Athens, 436 - 338 B.C.

The fourth in line among the famous Attic orators. He was the son of Theodoros the pipe maker, and he received a good and careful upbringing and education. A scholar, he studied with famous sophists (Gorgias, Teisias), he even got to know the teaching of Socrates, but he had no inclination for dialectic, which he even despised. In the beginning he started as a speech writer, from his practice, 6 speeches are preserved (402 - 393 BC).

Due to natural timidity and weakness of voice he did not take part neither in competitions nor in public discussions. In 393 Conon invited him to Chios, which he had just conquered, to entrust him with a political organization of a democratic type. In 390 he founded a rhetorical school, the program of which was his opening speech against the sophists, and by which he promised to produce students not only wise men and orators, but also men capable of thinking and doing.

The program attracted many students who mainly aspired to become politicians. From the school of Isocrates came eminent orators (Isaeus, Lycurgus, Aeschines and Hyperides) but others were also introduced to the art of rhetoric, to become teachers of the Greeks everywhere, a fact that justly made Isocrates proud, his reputation attracted powerful people around him. He was related to the king of Cyprus, Evagoras, the Archidamus of Sparta, Philip of Macedonia. The value of Isocrates' teaching is also evidenced by the fact that his students paid the large amount of a thousand drachmas as tuition fees.

Some of his students had been the philosopher's boarders for years, and when the time came to part with their teacher, to depart for their cities and families, they wept. In his school, he not only taught good rhythm and the elaborate composition of speech, but also politics. That is why his speeches are high, majestic and of pan-Hellenic importance and interest. While for foreign policy he urged the conquest of barbarian peoples, for internal policy he preferred democracy to oligarchy, he praised Pericles, but admired Solon. Sober, he dispassionately critiqued pan-Hellenic issues, without maligning other cities, and gave unanimous advice. Because he did not get actively involved in politics, he did not know the bitterness of Demosthenes and Hyperides, but the calamities of his homeland depressed him. Not wanting to eat anymore, he died of starvation, after the battle of Chaeronea, and was buried at public expense. A siren was placed on his grave as a symbol of the attractive grace of his figure and personality. A bust of him with an inscription was erected in Olympia, which is preserved to this day, but other busts of him were also created. Isocrates' speeches excel in brilliance and nobility of subject matter. Even today they fascinate the reader.