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Isocrates


Isocrates (/.ˈsɒk.rə.ˌtz/; Greek: Ἰσοκράτης, Greek pronunciation: [isokrátɛ̂ːs]; 436–338 BC), an ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. Among the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his time, Isocrates made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works.

Greek rhetoric is commonly traced to Corax of Syracuse, who first formulated a set of rhetorical rules in the fifth century BCE. His pupil Tisias was influential in the development of the rhetoric of the courtroom, and by some accounts was the teacher of Isocrates. Within two generations, rhetoric had become an important art, its growth driven by social and political changes such as democracy and courts of law.

Isocrates was born to a wealthy family in Athens and received a first-rate education. He was greatly influenced by his sophist teachers, Prodicus and Gorgias, and was also closely acquainted with Socrates. After the Peloponnesian War, his family lost its wealth, and Isocrates was forced to earn a living.

His professional career is said to have begun with logography: he was a hired courtroom speechwriter. Athenian citizens did not hire lawyers; legal procedure required self-representation. Instead, they would hire people like Isocrates to write speeches for them. Isocrates had a great talent for this since he lacked confidence in public speaking. His weak voice motivated him to publish pamphlets and although he played no direct part in state affairs, his written speech influenced the public and provided significant insight into major political issues of the day.



  • Ad Demonicum
  • Ad Nicoclem
  • Nicocles
  • Panegyricus
  • Philippus
  • Archidamus
  • De Pace
  • Evagoras
  • Helena
  • Busiris
  • Benoit, William L. (1984). "Isocrates on Rhetorical Education". Communication Education: 109–119. 
  • Bizzell, Patricia; Herzberg, Bruce, eds. (2001). The rhetorical tradition: Readings from classical times to the present (2nd ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN . 
  • Bury, J.B. (1913). A History of Greece. Macmillan: London. 
  • Eucken, von Christoph (1983). Isokrates: Seine Positionen in der Auseinandersetzung mit den zeitgenössischen Philosophen (in German). Berlin: W. de Gruyter. ISBN . 
  • Golden, James L.; Berquist, Goodwin F.; Coleman, William E. (2007). The rhetoric of Western thought (9th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall / Hunt. ISBN . 
  • Grube, G.M.A. (1965). The Greek and Roman Critics. London: Methuen. 
  • Haskins, Ekaterina V. (2004). Logos and power in Isocrates and Aristotle. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN . 
  • Isocrates (1968). Isocrates. Loeb Classical Library. George Norlin, Larue van Hook, trans. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press. ISBN . 
  • Isocrates (2000). Isocrates I. David Mirhady, Yun Lee Too, trans. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN . 
  • Isocrates (2004). Isocrates II. Terry L. Papillon, trans. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN . 
  • Livingstone, Niall (2001). A commentary on Isocrates' Busiris. Boston: Brill. ISBN . 
  • Papillon, Terry (1998). "Isocrates and the Greek Poetic Tradition" (PDF). Scholia. 7: 41–61. 
  • Poulakos, Takis; Depew, David J., eds. (2004). Isocrates and civic education. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. ISBN . 
  • Poulakos, Takis (1997). Speaking for the polis: Isocrates' rhetorical education. Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press. ISBN . 
  • Romilly, Jacqueline de (1985). Magic and rhetoric in ancient Greece. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN . 
  • Smith, Robert W.; Bryant, Donald C., eds. (1969). Ancient Greek and Roman Rhetoricians: A Biographical Dictionary. Columbia, MO: Artcraft Press. 
  • Too, Yun Lee (2008). A commentary on Isocrates' Antidosis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Too, Yun Lee (1995). The rhetoric of identity in Isocrates: text, power, pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN . 
  • Usener, Sylvia (1994). Isokrates, Platon und ihr Publikum: Hörer und Leser von Literatur im 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. (in German). Tübingen: Narr. ISBN . 
  • Robin Waterfield's Notes to his translation of Plato's 'Phaedrus', Oxford University Press, 2002.
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