Isocrates’ Theory of Goodwill (Eunoia) as a Precursor of Emotional Intelligence

Citation with persistent identifier:

Xanthou, Maria G. “Isocrates’ Theory of Goodwill (Eunoia) as a Precursor of Emotional Intelligence.” CHS Research Bulletin 3, no. 2 (2015).


1§1 The objective of my article is to modify the overarching scheme of Isocratean philosophical and rhetorical pedagogy, conceptualized as logōn paideia, and to combine it with eunoia[1], one of Isocrates’ core educational concepts . My discussion builds on Isocrates’ educational project, which moves beyond the individual to the social realm of the corporate good, the polis.[2] Since societal corporatism features in his educational program in the form of the welfare of the polis[3], the concept of Emotional Intelligence (henceforth EI) seems to be ideally applicable in this context through Isocrates’ philosophy and educational program. My main argument is that eunoia in Isocrates is a versatile and interactive emotion and concept. I also suggest that, if properly combined with the modern concept of EI, it comprises a special configuration, resulting from the cognitive appraisal of feelings as subjective experiences of emotional state, bodily symptoms, facial and vocal expressions and action tendencies. Therefore, apart from modifying the Isocratean philosophical and rhetorical pedagogy (logōn paideia) and combining it with eunoia, I also intend to ultimately extrapolate it into a nuanced system of EI, applicable to internal and international politics and public relations.

1§2 Modern interest in EI stems from the dialectic between emotion and cognition being conceived as separate and distinctive human abilities. In my discussion I follow the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso[4] conception of EI as a set intelligence system, operating across both cognitive and emotional systems and subdivided into four faculties: a) emotional perception and identification, b) emotional facilitation of thought, c) emotional understanding, and d) emotional management. In general, EI offers a new way of looking at the emotion vs intelligence debate, in that people can reason about emotions and use emotions to assist reasoning.

Isocrates’ intertwining of doxa, kairos and eunoia

2§1 My discussion builds on Isocrates’ logōn paideia, which moves beyond the individual to the social realm of the corporate good, the polis. Since societal corporatism features in his educational program in the form of the welfare of the polis, the concept of EI seems to be ideally applicable in this context through Isocrates’ philosophy. In ancient Greek culture, excellence (aretē) in managing one’s own and state affairs, leading to human happiness and fulfillment through wisdom, is a much-professed aim. Despite the variety of their specific doctrines, the Sophists had political success as their main educational goal through philosophically relativistic teaching. Although a student of the Sophists himself, Isocrates’ own philosophical training and educational program, conceptualized as logōn paideia[5], professed the same goal with a predominantly ethical component lying at the core of his teaching: not only to produce leaders of high moral worth to provide counsel and advice on matters of civic importance, but also to support and promote his audience’s self-understanding as civic agents.[6] This kind of ‘hands-on’ approach applied to Isocrates’ notion of philosophy, is to be understood as the cultivation of practical wisdom through the production of ethical civic discourse.[7] So, if we analyze the phrase logōn paideia under ‘philosophy’, we are to think of it as ‘the ability to speak well which in turn reflects and is the product of the ability to think well and shrewdly about practical matters’.[8] In that sense, the Isocratean notion of philosophy as a coherent historical example encompasses speech, reasoning, ethics and practical concerns.[9] If modified in accordance with modern psychological jargon, it corresponds to verbal ability, cognition, behavioral management and response to stimuli. Logos, a key term of Isocrates’ philosophy and pedagogy, denoting speech, discourse, reasoning and, more importantly, the ability to think rationally with language, overlaps with philosophia by sharing the same context in forty instances.[10] Due to its interchangeability with philosophia, it lies at the heart of logōn paideia constituting the Isocratean overarching tripartite scheme, inclusive of philosophy, education and rhetoric.

2§2 The ethical component, which features prominently in many Isocratean texts[11], is the key difference between Sophistic instruction and Isocratean rhetorical education. Aretē, the aristocratic notion of virtue and excellence, is at the core of Isocrates’ teaching and, thus, it can be achieved only through building a character and a good name as its corollary (Ant. 279-280).[12] Hence, the added value of this ethical emphasis includes the importance of reputation and the power of goodwill, which can only be understood by those well versed in philosophia (Ant. 279-280):

Ant. 279–280 καὶ μηδεὶς ὑμῶν οἰέσθω τοὺς μὲν ἄλλους ἅπαντας γιγνώσκειν ὅσην ἔχει ῥοπὴν εἰς τὸ πείθειν τὸ τοῖς κρίνουσιν ἀρέσκειν, τοὺς δὲ περὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν ὄντας μόνους ἀγνοεῖν τὴν τῆς εὐνοίας δύναμιν˙ πολὺ γὰρ ἀκριβέστερον τῶν ἄλλων καὶ ταῦτ᾽ ἴσασι, καὶ πρὸς τούτοις ὅτι τὰ μὲν εἰκότα καὶ τὰ τεκμήρια καὶ πᾶν τὸ τῶν πίστεων εἶδος τοῦτο μόνον ὠφελεῖ τὸ μέρος ὠφελεῖ τὸ μέρος, ἐφ᾽ ᾧ ἂν αὐτῶν ἕκαστον τύχῃ ῥηθέν, τὸ δὲ δοκεῖν εἶναι καλὸν κἀγαθὸν οὐ μόνον τὸν λόγον πιστότερον ἐποίησεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς πράξεις τοῦ τὴν τοιαύτην δόξαν ἔχοντος ἐντιμοτέρας κατέστησεν, ὑπὲρ οὗ σπουδαστέον ἐστὶ τοῖς εὖ φρονοῦσι μᾶλλον ἢ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων.

