« ForrigeFortsæt »
of high artistic repute,' and some excelling in both these respects; then, the multitude of strangers who visit us is so great, that if there is any advantage in mutual intercourse, that also has been compassed by her. In addition to this, you can find with us the truest friendships and the most varied acquaintanceships; and, moreover, see contests not merely of speed and strength, but also of oratory and mind, and in all other productions of art, and for these the greatest prizes, For in addition to those which the state herself offers, she also helps to persuade others to bestow the like; for those recognised by us receive such credit as to be universally approved. Apart from this, whereas the other festivals are assembled at long intervals and soon dispersed, our state, on the contrary, is for those who visit her one long festival without ceasing
Practical philosophy, moreover, which helped to discover and establish all these institutions, which at once educated us for action and softened our mutual intercourse, which distinguished calamities due to ignorance from those which spring from necessity, and taught us to avoid the former and nobly to endure the latter, was introduced by Athens; she also paid honour to eloquence, which all men desire, and begrudge to those who are skilled in it: for she was aware that this is the only distinguishing characteristic which we of all creatures possess, and that by this we have won our position of superiority to all the rest of them; she saw that in other spheres of action men's fortunes are so capricious that often in them the wise fail and the foolish succeed, and that the proper and skilful use of language is beyond the reach of men of poor
and Dionysia than upon any armament, and that they were better attended and more magnificent than almost anything else in the world. 1 At the Panathenaea, besides the usual games, there were musical contests in the Odeum, recitations of epic poetry, and public disputations by rhetoricians, of which the "Panathenaicus” of Isocrates is a specimen. 2 Crowns of olive-branches and earthern vessels, filled with oil from the sacred olive trees, which were highly prized. 8 The Olympian and Pythian games were celebrated every four, the Isthmian and Nemean every three years, the Panathenaea annually.
capacity,' but in the function of a soul of sound wisdom, and that those who are considered clever or stupid differ from each other mainly in this respect; she saw, besides, that men who have received a liberal education from the very first are not to be known by courage, or wealth, or such-like advantages, but are most clearly recognised by their speech, and that this is the surest token which is manifested of the education of each one of us, and that those who make good use of language are not only influential in their own states, but also held in honour among other people. So far has Athens left the rest of mankind behind in thought and expression that her pupils have become the teachers of the world, and she has made the name of Hellas distinctive no longer of race but of intellect, and the title of Hellene a badge of education rather than of common descent.
But that I may not seem to be lingering over details of my subject when I proposed to treat of the whole, nor to be eulogizing Athens on these grounds from inability to praise her for her achievements in war, I will say no more to those who take pride in what I have mentioned; but I think that our forefathers deserve to be honoured as much for the dangers they incurred as for the rest of their services. Neither small nor few nor obscure were the struggles they endured, but many and terrible and great, some for their own country, others for the general liberty; for during the whole time they did not cease to open their state to all, and were the champions of those among the Hellenes who from time to time were the victims of oppression. For that very reason some accuse us of a foolish policy, in that we have been accustomed to support the weaker, as if such arguments did not rather justify our admirers. For it was not in ignorance of the superiority of great alliances in regard to security that we took these counsels concerning them, but, while knowing much more accurately than other men the results of such a course, we nevertheless preferred to help the weak even against our interest rather than for profit's sake to join in the oppressions of the strong 1 Or, "ordinary poor men" who had not enough money to pay the fees for instruction in the art of oratory.
Now the character and the strength of Athens may be seen from the supplications which have been addressed to us in times past. I will pass over those of recent occurrence or small importance;' but long before the Trojan war (for it is fair to borrow proofs from that time in a dispute about ancestral claims) there came the sons of Heracles, and a little before them Adrastus, the son of Talaus, King of Argos, the latter came from his expedition against Thebes, in which he had been defeated, being unable without aid to recover the bodies of those who had been slain under the Cadmea,* and calling on our state to render assistance in a misfortune that may happen to all, and not to suffer those who had died in war to go unburied, nor an old custom and ancestral usage to be broken; the sons of Heracles came fleeing from the enmity of Eurystheus, and, passing over all other states as not likely to be able to help them in their calamities, they thought our state alone adequate to make recompense for the benefits which their father had conferred upon all mankind. From these circumstances, then, it is easy to see that even at that time our state possessed a kind of supremacy; for who would care to sue for help either to the weaker, or
1 Such as the request of the Corcyreans for assistance against Corinth, which eventually led to the Peloponnesian war. 2 Such as the mission of Gorgias to Athens, at a time when the inhabitants of Leontini were oppressed by Syracuse. 8 The Thebans, after their victory over the seven princes who had attacked them under the leadership of Adrastus, refused to give back the bodies of their fallen enemies for burial: Adrastus then appealed for assistance to Theseus, who procured their restoration by force of arms, or, according to another account given by Isocrates himself, by diplomatic representations. 4 The town called Cadmea, founded by Cadmus, afterwards became the citadel of Thebes.
