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.

Chapter 5. Preaching and Patronage: The Intellectual and the King

Do the encounters of fourth-century intellectuals with the field of political power require us to change the terms of our analysis from “scholastic politics” to politics simpliciter? Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and numerous other Academics and Isocrateans had close dealings with powerful rulers in the Greek world. Yet our evidence for these episodes shows that it was inevitably as intellectuals that they addressed these rulers. Whether doing service, conferring benefit, or attacking rivals, they strove to establish their claims in terms of their philosophico-rhetorical achievements and status. This is true whether we look at the agonistic speeches for politically important individuals (in which the fourth-century’s school-adherents took the first steps towards the eventual Greek genre of biography), or at particular philosophers’ addresses to rulers (Aristotle to Hermias, Isocrates to Philip, Speusippus to Philip).

The First Obituary Eulogies for Individuals in Their Scholastic Context

Moreouer, the swete Isocrates exhorteth the kynge Nicocles, whom he instructeth, to leaue behynde him statues and images, that shall represent rather the figure and similitude of his mynde, than the features of his body, signifienge therbye the remembraunce of his actes writen in histories.

Elyot The Boke named the Governour I.xi

The encomium that traces a life from birth to death claims an unquestioned and seminal place in the history of Greek biography, and Isocrates’ foundational importance to the prose genre of such encomia has been recognized in the studies of Momigliano, Pernot, and Sonnabend. [1] However, because of an unjustly narrow and marginalizing understanding of Isocrates’ school, its contribution to the development and exploration of the genre’s possibilities has not been fully appreciated. In the fourth century, encomia of dead individuals were motivated not only by political considerations and literary ambitions, but equally by scholastic competition over the capital of intellectual authority. A brief survey of the obituary eulogies produced in the years between the death of Evagoras in 374/3 and the death of Philip in 336 will suggest that Isocrates did more than merely setting the stage with his Evagoras for Xenophon’s Agesilaus a few years later. Rather, Isocrates and Isocrateans were responsible for continued and complex contributions to encomiastic commemoration and the other genres into which it was being transformed. Thus, while it is true that these crucial early steps in the history of Greek biography were taken by intellectuals focused on Athens, we must expand the range of those whose works we take into account: not only philosophers with Socratic connections, but also Isocrates and the fragmentary remains of Isocrates’ students’ works during these years.

Isocrates as he begins Evagoras is quite self-conscious, and self-promotional, of his innovation. Even as he puts his performance in the context of established funeral contests and traditional poetic praise, he insists that he “pursues / things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme”:

Nicocles, as I saw you honor your father’s tomb not only by the abundance and beauty of the offerings, but also with dances, songs, and gymnastic contests, and in addition, with competitions involving horses and triremes, leaving no room for anyone to outdo you in these matters, I thought that, if the dead know anything about what occurs here, Evagoras gladly receives these tributes and rejoices in seeing your concern for him and your lavish expenditure, but he would be thankful above all else if someone could give a deserving account of his activities and of the dangers he undertook. … Expenditures produce none of these things but are (merely) a sign of wealth. Those who participate in music and other contests—some demonstrating their powers, others their skills—gain more recognition for themselves. But a fine speech that recounts Evagoras’ deeds would make his excellence ever-remembered among all men. … As it is, who would not become discouraged when he sees that those who lived at the time of the Trojan War and earlier are celebrated in song and on the tragic stage but realizes that he will never be thought to deserve such praises, not even if he should surpass their virtues? … particularly as we know that progress in the arts and in all other things is not due to those who adhere to the status quo but to those who make improvements and dare always to change things that are wrong. I know that what I am about to do is difficult—praising a man’s excellence through a speech. The greatest proof of this is that those who concern themselves with philosophy venture to speak on many other subjects of every different kind, but none of them has ever attempted to write on this matter. [5]

Particularly notable is that he sees his task of “giving an encomium of a man’s virtue through discourses” (ἀνδρὸς ἀρετὴν διὰ λόγων ἐγκωμιάζειν, 8) as extending the range of subjects attempted by writers concerned with philosophia. [6] The emphasis on contests is pervasive, but constructed to emphasize Isocrates’ originality. Evagoras’ funeral had mousikē and had agōnes (1), but musical contests (the natural combination of these two) are only barely mentioned explicitly: so Isocrates’ aretē-logos is easily more lasting and appropriate than the mere conspicuous consumption of athletic contests (4) and does something for a contemporary benefactor that epic and tragedy did only for ancient heroes (6). This conveniently elides the fact that media for praising the living and dead did exist (and even contests of praise-song in some rare instances [7] ). Since philosophia is itself a field of contest, the passage inevitably suggests the possibility that Isocrates’ innovative example—this festival occasion which displayed his unique didactic authority—will lead other orators to rival each other with logoi of praise, and we have to concede credit to Isocrates when we see that rival epitaphioi logoi were produced by philosophia-types in the following decades, a phenomenon for which we do not find a close parallel earlier, even in verse. Eventually, indeed, this type of contest came to seem so natural that some liked to read, in the Iliadic account of Patroclus’ funeral games, not καὶ ῥ’ ἥμονες ἄνδρες ἀνέσταν, “and the spear-thrower men stood up,” but (by merging the rho of ἄρα with ἥμονες), “and the orator men [otherwise unattested ῥήμονες] stood up.” [8]

Evagoras innovatively applies these themes to a new, biographical, kind of discourse, but they are drawn from the well-established terms of Isocrates’ self-definition as orator and philosopher. The proem of the Panegyricus, published several years earlier, [9] had also combined the motifs of rhetorical competition and virtuous self-cultivation. Isocrates’ claim is similar, too: he will supplant the traditional ceremonial agōnes of the body with an indefatigable labor-in-speech:

I have often marveled that those who established panegyric festivals and set up athletic contests considered athletic success [tas tōn sōmatōn eutukhias] worthy of such great prizes, but established no such prize for those who work hard as private citizens for the public good and prepare their own lives [tas hautōn psukhas] so that they can benefit others. They should have given more thought to the latter, for even if the athletes acquired twice their current strength, there would be no greater benefit for the people, while if one person has good ideas, all who wish to share in those ideas would benefit. Nonetheless, I have not lost heart about these things or chosen to give up. Rather, I think that there is sufficient reward for me in the glory this discourse will bring, and so I have come to give advice about the war against the barbarians and the need for unity among ourselves. I know that many who claim to be sophists have attempted this task, but I expect to speak so much better that people will think nothing has ever even been spoken on these matters before, and I consider those discourses most beautiful that treat the greatest subjects, best demonstrate the speaker’s talent, and most help those who hear them. This is just such a discourse.

Isocrates Panegyricus 1–4 (trans. after Papillon 2004)

The claim of a transcendently original achievement echoes Evagoras (ὥστε τοῖς ἄλλοις μηδὲν πώποτε δοκεῖν εἰρῆσθαι περὶ αὐτῶν, Panegyricus 4 = περὶ δὲ τῶν τοιούτων οὐδεὶς πώποτ’ αὐτῶν συγγράφειν ἐπεχείρησεν, Evagoras 8), as does the need to contrast it with the deficient efforts of intellectual rivals (τῶν προσποιησαμένων εἶναι σοφιστῶν, Panegyricus 3 = οἱ περὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν ὄντες, Evagoras 8). [10] The Panegyricus’s opposition between bodies and souls (sōmata vs. psukhai) has been taken up in the Evagoras’s contrast between martial and gymnastic contests and fame (the phrase gumnikoi agōnes occurs in the first sentence of both orations), and what is owed to aretē. (The idea is more fully applied to the royal addressee in To Nicocles 11, again in the contest of festival assemblies [panēgureis]: “Kings are required to train their souls as no athlete trains his body—for none of the public festivals offers the sort of challenge you [kings] undertake each day.” [11] ) Even the dejection one might feel about the world’s mistaken priorities, over which Isocrates will prevail, is transferred from one speech to the other (οὐ μὴν ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀθυμήσας εἱλόμην ῥᾳθυμεῖν, Panegyricus 3 = νῦν δὲ τίς οὐκ ἂν ἀθυμήσειεν, Evagoras 6). The significant shift is from the many scores of references to the first-person-plural addressee of the Panegyricus to the second-person-singular address in Evagoras to Nicocles, the bereaved heir. In both cases Isocrates plants his care for virtue and the soul in what he hopes is fertile ground, but in Evagoras his didactic authority does not simply assert itself over all the rival policy proposals the Greeks might consider, but serves more subtly as a vehicle for immortalizing the father’s virtue by transmitting it to the son (and the wider audience) for imitation.

Not many years after Isocrates’ Evagoras, when Xenophon’s son Gryllus died valiantly in the Battle of Mantinea in 362, Aristotle reports a flood of enkōmia kai epitaphion that sought to ingratiate their authors with Xenophon (soon to be a practitioner of the genre with his Agesilaus), and Hermippus mentions that Isocrates was one of the encomiasts:

φησὶ δ’ Ἀριστοτέλης ὅτι ἐγκώμια καὶ ἐπιτάφιον Γρύλλου μυρίοι ὅσοι συνέγραψαν, τὸ μέρος καὶ τῷ πατρὶ χαριζόμενοι. ἀλλὰ καὶ Ἕρμιππος ἐν τῷ Περὶ Θεοφράστου καὶ Ἰσοκράτην Γρύλλου φησὶ ἐγκώμιον γεγραφέναι.

Aristotle says that a huge number of authors have composed an encomium or an epitaph in honor of Gryllus, partly also as a compliment to his father. And indeed, Hermippus declares in his work On Theophrastus that Isocrates, too, wrote a eulogy on Gryllus.

Diogenes Laertius 2.55 = Aristotle fr. 68 R3, F 38 Gigon = Hermippus FGrHistCont 1026 F 34 ed. Bollansée 1999 (trans. Bollansée)

From murioi, from the base motivation of kharizomenoi, and from the subtitle of Aristotle’s own GryllusOn Rhetoric [
12] —we can infer that Aristotle did indeed weigh in on the nature of rhetoric [13] and on the excesses and deficiencies of how the new kind of epitaphios logos was already being put to use. While the participation of Isocrates, the genre’s founder, suggests that Aristotle’s work was anti-Isocratean (perhaps in a dialogic way [14] ), the two philosophoi were surely contesting the same basic claim we saw Isocrates stake in Evagoras: fitting praise of truly praiseworthy and virtuous qualities. [15] In any case, the fact that the myriad funeral orations for Gryllus provoked Aristotle to write his first work on the nature of rhetoric raises at least the possibility that these too, produced by school adherents experimenting with the new genre, self-consciously laid out important aspirations for what rhetoric could do, and how.

What we know about the careers of the Isocrateans who competed in this perfect-storm event confirms our impression of the school’s wide interests: intellectual and professional versatility is characteristic of all of them. Theopompus seems to have practiced a more hot-tempered version of Isocrates’ careful modulation between encomiastic praise and didactic correction. He praised Mausolus for oratorical glory in words that have perished, but his diagnosis of Mausolus in his History as a man who would do anything for money has fortuitously survived (F 299). Photius’ Life of Theopompus records a fragment (F 25) in which Theopompus uses the same favorite money theme to compare Isocrates and Theodectes’ dependence on paid rhetorical activities unfavorably with the self-sufficiency he and Naucrates of Erythrae enjoyed. Theopompus also wrote both encomia (F 257/T 8) and blame (psogos, T 8) of Alexander. Theopompus is famous to us as a historian, and he was also an impressive orator (F 25), but, just as Theodectes and Isocrates of Apollonia may have Platonic connections, [21] so too Theopompus (as we have seen) even wrote a work, Against the Diatribē of Plato, whose arguments against the Theory of Forms were serious enough to be cited in good philosophical company by Simplicius. As I have argued, these connections may help explain the savage treatment he receives in Speusippus’ Letter to Philip alongside the elderly Isocrates and Isocrates of Apollonia, of whom he says (11), “You would quickly learn … what Isocrates’ educational system amounts to … from the fact that he proclaimed his Pontic student as heir to his wisdom—a more loathsome fellow you, who have encountered many sophists, have never seen.” [22] Indeed, it is important to remember that being a monarch meant dealing with loathsome sophists (however unfair this particular slur may be), and that negotiating with intellectuals for their specific capital was a burden of policy and not a pastime. [23]

What about when Philip himself died in 336? We have fragmentary evidence suggesting some of the possibilities, with their attendant opportunities for accusations of loathsome sophistry. We have already mentioned the ambiguous title of Isocrates of Apollonia’s work On Not Performing a Taphos for Philip, following in the wake of his necessarily political Amphictyonic Speech. [27] I am inclined to believe [28] that the younger Isocrates had not turned on Philip like Theopompus but was carrying on the idea of immortalization his teacher expressed in Philip 134. [29] Isocrates of Athens had offered the living Philip a share in athanasia midwifed by his own rhetorical fashioning of the ruler’s significance in the world, and so his homonymous Pontic successor may well have memorialized the king in a way that looked insistently beyond the grave. But then, an anecdote from Plutarch’s Life of Demosthenes shows how dyspeptically a Demosthenes would choke on that kind of encomium:

Or how did it happen that, when [ca. 324 BC] Lamachus the Smyrnaean had written an encomium on Kings Philip and Alexander, in which many injurious things were said of Thebes and Olynthus, Demosthenes came forward and rehearsed with historical proofs all the benefits which the peoples of Thebes and Chalcidice had conferred upon Greece, and, on the other hand, all the evils of which the flatterers of the Macedonians had been the cause, and thereby so turned the minds of the audience that the sophist was terrified at the outcry against him and slunk away from the festival assemblage?

Here, Lamachus of Smyrna is playing what is by now the banal and familiar game of prose eulogy for the deceased Philip and his living successor.

As politically irreconcilable as Demosthenes and Isocrates may have been, the anecdote reminds us of how strenuously Isocrates had worked to cast himself as something above the ingratiating flatterer. He didn’t feel comfortable adding to the mass of encomia once they started to pour in from all quarters, and his form of address to Philip had left him open to attack by Speusippus for failing to take just the kind of obsequious line Lamachus is said to have pursued. Isocrates himself was always making compromises, and yet he fought against the trend that led to the empty conventions of panegyric and the excesses of “rhetorical history.” His quasi-philosophical insistence on didactic independence and on the canons of virtue speaks about the unusual mix of literary ambitions and practices in his circle, which were very much of their time. Their future developments perhaps have more to do with the philosopher and historian’s authority to judge lives and events than with any developments in oratory itself.