And let no one of you suppose that while all other people realize how much the scales of persuasion incline in favor of one who has the approval of his judges, the devotees of philosophy alone are blind to the power of good will. In fact, they appreciate this even more thoroughly than others, and they know, furthermore, that probabilities and proofs and all forms of persuasion support only the points in a case to which they are severally applied, whereas an honorable reputation not only lends greater persuasiveness to the words of the man who possesses it, but adds greater lustre to his deeds, and is, therefore, more zealously to be sought after by men of intelligence than anything else in the world.

2§3 Accordingly, he advises the Cyprian king Nicocles to:

Ad Nic. 20-21 τίμα ταῖς μὲν ἀρχαῖς τῶν φίλων τοὺς οἱκειοτάτους, ταῖς δ᾽ ἀληθείαις αὐταῖς τοὺς εὐνουστάτους. φυλακὴν ἀσφαλεστάτην ἡγοῦ τοῦ σώματος εἶναι τήν τε τῶν φίλων ἀρετὴν καὶ τὴν τῶν πολιτῶν εὔνοιαν καὶ τὴν σαυτοῦ φρόνησιν˙ […]

‘honour with office those of your friends who are nearest of kin, but honour in very truth those who are the most loyal. Believe that your staunchest body-guard lies in the virtue of your friends, the loyalty of your citizens and your own wisdom’[13].

2§4 Ultimately, if combined with practicality as a guiding principle of Isocratean philosophical training and educational program, then the particular combination of mental abilities, (self-)management and stimuli could be equated to EI.

2§5 Isocrates’ rhetorical program promoted civic education in the stochastic art of politics through logos politikos (Contra Soph. 21).[14] Given this framework, Isocrates considered logos to be a means for political deliberation through constituting and affecting social relations.[15] To achieve this goal, Isocrates employs doxa as an essential concept of his program (Ant. 271).[16] In this paper, I confine myself in selected passages of Antidosis and On the Peace, where the configuration of doxa, kairos and eunoia feature prominently. Ant. 184 and On the Peace 8, if read as passages complementary to one another, offer us an eloquent insight of how he defines doxa:

a) Ant. 184 οἱ δὲ περὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν ὄντες τὰς ἰδέας ἁπάσας, αἷς ὁ λόγος τυγχάνει χρώμενος, διεξέρχονται τοῖς μαθηταῖς. ἐμπείρους δὲ τούτων ποιήσαντες καὶ διακριβώσαντες ἐν τούτοις πάλιν γυμνάζουσιν αὐτούς, καὶ πονεῖν ἐθίζουσι, καὶ συνείρειν καθ᾽ ἓν ἕκαστον ὧν ἔμαθον ἀναγκάζουσιν, ἵνα ταῦτα βεβαιότερον κατάσχωσι καὶ τῶν καιρῶν ἐγγυτέρω ταῖς δόξαις γένωνται. τῷ μὲν γὰρ εἰδέναι περιλαβεῖν αὐτοὺς οὐχ οἷόντ᾽ ἐστίν˙ ἐπὶ γὰρ ἁπάντων τῶν πραγμάτων διαφεύγουσι τὰς ἐπιστήμας, […]

those whose concern is philosophy pass on to their pupils all the structures which speech (logos) employs. When they have given them experience and detailed knowledge of these, they again exercise the students and make them accustomed to hard work, and then force them to synthesize everything they have learned in order that they may have a more secure understanding and their views (doxai) may be better adapted to the right moments (kairoi). It is not possible to learn this through study, since in all activities, these opportune moments elude exact knowledge (epistēmē).[17]

b) On the Peace 8 περὶ ὧν δ᾽ ἄν βουλεύωνται, μὴ νομίζειν εἰδέναι τὸ συμβησόμενον, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς δόξῃ μὲν χρωμένους, ὅ τι ἂν τύχῃ δὲ γενησόμενον

when they deliberate about something, they should think about such matters aware that they are relying on their best judgment (doxa) and that the future depends on chance (tychē).[18]

2§6 The important element in this definition is that due to the fluidity in the domain of human affairs, citizens as agents seeking to deal with precariousness and contingency must in each case consider what is appropriate to the occasion.[19] Along these lines, Isocrates disassociates political deliberation from persuasion as part of the decision-making process and lays emphasis on correlating the situational particularity with the community’s accepted norms and beliefs.[20] This assessment of particular cases from the perspective of the community’s values and commitments corresponds to bringing the community’s doxa into closer proximity to kairos.[21] If doxa is combined with phronēsis, which denotes practical intelligence acquired through practical expediency in stochastic arts, then, deliberation equates to a pronounced conjecture that is equivalent to ‘a judgment which is sound and capable of hitting the right course of action’.[22] Since he explains his notion of doxa as judgment through conjecture (On the Peace 28), and a wise person as someone (Panath. 30) ‘who possesses a judgment which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of ‘action’’, he manages to make the inequality of leadership compatible with the democratic equality of the audience in terms of voting as the ultimate means of decision-making:[23]

Panath. 30 τίνας οὖν καλῶ πεπαιδευμένους, ἐπειδὴ τὰς τέχνας καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας καὶ τὰς δυνάμεις ἀποδοκιμάζω; πρῶτον μὲν τοὺς καλῶς χρωμένους τοῖς πράγμασι τοῖς κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν ἑκάστην προσπίπτουσι, καὶ τὴν δόξαν ἐπιτυχῆ τῶν καιρῶν ἔχοντας καὶ δυναμένην ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ στοχάζεσθαι τοῦ συμφέροντος.

