Socrates the Philosopher

Socrates was born in 470BC in Athens, Greece.  His father Sophroniscus was a stone mason and sculptor, and his mother Phaenarete was a midwife.

He did not come from noble stock, and therefore would receive basic Greek education, and from there trained under his father as a stone mason.

Socrates married Xanthippe, who blessed him with three sons; Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus.

Socrates had devoted much of his time to what became his second profession, that being a philosopher, much to the disgust of his wife, who complained philosophy could not put bread on the table… could not support his family.

Socrates was of the belief that the ideals of philosophy should achieve practical results for society.  He went on to point out human choice was a desire for happiness.

Athenian law stated all able bodied men, aged between 18-60 were required to serve as soldiers in military campaigns, and forever be on call. Socrates served as a infantry man in the Peloponnesian War at Delium, Amphipolis and Polidaea. He was known for his courage in battle, when he stepped in and saved the life of General Alcibiades an Athenian leader.

He believed his thoughts could be used in the political forum, being neither tyranny nor democracy, instead a government ruled by individuals.

Athens to him was an open styled classroom, where he could ask questions from the men of learning and the common man, seeking to arrive at answers on political and ethical truths.

During the life of Socrates, Athens had recently been defeated by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.  For Athens and its people it had entered a period of doubt, questioning their identity, their place in the world … They clung to past values.

Socrates attacked these values, many admired him for speaking out and challenging Greek conventional wisdom, but other’s believed he threatened their way of life.

Socrates was convicted for threatening the political stability of Greece, and found guilty.  The jury proposed he should be exiled, but Socrates proposed he should be honoured for his contributions to Athens, and be duly paid for his services. 

The jury were not amused by his outburst, and they sentenced him to death; Death by Hemlock poison.

Plato describes Socrates execution:  “Socrates drunk the hemlock mixture without hesitation.  Numbness slowly crept into his body until it reached his heart.  Shortly before his final breath.  Socrates described his death as a release of the soul from the body.”

Socrates died in 399BC by Hemlock poison in Athens, Greece.

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