Hermias of Atarneus and Theocritus of Chios

Hermias’ association with the Academy begins but does not end with the Platonic Epistle VI. [34] This purports to be Plato’s intervention to resolve any discord between the ruler and his philosopher neighbors (Erastus and Coriscus). The Academics are capable of being the trustworthy friends of Hermias, whose power (dunamis) they need if they are not to neglect wisdom in their life outside the Academy; Hermias, in turn, is admonished that his dunamis depends more on dependable friends (philoi) than on his supplies of wealth or war equipment. The three are thus urged each to do their part to create and maintain a single intertwining embrace of philia and to write to Plato for healing words if this is difficult. [35] A striking verbal repetition underscores that the process by which they will cement their bond to each other is the same as the philosophic mode of life that leads to the ultimate blessings:

πάλιν εἰς τὴν προϋπάρχουσαν φιλότητά τε καὶ κοινωνίαν, ἣν ἂν μὲν φιλοσοφῶμεν ἅπαντες ἡμεῖς τε καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὅσον ἂν δυνώμεθα καὶ ἑκάστῳ παρείκῃ, κύρια τὰ νῦν κεχρησμῳδημένα ἔσται. … καὶ χρῆσθαι συνθήκῃ καὶ νόμῳ κυρίῳ, ὅ ἐστιν δίκαιον, ἐπομνύντας σπουδῇ τε ἅμα μὴ ἀμούσῳ καὶ τῇ τῆς σπουδῆς ἀδελφῇ παιδιᾷ, καὶ τὸν τῶν πάντων θεὸν ἡγεμόνα τῶν τε ὄντων καὶ τῶν μελλόντων, τοῦ τε ἡγεμόνος καὶ αἰτίου πατέρα κύριον ἐπομνύντας, ὅν, ἂν ὄντως φιλοσοφῶμεν, εἰσόμεθα πάντες σαφῶς εἰς δύναμιν ἀνθρώπων εὐδαιμόνων.

323b7–c3 and c8–d6 (trans. Morrow 1997, corrected)

Far from the Academy, some power (dunamis) will be needed to preserve the orientation of these men towards wisdom. This security comes from a universal kurios patēr, a god-monarch-philosopher who sanctions the bond that keeps them safe in the harsh world. Such an authority recalls the problematic of the Laws in Crito: it provides the basic social framework within which philosophy can be preserved in the brave new world apart from the Academy’s “men of moderation and goodwill.” For Erastus and Coriscus have been uprooted from this Athenian milieu. Hermias’ role in Academic society is revealed in how he is here addressed together with the trained philosophers and given this solemn philosophical charge in common with them. This makes an obvious contrast with the two letters we have considered in which the philosophical guidance of Plato’s student is recommended in a direct (and more politically down-to-earth) address to the monarch.

Theocritus’ style of participation in scholastic polemics is best seen in the “sarcastic comment on Aristotle’s hymn and epigram” that he composed as an immediate response. [43]

These verses seem to have had an effect: their popularity can be seen in the fact that they reach us in four traditions. [
45] Düring aptly appreciates the value of the ditty’s clear attestation: “This contemporary evidence is extremely valuable, not only on account of the factual knowledge it affords, but also because it proves that the unfavourable biographical tradition was already strong in Aristotle’s lifetime.” [46] One of the sources, Didymus’ fragmentary commentary on Demosthenes, also preserves Theopompus’ similar but more obviously scholastic abuse of Hermias and thus is now the central document for the Hermias tradition. [47] This all comes under the heading “What those who have left a written record of Hermias of Atarneus say about him” (Περὶ Ἑρμίου τοῦ Ἀταρνείτου τί λέγουσιν οἱ τὰ περὶ αὐτὸν ἀναγράψαντες). [48]

It is the second half of the epigram I find most interesting, since here the criticisms being flung might be heard as professional in nature. The accusation of “incontinence of belly” (akrateia gastros) recalls, even more than any number of Platonic or Isocratean [49] passages, Theopompus’ veritable obsession in his Philippica with rulers and nations given over to pleasure (especially Philip and Athens), and with the anthropology of pleasure in Greek versus barbarian society. [50] But it is in the final barb that we most clearly sense Theocritus’ professional odium: “He chose to dwell at the mouths of Borboros [51] instead of at the Academy.” Here we could not be farther from the spirit of Antiphanes’ smear on Theodectes, which was a satire of intellectuals. No doubt such a dig at Aristotle could have been rich. But Theocritus cannot afford to undermine the entire scheme of value in which the schools are competing for intellectual prestige, the political capital specifically restricted to those who have entered the field and accepted the worth of scholastic judgments. Theocritus’ interest is rather in striking precisely where Aristotle can be hurt in these specific terms, and for this purpose Aristotle’s (potentially) unseemly dissociation from the Academy to live under Hermias’ protection offers the greatest polemical payoff, a strategy in which Theocritus need not take on the task of demolishing the Academics’ right to respect in the narrow and wider worlds, but can actually turn the Academy’s capital against Aristotle. This is in much the same way that a modern intellectual might better humiliate an opponent by saddling the exponent of a rival school of criticism with an insinuation that he or she falls short of the rival school’s own intellectual standards. Why couldn’t this pupil of Plato’s have resisted the prospect of serving a eunuch slave? He was ill-natured. (Oh, and who are those Academics, now that you mention it, and what are they really up to?)

Isocrates’ Philip

It is worthwhile to read alongside each other Isocrates’ discourse Philip and the Letter to Philip of Speusippus, Plato’s successor as head of the Academy. For we have, in these two texts, directly competing bids for influence with Philip from the same decade, the 340s. Isocrates made his address in 346, at the age of ninety, soon after the Peace of Philocrates, and Speusippus sent his letter (with its explicit attack on Isocrates’ discourse) perhaps just three and a half years later—though these were eventful years that saw expanding Macedonian conquest and political control. In such times as these, Isocrates impressively maintains a more classically didactic stance, which dares not only to urge on Philip Isocrates’ pet project of a Panhellenic campaign against Persia, but even to defend Athens’ claim to Amphipolis. This didactic stance strongly contrasts with Speusippus’ nakedly partisan intriguing, and I will look for the right context within which to account for these striking differences.

The most important generic cues in Isocrates’ Philip, for my purposes, relate to Isocrates’ expression of his own authority as a speaker. In an opening section that tackles the delicate and controversial matter of Amphipolis, he quickly establishes his ability to speak independently and impartially: “I tried not to give the same advice about this city and its territory as either your advisors or the rhetors here, but to differ as much as I could from their point of view” (Isocrates Philip 2). What is interesting to me here is that the very same claim that would pass as a commonplace in a discourse made for an Athenian audience—an impartial and uncorrupted stance that will allow the speaker to give fair advice to his fellow-citizens in the jury or Assembly—undergoes a transformation of meaning when addressed to Philip. Isocrates refuses to assign himself the limited perspective of an Athenian politician or of a Macedonian partisan. Symbuleutic discourse normally takes place within a single arena such as those from which Isocrates here detaches himself: it aims at the interest of a single sovereign entity, whether the dēmos or the king. [53] All of Isocrates’ other deliberative works fit this model. If we insist on seeing the Philip as politics, we have to credit Isocrates, as many have, with a novel kind of politics, which is well enough. But in devising a politikos logos that claims to work outside of the normal arenas, Isocrates is reaching beyond politics, and towards the autonomous didactic authority of the wise man or of (to use the word popularized in Plato and Isocrates’ schools) the philosopher. This is strikingly different, not only from the civic discourse practiced by Athenian politicians in Athens’ interest, but also from Speusippus’ assumption that it is right to pursue Philip’s interests without qualms. [54]

First, Isocrates relates his students’ criticism of the kind of address he proposes to send to Philip. This typically Isocratean device at once separates Isocrates from the normal political arena by evoking the scholastic milieu. The students’ main point is that it is absurd for Isocrates to presume to send deliberative advice to someone as brilliantly successful in battle and politics as Philip: “You are on the verge of sending a discourse that will send advice [sumbouleusonta logon] to Philip … Don’t you think that [Philip] will … conclude that the sender is quite confused [diapseusthai] about the power of his discourses [logoi] and his own wisdom [dianoia]?” (Philip 18, 21). The students suggest that Isocrates’ presumption is gross self-deception about the power of logoi and his own intelligence. By rejecting this criticism, Isocrates clearly asserts the power of intelligence and logoi over even a ruler such as Philip.

Isocrates’ students make their criticism in direct response to their teacher’s proposal of a genre for his address:

When I revealed to them that I was going to send you a discourse that would not make a display of my talent [epideixis] and would not praise [enkōmiasomenon] the wars that you have waged—for others will do this—but one that tried to encourage [protrepein] you toward deeds that were more fitting, more noble, and more advantageous for you than those you have now chosen …

Philip 17

It is interesting that they expect their teacher rather to make an epidictic display or an artful encomium. This more-than-political text, we are told in this passage, is not epideixis, but rather protreptic, and there is some reason to hear a resonance of the philosophical use of that term. Most immediately, what Isocrates says here: a logos that will attempt to urge Philip on to nobler deeds than the ones he has currently chosen. This echoes an important principle expressed in Isocrates’ To Nicocles, a text that has been recognized as at the very head of the long European tradition of wise men’s open advice to princes: [
56] “Those who educate private citizens [idiōtas] benefit only them, but if someone turns those in charge of [kratountas] the people to virtue, he would benefit both those holding positions of authority [dunasteias] and their subjects” (To Nicocles 8). In short, urge on a ruler to aretē, and you will benefit both him and his subjects. Isocrates’ philosophia is practical and focused on excellent actions (especially in public life). His discourse Philip is certainly based on the Macedonian king’s special status and influence, but it nonetheless casts his royal addressee in the role of a student of Isocratean philosophia. [57]

This is confirmed when Isocrates uses a key term of his school’s training, kairos, the occasion of life at which the most successful and talented students crystalize all their training into action:

Therefore, since all these cities have acted in this way, you should never have had a dispute with any of them. Nevertheless, we are all naturally more prone to do wrong than to do right, and thus we can rightly ascribe prior mistakes to a common failing, but from now on, you must be on your guard that nothing like it happens to you again. You must also consider what good you can accomplish for them to make it clear that you have done things that are both worthy of yourself and a worthy response to their prior actions. You now have a prime opportunity [kairos].

Philip 35f.

Here Isocrates, after didactically delivering some particularly harsh criticisms of Philip’s political mistakes, seems to explain his license to do so by the urgency of exploiting the kairos that is now available to Philip.

Many other passages in Philip continue Isocrates’ unrelenting focus on intellect, both Isocrates’ and Philip’s, and on the paradox by which the teacher and speaker has the authority to give strategic counsel to the military expert. [58] This is of a piece with Isocrates’ elsewhere labeling his address to the Athenian jury in Antidosis as “instruction” (Antidosis 29), and seeing promise in Philip’s successor’s reputation for being philosophos (Epistle 5). In the Philip, Isocrates and Philip are teacher and student, roles that are emphasized by several framing references to an additional, scholastic audience. In the opening pages of the Philip, in a passage extolling Isocrates’ project far above the trivialities of the epidictic usually peddled at Panhellenic gatherings, he says that this discourse aims to set a pattern or example for his students:

ἠβουλήθην ἅμα τοῖς πρὸς σὲ λεγομένοις καὶ τοῖς μετ’ ἐμοῦ διατρίψασιν ὑποδεῖξαι καὶ ποιῆσαι φανερὸν ὅτι τὸ μὲν ταῖς πανηγύρεσιν ἐνοχλεῖν καὶ πρὸς ἅπαντας λέγειν τοὺς συντρέχοντας ἐν αὐταῖς πρὸς οὐδένα λέγειν ἐστὶν.

I wished at the same time to make a demonstration by example for my students and to make it clear to them that being an annoyance at Panhellenic gatherings and speaking to everyone who gathers together for them is tantamount to speaking to no one.

Philip 12

Midway through, Isocrates frets about the adequacy of his present arguments to the high purpose of “making others who are engaged in philosophia more adept” but takes comfort in the fact that others, presumably his students, will follow through on the pattern he has traced in outline (with the common sense of hupodeixai and hupographein further linking this to the passage just cited): “my discourse Panegyricus, which made others who are engaged in learning [tous peri tēn philosophian diatribontas] more adept … But I still think I will sketch [hupograpsein] out a pleasant discourse for those who can fill in the details and complete it [exergazesthai kai diaponein]” (Philip 84f.). Finally, this scholastic frame is completed in the discourse’s very last sentences, when Isocrates assigns to his plural “hearers” the right to measure his work against the standards of kairoi and exactitude: [
59] “It is right for me to learn from you, my audience [par’ humōn tōn akouontōn], whether these things have been written with timeliness [tois kairois] and accuracy [tais akribeiais]” (Philip 155).

Isocrates’ Philip and Speusippus’ Letter to Philip

And yet, after the death of Isocrates, the meager fragmentary remains of Plato and Isocrates’ students seem to show an excess of precisely the empty polemical wrangling that is comparatively so hard to find in the vast Platonic and Isocratean corpuses. This raises the question of whether Speusippus’ letter, even if in its moment it was an impotent attempt to remedy the Academy’s political weakness, does not herald a new form of philosophical contest that prevailed within at least one mid-fourth-century circle of philosophical culture.

Speusippus’ Letter to Philip

One has seen that Philip was not exactly a philistine. Certainly there is no evidence of his personal devotion to any area of literature or the arts that can be compared (for example) to Alexander’s famous love of Homer. But there is no need, either, to dismiss his known connection with literary figures as purely utilitarian on both sides. Orators, historians, actors, philosophers addressed themselves to him. Were they all in it simply for the money? Was his time (and money) spent on them merely for the prestige or the propaganda? The men themselves are shadowy figures for us, mostly, one or two of them (whose personality can still make some impression) somewhat unpleasing. (I think especially of Speusippus and probably Callisthenes and Theopompus.) The greatest mind of the day, however, and one which gives an impression of suffering neither fools nor knaves gladly, was able evidently to put up with Philip.

Among all the evidence, much of it fragmentary, from which we can reconstruct a historical picture of the Academic and Isocratean cohorts’ status, relations, and corporate maneuvering for patronage during the lifetime of Philip, perhaps the most crucial document is a complete letter from Speusippus to Philip that is full of prima facie indications identifying it as an Academic intervention of 343/2 against the Isocrateans’ growing critical mass of influence at the Macedonian court. (Most notably, the letter interrupts its extended tirade against Isocrates to denounce the anti-Academic machinations of Isocrates’ alleged student Theopompus at Philip’s court.) The potential evidentiary import of this text demands a careful assessment of its value. A completely new appraisal of the historical and discursive contexts and content of the Speusippean letter would be beyond the scope of this study; fortunately, the recent study of Natoli, the first attempt at such an appraisal since Bickermann and Sykutris’s pathfinding 1928 edition and investigation, remedies this lack to a large extent and is a valuable new historical approach to the text. [
71] Both of these thorough and careful reviews deemed the letter genuine. However, we still must ground our new assessment of the letter’s plausibility and significance on a full and critical consideration of some of the arguments that were made over it in the wake of Bickermann and Sykutris. Most particularly, this means reviewing in some detail the arguments put forward by Lucio Bertelli in two articles that critiqued Bickermann’s reasons for affirming two key aspects of the text’s historicity: its purported date and its purported Speusippean authorship. [72]

Bertelli’s faithful dedication to historical criticism was, in the end, destined only to illuminate small cracks in Bickermann’s conclusions, but it is in these interstices that a revised set of assumptions about the nature of the scholastic groups and their rivalries can most profitably be applied. That Bertelli ended up strengthening the arguments for the letter’s provenance from an Academic circle late in the first decade of Philip’s reign only increases the value of this discussion, since our chief goal is to clarify and test the explanatory power of a revised view of the scholastic context within which such figures as Speusippus and Theopompus were operating—and these assumptions are of disproportionate importance in the small differences asserted by Bertelli (e.g. the implausibility of Speusippean authorship versus the plausibility of authorship by Heraclides Ponticus or Aristotle). Special attention must be paid to whether a consideration of the literary and generic affiliations of such personalities beyond the fields in which they have traditionally been placed (Academic philosophy, “rhetorical” historiography) will help explain their motivations or rhetorical strategies. Moreover, a fresh reading of the grounds for Bertelli’s doubts will show that they do not require us to doubt the value of the Letter to Philip for a historical understanding of the position of Academics and Isocrateans vis-à-vis Philip’s court.

