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63 Readings Passages: Classical

Classical Reading

 

To download this assignment as a pdf, click here: AGE Readings 20.

Political theory thrived in fourth-century BCE Greece. While the political writings of Plato and Aristotle are more often read and studied today, Isocrates was also an influential and respected intellectual on political thought at the time. Among Isocrates’ writings is an open letter to Nicocles, then the ruler of the island of Cyprus. The letter offers general principles for training a king. In this section, he focuses on preparing a king mentally.

… οὐδενὶ τῶν ἀσκητῶν οὕτω προσήκει τὸ σῶμα γυμνάζειν ὡς τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν αὑτῶν· ἅπασαι γὰρ αἱ πανηγύρεις οὐδὲν μέρος τιθέασι τούτων τῶν ἄθλων, περὶ ὧν ὑμεῖς καθ’ ἑκάστην ἀγωνίζεσθε τὴν ἡμέραν. ὧν ἐνθυμούμενον χρὴ προσέχειν τὸν νοῦν, ὅπως ὅσονπερ ταῖς τιμαῖς τῶν ἄλλων προέχεις, τοσοῦτον καὶ ταῖς ἀρεταῖς αὐτῶν διοίσεις. καὶ μὴ νόμιζε τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν ἐν μὲν τοῖς ἄλλοις πράγμασι χρησίμην εἶναι, πρὸς δὲ τὸ βελτίους ἡμᾶς καὶ φρονιμωτέρους γίγνεσθαι μηδεμίαν δύναμιν ἔχειν· μηδὲ καταγνῷς τῶν ἀνθρώπων τοσαύτην δυστυχίαν, ὡς περὶ μὲν τὰ θηρία τέχνας εὑρήκαμεν αἷς αὐτῶν τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμεροῦμεν καὶ πλείονος ἀξίας ποιοῦμεν, ἡμᾶς δ’ αὐτοὺς οὐδὲν ἂν πρὸς ἀρετὴν ὠφελήσαιμεν, ἀλλ’ ὡς καὶ τῆς παιδεύσεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιμελείας μάλιστα δυναμένης τὴν ἡμετέραν φύσιν εὐεργετεῖν, οὕτω διάκεισο τὴν γνώμην, καὶ τῶν τε παρόντων τοῖς φρονιμωτάτοις πλησίαζε καὶ τῶν ἄλλων οὓς ἂν δύνῃ μεταπέμπου, καὶ μήτε τῶν ποιητῶν εὐδοκιμούντων μήτε τῶν σοφιστῶν μηδενὸς οἴου δεῖν ἀπείρως ἔχειν, ἀλλὰ τῶν μὲν ἀκροατὴς γίγνου, τῶν δὲ μαθητὴς, καὶ παρασκεύαζε σεαυτὸν τῶν μὲν ἐλαττόνων κριτὴν, τῶν δὲ μειζόνων ἀγωνιστήν· διὰ γὰρ τούτων τῶν γυμνασίων τάχιστ’ ἂν γένοιο τοιοῦτος οἷον ὑπεθέμεθα δεῖν εἶναι τὸν ὀρθῶς βασιλεύσοντα καὶ τὴν πόλιν ὡς χρὴ διοικήσοντα. μάλιστα δ’ ἂν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ σαυτοῦ παρακληθείης, εἰ δεινὸν ἡγήσαιο τοὺς χείρους τῶν βελτιόνων ἄρχειν καὶ τοὺς ἀνοητοτέρους τοῖς φρονιμωτέροις προστάττειν· ὅσῳ γὰρ ἂν ἐρρωμενεστέρως τὴν τῶν ἄλλων ἄγνοιαν ἀτιμάσῃς, τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον τὴν αὑτοῦ διάνοιαν ἀσκήσεις.

Isocrates 2.11-14

 

ἄγνοια –ας ἡ stupidity

ἀγωνίζομαι compete, struggle

ἀγωνιστής –οῦ ὁ competitor, rival

ἆθλον –ου τό labor

ἀκροατής –οῦ ὁ listener

ἄν marks a hypothetical situation

ἀνόητος –ον ignorant

ἄπειρος –ον inexperienced, unacquainted with

ἀσκέω train

ἀσκητής –οῦ ὁ athlete

ἀτιμάσῃς “you should dishonor”

βασιλεύσοντα (acc sg) one who will be king

γένοιο “you can become”

γίγνου command “become”

γυμνάζω exercise

γυμνάσιον –ου τό exercise

διάκεισο command “fixate”

διάνοια –ας ἡ intellect

διοικήσοντα (acc sg) one who will manage

δυνάμενος –η –ον powerful, having power

δύνῃ ~ δύνασαι

δυστυχία –ας ἡ bad luck

ἐνθυμούμενος –η –ον internalizing

ἐπιμέλεια –ας ἡ diligence

ἐρρώμενος –η –ον earnest, vigorous

εὐδοκιμῶν -οῦσα –όν famous

εὐεργετεῖν benefit

εὑρήκαμεν (1st pl perfect) “we have found”

ἡγήσαιο “you would believe”

ἡμερόω tame

θηρίον –ου τό beast, animal

καταγνῷς (2nd sg aorist) render judgment

κριτής –οῦ ὁ judge, critic

μάλιστα especially

μᾶλλον more

μεταπέμπου command “send for”

νόμιζε command “believe”

οἷον as

οἴου command “think”

ὅπως so that, in order that

ὅσος –α –ον (as much) as

ὅσονπερ as much as

παίδευσις –εως ἡ education

πανήγυρις –εως ἡ assembly

παρακληθείης “you could be comforted”

παρασκεύαζε command “prepare”

παρών –όντος ὁ someone present

πλησίαζε command “stay near”

προέχω surpass, exceed

προσέχω turn to

προσήκει it belongs to, concerns

προστάττω command

σοφιστής –οῦ ὁ intellectual

τοιοῦτος –αύτη –οῦτο of the same kind (as)

τοσοῦτος –αύτη –οῦτο as much (as); so great (…ὡς = that)

ὑποτίθημι advise

φρόνιμος –η –ον smart

ὠφελήσαιμεν “we can help”

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Readings Passages: Classical by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.