• Imagining History

Socrates - Who Was He?

Socrates was born in in 470 BC in Athens and was the first of the Greek philosophers. Like a confused older relative watching the latest Marvel film, he loved asking questions! He’d asked questions like ‘What is justice?’ and through discussion have many different ideas. His questions would make the powerful people he spoke with look a bit dim.

One of the most famous ideas of Socrates was that “care of the soul” is one of the most important responsibilities of a person. He also declared “the unexamined life is not worth living." In a nutshell Socrates wanted us to think about our lives and in doing so be a better person.

Socrates didn’t write anything down himself, so how do we know what he thought? That’s all thanks to his colleagues Plato and Xenophon, as well as Plato’s student Aristotle. Without them we would have no idea what Socrates philosophised about!

Unfortunately for Socrates he was widely despised by many powerful people in Athens. That’s what happens when someone regularly makes the powerful look foolish. He was also a critic of Athens’ democracy and played a part in a rebellion. Because of this he was sentenced to death.

Socrates could have gone into exile and saved his life but instead he chose to go to trial and to stand by his beliefs. Socrates even had an opportunity to escape but chose not to as that could harm his family and friends. Socrates had made a commitment to never do wrong, so that meant to die rather than to live.

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