Isocrates, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [word count] [Isoc.].
<<Isoc. 12.16 Isoc. 12.26 (Greek) >>Isoc. 12.38

12.23Should I, then, ignore these sophists and defend myself against those of the lay public who are prejudiced against me, attempting to convince them that it is neither just nor fitting for them to feel towards me as they do? But who would not impute great folly to me, if, in dealing with men who are hostile to me for no other reason than that I appear to have discoursed cleverly on certain subjects, I thought that by speaking just as I have spoken in the past I should stop them from taking offence at what I say and should not instead add to their annoyance, especially if it should appear that even now at this advanced age I have not ceased from “speaking rubbish”? 12.24

But neither would anyone, I am sure, advise me to neglect this subject and, breaking off in the midst of it, to go on and finish the discourse which I elected to write in my desire to prove that our city had been the cause of more blessings to the Hellenes than the city of the Lacedaemonians. For if I should now proceed to do this without bringing what I have written to any conclusion and without joining the beginning of what is to be said to the end of what has been spoken, I should be thought to be no better than those who speak in a random, slovenly, and scattering manner whatever comes into their heads to say. And this I must guard against. 12.25

The best course, therefore, that I can take under all these conditions is to set before you what I think about the last attempts [Note] to arouse prejudice against me and then proceed to speak on the subject which I had in mind from the first. For I think that if I succeed by my writing in bringing out and making clear what my views are about education and about the poets, I shall stop my enemies from fabricating false charges and speaking utterly at random. 12.26

Now in fact, so far from scorning the education which was handed down by our ancestors, I even commend that which has been set up in our own day—I mean geometry, astronomy, and the so-called eristic dialogues, [Note] which our young men delight in more than they should, although among the older men not one would not declare them insufferable. 12.27Nevertheless, I urge those who are inclined towards these disciplines to work hard and apply themselves to all of them, saying that even if this learning can accomplish no other good, at any rate it keeps the young out of many other things which are harmful. Nay, I hold that for those who are at this age no more helpful or fitting occupation can be found than the pursuit of these studies; 12.28but for those who are older and for those who have been admitted to man's estate I assert that these disciplines are no longer suitable. For I observe that some of those who have become so thoroughly versed in these studies as to instruct others in them fail to use opportunely the knowledge which they possess, while in the other activities of life they are less cultivated [Note] than their students—I hesitate to say less cultivated than their servants. 12.29I have the same fault to find also with those who are skilled in oratory and those who are distinguished for their writings and in general with all who have superior attainments in the arts, in the sciences, and in specialized skill. For I know that the majority even of these men have not set their own house in order, that they are insupportable in their private intercourse, that they belittle the opinions of their fellow citizens, and that they are given over to many other grave offences. So that I do not think that even these may be said to partake of the state of culture of which I am speaking. 12.30

Whom, then, do I call educated, since I exclude the arts and sciences and specialties? First, those who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgement which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action; [Note] 12.31next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all with whom they associate, tolerating easily and good-naturedly what is unpleasant or offensive in others and being themselves as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as it is possible to be; furthermore, those who hold their pleasures always under control [Note] and are not unduly overcome by their misfortunes, [Note] bearing up under them bravely and in a manner worthy of our common nature; 12.32finally, and most important of all, those who are not spoiled by successes and do not desert their true selves and become arrogant, [Note] but hold their ground steadfastly as intelligent men, not rejoicing in the good things which have come to them through chance rather than in those which through their own nature and intelligence are theirs from their birth. Those who have a character which is in accord, not with one of these things, but with all of them—these, I contend, are wise and complete men, possessed of all the virtues.



Isocrates, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [word count] [Isoc.].
<<Isoc. 12.16 Isoc. 12.26 (Greek) >>Isoc. 12.38

Powered by PhiloLogic