Wednesday, May 09, 2018


Hostility to the Persians

Isocrates, Panegyricus 158-159 (tr. George Norlin):
So ingrained in our nature is our hostility to them that even in the matter of our stories we linger most fondly over those which tell of the Trojan and the Persian wars, because through them we learn of our enemies' misfortunes; and you will find that our warfare against the barbarians has inspired our hymns, while that against the Hellenes has brought forth our dirges; and that the former are sung at our festivals, while we recall the latter on occasions of sorrow.

Moreover, I think that even the poetry of Homer has won a greater renown because he has nobly glorified the men who fought against the barbarians, and that on this account our ancestors determined to give his art a place of honour in our musical contests and in the education of our youth in order that we, hearing his verses over and over again, may learn by heart the enmity which stands from of old between us and them, and that we, admiring the valour of those who were in the war against Troy, may conceive a passion for like deeds.

οὕτω δὲ φύσει πολεμικῶς πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἔχομεν, ὥστε καὶ τῶν μύθων ἥδιστα συνδιατρίβομεν τοῖς Τρωικοῖς καὶ Περσικοῖς, δι᾿ ὧν ἔστι πυνθάνεσθαι τὰς ἐκείνων συμφοράς. εὕροι δ᾿ ἄν τις ἐκ μὲν τοῦ πολέμου τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς βαρβάρους ὕμνους πεποιημένους, ἐκ δὲ τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας θρήνους ἡμῖν γεγενημένους, καὶ τοὺς μὲν ἐν ταῖς ἑορταῖς ᾀδομένους, τῶν δ᾿ ἐπὶ ταῖς συμφοραῖς ἡμᾶς μεμνημένους.

οἶμαι δὲ καὶ τὴν Ὁμήρου ποίησιν μείζω λαβεῖν δόξαν, ὅτι καλῶς τοὺς πολεμήσαντας τοῖς βαρβάροις ἐνεκωμίασε, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βουληθῆναι τοὺς προγόνους ἡμῶν ἔντιμον αὐτοῦ ποιῆσαι τὴν τέχνην ἔν τε τοῖς τῆς μουσικῆς ἄθλοις καὶ τῇ παιδεύσει τῶν νεωτέρων, ἵνα πολλάκις ἀκούοντες τῶν ἐπῶν ἐκμανθάνωμεν τὴν ἔχθραν τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν πρὸς αὐτούς, καὶ ζηλοῦντες τὰς ἀρετὰς τῶν στρατευσαμένων τῶν αὐτῶν ἔργων ἐκείνοις ἐπιθυμῶμεν.

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