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Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths Hardcover – June 8, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The famous are there along with the less known sons of "billionaire" families who helped bring down Socrates. These young rowdies, with way too much time on their hands, dressed and acted outlandishly, formed drinking clubs, went on destructive rampages, gambled and cruised the gymnasia and baths looking for boys. They liked girls too, and the stories of Alcibiades alone could explain why Athenian women were kept hidden.
And fortunately Alcibiades rates as many pages as his teacher and antithesis Socrates. Considered the handsomest man in Greece, Alcibiades was apparently a rich, reckless, narcissistic satyr. Once Socrates' lover, and later a general, he learned rhetoric from the older man and used it to become the idol of the Greek world. Before he was murdered he seems to have double-crossed at least twice everyone who trusted him. Having a hearty sexual appetite, he seduced men and women alike and was even reputed to have had orgies with his mother and sisters; fleeing Athens, he sought safety in Sparta, but then had to light out again after he impregnated the king's wife. Obviously the book is not dull.
In this Athens Waterfield finds unexpected parallels with our world today: As wealth increases, so does the stress of empire. The population is bitterly divided by competing interests, and struggles erupt between elites and democrats, rich and poor, young and old, farmers and businessmen.Read more ›
This book is next-level scholarship, in that it takes a broad base of knowledge and, through reason, presents a very likely conclusion, which, by the way, does not contradict current scholarly thought; it is simply a new idea, as far as I know, and it complements popular scholarly thought.
Another important aspect of this book is the relationship between history and philosophy. I am staunchly in the camp that believes that there is an innate importance to understanding history for the sake of understanding philosophy. While this is one of the smaller details regarding this book, I still think that Waterfield serves in advancing our understanding of the relationship between history and philosophy. Furthermore, Waterfields subtle insights are rather interesting when put into perspective.Read more ›
There is a good bit of Athenian history the author provides, as well as a balanced attempt at integrating the contradictory versions of Socrates trial by two of his students, Plato being the one best known.
In the end, much of what is provided is a reasonable answer to this 2,400 year question: that basically Socrates was consistently anti-democratic and quite pro-Spartan. This puts him in a leading intellectual role after Sparta's victory against Athens and during the reign of the Thirty Tyrants. But when the Spartans withdrawal and Athenian revolutionaries topple the Thirty, democracy returns to power, Socrates has to face the music for his treason.
Certainly not a view taught in Philosophy departments around the nation, since they have basically deified Socrates and vilified those who convicted him.
But, a convincingly realistic view, nonetheless.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Often we look back into the past, whether a century or many millennia, and expect it to be primitive relative to our oh, so sophisticated modern times. Read morePublished 11 months ago by DonovanF
Just so you know, there is very little in this book about Socrates directly, so the title my be slightly misleading. Read more
This was a fun read. A well-written, engaging book. Waterfield goes to great lengths to describe the context and background of Socrates's execution in 399 BC. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Johnmeli
Robin Waterfield has provided immense historical detail to show why Socrates' trial and execution for impiety and corruption of the youth were justified in the eyes of his... Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by L. Carrier
Very disappointing; tossed in trash after reading through (hoping for something worthwhile). One expected a bringing together of materials on Socrates, with citations, along with... Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by M. White
In this book, Robin Waterfield reconstructs the final days of Socrates' life as well as describe the social, political, and cultural atmosphere of Ancient Greece, which had... Read morePublished on May 23, 2013 by Nøkkenbuer
An entertaining and convincing exploration of the military and political milieu of 5th century Athens and its implications for understanding the trial and execution of Socrates. Read morePublished on December 26, 2011 by Aidan J. McQuade
This book is highly recommended for anyone who, like me, has always questioned what the real story was behind Socates' trial and death. Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Robin H