A Philosopher at Court: Euphraeus in Carystius, the Letter to Philip, and Demosthenes

Our eventual goal is to fit the Letter to Philip into a larger historical understanding of the literary figures named or alluded to in it, the patterns of their interactions, the schools to which they belonged, the range of their intellectual and political motivations and strategies of self-presentation, and the criteria that made something topical and worth arguing over to such persons—for these are all matters bearing on the authenticity as well as the interpretation of the Letter to Philip, and ones on which Bertelli’s arguments also deserve attention. Before proceeding to these questions, however, I will discuss the more basic issues surrounding the letter’s authentically Speusippean textual tradition. [80] These issues were raised by Bertelli in an investigation founded on the reassessment of Carystius’ apparent citation from the Letter to Philip, preserved in Athenaeus 11.506e. In this passage, Athenaeus sums up his several examples, all tending to illustrate Plato’s alleged tendencies to engage in combative personal polemics:

Bertelli identifies two problematic discrepancies in Carystius that he interprets as evidence for an original of which the Letter to Philip may be a recreation or reelaboration. One of these discrepancies is a matter of expository technique and verbal expression, and we will consider this at length before proceeding to the other divergence, which concerns the facts, too, and which is the sole point on which Bertelli finds corroboration outside the Athenaeus passage for his view that Carystius constitutes an independent textual tradition.

To begin with, corresponding to Speusippus Letter to Philip 12, ὥσπερ οὐ Πλάτωνος τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ἀρχῆς ἐπὶ Περδίκκου κατασκευάσαντος, we find in Athenaeus-Carystius, ὥσπερ ἀγνοοῦντας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ὅτι καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς βασιλείας Φίλιππος διὰ Πλάτωνος ἔσχεν, followed by the explanation about Euphraeus quoted above. While recognizing that this is a paraphrase or a quotation from memory (introduced by Carystius with ἔγραψέ τι τοιοῦτον), Bertelli suggests that two differences are significant.

This is a question best answered through judicious use of a flawed source—namely, Carystius himself, who, in addition to his endorsement of the account by “Speusippus” that sees Euphraeus as instrumental in Philip’s rise to power, relates how the incredible snobbery with which he excluded the ungeometrical and unphilosophical from the royal hetairia’s commensality brought about his arrest and execution once Philip took the throne. [86] The Academic’s abuse of his courtly privileges is described in language that recalls Speusippus’ assault on the position of the Isocratean Theopompus in the Letter to Philip. In each source, the learned courtier is slanderous (blasphēmein, Letter to Philip 12; diabolos, Athenaeus 11.508e), engages in meddlesome activity introduced by the predicative use of the psukhr– stem (παρ’ ὑμῖν μὲν εἶναι πάνυ ψυχρόν, Letter to Philip 12; ψυχρῶς συνέταξε τὴν ἑταιρίαν τοῦ βασιλέως, Athenaeus 11.508e), and occupies his position at court through an injustice that must be or has been repaired by his elimination from account (ὑπὸ πάντων ἐξαλειφόμενος, Letter to Philip 12; λαβὼν ἀπέκτεινεν, Athenaeus 11.508e). If we are at all ready to accept that these charges could be made against Theopompus, in what was eventually a successful campaign to shore up the courtly influence of the wider Academic circle, then perhaps we can entertain the hypothesis that Carystius, too, has preserved the kernel of Euphraeus’ situation. Carystius has the advantage of being the only source for Euphraeus’ career that explicitly characterizes both his influence under Perdiccas and his disfavor under Philip. Even if this picture is colored with lurid tones, none of the other available information contradicts the basic idea of Euphraeus’ abruptly altered position vis-à-vis the monarchy.

What, then, was Euphraeus’ status at Perdiccas’ court? For this period we have, in addition to the Letter to Philip and Carystius, another important independent source—the fifth Platonic letter. [87] This text, which purports to be Plato’s recommendation of Euphraeus to Perdiccas, characterizes Euphraeus’ potential role in the king’s service:

πολλὰ μὲν γὰρ ὁ ἀνὴρ χρήσιμος, μέγιστον δὲ οὗ καὶ σὺ νῦν ἐνδεὴς εἶ διά τε τὴν ἡλικίαν καὶ διὰ τὸ μὴ πολλοὺς αὐτοῦ πέρι συμβούλους εἶναι τοῖς νέοις. ἔστιν γὰρ δή τις φωνὴ τῶν πολιτειῶν ἑκάστης καθαπερεί τινων ζῴων, ἄλλη μὲν δημοκρατίας, ἄλλη δ’ ὀλιγαρχίας, ἡ δ’ αὖ μοναρχίας· ταύτας φαῖεν μὲν ἂν ἐπίστασθαι πάμπολλοι, πλεῖστον δ’ ἀπολείπονται τοῦ κατανοεῖν αὐτὰς πλὴν ὀλίγων δή τινων. ἥτις μὲν ἂν οὖν τῶν πολιτειῶν τὴν αὑτῆς φθέγγηται φωνὴν πρός τε θεοὺς καὶ πρὸς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ τῇ φωνῇ τὰς πράξεις ἑπομένας ἀποδιδῷ, θάλλει τε ἀεὶ καὶ σῴζεται, μιμουμένη δ’ ἄλλην φθείρεται. πρὸς ταῦτ’ οὖν Εὐφραῖός σοι γίγνοιτ’ οὐχ ἥκιστα ἂν χρήσιμος, καίπερ καὶ πρὸς ἄλλα ὢν ἀνδρεῖος· τοὺς γὰρ τῆς μοναρχίας λόγους οὐχ ἥκιστ’ αὐτὸν ἐλπίζω συνεξευρήσειν τῶν περὶ τὴν σὴν διατριβὴν ὄντων· εἰς ταῦτ’ οὖν αὐτῷ χρώμενος ὀνήσῃ τε αὐτὸς καὶ ἐκεῖνον πλεῖστα ὠφελήσεις.

The man can be of service to you in many ways, but most of all in supplying what you now lack, for you are young and there are not many who can counsel young men about it. Constitutions, like species of animals, have each their own language—democracy one, oligarchy another, and monarchy still another. Many persons would say they know these languages [phōnai, cf. Republic 493b3–5], but for the most part, and with rare exceptions, they fall short of understanding them. The constitution that speaks its own language to gods and men, and suits its actions to its words [phōnē], always prospers and survives; but it goes to ruin if it imitates another. Now in this Euphraeus can perhaps be of most use to you, though he will be a manly aid in other respects as well; I believe that he can search out the words [logoi] appropriate to monarchy as well as any man in your service. Use him, then, for this, and you will not only profit yourself but confer upon him a very great benefit.

Plato Epistle V 321d2–322a4 (trans. Morrow 1997)

This passage puts the emphasis squarely on Euphraeus’ qualifications in political theory, despite its speaking of utility to a real monarch. Even Euphraeus’ potential rivals in “searching out the logoi of monarchy”—whom we might easily imagine as products of a less philosophical and more conventional political paideia—are classed as “those connected with your diatribē,” a word in which it is hard not to hear philosophical or scholastic connotations when it is applied to a serious pursuit. [

We need not imagine this alliance as exclusively “philosophical” in character, but we may suppose that the connection depended more on Perdiccas’ personal approval than on conventional political credentials. Part of the reason for this is simply that Perdiccas did not most require dyed-in-the-wool partisans—the kind of factional propagandists made necessary only by Philip’s ambitions in Greece. [90] The Speusippean Letter to Philip corroborates this view. Plato is defended from Theopompus’ slander for two reasons given in parallel—his “having established the arkhē of your rule in Perdiccas’ time” and what sounds like his repeated intervention (e.g. through Euphraeus?) to smooth out discord between Perdiccas and Philip (12, “as if Plato had not … invariably borne it hardly if anything ungentle or unbrotherly arose between you”). Each service, here claimed as a benefaction to Philip, directly involved Perdiccas’ affairs when Perdiccas was king. It is telling if the best praise Speusippus can give Plato is a diplomatically vague allusion to a service that may really have been rendered not for Philip’s sake, and not for the sake of Macedonian rule per se, but in the course of a solicitous and personal concern for the affairs of the temperamentally quite different Perdiccas. [91] In other words, this allusion may have the defensive tone of, “Even if it didn’t seem friendly to come between you and Perdiccas then, and even if it involved the offices of Euphraeus, a man I am loath to name since you may consider him as psukhros as the evil-tongued Theopompus about whom I have just warned you, consider in retrospect how necessary it all was to the eventual establishment of your present position.” In any case, Demosthenes’ tribute to Euphraeus’ stance in Oreus confirms our impression that Euphraeus’ understanding with Perdiccas meant that he was not destined to be a favorite of Philip—indeed, quite the opposite.

Thus Bertelli attaches value to the fact that there is no clear counterpart in Carystius to the Letter to Philip’s statement of Plato’s directly and personally taking an interest in negotiating an ease to trouble between the royal brothers. [94] Yet we have seen above that this problematically personal intervention by Plato and his pupil can be used as a key to resolve Euphraeus’ opposite situation vis-à-vis Perdiccas and Philip. Anyway, when Carystius goes beyond the Letter to Philip and spells out that it was Euphraeus through whose offices Philip’s prospects for kingship were made easier, it is quite clear that Euphraeus is Plato’s instrument (Εὐφραῖον γὰρ ἀπέστειλε τὸν Ὠρείτην πρὸς Περδίκκαν Πλάτων, ὃς ἔπεισεν ἀπομερίσαι τινὰ χώραν Φιλίππῳ, Athenaeus 11.506ef). In all fairness it is hard to see anything of significance in the Letter to Philip text (12, Πλάτωνος … καὶ διὰ τέλους χαλεπῶς φέροντος, εἴ τι γίγνοιτο παρ’ ὑμῖν ἀνήμερον ἢ μὴ φιλάδελφον) that is not explicitly or implicitly covered in this sentence of Athenaeus. Yet this is Bertelli’s claim. [95] Given that our text of Carystius consists of the mere scraps Athenaeus has stitched into his own text, it is the extensive convergences with the Letter to Philip that should impress us rather than such a divergence as this. We must also be sure we are not discounting the possibility of other sources to which Carystius may have had access, which might make the “richness” of his information not simply a function of his usage of one fixed epistolary text.

Finally, to get to the crux of Bertelli’s objections to the Euphraeus–Perdiccas connection, we must consider the criteria by which he chose to rely on Demosthenes’ portrayal, excluding any reading that tries to flesh out what we learn from the fifth Platonic letter in the light of Carystius’ story of a flamboyant philosopher who negotiated Philip’s status during his brother’s reign. For Bertelli, the problem of Carystius’ colorful excesses is compounded by the alleged fact that he garbles the story of Euphraeus’ life—particularly, the story of his death. [97] This utter historical unreliability is essential to demonstrate if we are going to use Demosthenes’ “anti-Macedonian” (anti-Philip, at least) Euphraeus to deny any “political” significance (in any sense) to the fifth Platonic letter. But it is on this point that Bertelli overreaches the most, appealing to Theodor Gomperz’s 1882 article, “Die Akademie und ihr vermeintlicher Philomacedonismus,” in support of his thesis that Carystius is “un ben cattivo lettore di Demostene.” [98] Gomperz had indeed claimed that Carystius’ account of Euphraeus’ death could be rejected after a comparison to what Demosthenes says in the Third Philippic, [99] but it is critical to know what Bertelli does not tell us, that Gomperz was utterly unaware of the existence of the actual Letter to Philip; for him, any “letter of Speusippus” was known only through the reference to it in Athenaeus-Carystius. [100] When the Letter to Philip (whose somewhat different pedigree, and thus independent value, from the Carystian citation Bertelli himself has ably demonstrated) is taken into account, the formula is changed for evaluating fairly the historical evidence concerning Euphraeus’ final days. I have already explained why an enmity between Euphraeus and Philip, following Philip’s succession of Perdiccas, need not be regarded as a strange reversal of the Academic’s sympathies; indeed, this would be an unsound “political” reading (mistaking enduring international factional commitments, rather than the more tenuous project of seeking scholastic influence and patronage, as the motive for a philosopher’s encounters with statesmen).

Even Demosthenes’ version may ultimately make more sense if its character “Euphraeus” is more a philosopher than a political force. Even if its necessary priority is denied, its nature as public speech requires us to relate its various claims to what was arguable and potentially believable at the time of its delivery. Demosthenes’ rhetorical motivations are every bit as palpable as Carystius’. Just as Speusippus is eager to claim Euphraeus’ alleged benefaction in the name of Plato without bringing any residual odium too directly to mind, so too Demosthenes wishes to evoke the very convenient moment of Euphraeus’ unyielding bitterness and endurance of his opportunistic countrymen’s hatred when the Macedonian army was at the gates. This made for good rhetoric even if this crisis was an ironic vicissitude in the context of the Academic’s whole life, including his probable relationship with Perdiccas (whose attachments were really not so great a concern to Demosthenes as he faced the challenges of the present moment in his Third Philippic). Moreover, as Trampedach has suggested, even at the end of Euphraeus’ life, we need not understand Demosthenes as presenting us with a man who has become a conventional politician. Rather, we best appreciate Demosthenes’ character-sketch when we consider Euphraeus’ philosophical background:

This is an attractive argument that Euphraeus never really crossed the line into the field of politics. While arising from a different point of view, these questions about the “political” adventures of someone like Euphraeus assist our developing understanding of how the inner-circle world of philosophers, with its intellectual and literary concerns, could seek to situate itself with reference to or even within courtly circles, but in a manner that does not really resemble naked political intervention.

So far, in analyzing the relationship between the Letter to Philip and Carystius’ awareness of related events as preserved in Athenaeus, the issues have concerned rhetorical methods and motivations: what was stated implicitly or explicitly and why, and whether Euphraeus’ role in Macedonian affairs was colored as more political or philosophical. These points have deserved so much of our attention because it is in regard to them that we possess the most extensive and interesting outside, parallel traditions for the politico-scholastic situation described in the Letter to Philip; this is apparent from a glance at the table [106] in which Bertelli lays out, in one column, what the Socratic epistle says about Theopompus at Philip’s court, Philip’s debt to Plato, and Plato’s involvement in affairs between Philip and Perdiccas, and in another column, the points of comparison that can be drawn from Carystius. Taken as a whole, the numerous points of connection are more impressive than the discrepancies in emphasis noted so far, and we have explored the historical and rhetorical conditions that can explain the various expression of the same events in our different sources. But when it comes to one crucial name, Carystius differs factually from the Letter to Philip, and on this one point Carystius, on whose weaknesses as a historian Bertelli places such stress, is apparently echoed in a fragment of Theopompus himself, a contemporary of the events, a participant in the events (in our view [107] ), and (especially in contrast to Carystius) a “fonte ben informata e certamente independente da ep. XXX.” [108] This is the third column in Bertelli’s table of sources, much shorter than the other two—since limited to this one point—but much weightier in the argument for the existence of a more trustworthy tradition in the light of which questions can be raised about the authenticity and authority of the parallel presentation found in the Letter to Philip.

