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His Life and Times
The Delian League
A central figure in western philosophy,
but what is known about him comes
from two of his pupils, Plato and
He lived (469-399)the Golden Age of
Father, a sculptor and stone-mason.
His mother was a midwife.
The wealthy Athenian Crito took him out of
the stone-mason’s workshop and paid for
his education
 He was a pupil of Anaxagoras
Attracted to the topics raised by the
One dialogue of Plato has a young
Socrates listening to Zeno of Elea and
talking with him and Parmenides.
Philosophical mission
Chaerephon, went to the Delphic oracle
asking if there was anyone who was wiser
than Socrates, oracle responded that there
was not.
Not feeling wise, Socrates cross-examined
the ‘wise’ men of society. (statesmen,
poets, artisans, and others.) He did NOT
find them wise.
the pursuit of wisdom became Socrates’
full-time job
Socratic method
Socrates spent most of his time
asking question about ethical issues.
He had a knack for asking questions
exposing ignorance, hypocrisy, and
conceit among his fellow
Athenians,particularly in regard to
moral questions.
argued that knowledge was virtue
The Peloponnesian War
Disastrous twenty-seven year struggle
(431-404 B.C.E.) between the rival Greek
city-states of Athens and Sparta.
Socrates fought in this war and it defined
him intellectually.
He was critical of Athenian democracy and
Spartan Oligarchy
3 of his former students were leaders
associated with the downfall of Athens
The Trial of Socrates
An Athenian Democrat, Anytus, who
suffered under Spartan control of Athens
(when a puppet government of ‘30 tyrants’
led by a former student of Socrates was in
charge.) brought charges against
“Socrates is guilty of not believing in the
gods in which the state believes, but brings
in other new divinities; he also wrongs by
corrupting the youth .”
Death of Socrates
In his defense Socrates gave a
spontaneous speech relying on reason,
refuting all the charges one by one .
There were 501 men on the jury, and he
was condemned by 60 votes.
The prosecutors proposed the death
penalty, and Socrates had the opportunity
to offer an alternative but antagonized the
With his death from hemlock poison
Socrates became the most famous of all