Whom, then, do I call educated, since I exclude the arts and sciences and specialties? First, those who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgment which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action.

2§7 Thus, he presents the art of logos (rhetoric) elsewhere (Ant. 271) as the means of binding communities together and as a tool of a moralizing and civilizing activity: to speak and think well will come together for those who feel a love of wisdom and of honor.[24]

ἐπειδὴ γὰρ οὐκ ἔνεστιν ἐν τῇ φύσει τῇ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπιστήμην λαβεῖν ἣν ἔχοντες ἂν εἰδεῖμεν ὅ τι πρακτέον ἤ λεκτέον ἐστίν, ἐκ τῶν λοιπῶν σοφοὺς μὲν νομίζω τοὺς ταῖς δόξαις ἐπιτυγχάνειν ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ τοῦ βελτίστου δυναμένους, φιλοσόφους δὲ τοὺς ἐν τούτοις διατρίβοντας ἐξ ὧν τάχιστα λήψονται τὴν τοιαύτην φρόνησιν.

My view of this question is, as it happens, very simple. For since it is not in the nature of man to attain a science by the possession of which we can know positively what we should do or what we should say, in the next resort I hold that man to be wise who is able by his powers of conjecture to arrive generally at the best course, and I hold that man to be a philosopher who occupies himself with the studies from which he will most quickly gain that kind of insight.

2§8 The important element in this definition is that due to the fluidity in the domain of human affairs, citizens as agents seeking to deal with precariousness and contingency must in each case consider what is appropriate to the occasion.[25]

Eunoia and EI in Isocrates’ De Pace and Antidosis

3§1 The Isocratean connection between doxa and kairos brings us closer to the modern definition of leadership and its challenges:

‘leadership is the art of significantly or crucially causing another living creature or group to participate in the achievement of a goal that is in the interest of that group, though it may also be in the interest of the leader’.[26]

3§2 According to this definition, the leader has three main challenges: (a) to know, or figure out, what is actually “in the interest of the group”; (b) to be good at enlisting the participation of the group, often by force of character, charm, eloquence, or delegated authority; and (c) to determine how to reconcile the interests of the group with the leader’s own interests or motives for leading.

3§3 In On the Peace 78-79 Isocrates exemplifies eloquently his concept of eunoia. He sketches Athens’ conduct after accepting the power (ἡ δύναμις … αὕτη). He describes where the state of license led the citizens of Athens regarding their duty towards it and, more importantly, how Athens’ oppressive conduct towards its allies eventually replaced eunoia with hatred:

On the Peace 78 ἀντὶ δὲ τῆς εὐνοίας τῆς παρὰ τῶν συμμάχων αὐτοῖς ὑπαρχούσης καὶ τῆς δόξης τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἄλλων Ἑλλήνων εἰς τοσοῦτον μῖσος κατέστησεν, ὥστε παρὰ μικρὸν ἐλθεῖν ἐξανδραποδισθῆναι τὴν πόλιν, εἰ μὴ Λακεδαιμονίων τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς πολεμοῦντων εὐνούστερων ἐτύχομεν ἢ τῶν πρότερον ἡμῖν συμμάχων ὄντων. οἷς οὐκ ἂν δικαίως ἐγκαλοῖμεν, ὅτι χαλεπῶς πρὸς ἡμᾶς διεθέτησαν˙ […]

and in place of the goodwill which was accorded us by our allies (ἀντὶ δὲ τῆς εὐνοίας τῆς παρὰ τῶν συμμάχων) and of the good repute in which we were held by the rest of the Hellenes it brought us into such a degree of odium (εἰς τοσοῦτον μῖσος) that Athens barely escaped being enslaved and would have suffered this fate had we not found the Lacedaemonians, who were at war with us from the first, more friendly (εὐνουστέρων) than those who were formerly our allies – not that we can have any just complaint against the latter for being obdurate towards us (χαλεπῶς πρὸς ἡμᾶς διετέθησαν).

3§4 Instead of goodwill, hatred was the allies’ emotional response towards Athenian excess, license and exhibitionism concerning the mismanagement of money and sea power, and the Athenians’ repressive conduct.[27] In other words, Isocrates employs this pattern of emotional response: the arousal of hatred due to fiscal and administrative misbehaviour throughout On the Peace.

3§5 This conduct definitely shifted the allies from eunoia to hatred, as described in On the Peace 79:

οἳ συναγαγόντες ἐξ ἁπάσης τῆς Ἑλλάδος τοὺς ἀργοτάτους καὶ τοὺς ἁπασῶν τῶν πονηριῶν μετέχοντας, πληροῦντες τούτων τὰς τριήρεις, ἀπηχθάνοντο τοῖς Ἕλλησι, καὶ τοὺς μὲν βελτίστους τῶν ἐν ταῖς Ἕλλησι, καὶ τοὺς μὲν βελτίστους τῶν ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις πόλεσιν ἐξέβαλλον, τοῖς δὲ πονηροτάτοις τῶν Ἑλλήνων τἀκείνων διένεμον;

gathering together from all Hellas men who were the worst of idlers and men who had a part in every form of depravity and manning their triremes with them, they made themselves odious (ἀπηχθάνοντο τοῖς Ἕλλησι) to the Hellenes, driving into exile the best of the citizens in the other state and distributing their property among the most depraved of the Hellenes!

