Greek philosopher Socrates is considered one of the greatest philosophers in all of history. He lived from 470 BC to 399 BC (which is where he appears on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History.)
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Ancient Greece was an important culture to the mindset of modern western societies. In ancient times, the Greeks developed systems of law, government, and philosophy that still influence the world today. Government processes such as democracy were introduced to the world through the ancient Greeks, and so were philosophical thoughts and processes. Greece produced some of the best philosophers the world has ever seen, and Socrates is one of the greatest.
He was born in the city-state of Athens around 470 B.C., and he wasn’t born into wealth or privilege. Historical records aren’t clear about Socrates, but they claim that he was given some form of education since he was literate and an excellent orator. When Socrates was a young adult man he worked as a stone cutter and he also was a military veteran. Socrates apparently fought in the Peloponnesian War and lived through the ordeal. Once his military service was over, he married a woman named Xanthippe. This marriage must have occurred when Socrates was a middle-aged man because records indicate that Xanthippe was much younger than Socrates. She was not only younger than the old philosopher, but she was also a fiery spirited woman who could be shrewd and cunning. She bore him three children and their names were Lamprocles, Sophonicrus, and Menexenus.
Socrates young wife represented an aspect of his life that would bring about his demise. His wit, humor, social skills and ability to speak well had captivated the youth of his day. Though he was a much older man, he managed to gain the acceptance, admiration and respect of the younger generation. When he was being tried for his death, his accusers claimed that he corrupted the youth of society with his speech.
Socrates had become known throughout Athenian society for his productions as well as his oratory skills. He created many satirical plays that were well received in the theater. Socrates was also a senator in Athens and he was very popular with his peers as well as with the public. He had served for many years before he left this position to develop his philosophical ideology.
Socrates never tried to create a new way of thinking or a new set of ideology or principles about life. Instead, he had developed the ability to break everything down to its basic core to expose it for what it really was. Socrates questioned things to their core and his ability to reduce ideas, traditions and patterns of thoughts to their core forced many people to rethink their beliefs, morality and how they view the world. Socrates claimed that knowledge is true to all but the belief is only limited to an individual.
This particular view was dangerous to the mindset of the ruling class of ancient Athens. What Socrates proposed through his philosophy method was that the systems and traditions that were in place in ancient Athens was not valid or that they could be easily dismissed with some given thought. Most people accept their government, laws and way of life without question. Socrates was actually causing many people to reconsider their view of ancient Athenian society or at the very least they seriously began to question these systems.
Eventually, the ruling members were fed up with Socrates and the philosophical method that he used to discredit the gods and myths on which Greek society was established. They decided to execute him and eventually he was tried and put to death. Socrates developed his philosophical style in the marketplace among the everyday people that passed him by throughout the course of a day. Though he was pretty stable for at least half of his life, he died a broken man. He spent so much time philosophizing in the marketplace that he didn’t work. He also had some very important students who also played an important part in developing modern western thought. Plato was one of his best-known students, and most of what is known about Socrates is derived from Plato and a few of pupils. He died in 399 B.C.
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