Name: Socrates
Born: 469 BCE
Died: 399 BCE

Socrates biography

Socrates was a Classical Greek philosopher, the first one who left no written source after himself. The doctrine of Socrates is largely known through the accounts of his followers, in particular, of his most distinguished disciple Plato who outlined the ideas of the teacher in the Apology of Socrates. Socrates’s teaching marks a turn in philosophy: if previously the object of consideration was nature and the world, now the philosophers turned to the consideration of man in this world, to ethical and political themes, the question of educating a man who would be a worthy citizen and a virtuous person.

Socrates was born around 470 BC in Deme Alopece, Athens. His biography is rather vague. His image is rather mythologized since the main source of information about him are the works of other authors. It is known that Socrates was a native of Athens, born in the family of stonemason Sophroniscus and midwife Phaenarete. Socrates married Xanthippe, who is especially remembered for having an undesirable temperament.

She bore for him three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus. Socrates did not consider it necessary to involve philosophers in the government affairs, but he did not self-alienate from public life. He took part in the Peloponnesian War, three battles near Potidaea, as well as near Delium and Amphipolis. Socrates was the mentor of his friend’s pupil, the commander and the policy of Alcibiades. After the defeat in the war, the power in the Athens belonged to the so-called Thirty Tyrants. During this period, the philosopher in no way cooperated with pro-spartan henchmen, moreover, he sabotaged the activities of the dictatorship, condemned the tyrants. Nevertheless, after its overthrow four years later, Socrates was brought to justice by fellow citizens. The Athenians were angry at the philosopher for saving Alcibiades’s life and thereby not preventing damage to Athens.

Formally, he was charged with shaking the state foundations. From their point of view, Socrates did not consider revered deities, but introduced new ones, and also depraved the youth. It happened in 399 BC. He was thrown into prison, but survived the captivity, retaining the presence of the spirit, and even refused to escape, which the friends intended to arrange for him. Since he was a free Athenian citizen, he could not be executed but die from poison. It is known that before his death, Socrates asked to sacrifice the rooster to the Asclepius. Usually this was done as a gratitude for the recovery, so the philosopher demonstrated the perception of his own death as a recovery of the soul, liberation from the fetters of the body. In May, he quietly drank a goblet of poison and died, fully conscious.

Socrates did not leave behind a single written work. His favorite pastime was conversations with representatives of the most diverse social strata. In these conversations, successfully asking questions, leading a lively dialogue, he led the interlocutor to certain conclusions. Thanks to the students of Socrates, Plato and Xenophon, we can know today what those conversations were about. Less extent information about Socrates can be found in the writings of Aristotle, Diogenes, Plutarch and other authors. From the point of view of Socrates, the main criterion of philosophy was morality, which he equated with knowledge, truth, wisdom.

The purpose of his teaching was self-knowledge, which is the way to achieve the good. Socrates attached great importance to the study of people as creatures of the moral. God for him was the source of justice, virtue, the state was the order as part of the divine plan. Socrates urged people not to let the passions take over, but did not advocate a complete rejection of the pleasures. He was always reasonable, knew how to deal with passions, and therefore acquired the reputation of an ideal sage, especially in the eyes of representatives of subsequent historical periods. It is Socrates who is considered the first philosopher in the true sense of the word.