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Athenian Political Art from the fifth and fourth centuries BCE: Images of Historical Individuals 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 8 of 14

· Isocrates ·

(orator/speechwriter/teacher, 436-338)

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Pausanias (Paus.).
Plutarch (Plut. Vit. X Or.).
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Evidence: Written sources attest at least three different statues of Isocrates that were erected in the fourth century: two at Athens—a victorious equestrian statue on the Acropolis, which showed him as a boy (Heliodoros in Ps.-Plut., Vit. X Or. 839C) and a standing bronze statue set up by his Isocrates’ adopted son, Aphareus, on a column in the Olympieion (Paus. 1.18.8 and Ps.-Plut., Vit. X Or. 839B); and one at Eleusis set up by Timotheus, the son of Conon (Ps.-Plut. Vit. X Or. 838D). The latter bore the following inscription: “Timotheus dedicated this statue of Isocrates to the goddesses, as a sign of his affection and his admiration for his friend. It is the work of Leochares” (trans. Richter 1984, 151). On the basis of this inscription, the statue may be dated to the period from 370 (the onset of Leochares’ career) to 356 (Timotheos’ expulsion from Athens). There was also said to have been a painted portrait in the Pompeion at Athens (Ps.-Plut. Vit. X Or. 839C). Of these portraits only the one attributed to Leochares may be certainly ascribed to Isocrates’ lifetime.

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Christodorus (Christod. Ecphr. in Grk. Anth.).
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Christodoros mentions a bronze statue that may have been either an original or a Roman copy, in the Zeuxippos at Constantinople (Ecphr. in Grk. Anth. 2.256 ff.).

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Despite the fact that at least three sculpted portraits of Isocrates are attested by ancient written sources, the material evidence provides only one certain portrait of Isocrates (noted below), which is in the style of the late fourth century, and therefore might copy the portrait set up by Aphareus rather than the presumably earlier one set up by Timotheos. It shows Isocrates with a receding hairline and a medium-length beard, but at a younger age than he would have been at the time either of these monuments were erected. A portrait in Berlin [2] may represent a loose copy of the same original.

Extant portraits:

  1. Albani 951: a small marble bust, inscribed ΕΙΣΟΚΡΑΤΗ[Σ].
  2. Berlin Isokrates: a marble head.

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page 8 of 14