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Continuum International Publishing Group / Bloomsbury Publishing


Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers of the ancient Greek world and for several ancient schools an exemplar of what the philosophical life should be, was an Athenian citizen born in 469 BCE. He was the son of Sophroniscus, a stonecutter, and Phaenarete, a midwife; and he was married to Xanthippe, with whom he had three children ( Phaedo 60a, 116a-b). His adult years coincided with the 'Golden Age' of Athens, and he was present during Athens' decline and fall during the Peloponnesian War (431-404). Socrates was a public figure during at least part of this period: the comic playwright Aristophanes made him the target of his play the Clouds (423; later revised). His odd physical appearance and his way of life made him a ready target for the comic poets. Socrates served as a hoplite (a heavy-armed infantryman) in at least three of Athens' military campaigns in the Peloponnesian War {at Potideia in 429 BCE, Delium in 424 BCE and Amphipolis in 422 BCE). Plato notes his courage during the retreat from Delium (Laches 1816; Symposium 221a).

Chapter of

The Continuum Companion to Plato


Gerald Press


Copyright © 2012 Bloomsbury Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission.



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