3§6 This is an example of how Athenians conducted and were dealt with, as regards external politics. Later on (On the Peace 82-83), Isocrates illustrates how the citizens behaved towards their own country by exhibiting a shameless apathy towards the Spartans’ invasion of Attica and their plundering of the countryside.[28] In the same passage, Isocrates further exemplifies the withdrawal of eunoia and highlights this insolence by referring to the display of tribute money during the Great Dionysia. He defines this act of shameless exhibitionism as a folly (ἄνοιαν) and uses it to prove that the citizens were unable to foresee the possible consequences of such actions (On the Peace 83 οὐδεμίαν ποιούμενοι πρόνοιαν). What is noteworthy in On the Peace 83 is that the lack of thought for any future consequences goes hand in hand with unjust envy.[29] Several words such as anoian (On the Peace 81 ἄνοιαν), pronoian (On the Peace 83 πρόνοιαν), aphrosunēs (On the Peace 85 ἀφροσύνης), anoiā (On the Peace 85 ἀνοίᾳ) and emphronesterous (On the Peace 85 ἐμφρονεστέρους) denote the Athenians’ inability to evaluate the harsh antecedent conditions that they imposed on their allies. According to these conditions, the Athenians imposed taxes on the allies, which were violently extracted, brought to Athens and shamelessly exhibited.[30] Then comes the arousal of unjust envy and emulation, which causes people to misjudge the situation and to desire things remote. On the Peace 82-83 also point to this shift of the allies’ eunoia due to the Athenians’ insolence, which Isocrates presents as affecting the collective body of Athenian citizens.

3§7 In Ant. 121-122 eunoia as the cornerstone for forging interstate relations features prominently as part of Isocrates’ praise for the policies of General Timotheus.[31] The recognition of the importance of eunoia enabled Timotheus to be successful in enhancing Athenian power and prestige.[32] However, eunoia cannot be created singlehandedly. In Ant. 121 Isocrates establishes a causal relation between emotions and the creation of goodwill:

Ant. 121 ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐχομένοις δικαίως ἄν τις αὐτὸν ἔτι ἐπαινέσειεν. ὁρῶν γὰρ ὑμᾶς τούτους μόνας ἄνδρας νομίζοντας, τοὺς ἀπειλοῦντας καὶ τοὺς ἐκφοβοῦντας τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις καὶ τοὺς ἀεί τι νεωτερίζοντας ἐν τοῖς συμμάχοις, οὐκ ἐπηκολούθησε ταῖς ὑμετέραις γνώμαις, οὐδ᾽ ἠβουλήθη βλάπτων τὴν πόλιν εὐδοκιμεῖν, ἀλλὰ τοῦτ᾽ ἐφιλοσόφει καὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἔπραττεν, ὅπως μηδεμία τῶν πόλεων αὐτὸν φοβήσεται τῶν Ἑλληνίδων, ἀλλὰ πᾶσαι θαρρήσουσι πλὴν τῶν ἀδικουσῶν.

But the facts which I now give entitle him to even greater praise. For although he saw that you respected only the kind of generals who threatened (τοὺς ἀπειλοῦντας) and tried to terrify (τοὺς ἐκφοβοῦντας) the other cities and were always for setting up some revolution or other among your allies, he did not fall in with your preconceptions[33] (ταῖς ὑμετέραις γνώμαις), nor was he willing to enhance his own reputation to the injury of Athens; on the contrary, he made it the object of his thought and of his actions to see to it that no one of the cities of Hellas should be afraid (φοβήσεται) of him, but that all should feel secure excepting those which did wrong.

3§8 In this passage, Isocrates outlines a negative framework of interstate relations, based on fear. This emotion affects the states suffering abuse. The verbal manifestation of abuse is terror and threat. Generals who are self-seeking and interested in their reputation succumb to the Athenians’ preconceptions and exercise the negative disposition and misconduct towards Athens’ allies. Isocrates notes that a general’s behavioral pattern is fully aligned with the preconceptions of the audience. In this case, preconception as a prejudgment indicates a predetermined cognitive model of conduct towards the allies, shared by the collective body of the Athenian citizens and aiming to arouse fear through threat and terror. Thus, this cognitive model of emotional disposition, response and attitude that the authorities and Athenian citizens show ultimately damages the city. Isocrates gradually builds an emotional balance between hatred and eunoia[34], which is fueled by fear or the lack of it:

Ant. 122 ἠπίστατο γὰρ τούς τε δεδιότας ὅτι μισοῦσι δι᾽ οὓς ἂν τοῦτο πεπονθότες τυγχάνωσι, τήν τε πόλιν διὰ μὲν τὴν φιλίαν τὴν τῶν ἄλλων εὐδαιμονεστάτην καὶ μεγίστην γενομένην, διὰ δὲ τὸ μῖσος μικρὸν ἀπολιποῦσαν τοῦ μὴ ταῖς ἐσχάταις συμφοραῖς περιπεσεῖν. ὧν ἐνθυμούμενος τῇ μὲν δυνάμει τῇ τῆς πόλεως τοὺς πολεμίους κατεστρέφετο, τῷ δ᾽ ἤθει τῷ αὑτοῦ τὴν εὔνοιαν τὴν τῶν ἄλλων προσήγετο, νομίζων τοῦτο στρατήγημα μεῖζον εἶναι καὶ κάλλιον ἢ πολλὰς πόλεις ἑλεῖν καὶ πολλάκις νικῆσαι μαχόμενος.

