Address to Philip
(346 BCE)

Excerpts from the Original Electronic Text at the web site of the Perseus Project.

[1] Do not be surprised, Philip, that I am going to begin, not with the discourse which is to be addressed to you and which is presently to be brought to your attention, but with that which I have written about Amphipolis. For I desire to say a few words, by way of preface, about this question, in order that I may make it clear to you as well as to the rest of the world that it was not in a moment of folly that I undertook to write my address to you, nor because I am under any misapprehension as to the infirmity which now besets me, but that I was led advisedly and deliberately to this resolution.

[2] For when I saw that the war in which you and our city had become involved over Amphipolis was proving the source of many evils, I endeavored to express opinions regarding this city and territory which, so far from being the same as those entertained by your friends, or by the orators among us, were as far as possible removed from their point of view.
[3] For they were spurring you on to the war by seconding your covetousness, while I, on the contrary, expressed no opinion whatever on the points in controversy, but occupied myself with a plea which I conceived to be more than all others conducive to peace, maintaining that both you and the Athenians were mistaken about the real state of affairs and that you were fighting in support of our interests, and our city in support of your power; for it was to your advantage, I urged, that we should possess the territory of Amphipolis, while it was in no possible way to our advantage to acquire it.

[4] Yes, and I so impressed my hearers by my statement of the case that not one of them thought of applauding my oratory or the finish and the purity of my style, as some are wont to do, but instead they marvelled at the truth of my arguments, and were convinced that only on certain conditions could you and the Athenians be made to cease from your contentious rivalry.
[5] In the first place, you, for your part, will have to be persuaded that the friendship of our city would be worth more to you than the revenues which you derive from Amphipolis, while Athens will have to learn, if she can, the lesson that she should avoid planting the kind of colonies which have been the ruin, four or five times over, of those domiciled in them, and should seek out for colonization the regions which are far distant from peoples which have a capacity for dominion and near those which have been habituated to subjection -- such a region as, for example, that in which the Lacedaemonians established the colony of Cyrene.

[6] In the next place, you will have to realize that by formally surrendering this territory to us you would in fact still hold it in your power, and would, besides, gain our good will, for you would then have as many hostages of ours to guarantee our friendship as we should send out settlers into the region of your influence; while someone will have to make our own people see that, if we got possession of Amphipolis, we should be compelled to maintain the same friendly attitude toward your policy, because of our colonists there, as we did for the elder Amadocus because of our landholders in the Chersonese.

[7] As I continued to say many things of this tenor, those who heard me were inspired with the hope that when my discourse should be published you and the Athenians would bring the war to an end, and, having conquered your pride, would adopt some policy for your mutual good. Whether indeed they were foolish or sensible in taking this view is a question for which they, and not I, may fairly be held to account; but in any case, while I was still occupied with this endeavor, you and Athens anticipated me by making peace before I had completed my discourse; and you were wise in doing so, for to conclude the peace, no matter how, was better than to continue to be oppressed by the evils engendered by the war.
[8] But although I was in joyful accord with the resolutions which were adopted regarding the peace, and was convinced that they would be beneficial, not only to us, but also to you and all the other Hellenes, I could not divorce my thought from the possibilities connected with this step, but found myself in a state of mind where I began at once to consider how the results which had been achieved might be made permanent for us, and how our city could be prevented from setting her heart upon further wars, after a short interval of peace.

[9] As I kept going over these questions in my own thoughts, I found that on no other condition could Athens remain at peace, unless the greatest states of Hellas should resolve to put an end to their mutual quarrels and carry the war beyond our borders into Asia, and should determine to wrest from the barbarians the advantages which they now think it proper to get for themselves at the expense of the Hellenes. This was, in fact, the course which I had already advocated in the Panegyric discourse.

