The Essential Isocrates is a comprehensive introduction to Isocrates, one of ancient Greece’s foremost orators. Jon D. Mikalson presents Isocrates largely in his own words, with original English translations of selections of his writings on his life and times and on morality, religion, philosophy, rhetoric, education, political theory, and Greek and Athenian history. In Mikalson’s treatment, Isocrates receives his due not only as a major thinker but as one whose work has resonated across time, influencing even modern education practices and theory.
Isocrates wrote extensively about Athens in the fourth century BCE and before, and his speeches, letters, and essays provide a trove of insights concerning the intellectual, political, and social currents of his time. Mikalson details what we know about Isocrates’s long, eventful, and complicated life, and much can be gleaned on the personal level from his own writings, as Isocrates was one of the most introspective authors of the Classical Period. By collecting the most representative and important passages of Isocrates’s writings, arranging them topically, and placing them in historical context, The Essential Isocrates invites general and expert readers alike to engage with one of antiquity’s most compelling men of ideas.
Mikalson aims to present Isocrates’ thoughts on a variety of issues in his own words, thus providing a thematic guide to his ideas and observations. There is no comparable book that offers such a convenient and useful access to Isocrates' writings.
— Joseph Roisman, author of The Classical Art of Command: Eight Greek Generals Who Shaped the History of Warfare[The Essential Isocrates] is an effective introduction to Isocrates especially for readers, students and scholars who are not familiar with ancient Greek and bibliography written in languages other than English.
— The Classical Review
The Essential Isocrates gives a valuable first overview of Isocrates’ oeuvre, especially for readers with limited to no knowledge of Greek.
— Journal of Hellenic StudiesThe tone [of The Essential Isocrates] is just about pitch perfect. Enthusiasm and humour leap from the page, as we learn how accessible and fun Isocrates can be...There is...a use and indeed a need for Mikalson’s volume in the teaching of Ancient History. As a sourcebook it is more than decent.
— Bryn Mawr Classical Review[A] solidly put together study...this book is going to be relevant for scholars in several fields of history but also in urban planning and public policy.
— Reviews of New Books
Terms Needing Definition
Persons Perhaps Not Generally Known but Featured in Isocrates’ Writings
Chronology of Works of Isocrates and of Major Events Mentioned by Him
Chapter 1. Isocrates: His Life
Chapter 2. Isocrates: On Himself
Chapter 3. Isocrates: On Morality and Religion
Chapter 4. Isocrates: On Philosophy, Education, Rhetoric, and Poetry
Chapter 5. Isocrates: On Political Theory
Chapter 6. Isocrates: On Athenian and Greek History