Bickermann and Bertelli did not pause over the meaning that ἐπιτιμηθῆναι held for Theopompus. The passive of this verb with a personal subject seems to be attested only once elsewhere in Greek up to Theopompus’ time. [112] Otherwise, outside of some papyri, [113] I have found no comparable passive in Greek before the first century BC. [114] Despite the poor attestation of grammatical parallels, we would have to understand that Theopompus meant “censured” in the absence of other documented possibilities. But there is a significant and relevant alternative model that he may have followed. Herodotus tells how the younger Miltiades, on inheriting the rule of the Chersonese when his brother Stesagoras was assassinated, manipulated his potential political enemies under the pretense of honoring his dead sibling: Μιλτιάδης δὲ ἀπικόμενος ἐς τὴν Χερσόνησον εἶχε κατ’ οἴκους, τὸν ἀδελφεὸν Στησαγόρην δηλαδὴ ἐπιτιμέων (“kept inside, ostensibly honoring his brother Stesagoras,” 6.39.2). Though this usage is unusual, we will see that it is more appropriate to the context, and that it makes sense in terms of Theopompus’ literary inclinations. But in strictly grammatical terms, the evidence on the other side is limited to one sentence. The fact that Herodotus uses the verb not in the passive, but with a personal direct object, and in a clearly distinct sense, marks his usage more definitely as a distinct one. [115] For the same reasons that modern lexica have been well aware of the unusual Herodotean usage as such, whereas the uncommon slippage into the personal passive has been less remarked, [116] the signal and clear example in Herodotus may have constituted more of a warrant for Theopompus. There is no question that Theopompus was extraordinarily well acquainted with Herodotus’ book; he made numerous borrowings from it (sometimes adapting individual sentences to the narration of different historical facts) and wrote an Epitome of Herodotus. It seems to have been a very conscious literary emulation. [117]

Contestants, Motivations, and Literary Modes in the Letter to Philip

In showing that there are not insuperable difficulties in the way of accepting the Letter to Philip’s standing as an original source grappling with the political valences of Euphraeus and Theopompus, we have deferred some more general questions concerning whether and how the letter is credible as a document that in fact arose among this cast of characters, with their relative positions and motivations. We are now ready to consider the participants in the drama that the epistle implies: where they were in their lives; their affiliations, interests (intellectual and “political”), motivations, and rivalries; and how the contents of the Letter to Philip would have been topical to them.

In so arguing, Antipater would show up the inadequacies of Isocrates’ famous Philip, published in 346. This discourse had certainly invested Philip with heroic potential, but its task was more delicate, as it also sought to persuade the monarch, pressing him to realize his plans in Greece and abroad so as to prove wrong his enemies’ ungenerous interpretations. Isocrates sought to make Philip feel the pressure of such inimical views without being seen as putting his own weight behind them. This job was nobler but more difficult, and it left him wide open to the sniping of an Antipater. For Isocrates had used the same legendary web of connections between Philip’s family and the Greek poleis cited by Antipater, but to urge the king to treat his philoi with gentleness and restraint, not to justify an imperious sense of entitlement. Thus, if Argos is Philip’s fatherland (patris, Philip 32), then this is reason for the king to show her as much care (pronoia) as he would to his own ancestors, and if Heracles is honored by the Thebans, Spartans, and Athenians (33f.), then this is a debt to be repaid:

Therefore, seeing that these cities have each and all shown such a spirit, no quarrel should ever have arisen between you and any one of them. But unfortunately we are all prone by nature to do wrong more often than right; and so it is fair to charge the mistakes of the past to our common weakness. Yet for the future you must be on your guard to prevent a like occurrence, and must consider what service you can render them which will make it manifest that you have acted in a manner worthy both of yourself and of what these cities have done. And the opportunity now serves you; for you would only be repaying the debt of gratitude which you owed them, but, because so much time has elapsed, they will credit you with being first in friendly offices. And it is a good thing to have the appearance of conferring benefits upon the greatest states of Hellas and at the same time to profit yourself no less than them. But apart from this, if anything unpleasant has arisen between you and any of them, you will wipe it out completely; for friendly acts in the present crisis will make you forget the wrongs which you have done each other in the past.

Isocrates Philip 35–37 (trans. Norlin 1928–1929)

After an interval of only a few years, Antipater would feel free to argue that the bonds between Philip and these poleis had precisely the effect of entitling him not to use the cautious sense of responsibility that Isocrates here demands. In comparison, Isocrates’ performance of didactic authority commands respect.

But if Isocratean politics, with its multiple audiences and its carefully constructed admonitory authority, was perhaps less relevant in 343/2 BC, then we must explain the motives of Speusippus’ urgent counterblast, which is savage in its determination to discredit Isocrates, even if it considers challenging the orator in his own political terms to be unnecessary. With the turning of the political tide, Speusippus’ efforts might appear not only ugly but gratuitous. But this is so only if we accept the surface appearance of the Letter to Philip as concerned with a merely personal target, the man Isocrates. In fact, the nonagenarian Isocrates can have consumed Speusippus’ scheming mind only in terms of the influence he projected beyond himself, as master of a school. The elderly Isocrates himself—“Isocratean” precisely in that no extrapolation of his personal political evolution would ever have gotten him to the point of giving an answer to Antipater’s sycophantic slanders in their own terms [128] —was not the one on whom Speusippus so keenly wanted his epistle to inflict political damage. But younger products of Isocrates’ school such as Theopompus, “Isocratean” in scholastic-political affiliation, were easily versatile and varied enough among themselves to take up arms and fight Speusippus on equal terms. This is why the tangent attacking Theopompus is so important: it lets us solidly fill out the analogy whereby Speusippus aggressively engages the ancient Isocrates just as Theopompus goes after the dead scholarch Plato. [129] While there are many detailed issues of “topicality” raised by the letter’s specific references to the international politics of the preceding years, it is the topicality of Isocrates himself that stands as the most glaring and extreme indicator of how the author’s universe of friends and enemies, ascendance and oblivion, works along the chain of literary and philosophical education, and not according to the terms of ordinary political currency. The focus on Isocrates in the epistle (from whatever post-343 Academic circle one believes it issues) is one of the most important indirect testimonies to the influence of a larger, lasting Isocratean movement. [130] In the end, the Letter to Philip, by deeming the Isocrateans to be an important target worth going after so strenuously, calls its own message into question, only reinforcing our impression of the scholastic prestige enjoyed by Isocrates and his school. [131]

While situating the Letter to Philip in relation to Isocrates’ and Philip’s political programs is relatively straightforward, evidence illuminating the letter’s place in Speusippus’ life is more elusive. As it happens, the Letter to Philip is Speusippus’ only fairly secure appearance in the historical tradition during the years of his scholarchy (347–339). [132] We can draw some confirmation of the philosopher’s epistolary activities from the list of works in Diogenes Laertius (4.4f.), which includes Letters to Dion, to Dionysius, to Philip. [133] There are important hints that Plato’s nephew Speusippus, who heads the main list of his students (mathētai), [134] carried on publicly a quite personal relationship with Isocrates. A controversial sentence forms part of a list of Speusippean “firsts” preserved by Diogenes Laertius: “And [Speusippus] was the first to disclose the so-called ‘secret’ material from Isocrates’ school, as Caeneus [Aphareus?] says” (καὶ πρῶτος παρὰ Ἰσοκράτους τὰ καλούμενα ἀπόρρητα ἐξήνεγκεν, ὥς φησι Καινεύς [Ἀφαρεύς Gigante], 4.2). [135] The interest of this statement has been somewhat obscured by its being used, perhaps overambitiously, to claim that Speusippus must have received some education at Isocrates’ school; it is apparently the only basis for this oft-repeated factoid about Speusippus’ life. [136] We need not bite at this tantalizing possibility. More clearly, the sentence does provide an additional reflection of ancient traditions about the hostility between Speusippus and Isocrates. Hermann Usener has made a very plausible suggestion for the occasion on which Speusippus’ divulged the aporrēta: his work Pros ton Amarturon, listed by Diogenes Laertius (4.5). [137] This was Speusippus’ entry in the rhetorical controversy that had already resulted, at least, in Antisthenes’ Pros ton Isokratous Amarturon, [138] or Reply to Isocrates’ Speech Without Witnesses. [139] When Isocrates alluded to this controversy at the end of the Panegyricus, [140] he was denouncing as futile such efforts as Antisthenes’ and Speusippus’.

This episode is informative quite apart from the question of Speusippus’ specific relations with Isocrates. First, it demonstrates that Speusippus, often depicted as a hardcore philosophical theorist, was involved in a heated rhetorical controversy. [141] Second, the mention of aporrēta, whatever they concerned, suggests esoteric doctrines in the Isocratean circle that may provide a comparandum with the educational practices of the Platonic Academy. [142] Finally, whatever the circumstances under which secret Isocratean teachings may have come into Speusippus’ possession, this story provides a useful context for recognizing less overt points of continuity between Isocrates and Speusippus. For example, Bertelli considered connections between historical exempla in Isocrates, the Letter to Philip, and Aristotle’s Rhetoric and found it significant that an Isocratean set of paradeigmata (Alcibiades, Conon, Dionysius, Cyrus: Philip 58–67) was picked up by Aristotle, in Rhetoric and elsewhere, as recurrent topoi in a partial form (Alcibiades and Dionysius together) that is also employed by the author of the Letter to Philip. [143] Indeed, Bertelli found this striking enough that he used it as support for the unlikely hypothesis of Aristotelian authorship of the epistle. [144] But it is a more likely possibility that the intermediate source through which Aristotle sometimes imbibed Isocratean rhetoric was, if not Speusippus himself, then at least Academic discussions of rhetoric to which Speusippus was also party. [145]

The connection of Theopompus to Isocrates through Speusippus’ joining of the two in the polemics of the Letter to Philip raises another contentious issue, the traditions naming Theopompus as one of Isocrates’ students. So many scholars have resisted accepting this tradition—usually by casting their doubt on the phenomenon of “rhetorical history” that such a relationship has been held to imply [148] —that the association conveyed by the Letter to Philip has been challenged either by disputing the reliability of the letter as a source or by interpreting the letter so as to limit its significance on this point. Bertelli follows the scholarly tradition whereby the Isocratean influence evident in Theopompus’ and Ephorus’ works is used to argue that the biographical testimonia have concretized into discipleship what is actually purely literary (not personal or scholastic) influence. He thus considers the implication of a closer attachment, in the Theopompus passage of the Letter to Philip, to be a reason for doubting the authorship of Speusippus in 343/2 BC. If the significant connection between Isocrates and his alleged pupils is merely stylistic, then the “Isocratean historical school” could not have existed at this date, simply because Theopompus and Ephorus’ literary careers had not yet produced the works that show their literary affinity to Isocrates. [149] This interpretive problem is purely the result of insisting that a knowable and publishable connection as suggested by the Letter to Philip would have required an indirect literary influence—when the hypothesis of a student’s known connection to a school explains this so much more easily. This is not to beg the question, for dislocating the letter’s representation of Theopompus from its general context (the 340s) creates the unsolvable problem of how such an intrusion or distortion became joined to the letter. Bertelli offers no explanation of how this would have happened, and if he did, it would probably have further strengthened the idea of a scholastic connection, since targeting Theopompus in this way would have to be the motivated act of a later Academic writer (say, Heraclides Ponticus or Aristotle)—and this motivation would have had to come from scholastic interest, since it could hardly have been influenced by the encrustations of Ciceronian criticism doubted by Bertelli and others. In sum, the objections raised on this point only focus our attention on the positive evidence for school polemics—and thus school associations—provided by Letter to Philip 12. [150]

The overall arguments and concerns of the Letter to Philip give us a good deal of information about its author’s intellectual interests or competencies, even if this is far from its purpose. The picture thus formed can then be checked against other sources for our knowledge of Speusippus, both to see if it meets a basic threshold of compatibility and, if so, to ask what we might positively learn from it about Speusippus. We have already touched on Speusippus’ rhetorical interests, and with these we may associate the criticism of Theopompus as “frigid” (psukhros, Letter to Philip 12), which may be taken in its literary critical sense, and the criticism of Isocrates’ various “excuses” (prophaseis). [151] More controversial are the evident historical interests of the author of the Letter to Philip: do these exclude the philosopher Speusippus? Historical arguments, after all, make up the majority of the epistle, and not all of them are owed to Antipater—Isocrates even comes in for criticism where his version of the foundation of Cyrene disagrees with Herodotus (11). [152] There is no certain way to draw a line separating the literary curiosity we would expect of Plato’s nephew and student from the degree of historical erudition that would be puzzling if uncorroborated, but we may certainly admit that the Letter to Philip shows a keen interest in Greek political history. Perhaps the most important point is the obvious one, that the letter does not show us historia for its own sake guiding Speusippus as a writer; rather it simply shows that researches were undertaken by or for Speusippus wherever they might be useful to please his potential patron (Philip was everyone’s potential patron by 343/2) and to undermine his enemies. The epistles to Dion and Dionysius also in the Speusippean corpus list may likewise have occasioned historical digressions—these would seem to be dictated more by the addressee than by the author of such letters. [153] As head of the Academy, Speusippus need not have concocted on his own whatever was not ready in Antipater’s propaganda; it would be strange if he spared any efforts to call on all available resources in his campaign against the rivals of his school.

The Letter to Philip as Evidence for School Politics

Having established some reasonable parameters for the circle of the Letter to Philip ’s author, associates, and rivals, we may next consider the unique glimpses afforded by the letter into the methods and habits of these creatures of skholē as such. To begin with, it provides a specific image of what actually took place in a fourth-century school—in this case Speusippus’ Academy—when the matter of the day’s discussion was not to expound Academic doctrine, but to read Isocrates’ Philip. Speusippus has barely greeted Philip and explained that he is writing to recommend Antipater, the historiographer and bearer of the letter, when he begins on the subject of Antipater’s worthiness as a propagandist:

δικαίως δ’ ἂν αὐτῷ βοηθήσειας διὰ πολλὰ καὶ διότι, παρ’ ἡμῖν ἀνα-γνωσθέντος ἐν διατριβῇ τοῦ σοὶ πεμφθέντος ὑπ’ Ἰσοκράτους λόγου, τὴν μὲν ὑπόθεσιν ἐπῄνεσεν, τὸ δὲ παραλιπεῖν τὰς εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα γενομένας εὐεργεσίας ὑμῶν ἐνεκάλεσε.

There are many reasons why you would do right to help him, and in particular because when the discourse sent to you by Isocrates was read out among us in school he praised the subject it proposed but laid to its charge its omission of the benefits you and your family have brought about for Greece.

Speusippus Letter to Philip 1

This occasion, on which Antipater, gathered with other Academics, laid out guidelines for a more obsequious follow-up to Isocrates’ Philip, is mentioned only incidentally but gives valuable evidence for Academic practice under Speusippus. The phrase “when Isocrates’ speech was read among us at school” lets us imagine the philosophers (at a time when historians of philosophy will assure us of the Academy’s philosophical seriousness) hashing out a rhetorical-political criticism of Isocrates’ political discourse. [
158] The scholastic motivations for this intervention are transparent.

