#721
Most Popular
Boost

Birthplace
Athens,
Age
N/A
Birth Sign
N/A
Birthplace
Athens,

Socrates was a Greek philosopher who was prominent during the ancient period. He was born in the metropolis of Athens in the fifth century BC. His father worked as a stone mason, and his mother worked as a nurse. Little is known about his childhood, except that he entered his father’s trade and fought in the Peloponnesian War three times as a citizen soldier. Later, he began exploring philosophy and quickly collected a devoted following, including philosopher Plato, historian Xenophon, Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school, and Aristippus, the founder of the Cyrenaic school. Socrates, despite being a well-known instructor, had left no written legacy. Everything we know about him or his beliefs comes from Plato and Xenophon’s writings. He was a one-of-a-kind man who didn’t worry about class distinctions or proper behavior. He would move around the city, barefooted and unwashed, asking questions, discussing responses, and thus reaching the truth through a unique process, we now call the ‘Socratic Method’. However, his nonconformity to local traditions earned him many enemies, who accused him of corrupting the young. He died gracefully after being sentenced to execution by consuming brewed hemlock.

Childhood and Adolescence

Socrates was born on the “sixth day of Thargelion,” according to Greek chronicler Diogenes Lartius. However, his precise birth year is unknown. Historians think he was born between 471 and 469 BC, with the majority of them putting his birth year at 470 BC.

He was born into the Antiochis clan in Alopece, a suburb just outside Athens’ city walls. His father, Sophroniscus, was a stone mason or sculptor, according to tradition, though this is often disputed by contemporary scholars.
His mother, Phaenarete, was a’maia,’ which translates roughly as a midwife. Because the role of a maia was traditionally done by women from noble families, it is assumed that her family was of higher social standing than Sophroniscus’.

Socrates may have been his parents’ only kid. He did, however, have a half-sibling called Patrocles, who was the result of his mother’s second marriage to Chaeredemus. Aside from that, little is known about his family or upbringing.

Because he did not come from a noble family, it is believed that he joined his father’s occupation after receiving a basic education. It was long thought that he sculpted the sculptures of the Charites that stood near the Acropolis. However, contemporary scholars refute this notion.

Socrates is said to have had a thirst for information as a young man, acquiring the writings of Anaxagoras, a prominent contemporary philosopher. According to Plato, he also learned rhetoric with Aspasia, the talented mistress of Pericles, the great Athenian leader.

Socrates also fought as a hoplite, or citizen soldier, during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), fighting with a shield, long spear, and face mask at Delium, Amphipolis, and Potidaea, as required by Athenian law. He rescued the life of popular Athenian general Alcibiades in 432 BC at Potidaea.

During the war, he displayed tremendous bravery, which he carried with him for the remainder of his life. In between fighting in the conflict, he returned to Athens and resumed his trade. Concurrently, he began to investigate the theory.

Philosopher and educator

It is unknown why or when Socrates began his intellectual pursuit; however, Xenophon claims that he soon began visiting the workshops encircling the central public space to meet the merchants there. He met Simon the Shoemaker here, who later became his disciple and penned his first ‘Dialogue’.

Socrates had a distinct instructional style. Rather than lecturing, he would pose questions and then debate potential answers. They would lead to more questions, then to more answers, and ultimately to a better understanding of the subject. The method became known as the ‘Socratic Method’ later on.

Gradually, he gained popularity, particularly among the city’s youth, by assembling a select band of followers, the most famous of whom were philosopher Plato and historian Xenophon. He gradually drifted away from his original trade, devoting himself completely to philosophy.

There is some uncertainty about how he supported himself in his final years. While Xenophon and Aristophanes claimed he accepted payment from his students, Plato refuted the charge, noting his poverty as evidence. His wife was also known to gripe about his financial situation.

In 423 BC, Aristophanes’ comedy ‘Clouds’ introduced him to a wider audience. He was portrayed in this caricature as a scruffy and untidy fool whose philosophy came to instructing how to get out of debt. While the second portion was unjust, he did cut an odd figure in Athens.

He moved around the city, barefooted and unwashed, with long hair, an upturned nose, and bulging eyes, asking questions to the elite and commoners equally, seeking the truth. His young followers relished the debates, relishing the fact that he always beat the wise.

Despite his renown and popularity, Socrates did not regard himself as wise. As a result, he was taken aback when his friend Chaerephon questioned the famous Oracle of Delphi if there was anyone wiser than Socrates, and the Oracle replied that there was none wiser than him.

To show the Oracle wrong, he began asking questions of those regarded as wise. Shortly thereafter, he concluded that he was wise because he knew he was ignorant, whereas those who considered themselves wise did not, and thus they were fools.

Politics Socrates had always avoided politics. However, in 406 BC, he was appointed to the boule, which was a council of 500 citizens tasked with running everyday affairs in ancient Greece. This was the only time he was known to have held official office.