for he realized that men who are afraid (τούς τε δεδιότας) hate (μισοῦσι) those who inspire this feeling in them, and that it was due to the friendship of the other cities that Athens rose to great power and prosperity, just as it was due to their hatred (τὸ μῖσος) that she barely escaped the most disastrous fate.[35] Bearing in mind these facts, he used the power of Athens in order to subdue her enemies, and the force of his own character (τῷ δ᾽ ἤθει τῷ αὑτοῦ) in order to win the goodwill (eunoia) of the rest of the world, believing that this is a greater and nobler kind of generalship than to conquer many cities many times in battle.[36]

3§9 Ant. 122 illustrates how Timotheus won the goodwill of the allies, to Athens’ favour. It could be considered as a reverse reading of On the Peace 82-85, since Isocrates underlines Timotheus’ major concern not to arouse hatred incurred by fear among the allies. He also presents Timotheus as being aware of Athens’ rise to power and prosperity due to the friendship of other Greek cities. However, at this point it should be stressed that Timotheus cultivates goodwill through his own interactions with Athens’ allies at the expense of neglecting his own reputation back home.[37] Along these lines, Timotheus’ neglect of cultivating his fellow citizens’ goodwill towards him is ex silentio attributed to a false appraisal of its importance both on a personal level and on the level of the civic body, this means the audience.[38] Timotheus considered that winning the goodwill of the allies was more important than military achievement (Ant. 122 νομίζω τοῦτο στρατήγημα μεῖζον εἶναι καὶ κάλλιον).[39] Not only is eunoia as the goodwill of the audience a thematic word throughout the Antidosis, but it is also the topic of the lecture to Timotheus (Ant. 121-122, 133-137), and the lecture to Isocrates (Ant. 142-149), which is supposedly delivered by Isocrates’ associate. In general, eunoia plays a key role in winning one’s argument or case as in Ant. 279, a passage we have already discussed.[40]

3§10 In Ant. 142-149 Isocrates fully discusses both the advantages of attracting eunoia and the disadvantages of disregarding it against the backdrop of personal and civic emotional states aroused by fear, envy and hatred. In Ant. 142 Isocrates’ associate points out to him that material lack causes people to feel envy (phthonos) and the intensity of this envy renders them ill-disposed to the socially privileged litigant.[41]

Ant. 142 “οὕτω γάρ” ἔφη “τινὲς ὑπὸ τοῦ φθόνου καὶ τῶν ἀποριῶν ἐξηγρίωνται καὶ δυσμενῶς ἔχουσιν, ὥστ᾽ οὐ ταῖς πονηρίαις ἀλλὰ ταῖς εὐπραγίαις πολεμοῦσι, καὶ μισοῦσιν οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀνθρώπων τοὺς ἐπιεικεστάτους, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων τὰ βέλτιστα, καὶ πρὸς τοῖς ἄλλοις κακοῖς τοῖς μὲν ἀδικοῦσι συναγωνίζονται καὶ συγγνώμην ἔχουσιν, οἷς δ᾽ ἂν φθονήσωσιν ἀπολλύουσιν, ἤν περ δυνηθῶσι.

“Some men,” he said, “have been so brutalized by envy and want and are so hostile that they wage war, not on depravity, but on prosperity; they hate not only the best men but the noblest pursuits; and, in addition to their other faults, they take sides with wrong-doers and are in sympathy with them, while they destroy, whenever they have the power, those whom they have cause to envy.

3§11 Their hostility leads them to hatred, not out of ignorance but as a manifestation of their inclination to inflict injury with no expectation of being found out. Thus, they tend to destroy those whom they envy. Along this train of thought, Isocrates’ associate analyzes the differences between the ethical conduct of his teacher and of those people who form the majority of the legislators or the jurors. The question that the associate asks his teacher is very apposite (Ant. 146):

Ant. 146 Ταῦτ᾽ ἀκούοντας τοὺς τἀναντία πᾶσι τοῖς προειρημένοις ἐπιτετηδευκότας οὐκ οἴει βαρέως οἴσειν καὶ νομιεῖν ἐλέγχεσθαι τὸν βίον τὸν αὑτῶν οὐ σπουδαῖον ὄντα;

When you say these things to men whose conduct is the opposite of all which has been said, do you not suppose that they will take offence and think that you are showing up the unworthiness of their own lives?

3§12 At the end of his speech (Ant. 149), the associate answers this question himself:

Ant. 149 ὡς οὖν οὕτως αὐτῶν διατεθησομένων σκόπει τί σοι λεκτέον τούτων καὶ τί παραλειπτέον ἐστίν.

Knowing, then, that such will be the attitude of your audience, consider well what you had better say and what you had better leave unsaid.

3§13 Through his question and his answer, Isocrates prompts us to think of eunoia in a more interactive way. Assuming his associate’s persona, he points out that eunoia is not merely the goodwill of the others. It implies a process of cognitive appraisal of the emotions of others. Winning one’s eunoia does not simply mean to act and speak in such a way as to show one’s ethical achievements. On the contrary, it entails taking into consideration the emotional scripts of envy, jealousy and hatred that are embedded in the social experience of citizens as a collective body. In that case, what both Ant. 142-149 and other lexical instances of eunoia present a theorization of the individual’s ability to process emotional information and use it to navigate the social environment. This theorization may be considered an early precursor of modern EI theory.


