Who was Socrates?

Socrates has come to stand for the ideal of a wise man, yet one of his principles was that it is wise to know that your wisdom is worth nothing! His was born in Athens, Greece, about 470 B.C. Little is known of his parents or childhood.

He left no writings. His disciple, the great philosopher, Plato, wrote down, in the form of dialogues, Socrates’ teachings and ideas, together with many scenes from his life.

According to Plato, Socrates’ spent his time in the markets place of Athens talking to anybody who would listen. He liked especially to find leading questions and show him he was ignorant of the subject he had been so sure about.

Hence, the method of arguing by asking questions is called Socratic. His fundamental principle was “Know thyself”’. The Athenians disliked him because he upset all their former ideas. Therefore they said to him that he did not believe in the gods, or in truth or in justice.

In the year 399 B.C., his enemies brought him to trial on the charge of having corrupted the youth of Athens and neglecting his religious duties. No one believed the accusations and Socrates knew that he would be condemned to death, he said he must go on leading the same life, devoting him self to the search for truth.

In prison, Socrates passed his last day discussing with his friends the immortality of the soul. He took the cup of hemlock, the poison which was given him, without trembling and drank it. His friends burst into tears, but he begged them to be silent. He died with a smile on his lips.  

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