The passage sits beside few others as evidence for the interested rereading and misreading (or, more charitably, critical reading) of rival schools’ texts within the walls of a school. We can add to this evidence from Isocrates’ own works that helps us understand how he elicited organized attention and responses in rival scholastic circles. Isocrates’ Panathenaicus has been widely appreciated for its very deliberate and sophisticated presentation of debate within Isocrates’ school, in the form of his student’s challenge that he has been unfair to Sparta. Less remarked is what Isocrates has to say, closer to the beginning of this discourse, about the readings to which his instructive discourses are subjected outside the confines of his own school. [159] Isocrates refers to those who have been, for the audience of their students, “abusing my discourses, reading them in the worst possible manner side by side with [paranagignōskontes] their own, dividing them [diairountes] at the wrong places, mutilating them [kataknizontes], and in every way spoiling their effect” (Panathenaicus 17, trans. Norlin 1928–1929). Many of these complaints could be applied to Antipater’s use of Isocrates’ Philip, as described in Speusippus’ letter. The technical language here could also very appropriately cover what Speusippus says was argued en diatribēi (for example, παραναγιγνώσκοντες, otherwise a term for adducing the law in forensic contexts [160] ). In fact, Speusippus uses just this word when telling Philip how Antipater’s reading from his Greek History will silence and supplant the pretension of Theopompus’ savage frigidity. [161] This is another good reminder of how writerly and intellectual are the terms in which Speusippus criticizes Isocrates and his school—a bit surprising given that he is addressing King Philip.

Certainly these misreaders, or rather interested and polemical rereaders, of Isocrates’ texts are in no danger of being taken seriously as philosophers. But they suggest that we are missing something about Speusippus’ Academy if we cannot explain why it, too, was engaged in the interested and polemical rereading of Isocrates’ even less philosophically significant discourses. Given the exiguity of evidence for the actual practice and procedure of discussion in the Academy, I think we have to allow this convergence of interests and methods some weight in forming our total impression of the Academy’s place in its world. Isocrates was felt to be a necessary reference point for defining this. Of course I am not suggesting that the early Academy was not also the context for the creation of the philosophical doctrines that have been the focus of historians of philosophy; I am simply suggesting that the importance of the purely philosophical aspect for our own retrospective disciplinary history should not blind us to the possibility that in Speusippus’ time the Academy was in addition a place for something else, perhaps something less familiar from our knowledge of the later Hellenistic schools.

With this in mind, we can coordinate the additional evidence to take the measure of Speusippus’ engagement with Isocrates’ projects. As I have mentioned, the fragmentary records of Speusippus’ output mention letters to Dion and Dionysius, who would be a second monarch addressed by both Speusippus and Isocrates, giving additional point to Speusippus’ accusations of self-plagiarism on Isocrates’ part. Then there is the direct personal entanglement between the two school-generals in the rhetorical controversy over Isocrates’ Amarturos, a conflict for whose like we can scarcely find evidence between Isocrates and Plato. Isocrates at the end of Panegyricus seems to give his counterblast to this pattern of his opponent’s critical engagement with his literary works:

χρὴ … τοὺς δὲ τῶν λόγων ἀμφισβητοῦντας πρὸς μὲν τὴν παρακαταθήκην καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὧν νῦν φλυαροῦσιν παύεσθαι γράφοντας, πρὸς δὲ τοῦτον τὸν λόγον ποιεῖσθαι τὴν ἅμιλλαν καὶ σκοπεῖν ὅπως ἄμεινον ἐμοῦ περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν πραγμάτων ἐροῦσιν, ἐνθυμουμένους ὅτι τοῖς μεγάλ’ ὑπισχνουμένοις οὐ πρέπει περὶ μικρὰ διατρίβειν, οὐδὲ τοιαῦτα λέγειν ἐξ ὧν ὁ βίος μηδὲν ἐπιδώσει τῶν πεισθέντων.

and those who engage in dispute over discourses ought to cease writing against my Deposit speech and about the rest of their nonsense, but instead direct their contest to this discourse and consider how to speak better than I about these matters, bearing in mind that it is not fitting for those who promise great things to invest their diatribē over small matters or to speak the kind of discourse that will cause no improvement to the lives of those persuaded.

Isocrates Panegyricus 188f.

I have made a point of translating this passage boldly, [
164] especially since the existing English translations are confused and even contradictory. The important point that emerges from my interpretation is that Isocrates is deriding his fellow intellectuals for how they have spent their intellectual and scholastic energies (I take διατρίβειν in the technical sense of “school activity”) on polemics against him. Cleverly, despite the fact that Isocrates’ philosophical attackers probably would have portrayed his novel early forensic production as a very small-minded pursuit, all of this is couched in terms of finding suitably lofty and morally consequential subjects for discourse and debate.

So it seems there may have been a considerable overlap between Isocrates and Speusippus’ schools’ interests [165] during this period. A valuable confirmation of this commonality and rivalry of interests would be to find not only destructive polemics, but cases where scholastic capital (the very stuff we allege is getting fought over) really works as a common currency between both schools. To use an analogy: if Professor X is the bitter rival of Professor Y, then, whatever the uglier and less professional factors involved, we’d want some confirmation that there really is some definable common currency of professional recognition: for example, if they are both philologists, seeing both of their conjectures admitted in autonomous editions, or seeing Y forced to recognize X’s merits, might convince us that they really are philologists battling over real philological capital. Importantly, this “interest in disinterestedness” (whether embraced with or without ulterior motivations) opens up the possibility that you can have not only relationships of enmity or politics by other means, but philology for its own sake. [166] The examples of “crossover” between the schools, discussed in chapter 3, provide evidence for something of this kind. When the Isocratean/Academic/mathematician Helicon is recommended as a philosophical expert in the thirteenth Platonic epistle, [167] then, as in the Letter to Philip and Isocrates’ Philip, we may start from the premise that criteria of intellectual excellence matter to the monarch. We also recall the propagandistic potential of such titles ascribed to Isocrates of Apollonia as Amphictyonic Speech and On Not Performing a Taphos for Philip. When Speusippus nastily dismisses such a writer, [168] he feels the need to attack in specifically intellectual and writerly terms. This should be compared to his dismissal of Theopompus as “frigid,” also discussed above, in what could otherwise be seen as a political quarrel. [169]

The Letter to Philip’s own mode of address adds still more to our understanding of the process of interscholastic encounter. While it is doubtful that Speusippus published an “open letter” in the manner of Isocrates’ Philip, [171] it is not of strictly private interest either. In any case, it is problematic to identify its wider audience as “the public” simply defined. Its crass polemics, whose contrast to the diplomatic niceties of Isocrates’ open letter we have already considered, render impossible any intention to address and persuade the public of the Greek poleis. The Letter to Philip is not the kind of “politics” that Isocrates ostensibly—and plausibly—offered in the public interest; it is scholastic “politics” conducted narrowly against the interests of Isocrates and the Isocrateans (e.g. Theopompus), and this is what defines the range of readers for whom it was intended (or whom it reached with effect, whether through the agency of Speusippus or of Philip). It is perhaps the unfamiliar nature of such an address that has caused modern readers to ignore the letter (as not pertaining to philosophers’ philosophical differences), or else has tempted them into the position (completely untenable after Bertelli’s thorough questioning of Speusippean authorship) that its literary and scholastic obsessions are best explained as issuing from a later Atticizing workshop. It is precisely its uncommon authentic glimpse into the specialized politics of intellectuals that makes Speusippus’ letter so valuable.

In this less familiar form of combat, therefore, when we see that the relevance of a work of Isocrates is still felt well after politicians have ceased to speak in terms of the political conditions that produced it, this is not a sign of precious antiquarian curiosity. The canons of topicality applicable to the Letter to Philip are not the same as those we observe in, say, the work of Demosthenes. If there is some continuity joining Isocrates’ Against the Sophists, produced perhaps in Speusippus’ boyhood, to the Letter to Philip a half-century later, [172] this is not a stress on the consistency of the latter’s text but another testimony to the longevity and variety of the school polemics. But even the central fact of the letter, its intense concern with Isocrates’ Philip of three years earlier, has been found objectionable. [173] Speusippus is indeed “rekindling a polemic” at a time when Isocrates would have been embarrassed to bring it up. But this is precisely because he seeks to exploit the gap between the present moment and the one that had produced Isocrates’ political overture to the Macedonian king, viciously rereading Isocrates out of context, as we have discussed above. Bertelli’s most emphatic doubt about the authenticity of the Letter to Philip is that it reads as if the “Amphictyonic question” of 346 and the “Olynthiac question” that had been settled in 348 are still current events. [174] While in these cases the link to Isocrates is not as direct, this apparent problem can still be resolved if we adjust for the nature of school polemics, in which the rhetorical use that has been made of a historical moment with outstanding literary (and only consequently, political) effect is what determines topicality. The historical facts on which the Letter to Philip focuses are those that literarily and polemically have shown their value in reputation-building and propaganda-validation. It is the textual chain of argument, not the factual thread of history, that Speusippus’ twists and turns are following. Griffith has a more satisfactory explanation of how less current elements came to be included in the letter, spelling out the possible terms in which what was interesting to scholarchs could be translated into capital that mattered to Philip:

[Speusippus], through his tame historian Antipater of Magnesia, had gone to no small trouble scouring the life and hard times of the god Heracles to find just those things there that might be of use to Philip at just this particular moment. By a staggering coincidence they did find them; at Amphipolis, at Potidaea, at Torone, at Ambracia. At all these places, three of them so much in the news as Speusippus wrote, Heracles in his travels had found nasty men in charge and had replaced them with nice men … In every case, Speusippus is careful to record, these rulers received their places from Heracles as parakatathēkē. The places belonged to Heracles (Ἡρακλειδῶν οὖσαν, brays Speusippus, three times in fifteen lines). Speusippus really has put in his thumb here, and pulled out plum after plum. … The main object of Speusippus in his letter, it seems, was to damage Isocrates in Philip’s eyes, and to a lesser degree to damage Theopompus who was in Macedonia at this time; and since Isocrates’ Philip (the object of attack) was some three and a half years old by now, Speusippus probably did well to add to his letter some material of topical interest smelling less of the lamp and the dust of academic vendetta. Philip cared presumably as little as any other man of good sense just what Isocrates or Theopompus might once have said about Plato. But he did care about the Heracles thing in general, and in particular he may have reflected that a researcher who could find the evidence for declaring him, Philip, an Athenian citizen by virtue of his Heraclid descent, might reasonably be expected to find the evidence for anything. The researcher no doubt had been Antipater of Magnesia. But the crooked “proof” that Philip had never attacked Olynthus (Olynthus must have attacked him) must be all Speusippus’ own work. Starting from an assumption that a known fact (Philip’s attack on Olynthus) was really an open question, he shows that it cannot be a genuine fact, by adducing in evidence certain other facts that would speak against it if it were an open question. This is a crook writing, whether for money or merely in order to surpass Isocrates in being of use to Philip.

Hammond and Griffith 1979:514f. (emphases added)

This is an excellent starting point, if it does need to be supplemented by our earlier discussions in some respects. First, we require an explanation that will really render intelligible how much of “the lamp and the dust” there still is in the Letter to Philip. Second, we must be wary of exaggerating the effectiveness of the letter as purely political rhetoric. It is something of a stretch when Griffith turns to imagine just how painful a public relations “deafening silence” it would take to make Philip welcome the prospect of having this letter put in front of a general reading public as an effective counterblast “from an Athenian pen,” under the theory that “Anything is better than silence, even a Pravda or a Speusippus.” [
175] In fact, we cannot laugh away the fact that the Letter to Philip is all too Pravda-like not to have been addressed first and foremost to the nomenklatura.

Thus Speusippus’ letter, in renouncing the kind of rhetoric that would belong in the politics practiced in the poleis, signals the altered rules by which a new cohort of intellectuals will contend for their positions, while at the same time it sends us back to the texts of Isocrates and even Plato, not only to measure the differences that allowed those earlier writers to luxuriate in political ideas worthy of the name, but also to search for whatever first sprouts of this new scholastic politics may be discovered.

It cannot be overemphasized how unsatisfactory it is to take the crass attacks and displays of interest that feature in this new “politics” as evidence for a sudden growth of the philosophers’ interest in honest-to-goodness, down-and-dirty, nakedly political politics. The game in its transformed state is not as simple as this. Thus the fact that Isocrates’ writings can be correlated with an actual policy such as the one his former student Androtion brought before the Assembly in 344, [176] coupled with the fact that the Letter to Philip is a response to what Isocrates wrote, does not mean that it is right to take Speusippus’ letter as a newer act undertaken in the same framework of political action—for example, in concert with the policy event of Androtion’s exile. [177] This kind of construction leads us to see Speusippus as playing the same game as any Athenian politician, but on the team of those colluding to bring about Athens’ subjection to Philip. Evidence for such connections is scarce, and Markle, who makes this argument, is forced to suppose a common, and political, class interest of Isocrates and Speusippus “on the assumption that the latter shared his uncle’s opposition towards democracy.” [178] Here Plato is dragged in, a man even harder to lay in the procrustean bed of conventional, factional politics. The question arises whether Isocrates is more easily caricatured as motivated by the basest kind of political interests precisely because of the complexity of the position with which he straddled the territories of ideas and kingdoms. Markle’s distaste for Isocrates’ “selfishness which he conceals behind a tiresome moral posturing that ‘the best’ should rule” [179] is in response to the very fact that Isocrates was more than merely a political actor. The anger with which Markle blames the intellectuals for what he alleges is their (perhaps decisive) contribution to the defeat of Athens at Chaeronea cannot be justified by what we actually know of Speusippus’ life and work. The Letter to Philip is not the “smoking gun” that damns its author as a treasonous political actor; rather, absent any traces of Speusippus’ direct participation in Athenian politics, conspiracy with Athenian politicians, or identification with a traditional political faction, the Letter to Philip demonstrates the remarkable fact that its author acted through the epistle and other scholastic activities, not through conventional political means. The letter itself is less a turning to “gross material interests” in the thick of Athens’ souring political affairs than a flight into a specifically scholastic mode of social existence. [180]


[ back ] 1. Momigliano 1971; Pernot 1993; Sonnabend 2002. Cf. Velardi 1991:227; Nightingale 1995:93–132; Alexiou 2007:10f.

[ back ] 2. Wilamowitz-Möllendorff (1900:533f.) points to Aristotle Rhetoric I 9, 1368a16f. (where a certain Hippolochus is named as the first subject of enkōmion), in order to cast doubt on the agreement otherwise prevailing between the historical record and Isocrates’ own claim. Aristotle’s contradiction of his rival Isocrates on this point is consistent with my argument about the scholastic environment in which the genre developed; Stuart (1928:94–97) answers Wilamowitz and sees in Aristotle’s reference “a covert but deliberate revision of Isocrates’ assertion.”

[ back ] 3. For the focus of Herodotus’ proto-biographical sketches on historical figures in the East, see Momigliano 1971:35, Murray 2001:40. In Evagoras 37f., Isocrates feels it important to establish Evagoras as more to be praised than Cyrus the Great; he does Evagoras this credit through the familiar soul/body (psukhē/sōma) opposition.

[ back ] 4. Pernot 1993:21. See Too 1995: chap. 6, and the thorough study of Gribble (1999:98–148).

