The Panathenaicus is often referred to as one of the weakest and most enigmatic of Isocrates’ orations. It has been criticized for lacking innovation, coherence, and rhetorical style. Furthermore, it concludes with a curious use of dialogue otherwise foreign to Isocrates. In this article, I read the dialogue alongside the apparently digressive proemium and argue not only for the speech’s internal unity, but for its creativity and intellectual complexity. I demonstrate how the Panthenaicus connects Isocrates’ Panhellenic project with his civic-minded paideia in a way that simultaneously identifies Academic philosophy and attempts to subordinate it to Isocratean philosophia.

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