Socrates (470-399 BC)
Socrates was born to a poor Athenian family in 470 BC He spent most of
his time teaching others. One of his pupils was Plato. Socrates was a believer in
absolute truth rather than relative truth. His main interest was the process by
which people learned how to think for themselves.
He would usually talk to whoever would take the time to listen. He asked
many questions and criticized answers. His style of conversation has been given the
name Socratic dialogue. Socrates would often ask students questions without giving
them answers. When the students did give answers, he opposed them with clear
logical arguments. This method forced his students to defend their statements and
to clarify their thinking.
Socrates was the wisest philosopher of his time. He was one of three great
teachers of ancient Greece. Socrates was short and fat, with a snub nose and wide
mouth. Despite his ugly appearance, many said he was a very moral teacher and a
pleasant man to be around. Socrates married a lady named Xanthippe. She was
notorious for her sharp tongue and quick temper.
The Athenian mob and its self-serving leaders did not appreciate Socrates
and his teachings. In 399 BC, they accused him of “corrupting the young” and of
“not worshipping the gods worshipped by the state.” These men took Socrates to
trial and brought him up on charges. Socrates argued in his own defense that a
person who knew what was right would always do what was right. “A man who is
good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only
to consider whether . . . he is doing right or wrong.”
The jury of citizens found him guilty and sentenced him to death by drinking
hemlock. Socrates did not ask for a lesser penalty and was sentenced to death. He
lived his life under the laws of his polis. He obeyed them his whole life and was not
going to change his ways in court. Socrates drank the poisonous hemlock juice and
died quietly among his grieving followers. However, before he drank the juice, he
said some parting comments of which Plato recorded. “The hour of departure has
Socrates (470-399 BC)
Socrates was born to a poor Athenian...