[10] Having pondered on these matters and come to the conclusion that there could never be found a subject nobler than this, of more general appeal, or of greater profit to us all, I was moved to write upon it a second time. Yet I did not fail to appreciate my own deficiencies; I knew that this theme called for a man, not of my years, but in the full bloom of his vigor and with natural endowments far above those of other men;
[11] and I realized also that it is difficult to deliver two discourses with tolerable success upon the same subject, especially when the one which was first published was so written that even my detractors imitate and admire it more than do those who praise it to excess.

[12] Nevertheless, disregarding all these difficulties, I have become so ambitious in my old age that I have determined by addressing my discourse to you at the same time to set an example to my disciples and make it evident to them that to burden our national assemblies with oratory and to address all the people who there throng together is, in reality, to address no one at all; that such speeches are quite as ineffectual as the legal codes and constitutions drawn up by the sophists;
[13] and, finally, that those who desire, not to chatter empty nonsense, but to further some practical purpose, and those who think they have hit upon some plan for the common good, must leave it to others to harangue at the public festivals, but must themselves win over someone to champion their cause from among men who are capable not only of speech but of action and who occupy a high position in the world -- if, that is to say, they are to command any attention.

[14] It was with this mind that I chose to address to you what I have to say -- not that I singled you out to curry your favor, although in truth I would give much to speak acceptably to you. It was not, however, with this in view that I came to my decision, but rather because I saw that all the other men of high repute were living under the control of politics and laws, with no power to do anything save what was prescribed, and that, furthermore, they were sadly unequal to the enterprise which I shall propose;

[15] while you and you alone had been granted by fortune free scope both to send ambassadors to whom ever you desire and to receive them from whom ever you please, and to say whatever you think expedient; and that, besides, you, beyond any of the Hellenes, were possessed of both wealth and power, which are the only things in the world that are adapted at once to persuade and to compel; and these aids, I think, even the cause which I shall propose to you will need to have on its side.
[16] For I am going to advise you to champion the cause of concord among the Hellenes and of a campaign against the barbarian; and as persuasion will be helpful in dealing with the Hellenes, so compulsion will be useful in dealing with the barbarians. This, then, is the general scope of my discourse. . . .

I affirm that, without neglecting any of your own interests, you ought to make an effort to reconcile Argos and Lacedaemon and Thebes and Athens; for if you can bring these cities together, you will not find it hard to unite the others as well;
[31] for all the rest are under the protection of the aforesaid cities, and fly for refuge, when they are alarmed, to one or other of these powers, and they all draw upon them for succor. So that if you can persuade four cities only to take a sane view of things, you will deliver the others also from many evils.

[32] Now you will realize that it is not becoming in you to disregard any of these cities if you will review their conduct in relation to your ancestors; for you will find that each one of them is to be credited with great friendship and important services to your house: Argos is the land of your fathers, and is entitled to as much consideration at your hands as are your own ancestors; the Thebans honor the founder of your race, both by processionals and by sacrifices, beyond all the other gods;

[33] the Lacedaemonians have conferred upon his descendants the kingship and the power of command for all time; and as for our city, we are informed by those whom we credit in matters of ancient history that she aided Heracles to win his immortality(in what way you can easily learn at another time; it would be unseasonable for me to relate it now), and that she aided his children to preserve their lives.
[34] Yes, Athens single-handed sustained the greatest dangers against the power of Eurystheus, put an end to his insolence, and freed Heracles' sons from the fears by which they were continually beset. Because of these services we deserve the gratitude, not only of those who then were preserved from destruction, but also of those who are now living; for to us it is due both that they are alive and that they enjoy the blessings which are now theirs, since they never could have seen the light of day at all had not the sons of Heracles been preserved from death.

[35] Therefore, seeing that these cities have each and all shown such a spirit, no quarrel should ever have arisen between you and any one of them. But unfortunately we are all prone by nature to do wrong more often than right; and so it is fair to charge the mistakes of the past to our common weakness. Yet for the future you must be on your guard to prevent a like occurrence, and must consider what service you can render them which will make it manifest that you have acted in a manner worthy both of yourself and of what these cities have done.

