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30 Interesting Socrates Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
82 comments 17403 views

A philosopher by profession, Socrates can rightly be called as the father of Western thought. He hailed from ancient Greece but not much is known about him. Whatever information exists today is a result of some of the records that were kept by his disciples such as Plato. The interesting Socrates facts that we write down here today are taken from those fragmented information. So, let us begin and find out some interesting facts about the life of this great philosopher.

30 Interesting Socrates Facts

Interesting Socrates Facts: 1-10

1. It was around 470 BC when Socrates was born in Athens, Greece.

2. Socrates’ father was Sophroniscus, a sculptor and stone mason from Athens and his mother was a midwife by the name of Phaenarete.

3. He received basic Greek education because he did not belong to a noble family and hence, he learned the skills of his father at a very early age.

4. Before turning a philosopher, Socrates took up masonry and sculpting as his profession for several years.

5. According to the records of his students named Aristophanes and Xenophon, Socrates used to take money for teaching and that was his only source of income that helped Socrates to sustain a livelihood.

6. Contrary to the records of Aristophanes and Xenophon, Plato, one of the most popular disciples of Socrates said in his records that Socrates simply denied receiving any payments for tutoring his students and hence, lived a very lowly and poor lifestyle.

7. Xanthippe was Socrates’ wife. The two had three children by the names Menexenus, Sophroniscus and Lamprocles.

8. According to Socrates’ disciple Xenophon, Xanthippe was not happy with the ‘philosopher’ profession of Socrates and complained that he did not support his own family.

9. According to Xenophon, Socrates was far more interested in intellectual upbringing of young minds of Athens rather than looking after the upbringing of his own sons.

10. According to Plato’s records, Socrates served citizen soldier in battles of Potidaea, Amphipolis and Delium during the Peloponnesian War. Plato’s records state than Socrates served as a hoplite (armored infantry) as per Athenian law and was absolutely fearless and courageous in battlefield.

Interesting Socrates Facts: 11-20

11. According to Symposium by Plato, Socrates was stocky and short with bulging eyes and snub nose. He was not like any typical masculine Athenian. It always appeared as if he is staring right at someone.

12. Despite the bulging eyes of Socrates, his disciples were pretty attracted to him because of his penetrating thoughts and brilliant debates.

13. The primary emphasize of Socrates was on importance of mind and not on physical attractiveness. He always believed that if anything could improve the well-being of society, it was none other than philosophy.

14. Based on human reason, Socrates tried to create an ethical system by discarding theological doctrine. He always said that only when a person knows himself or herself, he or she can attain ultimate wisdom.

15. The simple logic that Socrates gave was that when a person starts knowing more about himself or herself, his or her reasoning or choice making abilities improve and this is when the person attains true happiness.

16. His way of thinking led him to believe that attaining true wisdom is the only way to create a government that is neither a democratic government nor a tyrannical government. He always believed that individuals with greater understanding and knowledge can run a government more efficiently.

17. There was no fixed classroom for Socrates as such. He travelled all across Athens and questioned common and elite men alike in order to find out the truth about ethics and politics.

18. Socrates’ method of communicating was pretty interesting. He always showcased his ignorance instead of telling people what he knew. Doing so he turned out to be wise!

19. The method he used question the people of Athens was that of a dialect format. This was pretty easy for people to understand, allowing people to think and reach a logical conclusion.

20. His method of communicating or question was known as the Socrates Method and this method sometimes made the answers too obvious, making the opponents look foolish. This is precisely why many people did not like his method but some others admired the method he used.

Interesting Socrates Facts: 21-30

21. Socrates belonged to a time when Athens was moving through a phase of transition with uncertainty about future after a very humiliating defeat in the Peloponnesian War against the Spartans. This is precisely when the Athenians started thinking about their future and their role and identity in the world. This forced the people of Athens to hold on their past glory, physical beauty and wealth.

22. This is where Socrates came in and challenged the conventional wisdom of Greek and adopted a humorous path for the same. While some people did like his way of thinking, he also managed to earn enemies or rather a group of people who hated his philosophy because they simply thought that his ideas and philosophy was a threat to their existing way of living.

23. Because of his radical thinking he was put on trial where he was convicted and lost his case. 280 votes when against him and 221 votes were in his favor. During his defense, Socrates maintained a defiant tone which acted as a catalyst for the decision by the jury.

24. According to Athenian law, any convicted person could ask for an alternative punishment. Socrates made things worse by asking for honor, rewards and payments for the services he rendered for to the people in an attempt to enlighten them instead of asking for exile.

25. Socrates’ demand forced the jury to sentence him to death hemlock poisoning.

26. After being sentenced to death, many of Socrates’ friends asked him to flee to exile by offering to bribe the guards.

27. Socrates declined the offer. He instead said that despite the fact that the Athenian law sentenced him to death, he was still a loyal citizen of Athens and would happily accept his death.

28. Socrates was given a hemlock poison mixture that he drank without the slightest hint of hesitation.

29. Plato, in his Phaedo dialogue, described that once Socrates drank the poison, numbness started to set in slowly and eventually reached his heart.

30. Plato mentioned that during the very last moment before his death, Socrates said that his soul was released from his body.

Sources: 1, 2

Image Credit: 1, 2

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82 comments

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