4§1 Isocrates prompts us to think of eunoia as an interactive concept, which entails a process of cognitive appraisal of the emotions of others. Generating eunoia does not simply mean to act and speak in such a way as to exhibit one’s ethical achievements. On the contrary, it entails taking into consideration the emotional scripts of envy, jealousy and hatred that are embedded in the social experience of citizens as a collective body, and that are usually codified by the collective noun ‘preconception’. In addition, his view of citizens as agents seeking to deal with precariousness and contingency in human affairs, and his notion of kairos as meeting the opportune moment with preparation, eloquence, moderation as well as justice, anticipate the postmodern theory of engagement and action at a micro-level. On the Peace and Antidosis present us with two different uses of eunoia-theory at a macro- and micro-level. In On the Peace Isocrates applies the theory of eunoia to interstate relations and uses it to explain the sequence of historical events in the Classical period. Fiscal and administrative abuse arouse envy, jealousy and hatred among Athens’ allies. The allies gradually replace eunoia with resentment that eventually escalates into hatred. In Antidosis, Isocrates applies the same theory to the relation between an individual and the Athenians as a collective body in the form of an audience. In this case, the disregard of eunoia leads to the uncomfortable situation of Timotheus inspiring jealousy among his fellow citizens, just as Isocrates did. Both the individual and the collective body need cognitive appraisal of emotional arousal to decide the right course of action. In that sense, Isocrates’ theory of eunoia may be considered an early precursor of modern EI theory and a subtle forerunner of modern public relations.


Primary Sources: Greek Texts and Translations

Mandilaras, B. G., ed. 2003. Isocrates: Opera Omnia. Monachii et Lipsiae.

Mirhady, D., and Y.L. Too. 2000. Isocrates I. Austin, TX.

Norlin, G., trans. 1928-1945. Isocrates I-III. Cambridge Mass.

Papillon, T. L. 2004. Isocrates II. Austin TX.

Secondary Bibliography

Alexiou, E. 1995-1996. “Τιμή, δόξα καὶ καλοκἀγαθία εἰς τὸν Ἰσοκράτη: Περὶ ἀντιδόσεως §§275-285.” Platon 47–48:68–79.

———. 2008. “Eunoia bei Plutarch: von den Praecepta Gerendae Reipublicae zu den Viten.” In The Unity of Plutarch’s Work: “Moralia” Themes in the “Lives”, Features of the “Lives” in the “Moralia” , ed. A. G. Nikolaidis, 365–386. Millennium-Studien 19. Berlin/New York.

Garver, E. 2004. “Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Civic Education in Aristotle and Isocrates.” In Poulakos and Depew 2004:186–213.

Haskins, E. V. 2004. Logos and Power in Isocrates and Aristotle. Columbia, SC.

Konstan, D., and N. K. Rutter. 2003. Envy, Spite, and Jealousy: The Rivalrous Emotions in Ancient Greece. Edinburgh.

Low, P. 2007. Interstate Relations in Classical Greece: Morality and Power. Cambridge.

Marsh, C. 2013. Classical Rhetoric and Modern Public Relations: An Isocratean Model. Oxford.

Mayer, J. D., P. Salovey, and D. Caruso. 2000. “Emotional intelligence as Zeitgeist, as personality, and as a mental ability.” In The handbook of emotional intelligence, ed. R. Bar-On and J. D. A. Parker, 92–117. San Francisco.

Mitchell, L. G. 1997. “Φιλία, εὔνοια and Greek Interstate Relations.” Antichthon 31:28–44.

Nehamas, A. 1990. “Eristic, Antilogic, Sophistic, Dialectic: Plato’s Demarcation of Philosophy from Sophistry.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 7.1:3–16.

Ober J. 1989. Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, ideology and the Power of the People. Princeton.

Poulakos, T. 1997. Speaking for the Polis: Isocrates’ Rhetorical Education. Columbia, SC.

———. 2001. “Isocrates’ Use of doxa.” Ph&Rh 34.1, 61–78.

———. 2004. “Isocrates’ Civic Education and the Question of Doxa.” In Poulakos and Depew 2004:44–65.

Poulakos, T., and D. J. Depew, eds. 2004. Isocrates and civic education. Austin.

Preuss, S. 1904. Index Isocrateus. Lipsiae.

de Romilly, J. 1958. “Eunoia in Isocrates or the political importance of creating good will.” JHS 78:92–101.

———. 1975. Magic and Rhetoric in Ancient Greece. Cambridge Mass.

———. 1977. The rise and fall of Greek states according to Greek authors. Ann Arbor.

Saïd, S. 2003. “Envy and Emulation in Isocrates.” In D. Konstan and N. K. Rutter 2003:491–503.

Sanders, E. 2013. Erôs and the polis: An introduction. In Erôs and the polis: Love in context, ed. E. Sanders, 1–3. BICS supplement 119. London.

Sandridge, N. “Our Ancient Ambivalence toward the Psychopathic Leader.”  (accessed online: 03/12/2015) []

Schiappa, E. 1999. The beginnings of rhetorical theory in classical Greece. New Haven.

Sharpsteen, D. J. 1991. “The Organization of Jealousy Knowledge: Romantic Jealousy as a Blended Emotion.” In The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy, ed. P. Salovey, 31–51. New York.

Timmerman, D. M., and E. Schiappa. 2010. Classical Greek rhetorical theory and the disciplining of discourse. New York.

Too, Y. L. 2008. A commentary on Isocrates’ Antidosis. Oxford.