[36] And the opportunity now serves you; for you would only be repaying the debt of gratitude which you owed them, but, because so much time has elapsed, they will credit you with being first in friendly offices. And it is a good thing to have the appearance of conferring benefits upon the greatest states of Hellas and at the same time to profit yourself no less than them.
[37] But apart from this, if anything unpleasant has arisen between you and any of them, you will wipe it out completely; for friendly acts in the present crisis will make you forget the wrongs which you have done each other in the past. Yes, and this also is beyond question, that all men hold in fondest memory those benefits which they receive in times of trouble.
[38] And you see how utterly wretched these states have become because of their warfare, and how like they are to men engaged in a personal encounter; for no one can reconcile the parties to a quarrel while their wrath is rising; but after they have punished each other badly, they need no mediator, but separate of their own accord. And that is just what I think these states also will do unless you first take them in hand.

[39] Now perhaps someone will venture to object to what I have proposed, saying that I am trying to persuade you to set yourself to an impossible task, since the Argives could never be friendly to the Lacedaemonians, nor the Lacedaemonians to the Thebans, and since, in general, those who have been accustomed throughout their whole existence to press their own selfish interests can never share and share alike with each other.
[40] Well, I myself do not believe that at the time when our city was the first power in Hellas, or again when Lacedaemon occupied that position, any such result could have been accomplished, since the one or the other of these two cities could easily have blocked the attempt; but as things are now, I am not of the same mind regarding them. For I know that they have all been brought down to the same level by their misfortunes, and so I think that they would much prefer the mutual advantages which would come from a unity of purpose to the selfish gains which accrued from their policy in those days.
[41] Furthermore, while I grant that no one else in the world could reconcile these cities, yet nothing of the sort is difficult for you; for I see that you have carried through to a successful end many undertakings which the rest of the world looked upon as hopeless and unthinkable, and therefore it would be nothing strange if you should be able single-handed to affect this union. In fact, men of high purposes and exceptional gifts ought not to undertake enterprises which any of the common run might carry out with success, but rather those which no one would attempt save men with endowments and power such as you possess. . . .

[89] On these points no man of intelligence would venture to contradict me. But I think that if any of the others should be prompted to advise you in favor of the expedition against Asia, they would resort to a plea of this kind: that it has been the fortune of all who have undertaken a war against the King, without exception, to rise from obscurity to brilliant distinction, from poverty to wealth, and from low estate to be masters of many lands and cities.

[90] I, however, am not going to urge you on such grounds, but by the example of men who were looked upon as failures: I mean those who took the field with Cyrus and Clearchus.

Every one agrees that these won as complete a victory in battle over all the forces of the King as if they had come to blows with their womenfolk, but that at the very moment when they seemed to be masters of the field they failed of success, owing to the impetuosity of Cyrus. For he in his exultation rushed in pursuit far in advance of the others; and, being caught in the midst of the enemy, was killed.
[91] But the King, not withstanding that his foes had suffered so severe a loss, felt so thorough a contempt for his own forces that he invited Clearchus and the other captains to a parley, promising to give them great gifts and to pay their soldiers their wages in full and to give them safe convoy home; then, having lured them by such prospects, and having assured them by the most solemn pledges known to the Persians, he seized them and put them to death, deliberately choosing to outrage the gods rather than risk a clash with our soldiers, bereft though they now were of Cyrus's aid. And what challenge could be nobler or more convincing than this?
[92] For it is evident that, if it had not been for Cyrus, even that army would have overthrown the power of the King. But for you it is easy both to guard against the disaster which befell at that time and to equip yourself with an armament much stronger than that which defeated the forces of the King. How, then, since you possess both these advantages, can you fail to undertake this expedition with all confidence?

Return to the syllabus.
Return to the History Department.