After the death of Heracles, his bitter enemy Eurystheus endeavoured to slay his three sons. They fled from Argos, and, after many wanderings, reached Attica, where they found shelter with Demophon. Eurystheus afterwards attacked the Athenians, but was defeated and taken prisoner, or, according to another account, slain by Hyllus, one of the sons of Heracles.
to those subject to others, passing by those possessed of greater power, especially on affairs not of private but of public interest, the care of which would naturally fall upon those who claimed to stand at the head of Hellas? Further, they are shown not to have been disappointed of the hopes which caused them to take refuge with our forefathers. For they took up arms, first on behalf of those who had fallen in battle against the Thebans, and secondly on behalf of the sons of Heracles against the power of Eurystheus, and by an attack on the former forced them to give up the dead to their kindred for burial, and, when the Peloponnesian followers of Eurystheus invaded our territory, they went out against them and conquered them in battle, and made him to cease from his insolence. Now these deeds added a fresh glory to the reputation they had already won by their previous achievements. For they did not act half-heartedly, but so revolutionized the fortunes of each of these monarchs, that the one who thought fit to supplicate us went away, having in the teeth of his foes achieved all that he wanted, while Eurystheus, expecting to prevail by force, was taken captive and himself compelled to become a suppliant; and, although on one who transcended human nature, who though begotten of Zeus was still mortal, but had the strength of a god, he had spent all his life in casting commands and insults, yet, when he offended against us, he met with such a reverse of fortune that he came into the power of his own sons and ended his days in contumely."
Now many as are the services we have rendered to Lacedaemon, there is only one of which it has fallen to me to speak; seizing as an opportunity the deliverance which was won for them by us, the ancestors of those who now reign in Lacedae
1 Alcmene, the mother of Heracles, is said to have dug out his eyes. 2 During the Second Messenian War (B.C. 685-668), the Spartans, by command of the Delphic Oracle, applied to Athens for a leader. She sent them Tyrtaeus, a lame man and a schoolmaster, who so inspirited them by his martial songs, that they renewed the war, and in the end completely subjugated the Messenians. On another occasion, when the Spartans were besieging the ancient Messenian stronghold of Methone (B.C. 464), Cimon prevailed upon the Athenians to send himself with a large force to assist in the siege.
mon,' and descendants of Heracles, went down into Peloponnesus, occupied Argos and Lacedaemon and Messene, became the founders of Sparta, and were the originators of all their present greatness. These things they should have remembered and never have invaded this country, from which their forefathers set out and won such prosperity, nor have brought into danger the state which bore the brunt of battle in the cause of the sons of Heracles, nor, while bestowing the crown upon his posterity, should they have thought fit to enslave the state' which brought deliverance to his race. Now if we must leave out of consideration gratitude and courtesy and, returning to the original question, consider the matter strictly, it is surely not an ancestral custom that aliens should rule over the children of the soil, the recipients of kindness over their benefactors, suppliants over those who gave them welcome.
But I have yet a shorter way of proving my contention. Of the Hellenic states, with the exception of ours, Argos, Thebes, and Lacedaemon were the greatest in former times and still continue to be so. Now so great was the manifest superiority of our ancestors over all others, that on behalf of the defeated Argives they dictated terms to Thebes in the height of her pride, and on behalf of the sons of Heracles they conquered in battle the Argives and the rest of the Peloponnesians, and rescued the founders of Sparta and the leaders of the Lacedaemonians from the dangers of their contest against Eurystheus. So that I do not know what clearer demonstration could be made of their sovereign power in Hellas.
Now I ought, I think, to speak also of the achievements of Athens against the barbarians, especially as the leadership of Hellas against them was the original subject of my speech. Now if I were to enumerate all the perils we went through I should be telling too long a tale; but in dealing with the greatest of them I will try to adopt the same method of narration
1 The descendants of Eurystheus and Proclus. 2 As they frequently did during the Peloponnesian war. 8 Referring to the rule of the Thirty Tyrants set up at Athens, with the co-operation of the Spartan Lysander, after the final defeat of the Athenians at Aegospotami (B.C. 405).