[ back ] 5. Isocrates Evagoras 1, 2, 4, 6–8, trans. after Mirhady and Too 2000.

[ back ] 6. Cf. Nicolai 2004:88–93. Note how well this fits the function of protreptic discourse as identified by Ford (2011:124), “forming in [its audience] a habit of taking pleasure in the proper praise of excellent actions.” Ford rightly highlights the continuity between traditional poetic ēthos-paideia and its philosophical counterpart (Ford 2011:204n15). Ford’s focus on Aristotle’s Hymn to Virtue leads him to dwell extensively on claims about what is best (presbiston, kalliston), a familiar Isocratean topos (Nicocles 43, cf. To Nicocles 20, Evagoras 40f., 76, Antidosis 304, Panathenaicus 204, and in general the frequent conjoining of kallista with epitēdeumata).

[ back ] 7. Pernot 1993:47, esp. Lysander.

[ back ] 8. Plutarch Table Talk V 675a and some Iliad MSS: Pernot 1993:48.

[ back ] 9. Papillon 2004:24 (“published in 380 after ten years of composition”).

[ back ] 10. Isocrates’ assertion of his originality in Panegyricus is so strong as to elide all mention of “panegyric” predecessors such as Gorgias and Lysias’ Olympic speeches.

[ back ] 11. Trans. Mirhady and Too 2000. Note the (rhetorically) performative dimension applied to the monarch.

[ back ] 12. Aristotle’s Gryllus was discussed in connection with the Cephisodorus controversy in chap. 3.

[ back ] 13. Aristotle sounds fairly Platonic in the report of Quintilian 2.17.14 = Aristotle fr. 69 R3, F 37 Gigon: Aristoteles, ut solet, quaerendi gratia quaedam subtilitatis suae argumenta excogitavit in Grylo: sed idem et de arte rhetorica tris libros scripsit, et in eorum primo non artem solum eam fatetur, sed ei particulam civilitatis sicut dialectices adsignat. “Aristotle, in his usual way, devised some arguments of characteristic subtlety [that rhetoric is not a tekhnē] in his Gryllus, for the sake of discussion; but he also wrote three books on the art of rhetoric and, in the first, not only admits it to be an art but says it is a part both of ‘politics’ and of ‘dialectic’” (trans. Russell 2001). Cf. Blank 2007:14f.

[ back ] 14. Perhaps in the dialogic way that Phaedrus is anti-Lysian: cf. D. S. Hutchinson and M. R. Johnson per litteras to Blank 2007:14n33.

[ back ] 15. Cf. the “predictable lines” of Blank (2007:14).

[ back ] 16. Pernot 1993:22.

[ back ] 17. Aulus Gellius 10.18 = Theodectas 72 T 6 TrGF = Theopompus FGrHist 115 T 6b; Suda, s.v. Ἰσοκράτης, ι 653, and s.v. Θεοδέκτης, θ 138 = Theopompus FGrHist 115 T 6a; cf. “Plutarch” Lives of the Ten Orators 838b.

[ back ] 18. Hornblower 1982. I also take issue with Hornblower’s conclusion that Theodectes did not give a prose eulogy: see, contra, Zwierlein 1996:54 and Snell ad TrGF 72 T 6. (Pernot [1993:49n203] is noncommittal.)

[ back ] 19. Pernot 1993:22.

[ back ] 20. Pernot 1993:48–50.

[ back ] 21. μαθητὴς καὶ διάδοχος τοῦ μεγάλου Ἰσοκράτους, διακούσας δὲ καὶ Πλάτωνος τοῦ φιλοσόφου, Suda, s.v. Ἰσοκράτης, ι 653.

[ back ] 22. Trans. Natoli 2004.

[ back ] 23. I pass quickly over Speusippus’ Perideipnon Platōnos, perhaps a eulogy for his uncle and teacher; for the connection between the topic of Plato’s divine paternity in our report of this work (Diogenes Laertius 3.2) and the extravagance of contemporary prose eulogy in the wake of Evagoras, see Ford 2011:184n6. As Ford finds these two works “religiously bold,” so Fredricksmeyer (1979:52n41) sees in Speusippus’ Apollo/Heracles/Philip parallel at Letter to Philip 8 “the readiness of Philip’s supporters to compare and associate him with the gods.” Works that could be epitaphioi for Plato are attested by Speusippus (FGrHistCont 1009 FF 1–3 ed. Theys 1998), Clearchus (fr. 2 Wehrli), and Aristotle (Olympiodorus in Plato Gorgias = fr. 673 R3, F 708 Gigon).

[ back ] 24. Col. 5.64–6.18 = FGrHist 124 F 2.

[ back ] 25. Ford 2011:49f. Ford (2011:47f.) identifies the “persistent ethical norm” in the series of prose praises beginning with Isocrates’ Evagoras; what I seek to add to the perspective of his survey is a picture of specifically interconnected scholastic rivals (claimants of philosophia), not just a “revolutionary time for prose” more generally.

[ back ] 26. Ford 2011:45–51. For the possibility of continued performance in the sussitia of the Lyceum, Ford 2011:185n15.

[ back ] 27. See chap. 3 above.

[ back ] 28. With Sykutris (Bickermann and Sykutris 1928:74) and Natoli (2004:54f.), and against Fricel-Dana (2001–2003).

[ back ] 29. “Keep in mind that we all have a body that is mortal, but we partake of immortality according to others’ goodwill and the praise we receive and the reports that circulate about us and the memory we leave that lasts through time,” trans. Papillon 2004. Cf. Isocrates’ praeteritio at Philip 142f., where he places Philip’s merit above his “demigod” ancestors but does not want to make them “seem less than those alive today.”

[ back ] 30. Cf. Pernot 1993:22.

[ back ] 31. Jaeger 1948: chap. 5 (“Aristotle in Assos and Macedonia”); Wormell 1935; Düring 1957:272–283; Hammond and Griffith 1979:518–522; Trampedach 1994:66–70. Ford 2011:175n3 lists the primary sources.

[ back ] 32. Hermias’ death has occasioned much speculation about Aristotle’s role in the politics of this time. Griffith’s sensible discussion of this question (Hammond and Griffith 1979:518–522) concludes that while Aristotle was an available and obvious personal connection to Hermias, there is no reason to suppose that Aristotle’s political utility in this capacity would have influenced his selection as Alexander’s tutor.

[ back ] 33. Aristotle fr. 675 R3 = 842 PMG, which is a text that combines literary, theoretical and practical-philosophical influences. Ford 2011 now provides an exhaustive and wide-ranging study, taking as a point of departure Athenaeus’ report (15.696a–697b, going back to a mixture of sources including Hermippus FGrHistCont 1026 F 30 Bollansée 1999 = fr. 48 Wehrli 1974) that Aristotle was accused in Athens of hymning a tyrant (presumably after Alexander’s death in 323). For its place in the prose literary culture of the 340s, see above.

[ back ] 34. On this letter see, in addition to the authors cited on Hermias in general, Isnardi 1955:262–265, Ford 2011:166–169 (who finds it acceptable as authentic and in any case accurate testimony of an undoubtedly real “network of friendship,” apparently free of any later writer’s agenda). Brunt (1993:292) discusses Plato Epistle VI but not at his usual standard (“the eleventh” Platonic letter for the sixth and “Corycus” for Coriscus). Jaeger (1948:111) considered Brinckmann’s argument for the letter’s genuineness convincing.

[ back ] 35. The friendship is also mentioned at Didymus Commentary on Demosthenes col. 5.53f.

[ back ] 36. For this common Platonic locution, see Plato Sophist 216c6, Philebus 57d1, and several passages in Epistle VII (326b4, 335d2, 340c2, 340d6). Cf. Epicurus Vatican Gnomology fr. 54.

[ back ] 37. Strabo 13.1.57. This would seem to conflict with Plato Epistle VI 322e6–323a1, Ἑρμείας μοι … ὅσα μήπω συγγεγονότι, a difficulty Novotný and Harward (cited by Wormell [1935:59]) solved by supposing “that Hermias visited Athens and associated with members of the Academy at a time when Plato was absent abroad.” While this is not impossible, it is more likely that the alleged association with Plato has to do with the Freundschaftsbund with Plato’s students in Assos. As suggested above, Plato’s striking philosophical intimacy in Epistle VI may evince a more meaningful relationship than a known physical encounter would necessarily require.

[ back ] 38. Suda s.v., θ 166, μαθητὴς Μητροδώρου τοῦ Ἰσοκρατικοῦ.

[ back ] 39. Ἕρμιππος δέ φησι Θεόκριτον τὸν Χῖον ὡς ἀπαίδευτον μέμφεσθαι τὴν Ἀναξιμένους περιβολήν, FGrHistCont 1026 F 86, ed. Bollansée 1999 = fr. 78 Wehrli = Athenaeus 1.21c. Theocritus belonged “zu den Autoren, gegen deren Anschwärzungen Hermippos das Verhältnis des Aristoteles zu Hermias verteidigte” (Wehrli 1974:90).

[ back ] 40. Suda s.v., θ 166, ἀντεπολιτεύσατο δὲ Θεοπόμπῳ τῷ ἱστορικῷ. I am not persuaded by the attempt by Teodorsson (1990) to reduce this division to the terms of class-based factions. For the tradition of Theocritus’ execution by Antigonus the One-Eyed, see also Weber 1998–1999.

[ back ] 41. Suda s.v., θ 166.

[ back ] 42. FGrHist 115 FF 64–76; for other mirabilia, cf. FF 127, 267f., 270f., 274, 277f., 296, 343. Of course this literary topic can also point back to other influences, such as Ctesias.

[ back ] 43. Düring (1957:277), pointing out that Didymus’ introduction of the epigram (quoting Bryon’s possibly near-contemporary pamphlet) with the words πρὸς ὅν (Commentary on Demosthenes col. 6.43) makes this certain.

[ back ] 44. For the text, see Lloyd-Jones and Parsons 1983:355. See now the discussion in Ford 2011:35–41 (whose translation is adapted here), who does not, however, consider any Isocratean connections, calling Theocritus simply a “hostile source.”

[ back ] 45. Aristocles in Eusebius Praeparatio evangelica 15.2.12; “Bryon” in Didymus Commentary on Demosthenes col. 6.44ff.; “Ambryon” in Diogenes Laertius 5.11; Plutarch On Exile 10, 603c.

[ back ] 46. Düring 1957:277.

[ back ] 47. Milns (1994) argues that, at least in his account of Hermias at col. 5.51–63, Didymus’ authority is not Hermippus (at least directly), but an earlier author (perhaps Theophrastus).

[ back ] 48. Cf. Demosthenes Fourth Philippic 32, where the scholia identify ὁ πράττων καὶ συνειδὼς ἅπανθ’ ἃ Φίλιππος κατὰ βασιλέως παρασκευάζεται as our Hermias.

[ back ] 49. Cf. esp. Antidosis 221–224; also Philip 135.

[ back ] 50. See e.g. FGrHist 115 FF 39f., 49, 62, 204.

[ back ] 51. Plutarch’s explanation that this is a Macedonian river around Pella (otherwise unknown) is unlikely; as Düring (1957:381), says, “The river Borborus owes its existence to the fertile imagination of the author of this ad hoc interpretation.” (Consequently, we must treat with caution Plutarch’s corollary statement, that Theocritus’ reproach is specifically ὅτι τὴν παρὰ Φιλίππῳ δίαιταν ἀγαπήσας.) It is probably not quite used as a common noun either (as Flower 1994:88, “in outpourings of slime”); rather, Aristotle has abandoned Academe for the vaguely exotic Filth River Delta (a suggestion now seconded by Vayos Liapis per litteras to Ford [2011:182n13]), which probably chimes in unison with Theopompus’ attack on Hermias as barbaros (F 250), especially since Theocritus has already labeled Hermias as a eunuch and a slave.

[ back ] 52. Cf. Cartledge 2009:98 on Isocrates’ preoccupation with “speaking truth to monarchical power.”

[ back ] 53. Cf. Too 1995:149 on Isocrates’ statement in To Nicocles 53 that “a good counselor [sumboulos] is the most useful and most tyrannical [turannikōtaton] of all possessions” for a ruler.

[ back ] 54. Of course, Isocrates maintains that he does serve the interests of both parties—but it is this very premise that explodes the normal political assumptions, since the parties do not (conventionally speaking) belong to the same political community.

[ back ] 55. Isocrates Philip 14.

[ back ] 56. See Hariman 1995, Born 1936:99n1, and the discussion in this book’s conclusion. Isocrates’ mass of precepts in To Nicocles, for which he apologizes (40f.), should be read alongside the opening pages of Laws 5, where Plato does not scorn the genre.

[ back ] 57. This is true even if the historical situation is now less conducive to philosophical idealization than it was for Isocrates’ earlier, more purely didactic essay. The age has passed in which Plato and Isocrates’ wisdom performances were not addressed at rulers holding immense power over Athens’ fate.

[ back ] 58. See, for example, Philip 81f., 105, 122, 155.

[ back ] 59. Note also how both Isocrates and Speusippus compare themselves to Philip, but in tellingly different ways. Isocrates in his first letter to Philip—ἀλλὰ πλεῖστα πάντων ἐπιτετιμηκὼς, οὔτ’ εὖ παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς καὶ τοῖς εἰκῇ δοκιμάζουσιν φερόμενος, ἀλλ’ ἀγνοούμενος ὑπ’ αὐτῶν καὶ φθονούμενος ὥσπερ σύ (Epistle 2.22), “I am not well regarded by the common people and especially by those who form opinions casually, but just like you, I am misunderstood and envied,” trans. Papillon 2004—takes as the grounds of equality and of his right to address Philip the potential positive opportunity for action (an ethical good). Speusippus, in contrast, casts himself as the unabashedly interested victim of an attack which is to be returned (see below). See Natoli 2004:96 for Philip and Plato juxtaposed “as the victims of unfair attack.” (A further important point of comparison was to be use of historical exempla.)

[ back ] 60. 4, 9, 14. See Natoli 2004:11n8 on the distinctiveness of this method.

[ back ] 61. Philip 25: τοὺς μὲν περὶ σπουδαίων πραγμάτων καὶ κατεπειγόντων ῥητορεύεσθαι, τοὺς δὲ πρὸς ἐπίδειξιν καὶ πρὸς ἐργολαβίαν γεγράφθαι.

[ back ] 62. 153, trans. after Papillon, as mentioned by Natoli (2004:91).

[ back ] 63. Speusippus Letter to Philip 12.

[ back ] 64. On the argument around euergesia, see Natoli 2004:95–99.

[ back ] 65. In the words of Hornblower (2004:85), who sees a problem similar to that of the social and propagandistic value of epinician poetry, “How far did Philip II of Macedon care what Isokrates wrote about him?”

[ back ] 66. Other possible sources for sketching the further progress of the relationship between Isocrates and Philip are vexed by difficult issues of dating, but there is no contrary evidence. On the other hand, Schorn (2006) takes Speusippus’ direct requests for Philip to intervene to help Antipater at the opening and close of his letter to indicate an expectant confidence.

[ back ] 67. Aristotle Rhetoric 1419b4f., cited by Livingstone (2001:19n39), suggesting that Isocrates in Busiris demolishes Polycrates with (mock) seriousness and Plato with his humorous treatment.

