Why Socrates died? Dispelling the myths, by Robin Waterfield

Socrates

Socrates

Why Socrates died? is an entertaining and convincing exploration of the military and political milieu of 5th century Athens and its implications for understanding the trial and execution of Socrates.

It benefits from being refreshingly clear sighted about Socrates, portraying him as a more ambiguous character than the unimpeachably innocent victim of Plato’s accounts.

Plato

Plato

Plato, it should be remembered, had as his ideal state, as portrayed in The Republic, something we would regard in the contemporary world as fascist. Even in his own day Plato’s Republic would have represented a regression from democratic Athens. Hence Plato was a Spartan sympathiser, and he had a family member amongst the Thirty Tyrants. Socrates, Plato’s teacher and ideal, was tainted by his association with this oligarchic and tyrannical Athenian faction, and so in the context of civil strife in Athens and more general war with Sparta, could have been regarded as a politically threatening figure.

Waterfield’s thesis is doubtless controversial but no less entertaining or informative for all that.

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3 thoughts on “Why Socrates died? Dispelling the myths, by Robin Waterfield

  1. There is no one human but Socrates himself that understood Socrates. God only knows Socrates better. Mr. Waterfield, as good as a scholar can be, and he is a very good one, does not even begin to bring “justice” to the memory of Socrates, nor to Plato.

    • Waterfield has prompted me to buy Bettany Hughes’ The Hemlock Cup to find out a bit more from another perspective.

      Many thanks for your comments John. Very much appreciated

      • Sorry! She is not better off, as she has no clue either. Another case of the blind leading the blind.

        There is no one human but Socrates himself that understood Socrates. God only knows Socrates better. Mr. Waterfield, as good as a scholar can be, and he is a very good one, does not even begin to bring “justice” to the memory of Socrates, nor to Plato.

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