By Robin Waterfield
A revisionist account of the main recognized trial and execution in Western civilization—one with nice resonance for American society today.
Socrates’ trial and demise jointly shape an iconic second in Western civilization. In 399 BCE, the good thinker stood ahead of an Athenian jury on critical fees: impiety and “subverting the younger males of the city.” the image now we have of it—created through his instant fans, Plato and Xenophon, and perpetuated in numerous works of literature and paintings ever since—is of a noble guy placing his lips to the toxic cup of hemlock, sentenced to dying in a healthy of folly by means of an old Athenian democracy already combating for its personal lifestyles. yet an icon, a picture, isn't really truth, and time has transmuted such a lot of of the proof into ancient fable.
conscious of those myths, Robin Waterfield has tested the particular Greek resources and provides the following a brand new Socrates, during which he separates the legend from the guy himself. As Waterfield recounts the tale, the costs of impiety and corrupting the early life of Athens have been already sufficient for a demise sentence, however the prosecutors accused him of extra. They asserted that Socrates was once not only an atheist and the guru of a peculiar sect but in addition an elitist who surrounded himself with politically bad characters and had mentored these answerable for defeat within the Peloponnesian battle. Their claims weren't with no substance, for Plato and Xenophon, between Socrates’ closest partners, had idolized him as scholars, whereas Alcibiades, the hawkish and notoriously self-serving basic, had introduced Athens to the edge of army catastrophe. in reality, as Waterfield perceptively indicates via an engrossing ancient narrative, there has been loads of fact, from an Athenian standpoint, in those charges.
The trial was once, partially, a reaction to distressed times—Athens used to be reeling from a catastrophic warfare and present process turbulent social changes—and Socrates’ partners have been regrettably direct representatives of those issues. Their phrases and activities, judiciously sifted and positioned in right context, not just serve to painting Socrates as a flesh-and-blood historic determine but additionally supply an outstanding lens by which to discover either the trial and the final historical past of the period.
finally, the research of those occasions and critical figures permits us to eventually strip away the veneer that has for thus lengthy denied us glimpses of the genuine Socrates. Why Socrates Died is an illuminating, authoritative account of not just one of many defining classes of Western civilization but in addition of 1 of its such a lot defining figures. four pages of illustrations