὀγδοηκοστῆς καὶ ἕκτης Ὀλυμπιάδος ἄρχοντος Ἀθήνησι Λυσιμάχου πέμπτῳ πρότερον ἔτει τοῦ Πελοποννησιακοῦ πολέμου, δυσὶ καὶ εἴκοσιν ἔτεσι νεώτερος Λυσίου, πατρὸς δὲ ἦν Θεοδώρου, τινὸς τῶν μετρίων πολιτῶν, θεράποντας αὐλοποιοὺς κεκτημένου καὶ τὸν βίον ἀπὸ ταύτης ἔχοντος τῆς ἐργασίας. ἀγωγῆς δὲ τυχὼν εὐσχήμονος καὶ παιδευθεὶς οὐδενὸς Ἀθηναίων χεῖρον, ἐπειδὴ τάχιστα ἀνὴρ ἐγένετο, φιλοσοφίας ἐπεθύμησε. γενόμενος δὲ ἀκουστὴς Προδίκου τε τοῦ Κείου καὶ Γοργίου τοῦ Λεοντίνου καὶ Τισίου τοῦ Συρακουσίου, τῶν τότε μέγιστον ὄνομα ἐν τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ἐχόντων ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ, ὡς δέ τινες ἱστοροῦσι, καὶ Θηραμένους τοῦ ῥήτορος, ὃν οἱ τριάκοντα ἀπέκτειναν δημοτικὸν εἶναι δοκοῦντα, σπουδὴν
Isocrates was an Athenian. He was born in the1 eighty-sixth Olympiad during the archonship of Lysimachus at Athens, four years before the Peloponnesian War,1 and was thus twenty-two years younger than Lysias. His father Theodorus was a citizen of moderate persuasion who owned a staff of slaves who made reed-pipes, and earned his livelihood from this trade. Isocrates was decently brought up, and received an education as good as that of any other Athenian. As soon as he reached manhood, he was strongly attracted to the study of philosophy. He attended the lectures of Prodicus of Ceos,2 Gorgias of Leontini and Tisias of Syracuse,3 the men who enjoyed the highest reputation for wisdom4 in Greece at that time. Some also say that he was a pupil of Theramenes, the politician who was killed for alleged democratic sympathies by the Thirty.5 He conceived
- 1436–435 b.c. Cf. [Plutarch] Lives of the Ten Orators, 837F.
- 2A sophist of the generation immediately following Protagoras, he may have been one of those chiefly responsible for the standardisation and precision of the language of literary prose.
- 3One of the two pioneers of Sicilian, and hence of Greek rhetoric, the other being Corax. Tisias probably applied the techniques which Corax had devised for political oratory to forensic oratory. He wrote a handbook in which the technique of argument from probability was illustrated.
- 4“Wisdom” in the sense found in Isocrates’s own writings, connoting an under standing of the arts of civilisation. He uses “philosophia” in the same sense of a desire to understand those arts. See Jaeger, Paideia III, p. 49.
- 5Cf. the story in [Plutarch] Lives of the Ten Orators, 836 F–837A, in which Isocrates is said to have tried to defend Theramenes against t his enemies at the time of his arrest.