Whitehead, D. 1993. “Cardinal virtues: the Language of Public Approbation in Democratic Athens.” C&M 44:37–75.


This article is the outcome of research conducted during my 2015 Fellowship at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University. My warm thanks go to the Director, Prof. Gregory Nagy and the Senior Fellows for their comments and suggestions, to the members of staff for their generous hospitality, and to all 2015 Spring Fellows for their collegiality and our stimulating discussions. Special thanks go to Seemee Ali, Christy Constantakopoulou, Peter Liddel, Michael McShane and, last but not least, to Sebastiana Nervegna.


[1] Romilly 1958:92–101.

[2] Garver 2004:210; Timmerman and Schiappa 2010: 55; Marsh 2013:102.

[3] See Poulakos 2004:53.

[4] Mayer, Salovey and Caruso 2000:105.

[5] Ant. 180 βούλομαι δὲ περὶ τῆς τῶν λόγων παιδείας ὥσπερ οἱ γενεαλογοῦντες πρῶτον διελθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 253–255 ἐγγενομένου δ᾽ ἡμῖν τοῦ πείθειν ἀλλήλους καὶ δηλοῦν πρὸς ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς περὶ ὧν ἂν βουληθῶμεν, οὐ μόνον τοῦ θηριωδῶς ζῆν ἀπηλλάγημεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνελθόντες πόλεις ᾠκίσαμεν καὶ νόμους ἐθέμεθα καὶ τέχνας εὕρομεν, καὶ σχεδὸν ἅπαντα τὰ δι᾽ ἡμῶν μεμηχανημένα λόγος ἡμῖν ἐστιν ὁ συγκατασκευάσας. … διὰ τούτου τούς τ᾽ ἀνοήτους παιδεύομεν καὶ τοὺς φρονίμους δοκιμάζομεν˙ τὸ γὰρ λέγειν ὡς δεῖ τοῦ φρονεῖν εὖ μέγιστον σημεῖον ποιούμεθα, καὶ λόγος ἀληθὴς καὶ νόμιμος καὶ δίκαιος ψυχῆς ἀγαθῆς καὶ πιστῆς εἴδωλόν ἐστι; Nic. 6–7; Paneg. 49; cf. Poulakos 1997:9–25, esp. 16-17; id. 2004:44–65, and Haskins 2004:87–88.

[6] Ant. 180–183; On the Peace 145 ὡς ἐν ταῖς τῆς Ἑλλάδος εὐπραγίαις συμβαίνει καὶ τὰ τῶν φιλοσόφων τοσαύτην ἔχουσα δύναμιν ὅσην περ ἐν σώματι φρόνησις; Panath. 138 ἐκεῖνοι γὰρ ἦσαν οἱ παιδεύσαντες τὸ πλῆθος ἐν ἀρετῇ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ πολλῇ σωφροσύνῃ, καὶ διδάξαντες ἐξ ὧν διᾠκουν, ἅπερ ἐγὼ φανείην ἂν ὕστερον εἰρηκὼς ἢ ᾽κεῖνοι πράξαντες, ὅτι πᾶσα πολιτεία ψυχὴ πόλεώς ἐστι, τοσαύτην ἔχουσα δύναμιν ὅσην περ ἐν σώματι φρόνησις; de Romilly 1975:55; Mirhady and Too 2000: 3; Nehamas 1990:4; Schiappa 1999:174; Poulakos 2001:65; id. 2004:52, 55–57; Haskins 2004:92–93; Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:44, 52, 59–64.

[7] Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:44, 52.

[8] Ant. 244; Nehamas 1990:4; Timmermann and Schiappa 2010:54–55.

[9] Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:65.

[10] Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:59.

[11] Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:44, 52.

[12] Timmerman and Schiappa 2010:63.

[13] I have critically consulted Norlin’s, Mirhady’s and Too’s, and Papillon’s translations; in general I adopt Norlin’s translation throughout my text, except from certain passages; if otherwise, I state it accordingly; Mitchell 1997:42.

[14] οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ συμπαρακελεύσασθαί γε καὶ συνασκῆσαι μάλιστ᾽ ἂν οἶμαι τὴν τῶν λόγων τῶν πολιτικῶν ἐπιμέλειαν; Poulakos 2001:70; id. 2004:55; Garver 2004:191–192.

[15] Poulakos 1997: 17–22; id. 2001:68-69; id. 2004:62-65; Haskins 2004:88–89.

[16] Poulakos 2001:64, 66, 67–68; Poulakos 2004:45, 56, 59.

[17] Ant. 183–184; I follow Papillon’s translation.

[18] On the Peace 8; I follow Papillon’s translation.

[19] Cf. Arist. Nic. Eth. 1104a8–9; Poulakos 2001:67-68; id. 2004: 46, 48, 53; Haskins 2004: 80.

[20] Poulakos 2001:69; id. 2004:61.

[21] Poulakos 2001: 69; id. 2004:45, 53; Haskins 2004:66–79; Garver 2004:201.

[22] On the Peace 28; Poulakos 2001:71; id. 2004:52.

[23] Ober 1989: 262–263, 336; Poulakos 2001:71; id. 2004: 45, 52; Haskins 2004:81, 94–95; Garver 2004:192.

[24] Alexiou 1996:68–79; Haskins 2004:80–107, esp. 82, 87-88; Garver 2004: 205, 209–210; Marsh 2013:89–90.