[ back ] 68. In particular the gluttony of Busiris and Heracles: Livingstone 2001:79.

[ back ] 69. Cf. Owen 1983:14–17.

[ back ] 70. Hammond and Griffith 1979:620.

[ back ] 71. Natoli 2004, Bickermann and Sykutris 1928. I often refer to Bickermann alone since he was responsible for the historical (as opposed to philological and textual) arguments; these in turn are the ones Bertelli took up and subjected to critical questioning (see further below).

[ back ] 72. Bertelli 1976, 1977a.

[ back ] 73. I make a point of this because scholars on both sides of the authorship question have taken notice of moments where it appears that Bertelli will be justifying such a dissociation (“una redazione di scuola,” without any qualification, Bertelli 1977a:75; the counterfeit he suggests by interpreting an allusion to a recent historical event as an intentional sphragis, Bertelli 1976:280f., and by declaring the general hypertopicality of the letter as cause for suspicion, Bertelli 1976:284; in general the recurring intimations that Bickermann’s chronology is coming unraveled made in Bertelli’s first article, e.g. Bertelli 1976:287, which ends on a note of doubt and a diagnosis of “chronological irrationality,” 300, with no hint of how far the second article’s argumentation will go to rehabilitating the letter, even if un-Speusippean, as a valid historical document). They have (understandably) not always done justice to Bertelli’s eventual conclusions characterizing what kind of “school” product is finally meant, which is not at all late rhetorical hackwork, but rather “una rielaborazione di scuola accademica pressoché contemporanea ai fatti, e non un ‘patchwork’ di un retore tardo,” Bertelli 1977a:111 (cf. 106 for Bertelli’s clarification that the chronological critique does not “automatically” exclude Speusippean authorship). It seems possible that at the time of his first publication, Bertelli did not yet envisage such a conclusion and therefore did not refrain from articulating suspicions he would eventually overrule. In any case, such a statement as that by Flower (who accepted the Letter to Philip as genuine)—that Bertelli judged the text a “school exercise” (Flower 1994:52n37)—shows how Bertelli left himself open to misunderstanding. Those who accept the authenticity of the epistle do so on Bickermann and Sykutris’s authority, which is sound enough; if not unaware of Bertelli’s work (e.g. Usener 1994), whose publication in the Atti della Accademia delle Scienze di Torino put it farther from notice than it deserved, they have rejected Bertelli’s claim to have altered the framework of historical necessity put up by Bickermann (e.g. Trampedach 1994:94n10, “nicht überzeugend,” cf. ibid. 138n100), without however directly identifying the weaknesses or inadequacies that make his conclusion unacceptable. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that Bertelli’s actual arguments have not been discussed at any length in print, but Isnardi Parente is a partial exception, as she includes the letter in her edition of Speusippus (unlike Tarán 1981) and offers the fullest discussion of the critical issues between Bertelli and Natoli, lingering briefly over a couple of his points (Isnardi Parente 1980:391–402, esp. 396f.).

[ back ] 74. These also include Markle (1976) and, among writers after Bertelli, Isnardi Parente (1980) and Trampedach (1994). The most noticed recent dissent is that of Speusippus’ editor Tarán, whose edition does not print the letter or discuss its problems in any detail. “The reader of this work who is interested … is hereby referred to my monograph The Pseudo-Speusippean Letters where he will find a critical edition” (Tarán 1981:xxiii, cf. 8, 182, 227; Tarán does not reject the more general tradition of hostility between Isocrates and Speusippus). The author has confirmed to me per litteras, however, that this project was never realized.

[ back ] 75. The most commonly used numeration is that of Orelli (1815), followed by Hercher (1873), but the letter is also sometimes cited as Epistula Socratica 28, after e.g. Köhler 1928.

[ back ] 76. Some of the respects in which Speusippus’ letter differs from the ones with which it is preserved are immediately striking. For example, while the doubtful authenticity of the corpus in general was already suggested by Bentley three hundred years ago on the basis of their not appearing in Athenaeus (Sykutris 1933:9), it is in Athenaeus (11.506e) that we find Carystius’ citation of the Speusippean letter.

[ back ] 77. 32, 33, 35 Orelli (1815).

[ back ] 78. Sykutris 1933:7.

[ back ] 79. Vaticanus graecus 64 is the basis of the “vulgate” for the Isocratean letters and the oldest source for them apart from Codex Urbinas (9th/10th cent. AD). Cf. Mathieu’s remarks in Mathieu and Brémond 1962:163–183. See further Drerup 1901:358ff.

[ back ] 80. In particular, I wish to address first the issues surrounding the text of Letter to Philip 12, in which Theopompus and his attacks on Plato are denounced; this passage is (not coincidentally) both of central importance to our interest in scholastic politics and one whose apparent problems especially exercised Bertelli. It is in the context of the broader questions that Bertelli’s larger concerns about the letter’s chronological, stylistic, rhetorical, and intellectual range can best be answered. I do not mean to imply, however, that the latter are any less a part of Bertelli’s fundamental argument concerning authenticity.

[ back ] 81. The manuscripts have two datives: (1) most dear to Archelaus, (2) to Philip the cause of his kingship (φίλτατον ὄντα Ἀρχελάῳ Φιλίππῳ τῆς βασιλείας αἴτιον γενέσθαι). For the deletion of Ἀρχελάῳ, see Gomperz 1882:112n11.

[ back ] 82. Our actual text of the letter does not preserve the sender’s name, which depends on Carystius here.

[ back ] 83. Philip’s name here in place of Theopompus’ will be discussed below.

[ back ] 84. I have punctuated in line with the interpretation offered below; there is no way of knowing precisely where Carystius’ direct quotation of Speusippus comes to an end. Bertelli, in his consideration of the inconcinnities between Carystius and the Letter to Philip in the use of second and third person (which, he points out, provoked Bernays to wonder whether the letter Carystius cited was not in fact addressed to Philip), and in the distribution of direct and indirect speech, bolsters his case that these are suspect with something of a petitio principii, declaring his conclusions more likely because the complete text of Speusippus’ letter is “già sospetto per la sua stessa natura di documento epistolare” (Bertelli 1977a:80).

[ back ] 85. Bertelli (1977a:80) highlights this as a discontinuity. Cf. Bertelli 1976:286f., which expresses dissatisfaction (on chronological grounds—for the dating of the occupation of Oreus see ibid. n33) with Isnardi Parente’s reconciliation of the various accounts of Euphraeus’ career in a manner similar to what I propose, recognizing that Demosthenes and the author of the Letter to Philip are both expending their rhetorical efforts to appropriate Euphraeus for their own purposes.

[ back ] 86. ὅθεν, Φιλίππου τὴν ἀρχὴν παραλαβόντος, Παρμενίων αὐτὸν ἐν Ὠρεῷ λαβὼν ἀπέκτεινεν, ὥς φησι Καρύστιος ἐν Ἱστορικοῖς Ὑπομνήμασι (Athenaeus 11.508e). Besides Carystius’ apparent generic tendency to serve up scandalous tales about philosophers, which will be addressed below, notice should be taken of how the story in Athenaeus passes from Euphraeus’ lording it over the court in Macedon to his being arrested in Oreus, without any time frame or explanation for the transition. While it is possible that Euphraeus left his position at the Macedonian court before Perdiccas’ death, we would certainly like to know why. Perhaps more likely is that the truth in Demosthenes’ account, which presupposes a time of political (or merely quasi-political: see below) activities in Oreus during the reign of Philip, has been glossed over by Carystius, who may be more interested in Euphraeus’ intemperate philosophical zeal than in the factional tendencies of the Macedonian court as the motive force of his story.

[ back ] 87. This letter, though it may not be genuine, and though it has suffered from being pressed for insights it simply does not offer into the nature of the Academy’s relationship with the Macedonian court, is nonetheless hardly explicable except as an Academic document; there is no obvious or economical explanation for its falsely placing the otherwise obscure Euphraeus in this general context. Another source relevant here is Harpocration s.v., who also identifies Euphraeus as a member of the Academy; this could derive from the Platonic text, though there must have been other available sources, including the one that lies behind Carystius’ information.

[ back ] 88. Bertelli (1977:108) associates Euphraeus’ capacity for logoi in the Platonic epistle with Antipater’s λόγοι δυνάμενοι τὴν σὴν ἀρχὴν ὠφελεῖν (Letter to Philip 8), but he takes this as evidence that both works are pastiches stitched together in an Academic workshop.

[ back ] 89. Trampedach 1994:93; Trampedach does not accept it as genuine (ibid. 137n107).

[ back ] 90. It was thus left for Speusippus to recommend a sycophantic toady, Antipater, to the Macedonian court. Plato died just a year before Isocrates’ publication of the Philip, spared the possibly embarrassing opportunity to respond to the forces that provoked Speusippus to write his letter.

[ back ] 91. For one explanation of how the very same spoudaios character traits that led to Euphraeus’ swift execution upon Philip’s rise to the throne may also have accounted for his being in a position to intervene in some discord between the two Macedonian brothers to Philip’s benefit, see Griffith’s comments in Hammond and Griffith 1979:206f. Griffith acknowledges the difficulty of identifying the occasion (ἀπομερίσαι) of Euphraeus’ supposed benefaction with specific reference to Macedonian institutions; cf. Gomperz 1882:112n11: “Hardly more need be true than the one item, that Euphraeus, at the time of Philip’s enfeoffment by Perdiccas, was staying at his court.”

[ back ] 92. See esp. Bertelli 1977a:80–82.

[ back ] 93. Bertelli 1976:285. Cf. Natorp 1907 (“resentful”).

[ back ] 94. Bertelli 1977a:82 and n22.

[ back ] 95. Identifying the cited text of the Letter to Philip as “E,” Bertelli (1977a:82) declares its absence in Carystius as more significant than Carystius’ expansion to give a specific account of Euphraeus, which he has just been discussing: “Piuttosto è l’ultimo elemento (E) a suscitare non poche perplessità, non soltanto perché esso non ha riscontro in Caristio né è confermato da alter fonti, ma anche e soprattutto perché l’unico altro confronto che si può fare è con un documento molto sospetto quale l’ep. XXXI (Hercher) socratica, che per la sua genericità ad alcuni è sembrata un falso construito proprio su questa frase di ep. XXX.” As for this second, supposedly weightier, reason for suspicion, it is really no positive reason at all, since the Socratic epistle in question has been almost universally regarded as a later, and thus irrelevant and possibly derivative, forgery (Bertelli’s citation of Momigliano’s transitory “impression of authenticity” notwithstanding).

[ back ] 96. Bertelli 1977a:81.

[ back ] 97. If Carystius, at the end of Bertelli’s various challenges to his coherence, stands in some discredit, this is certainly not to the benefit of his argument doubting Speusippean authorship, which asks us to prefer Carystius’ “independent” tradition of a Speusippean letter to that of the Letter to Philip itself. Any doubts as to whether Carystius can answer such expectations will be seen to be all the more costly once we have raised problems that cast doubt on whether the second pillar of this tradition proposed by Bertelli, Theopompus (FGrHist 115 F 294 = Diogenes Laertius 3.40), is in fact a parallel to Carystius at all (see below).

[ back ] 98. Bertelli 1976:285.

[ back ] 99. “Erweist sich … Karystios durch seine dem Demosthenes widersprechenden Angaben über das Ende des Euphraios (Athen. 11, 508, E) als ein wenig genauer Kenner dieser Dinge” (Gomperz 1882:112).

[ back ] 100. Bertelli’s reaching back to Gomperz’s polemical 1882 review of Bernays’s Phokion indicates the strength of his dislike for the idea of Academic philo-Macedonism; yet Carystius, on whom Bertelli must depend more generally as a witness to the “truth” about Speusippus and Philip, affirms loud and clear an Academy that enjoyed, and worried over, friendly relations with Macedon. The more Carystius’ alleged recklessness with major historical facts is called into question, the less easily we can dismiss Carystius as a source—not so hard to reconcile with the others—for the nature of the Academy–Macedon relationship.

[ back ] 101. See above.

[ back ] 102. Cf. the ease with which Griffith disposes of this problem with the proper solution: “The amusing inaccuracy of Carystius here (the capture of Oreus being about eighteen years later at least) implies a rare unpopularity of Euphraeus among the leading Macedonians” (Hammond and Griffith 1979:206.)

[ back ] 103. Trampedach 1994:96f., citing articles by Brunt and Cawkwell published well in advance of Bertelli’s work.

[ back ] 104. Trampedach 1994:97.

[ back ] 105. Bertelli 1977a:80.

[ back ] 106. Bertelli 1977a:79.

[ back ] 107. One need not accept the Letter to Philip in order to place Theopompus at Philip’s court; this is discussed below.

[ back ] 108. Bertelli 1977a:78.

[ back ] 109. καὶ ἐτελεύτα μὲν ὃν εἴπομεν τρόπον Φιλίππου βασιλεύοντος ἔτος τρισκαιδέκατον, καθὰ καὶ Φαβωρῖνός φησιν Ἀπομνημονευμάτων τρίτῳ. ὑφ’ οὗ καὶ ἐπιτιμηθῆναί φησιν αὐτὸν Θεόπομπος.

[ back ] 110. Bertelli 1977a:78.

[ back ] 111. Bickermann and Sykutris 1928:37n2.

[ back ] 112. Isocrates Panathenaicus 149, εἰκότως ἂν ἐπιτιμῴμην (where we might expect εἰκότως ἄν μοι ἐπιτιμῴτο). Theopompus was perhaps thirty-five when the elderly Isocrates began work on this oration. Another such present passive is not extant before Cassius Dio.

[ back ] 113. P. Cair. Zen. 59314, 250 BC, lines 7f., τὸν δὲ Ἡρακλείδην νύκτα ἡμέραν ποιούμενος ἀπόστειλον, ἵνα μὴ ἐπιτιμηθῶμεν; P. Enteux. 79, 218 BC, line 8, ἐπιτιμηθεῖσα δὲ ὑπό τινων τῶν παρόντων.

[ back ] 114. The next extant example of such an aorist passive after Theopompus would be Diodorus Siculus 11.40.2, ὁ μὲν Θεμιστοκλῆς ἀνακληθεὶς ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ ἐπιτιμηθείς (another aorist passive infinitive such as we find in Diogenes’, or Favorinus’, report of Theopompus occurs only in Galen Adversus Lycum libellus p. 239 Kühn); cf. a sole comparable example of the perfect passive, roughly contemporary, Polybius 7.12.9. (Around this time we start to see transitive usage in a distinct sense, “punish,” e.g. Diodorus Siculus 3.67.2, but especially in Jewish writers, e.g. Josephus Jewish Antiquities 5.105, LXX 3 Maccabees 2:24; cf. Bauer 1979 s.v.)

[ back ] 115. Even in later sources such as the papyri, the active of ἐπιτιμάω takes a dative personal object with extreme (and apparently total) regularity. It is procedurally difficult to have the same degree of certainty in eliminating the possibility of additional occurrences of ἐπιτιμάω with a personal direct object, but it would be surprising if such examples had escaped the notice of modern lexicographers.

[ back ] 116. For example, LSJ omits the lone Isocratean instance I have cited, giving Polybius as the first and only example of the personal passive.

[ back ] 117. The nature of the Epitome (T 1, FF 1–4) is not perfectly clear, but it seems to have been an unprecedented kind of text. See Christ 1993 and the response in Flower 1997:253f.

