The Theory and Practice of Life: Isocrates and the Philosophers

  Wareh, Tarik. 2013. The Theory and Practice of Life: Isocrates and the Philosophers. Hellenic Studies Series 54. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.


Anthony A. Long, Giovanni R. F. Ferrari, and Mark Griffith supervised my first work on this topic in Berkeley. I am grateful for their continuing support. That 2003 dissertation did not yet discuss Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Plato’s Phaedrus, the biographical genre, or Isocrates’ Philip (whereas it gave significant attention to the Crito and the Euthyphro), so it was a long process of development that has led to the present book. Also at Berkeley, sociologists Robert Bellah, Ann Swidler, and Loïc Wacquant, to whom I was introduced by fellow classicist Håkan Tell, advanced my thinking about the kind of questions and answers it was worth seeking in my work; though this book is coy in its devotion to the sociological muse, it has been encouraged and changed by their teaching.

Dustin Gish of the Society for Greek Political Thought stimulated the birth of this book in its present form by inviting me to contribute to a panel at the meetings of the Northeastern Political Science Association in 2006. This presentation was the germ of chapter 1. Chapter 2 was first presented to the West Coast Plato Workshop in San Diego in the spring of 2010. I am grateful for the invitation to share my work there with an impressive assembly of open-minded philosophers. In particular, D. S. Hutchinson and Monte Ransome Johnson warmly encouraged my labors at a crucial point and generously shared with me their important ongoing work on Aristotle’s Protrepticus.

I am grateful for the assistance of a 2009 summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This work was supported in the most generous way imaginable by the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC, where I enjoyed the privilege of residency with my family for ten months in 2009–2010. Adequate thanks are impossible and would only begin with the names of every Fellow, Senior Fellow, and member of the staff and administration. Still I must mention in particular the friendly camaraderie of Sarah Ferrario and Josh Reynolds. I also thank James Clauss for believing, before I got to the CHS, in the importance of my work on literary culture in the “lost years” between Plato and Callimachus. Most of all I thank Greg Nagy. I have benefited not only from his devoted leadership of the CHS but from his inspired teaching and wise counsel.

My work from 2005 until the completion of this book was sponsored by Union College under its mission to foster the liberal arts. The college has generously provided grants (from the Humanities Research Fund) and leaves that have allowed me to pursue this work. I have also enjoyed great support from Marianne Snowden and the rest of the college’s staff. The students are the heart of the college, and this book could not have been written without their vital curiosity and willingness to confront difficult questions about everything from Aristotle’s metaphysics, Pindar’s Greek, and Medieval Latin love lyric to Ruskin, Beowulf, and King Lear. I also express my deepest thanks to my colleagues throughout the college whose unfailing support and friendship have sustained me. I have been inspired by their commitment, creativity, and integrity as scholar-teachers.

It was a pleasure to work with the expert publishing team of Jill Curry Robbins, Casey Dué, Lenny Muellner, and Kerri Cox Sullivan, and to receive the insightful comments of the press’s reader. Andrew Ford was kind enough to criticize a draft of the book’s introduction.

I am grateful for the support I have received from all my family. My parents, Faiz and Laura Wareh, first opened up the world to me as an object of love and study, and my children, Faiz and Cora, are immeasurably enriching my know-ledge of art, life, and nature.

Pattie Wareh’s suggestion that I consider the appearance of Plato and Aristotle as perfect courtiers in Castiglione’s Cortegiano can be counted only the least of her graces. In an echo of the introduction’s epigraph, she may fitly be hymned as Proclus did Athena Polymetis, ἣ βίοτον κόσμησας ὅλον πολυειδέσι τέχναις.

This book owes much to these teachers and friends, but I am sure I am responsible for its remaining faults.