[25] Cf. Arist. Nic. Eth. 1104a8–9; Poulakos 2001, 67-68; id. 2004, 46, 48, 53; Haskins 2004, 80.

[26] (accessed 03/12/2015).

[27] Cf. Athenians: On the Peace 78 εἰς τοσοῦτον μῖσος κατέστησεν ~ On the Peace 82 ἐξ ὧν ἄνθρωποι μάλιστ᾽ ἂν μισηθεῖεν, On the Peace 105 ἡμεῖς τε γὰρ μισηθέντες ὑπὸ τῶν συμμάχων ~ Spartans: On the Peace 100 ὑπὸ τῶν συμμάχων ἐμισήθησαν; both cities: ἢ πῶς οὐ μισεῖν καὶ φεύγειν τὴν πολλὰ καὶ δεινὰ ποιεῖν ἀμφοτέρας τὰς πόλεις ἐπάρασαν καὶ παθεῖν ἀναγκάσασαν;

[28] Thuc. 2.20-21 Jones-Powell Γνώμῃ τοιᾷδε λέγεται τὸν Ἀρχίδαμον περί τε τὰς Ἀχαρνὰς ὡς ἐς μάχην ταξάμενον μεῖναι καὶ ἐς τὸ πεδίον ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἐσβολῇ οὐ καταβῆναι˙ τοὺς γὰρ Ἀθηναίους ἤλπιζεν, ἀκμάζοντάς τε νεότητι πολλῇ καὶ παρεσκευασμένους ἐς πόλεμον ὡς οὔπω πρότερον, ἴσως ἂν ἐπεξελθεῖν καὶ τὴν γῆν οὐκ ἂν περιιδεῖν τμηθῆναι. ἐπειδὴ οὖν αὐτῷ ἐς Ἐλευσῖνα καὶ τὸ Θριάσιον πεδίον οὐκ ἀπήντησαν, πεῖραν ἐποιεῖτο περὶ τὰς Ἀχαρνὰς καθήμενος οὐκ ἐπεξίασιν˙ ἅμα δὲ καὶ Ἀχαρνῆς μέγα μέρος ὄντες τῆς πόλεως (τρισχίλιοι γὰρ ὁπλῖται ἐγένοντο) οὐ περιόψεσθαι ἐδόκουν τὰ σφέτερα διαφθαρέντα, ἀλλ᾽ ὁρμήσειν καὶ τοὺς πάντας ἐς μάχην. εἴ τε καὶ μὴ ἐπεξέλθοιεν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἐσβολῇ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι, ἀδεέστερον ἤδη ἐς τὸ ὕστερον τό τε πεδίον τεμεῖν καὶ πρὸς αὐτὴν τὴν πόλιν χωρήσεσθαι˙ τοὺς γὰρ Ἀχαρνέας ἐστερημένους τῶν σφετέρων οὐχ ὁμοίως προθύμους ἔσεσθαι ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν ἄλλων κινδυνεύειν, στάσιν δ᾽ ἐνέσεσθαι τῇ γνώμῃ. τοιαύτῃ μὲν διανοίᾳ ὁ Ἀρχίδαμος περὶ τὰς Ἀχαρνὰς ἦν. ἐπειδὴ δὲ περὶ Ἀχαρνὰς εἶδον τὸν στρατὸν ἑξήκοντα σταδίους τῆς πόλεως ἀπέχοντα, οὐκέτι ἀνασχετὸν ἐποιοῦντο ἀλλ᾽ αὐτοῖς, ὡς εἰκός, γῆς τεμνομένης ἐν τῷ ἐμφανεῖ, ὃ οὔπω ἑοράκεσαν οἵ γε νεώτεροι, οὐδ᾽οἱ πρεσβύτεροι πλὴν τὰ Μηδικά, δεινὸν ἐφαίνετο καὶ ἐδόκει τοῖς τε ἄλλοις καὶ μάλιστα τῇ νεότητι ἐπεξιέναι καὶ μὴ περιορᾶν. κατὰ ξυστάσεις τε γιγνόμενοι ἐν πολλῇ ἔριδι ἦσαν, οἱ μὲν κελεύοντες ἐπεξιέναι, οἱ δέ τινες οὐκ ἐῶντες. χρησμολόγοι τε ᾖδον χρησμοὺς παντοίους, ὧν ἀκροᾶσθαι ὡς ἕκαστος ὥρμητο. οἵ τε Ἀχαρνῆς οἰόμενοι παρὰ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς οὐκ ἐλαχίστην μοῖραν εἶναι Ἀθηναίων, ὡς αὐτῶν ἡ γῆ ἐτέμνετο, ἐνῆγον τὴν ἔξοδον μάλιστα.

[29] Said 2003:225 n. 110.

[30] Anoia (ἄνοια) is further illustrated in On the Peace 125.

[31] Low 2007:52.

[32] Low 2007:52.

[33] I have adapted Norlin’s translation into “preconceptions”.

[34] Romilly 1977:65–67.

[35] Cf. On the Peace 76–78, Areop. 17 and Paneg. 72.

[36] Cf. Nic. 21; Phil. 72; Romilly 1958:97–98; Too 2008:154–155.

[37] Cf. Ant. 130–139; Too 2008:154–155.

[38] Cf. Nic. 21; Ant. 134–135; Panath. 237; Too 2008:154.

[39] Phil. 68; Ep. 2.21; Speus. SL 30.4; Too 2008:154.

[40] Too 2008:226.

[41] Too 2008:164; Sanders 2013:45, 55.