[ back ] 118. Note that Diogenes Laertius is likely taking the citation of Theopompus from the same passage of Favorinus’ Memorabilia that stated how far into Philip’s reign Plato had died.

[ back ] 119. Translators have chosen the interpretation I justify here: Hicks 1925 (with a footnote citing Herodotus); Shrimpton 1991:257, “Theopompus says that he was held in honour by Philip [or, was honoured by Philip at his funeral].”

[ back ] 120. Bertelli 1977a:78. Cf. ibid. 100, where the question of what the “Philip” reading would actually mean is raised.

[ back ] 121. Note that Carystius at this point is not yet directly quoting “Speusippus.”

[ back ] 122. For a consideration of how Isocrates’ students Theopompus and Ephorus took up the challenge of defending Philip’s conduct in the Third Sacred War, see Squillace 2010:72–75.

[ back ] 123. Isocrates Epistle 2.

[ back ] 124. Isocrates Epistle 3.

[ back ] 125. Bearing in mind the limitations of this explanatory framework, which I have suggested above, it is possible that Speusippus erred in sensing such a decisive shift in the requirements determining the usefulness of philosophers and writers to the king.

[ back ] 126. Essig 2000:38.

[ back ] 127. “Obliterate” or “erase”: Speusippus again uses the vocabulary of texts to define the struggle for King Philip; likewise the erasure will be effected by comparative reading to Theopompus’ disadvantage (paranagnōnai).

[ back ] 128. Although Isocrates’ political “negotiations,” as we describe them here, have so often been disadvantageously compared to the policy of Demosthenes, his political frankness and independence compare favorably to the coarser politics of the next generation. This parallels the prominence of overt polemics among Plato and Isocrates’ pupils (despite the limited quantity of evidence for their work), beside which the textual traces of an alleged feud between Plato and Isocrates are unimpressive.

[ back ] 129. Thus Bertelli (1977a:83f.), in noticing the marked contrast between Isocrates’ circumspection and Theopompus’ recklessness in directing their criticisms of the rival Platonic paideia to the Macedonian court (“La mancanza di cautela da parte dello storico fa uno strano contrasto con le critiche molto circospette e cautelose avanzate da Isocrate nella breve lettera ad Alessandro giovane, Ep. V, contro l’impostazione eristico-dialettica data da Aristotele all’educazione del giovane principe”), has noticed an important phenomenon, but one that is not best made to serve (as in Bertelli’s argument) as evidence to dismiss the report of Theopompus’ slandering Plato at court as a false intrusion into the Letter to Philip, since the dissonance between the styles of teacher and student can be resolved along the lines I argue here. For Bertelli’s further thoughts on the letter’s abruptly personal focus and narrowly scholastic perspective, see Bertelli 1977a:101, where he labels the descent into freely broadcasting specious arguments a “trahison des clercs.”

[ back ] 130. One of Bickermann’s most important arguments for the letter’s authenticity (or at least its attachment to the 340s BC or very soon thereafter) is that it is so alive to the importance of Isocrates as a specifically political writer. On other considerations, the letter must have been written in either the fourth century BC or ca. the first century AD, and it is hard to imagine anyone putting together the political drama in the latter period: “This period, however, had completely lost any understanding of Isocrates as a political writer of the day. His value was rather only as a teacher and rhetor, whose writing appeared to be σχεδὸν ἐναντία τῇ τῶν πολιτικῶν [virtually the opposite of political discourse]. His inanis sermonis elegantia [“empty elegance of style,” Cicero De oratore 3.141, see chap. 3] was conceived as just the opposite of political discourse and activity. On the other hand, he was highly praised and extolled as a moralist: one must only read Dionysius’ appreciation. How, then, could a forger in that time, for whatever purpose he may have worked to produce the document either as prosopopoeia or as an alleged autograph of the fourth century, arrive at this conception of Isocrates—completely out of joint for his contemporaries—as a journalist in the service of Macedonia?” (Bickermann and Sykutris 1928:36f.).

[ back ] 131. Compare the continued political topicality of Aristotle in Athens after his death, Ford 2011:67.

[ back ] 132. Trampedach 1994:138, avoiding the straw men handled by Tarán (1981:5n14).

[ back ] 133. Thus Dionysius and Philip both seem to have had letters addressed to them by Isocrates and Speusippus alike. To this list we may juxtapose Speusippus’ accusation that Isocrates recycled his Philip from material previously peddled to Dionysius and others (Letter to Philip 13). For Isocrates’ other appeals to monarchs, cf. Ostwald and Lynch 1994:599f., Frolíková 1979.

[ back ] 134. Diogenes Laertius 3.46.

[ back ] 135. This Caeneus is not otherwise known. The testimonium is discussed by Gigante (1969), Isnardi Parente (1980:211), and Tarán (1981:181f.). Gigante suggests reading Ἀφαρεύς for Καινεύς; Aphareus is Isocrates’ adopted son and the one who actually spoke in his place in the Antidosis lawsuit, cf. “Plutarch” Lives of the Ten Orators 838b–c, 839c, Dionysius of Halicarnassus Isocrates 18.

[ back ] 136. It is the only text offered to show this by Stenzel (1929:1636). I am unsure where the notion of Speusippus’ having passed through Isocrates’ school first appears; Stahr (1830–1832:II.286f.) makes the inference on this basis, citing Casaubon and Menage’s annotations to Diogenes Laertius.

[ back ] 137. Usener 1880, cited by Gigante (1969:48).

[ back ] 138. Cf. Diogenes Laertius 6.15. The translation of Hicks 1925 (A Reply to the Anonymous Work) obscures the connection.

[ back ] 139. The reference may be to Isocrates’ Against Euthynus of 303/2—the dispute over this famous case had legs—to which Isocrates himself will refer as hē parakatathēkē (Panegyricus 188). Cf. Gigante 1969. However, it is immaterial to my argument whether the extant Isocratean speech is the one meant.

[ back ] 140. Isocrates Panegyricus 188, quoted, translated, and discussed below.

[ back ] 141. A conclusion can be drawn here much more securely than from the title Pros Grullon (Diogenes Laertius 4.4); see Tarán 1981:194f. (questioning its existence) and Blank 2007:14n32 (stressing that we know nothing about it). Speusippus’ Tekhnōn elenkhos (Diogenes Laertius 4.5) was surely a response to rhetorical treatises and methodology (cf. Tarán 1981:195).

[ back ] 142. Cf. Too 1995:174ff.

[ back ] 143. See now Natoli 2004:146. Oliver (1968:25) says, “In order to know the truth one must have information, sometimes called historia. For example, when Speusippus criticizes Isocrates for getting a simple fact wrong, he criticizes the historia of Isocrates [11].”

[ back ] 144. Bertelli 1977a:110.

[ back ] 145. Diogenes Laertius 4.5 reports (citing Favorinus Memorabilia 2) that Aristotle bought Speusippus’ biblia for the sum of three talents.

[ back ] 146. In a note citing a host of twentieth-century scholars who have addressed the “biographical” formulation of the Philippica (Bertelli 1977a:83n26), Bertelli claims, “Per la permanenza di Teopompo alla corte di Filippo … non abbiamo tuttavia altra testimonianza positiva oltre quella di ep. XXX,” which, he complains, is pressed into a circular demonstration of authenticity.

[ back ] 147. οὐ τοιοῦτοι (sc. as Theodosius II behaved towards writers) Κρητῶν οἱ πάλαι ἐγένοντο περὶ τὸν ἀοίδιμον ἐκεῖνον Ὅμηρον, ἢ Ἀλευάδαι περὶ Σιμωνίδην, ἢ Διονύσιος ὁ Σικελίας τύραννος περὶ Πλάτωνα τὸν Σωκράτους ἑταῖρον, ἢ Φίλιππος ὁ Μακεδὼν περὶ Θεόπομπον τὸν συγγραφέα (Church History preface 5). This testimonium is omitted by FGrHist. E.g. Griffith accepts it as evidence (Hammond and Griffith 1979:521n2), without, however, citing Boehnecke (1864:477n3), who seems first to have adduced this text. Note that while Boehnecke’s broader suggestion of the utility to Philip of Theopompus’ earlier writings (and thus of Theopompus’ attractiveness as a royal client) may be supportable on the basis of other sources, Boehnecke errs in maintaining this on the basis of the Trikaranos, written by Anaximenes of Lampascus and falsely attributed to Theopompus.

[ back ] 148. In the previous chapter I questioned the accuracy of this modern and somewhat artificial construct.

[ back ] 149. Bertelli 1977a:92f. and nn62f. Bertelli considers “Ephorus’ and Theopompus’ stylistic and thematic dependence on Isocrates” to be an “undeniable fact.”

[ back ] 150. The effort of Bertelli (1977a:92f.) to undermine the other sources for the teacher–pupil relationship centers on the statement in Photius’ life (Library 120b30 = T 3a) that “Isocrates the Athenian” was a contemporary (sunakmasai) of Theopompus. This “would exclude” such a relationship. But this is absolutely impossible given that their births are separated by more than fifty-five years. Bertelli actually cites the parallel testimonium naming instead “Isocrates of Apollonia” (Suda s.v. Θεοδέκτης, θ 138) to say that his reading is “confirmed” by sources that “substitute the Athenian Isocrates.” Rather, it is plainly the famous Isocrates whose name has displaced that of his obscure pupil. The problems here go back to Jacoby, whose authority later writers have accepted too automatically on this point: see the discussion in chap. 3.

[ back ] 151. Cf. Bertelli 1977a:84ff. and 108. The former, an apparent instance of literary criticism (pace Flower 1994:19n31; the insistence on reading psukhros as a predicate in its own right is sound, but there is not sufficient evidence for preferring the exclusive sense “disagreeable”), again leads Bertelli, who considers it without reference to a scholastic context, to object that Theopompus’ literary fame was insufficient to attract such hostile notice in 343/2 (p. 90). The audience that Bertelli feels is implied by the wish to see the historian “erased by everyone” (Letter to Philip 12) could be not the wider literary public, but the other participants in the specialized scholastic field, among whom such insults did not require extensive individual familiarity.

[ back ] 152. Bertelli 1977a:109, pointing out that the reference to Damastes of Sigeum, mentioned together with Herodotus at Letter to Philip 4, would predate any other testimonium for the fifth-century writer. But, since Damastes is also known to have written e.g. a work On Poets and Sophists, I am reluctant to agree that this is particularly strong evidence for Speusippus’ specifically historiographical curiosity.

[ back ] 153. “Una conoscenza non superficiale della storia macedone prima di Filippo” (Bertelli 1997a:109) is what we would expect in a targeted communication from a man whose pursuit of courtly favor was well attested.

[ back ] 154. Bertelli 1977a:108.

[ back ] 155. Bertelli 1977a:110.

[ back ] 156. Ἀθήνησι δὲ παρέβαλε πρῶτον μὲν Σπευσίππῳ (Diogenes Laertius 5.86).

[ back ] 157. The polymathy suggested by the many headings under which his dialogoi are listed (ēthika; phusika; grammatika; mousika; rhētorika; historika, see Diogenes Laertius 5.86–88) has rightly impressed scholars. But it should be noticed that the two works actually listed in the final category (Peri tōn Puthagoreiōn and Peri Heurēmatōn) hardly evoke a concern with political history.

[ back ] 158. See Alexiou 2010:179 (on Isocrates Evagoras 74: διαδοθέντας ἐν ταῖς εὖ φρονούντων διατριβαῖς, “published in the diatribai of men of good sense”) for the modern literature on the dissemination of Isocrates’ discourses, among which see esp. Usener 1994.

[ back ] 159. Usener (1994:54f.) independently makes this same connection.

[ back ] 160. Note, however, Socrates’ use of it in a description of law court procedure meant to contrast with the proper conditions of philosophical conversation at Theaetetus 172e3.

[ back ] 161. Letter to Philip 12.

[ back ] 162. Besides the “sophists” and rhapsodes mentioned by Isocrates among frequenters of the Lyceum, we can add Socrates and the older sophists (several references in Plato and Diogenes Laertius 9.54), as well as Isocrates himself (anonymous Life of Isocrates, line 117 in Mathieu and Brémond’s Budé edition [1962]).

[ back ] 163. See Roth 2003:85–90.

[ back ] 164. After Gigante 1969.

[ back ] 165. Their “interests” converge in both of the word’s senses.

[ back ] 166. I make use of Pierre Bourdieu’s terms of analysis, esp. Bourdieu 1998.

[ back ] 167. Recall also the similar fifth epistle.

[ back ] 168. The “Pontic student” in Letter to Philip 11.

[ back ] 169. “Frigid”: psukhros (Letter to Philip 12). Compare Isocrates, To Nicocles 24, on the difficulty of sprezzatura: “you will find that those who are dignified are cold [psukhrous], and those who wish to appear urbane are base.” If not the language of literary criticism, we have the language of conscious and critical self-fashioning.

[ back ] 170. See Wendland 1910 on how “Demosthenes” Philip’s Letter 12.19 (summer 340) quotes Isocrates Philip 73, and compare Hegesippus’ attack on Philip as “schooled” (“Demosthenes” 7.23, didaskalos, Natoli 2004:54).

[ back ] 171. Natoli (2004:20–22) argues for a private letter; Bickermann and Sykutris (1928:18) argue for an open letter, but based on the interpretation of empodōn rejected here (see n4 to the translation of §5 above, p. 136).

[ back ] 172. Bertelli 1977a:105.

[ back ] 173. “Per esempio al B[ickermann] non è sembrato affatto strano, proponendo come data di redazione l’inverno 343/42, che ‘Speusippo’ riaccenda la polemica contro il Filippo di Isocrate a distanza di tre anni dalla sua pubblicazione” (Bertelli 1977a:101).

[ back ] 174. “Il meno che si possa dire di fronte a una tale ‘farrago’ di riferimenti è che la lettera non fu scritta di getto per e in una circostanza particolare: essa si presenta piuttosto come una rubrica in cui sono concentrati avvenimenti e polemiche disposti in un arco di tempo che va dal 346—se non prima: vd. infatti la ‘questione di Olinto’—al 341 almeno” (Bertelli 1977a:107). As for the attacks on political positions taken by Isocrates after 343/2 that Bertelli alleges to exist in the Letter to Philip (“al 341 almeno”), perhaps it is enough to emphasize that Bertelli himself has to refer to them as “subtle allusions.”

[ back ] 175. Hammond and Griffith 1979:515.

[ back ] 176. Markle 1976:89–91.

[ back ] 177. Markle 1976:92–97. On Androtion’s exile, FGrHist 324 T 14. Note that Markle, writing just before the publication of Bertelli’s articles, accepts the letter on Bickermann and Sykutris’s authority, and on their terms.

[ back ] 178. Markle 1976:98.

[ back ] 179. Markle 1976:98.

[ back ] 180. Cf. Essig (2000:42), who sees an early example of a modern Intellektuellenproblematik: “In order to help their own utopias achieve greater effectiveness through a pact with the monarch’s power, Isocrates and Speusippus alike turn their backs on democracy and on the welfare of their native city.” Pina Polo and Panzram (2001) also discuss the political propaganda of the Letter to Philip in terms of the “violent polemic between Isocrates’ followers and an Academy disposed to be friendly to Macedon.”