During his reign, the generals of the Athenian forces were accused of failing to rescue surviving sailors during a storm. The generals gained sympathy in the first round of the trial. It was agreed before the second round started that the assembly should vote on their guilt or innocence without further debate. Although unconstitutional, the choice was made due to political pressure. The ruling elite needed someone to blame for their loss in the Peloponnesian War.

Socrates happened to be the epistatic, or debate supervisor, on the day the generals were placed on trial for the last time. Despite his best efforts to save them, proclaiming that he would do nothing against the law, his plan was foiled, and the generals were executed.

When the Oligarchy of Thirty came to control in 404 BC, they felt threatened by Athenian general Leon of Salamis. To get him out of their way, they had Socrates and four others transport Leon from Salamis to Athens and execute him.

Socrates, whose sole worry was to avoid doing anything unjust or impious, refused to comply with the order and returned home. Plato’s ‘Apology’ stated that he could have been executed for his defiance. He was simply saved because the government collapsed soon afterward.

Death & Prosecution

Democracy was created in Athens following the fall of the Oligarchy. Instead of accepting it, Socrates began finding faults with the system, questioning the common notion that ‘might make right’. It was assumed that he was anti-democratic because Critias, the worst tyrant in the Oligarchy, was a former pupil of his.

Previously, he had made secret enemies by making many important people appear foolish. Many young men who had been influenced by him had also failed their parents by abandoning the path they had desired for them. They have now resolved to exact their vengeance.

Meletus the poet, Anytus the tanner, and Lycon the orator accused Socrates of “denying the gods recognized by the state and introducing new divinities” and “corrupting the youth” in 399 BC. They claimed he had also corrupted Critias’ psyche and demanded the death penalty for it.

There were also numerous personal reasons for putting the accusation forward. Anytus, for example, had been preparing his son for a career in politics, but the boy became interested in Socrates’ lessons and abandoned his political ambitions.

Socrates chose to defend himself, refusing the assistance of renowned speechwriter Lysias. Instead of attempting to establish his innocence and pleading for mercy, he imagined himself as Athens ‘gadfly,’ someone who annoys or criticizes others in order to keep them alert and active.

Plato subsequently recorded what Socrates said in self-defense in his ‘Apology of Socrates’. Xenophon’s ‘Apology of Socrates to the Jury addresses the same issue. While his defiant demeanor made the jurors uneasy, their mood hardened during the punishment discussion. When asked to propose an alternative punishment, Socrates suggested that he be honored for awakening their minds and kept in the Prytaneum, a place designated for Olympic heroes.

Socrates was sentenced to death at the conclusion of the trial by a vote of 280 to 221. The punishment was postponed for one month because a religious festival was about to commence. While his friends and pupils begged him to leave, he stayed in Athens and died.

His Major Projects

While Socrates is best known for his teaching method, now known as the ‘Socratic Method,’ he is also known for his belief that philosophy should yield practical results, resulting in greater well-being for the people. Rather than any theological doctrine, he attempted to create an ethical system.

He believed that human choice is motivated by the desire to be happy and that ultimate happiness stems from understanding oneself. As a result, he attempted to dispel their false beliefs through dialogues, making them conscious of their ignorance and assisting them in discovering the truth about themselves.

Personal History and Legacy

Socrates married Xanthippe, who is best known for her complaints about money. Lamprocles, named after Socrates’ maternal grandfather, Sophroniscus, named after his father, and Menexenus were their three boys.

Socrates was imprisoned in Athens for the last month of his existence. His friends suggested bribing the guards so he could flee. But Socrates refused, primarily because doing so would imply that he dreaded death, which no true philosopher should do. Furthermore, as a loyal citizen, he followed Athenian rules.

On the day of his execution, he was given a cup of brewed hemlock and told to consume it. Socrates drank the poison calmly and then began walking around the room until his feet became numb, as commanded by the guards. He then lay down, content and contented.

As he lay down surrounded by his companions, waiting for the poison to reach his heart, he is believed to have told his friend, Crito of Alopece, “We owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please remember to settle the debt.” These are thought to be his final remarks.

The cave where he was imprisoned and perished is still standing today. His statue has recently been raised in front of the Academy of Athens. Furthermore, his busts can be found in many museums around the globe, including the Vatican Museum, the Palermo Archaeological Museum, and the Louvre.

Estimated Net Worth

Jose Socrates’ net worth is believed to be between $5 million dollars. He has amassed a large fortune through his main profession.

Trivia

The first ‘Socratic Dialogue’ was penned by Simon, the Shoemaker, not Plato or Xenophon. The volume, on the other hand, was small enough to slide under the length of two Stephanus pages.

Plato and Xenophon’s ‘Socratic Dialogue’ explains more about Socrates. Both of these books documented Socrates’ lessons through dialogues, demonstrating what is now known as the Socratic Method.