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ancient history
philosophy
Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths
 
 
Author
Robin Waterfield.
Publisher Norton  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780393065275
Pages/Publication Date 253/2009
Daedalus Item Code 21047
This item is not available.
Description
A renowned classicist and the translator of such thinkers as Plutarch, Plato, and Xenophon, Robin Waterfield here reconsiders the most famous trial and execution in Western civilization. As Waterfield recounts the story, the charges against Socrates of impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens were already enough for a death sentence, but the prosecutors accused him of more, including mentoring those responsible for defeat in the Peloponnesian War. Waterfield demonstrates that there was a great deal of truth, from an Athenian perspective, in these charges, but more importantly, he is able in this context to remove layers of myth from the event and give us a clearer portrait of Socrates himself.

"The analysis will surprise readers accustomed to viewing Socrates' accusers as paranoid defenders of religious superstitions. For a careful parsing of the evidence reveals that when Athenian judges condemned Socrates, they were defending principles still cherished by most 21st-century readers: namely, the principles of democracy. Waterfield convincingly establishes that Socrates fell under hostile suspicion largely because of his close ties to young students of deeply anti-democratic sympathies. One of these arrogant young men joined other oligarchs in conspiring against Athens during its bitter war against Sparta; another scripted the atrocities committed by the Thirty Tyrants when they temporarily overthrew Athens' democratic government. Waterfield shows that even Socrates' own belief in an ideal government by experts legitimated elitist, not democratic, governance. Such a belief, readers soon realize, would have appeared particularly menacing to Athenian democrats traumatized by the twin shocks of external assault and internal discord. Impressive scholarship redefining an iconic event."Booklist (starred review)

 
 
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