Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths

Robin Waterfield, Author . Norton $27.95 (253p) ISBN 978-0-393-06527-5

Socrates and Alcibiades were an unlikely couple: an ugly old philosopher and a charming, intelligent, ambitious and arrogant aristocrat. The fallout from this relationship and an unpopular war toppled the world's most significant philosophical figure. By placing the execution of Socrates against the context of the Peloponnesian War, classicist Waterfield (Xenophon's Retreat ) argues that a guilty verdict against the philosopher, charged with impiety and corrupting Athens's youth, was a rational outcome. “Athens of the last third of the fifth century B.C. was affected by a striking list of stress factors. Old certainties were being undermined by prolonged warfare, morally subversive ideas, population displacement” and other forms of social upheaval. Sitting atop a solid foundation of scholarship, this valuable survey of an important period of ancient history is especially useful as a prelude to texts by Plato, Xenophon and Thucydides. Of the many introductory studies on the Athenian judicial system, the trial of Socrates, the conflict between Athens and Sparta and the reasons that democracy gave way to oligarchy in Athens, this is among the clearest, most well-organized and most concise. 4 pages of illus., maps. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Hardcover - 253 pages - 978-0-7710-8851-3
Ebook - 280 pages - 978-0-7710-8863-6
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7710-8852-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-393-07290-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-571-23551-3
Hardcover - 253 pages - 978-0-571-23550-6
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