Ancient Greek History

Do You Know About Socrates?

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Today, we know Socrates as one of the most recognized and influential philosophers in history. He had some unique ideas that were unlike any that the society had heard. Sure, he had his followers, but for the most part, he was largely misunderstood. He was known for questioning everything around him, and to him, the questions were what led to truths. We understand how truly valuable this line of thinking was when looking back on it, but at the time, his ideas ultimately led to his trial and then his death. Here’s more information about Socrates:

Backdrop of Socrates’ Life

Socrates was born in 470 BC in Deme Alopece, which was part of Athens. His death was a public one. He was sentenced to death by poison (hemlock) in 399 B.C. Although he did receive an education, he first started his professional life as a stone mason. He also served in the military during the Peloponnesian Wars from 431 BC to 404 BC. Eventually, he developed a series of unique philosophies and would share them with anyone who listened.

As you can see, Socrates was alive during a fairly tumultuous time in Ancient Greek history, particularly for Athens and Sparta who were locked in a conflict that we know of as the Peloponnesian Wars. Ultimately, during this conflict, the Athenian city-state suffered a great defeat. They had ideas of grandeur but at the time, they weren’t realized. Angry at the way things worked out, the people of Athens floundered. They needed a scapegoat.

Philosophies of Socrates

Socrates is referred to as the Father of Western Philosophy. Historians and philosophers today fully acknowledge how significant he was. They go so far as to admit that without him, the very course of history may have changed. However, there are those who also debate that fact. He was known especially for developing the Socratic Method, which is a method for asking questions and deriving the answers. This is a tactic that is still being used today. He also influenced other top philosophers, such as Plato.

Trial of Socrates

As mentioned above, Socrates was alive during a somewhat dark and politically unstable time in Athens’ history. When they suffered defeat to the Spartans during the Peloponnesian Wars, Athens was in a state of turmoil. Socrates’ is known for having been critical of several things related to the society in which he lived. These include the very way that people approached thinking (as evidenced by the fact that he questioned everything) and also the way Athens conducted itself politically. He even attracted a following.

Eventually, this led to his arrest, his trial, and ultimately his death. The official assembly of Athens ordered his arrest and he was charged with questioning the state religion and also corrupting the city’s youth. Overall, Socrates was seen as a threat to Athens as a whole. What ensued was a very public trial. Socrates gave a long speech once he learned that he was sentenced to death. This speech has been well documented and is still studied today.


Socrates – One of the Founders of Western Philosophy

The Trial of Socrates

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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