Biography of Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle

Medieval philosophy, Apology (Plato), Diotima of Mantinea


Socrates (Greek Σωκράτης, invariably anglicized as IPA: ['sɔkɹətiːz] Sǒcratēs; ca. 470 – 399 BCE) was a Greek Athenian philosopher.

He is best known outside philosophy for being condemned to death by an Athenian people's court and choosing to die by drinking hemlock. He had been charged with impiety and with corrupting Athenian youth through his teachings [1] and had been given the opportunity to go into exile. However, he chose to die as sentenced as he believed he would otherwise dishonor the agreement he had willingly made to abide by the laws of Athens.

Most of what is now known about Socrates is derived from information that recurs across various secondary sources: the dialogues written by Plato, one of Socrates' students; the works of Xenophon, one of his contemporaries; and writings by Aristophanes and Aristotle. Anything Socrates wrote himself has not survived. Aristophanes was a noted satirist, so his accounts of Socrates may well be biased, exaggerated or even totally falsified; another complication is the Ancient Greek tradition of scholars attributing their own ideas, theories and sometimes even personal traits to their mentors, a tradition Plato appears to have followed. Gabriele Giannantoni, in his monumental 1991 work Socratis et Socraticorum Reliquiae, attempts to compile every scrap of evidence regarding Socrates, including material attributed to Aeschines Socraticus, Antisthenes and a number of others supposed to have known him.

According to accounts from antiquity, Socrates' father was the sculptor Sophroniscus and his mother Phaenarete, a midwife. Socrates married Xanthippe, who bore him three sons – Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus – who were all quite young at the time of his death. Traditionally, Xanthippe is thought to have been an ill-tempered scold, mainly due to her...
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