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The Trial of Socrates Paperback – February 27, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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an excellent modern insight modern insight into one of the most signifcant incidents in the long record of the human balance between the indidual ans his/her community/state. Well worth the read.
What is so amazing about ancient Athens, is it's honest democracy, a true government by the people. This was no counterfeit version of democracy found in modern America with such authoritarian policies of the "war on drugs," and the "patriot act." Unlike the American justice system, revenue motivated decisions did not hold weight and were non-existent in Athens, where education and oratory powers were taught to ALL citizens, who were in turn, truly listened to, as there were no need for high paid lawyers as in today's so called veneer version of democratic society, for in Athens, each citizen was capable of defending himself in court and the court would honor and listen. There was no inside circle of prosecutor-judge-cop-public defender bias. All citizens took part in juries and government decision-making. True free speech existed, something that most people in today's American democratic society have no idea what that really is. For instance, Socrates, attacked such open freedom and democracy for years. The result was never persecution of any sort, but rather, the playwrights writing of various comedies depicting the infantile and foolish nature of the rhetoric Socrates was churning out.
The history Stone brings out is well done. He relates the two temporary successful take overs from the Spartan influenced four hundred and later, the thirty, both replacing the democracy with oligarchy and dictatorships, only to fail in the restoration of democracy. Too make matters worse, the political enemies of such coos were former students of Socrates!
What makes Stone's book so congruent with ancient Greece is his historical analysis of the Greek democracy and its very foundational working structure that could not endorse the loss of free thinking. The idea of Witch trials, and persecution for free thinking and free speech, however condemnatory of the government did not occur. The comedies, such as Astopheles, "The Clouds," to name just one, was only one of many that used the anti-democratic, anti-Athens attacks of Socrates as dipiction in exposure of tragedy in comical form. Here Socrates was ridiculed and made to look like a fool. Never was there hard feeling, nor subsequent governmental persecution from such plays. Even Socrates is reported to have laughted openly at the plays dipiction of himself and his "thinkery."
The problem Stone brings out, and this is the highlight of his book, is that many other historians have literalized such play wrights into literal historical accounts, teaching that true history consisted of the Athenian democracy acting without free speech in punishment and accusations. Here Stone acknowledges such comedies as purely fictional, that is, true characters, places and events fictionally changed, altering either past events, current or future to convey their points. This is reason for their stories that contradict the freedom of the Greek polis, the government of the people, the true democracy.
The trial of Socrates was that of paranoia that eventually cropped up in Athens Greece. Two recent governmental take overs occurred with the threat of a third. The previous rebels being Socrates former students. Even here, Socrates could have used a defense that would have surely cleared him, but desired not to. He could have easily reached out to the Athenian ideals of free thinking and speech, the cities gods and goddess of wisdom, persuasion and justice, however his very defense while clearing him, would have both destroyed his anti-democratic, anti-Athens foundational arguments in favor of Spartan-like oligarchy and vindicate the democracy of Athens, the very type of free government that Socrates spent his entire philosophical life attacking. In Athens executed death penalty of Socrates, she went against her very foundation, she sinned against herself.
What is so profound about this book and Stone's presentation is the structure of ancient Greece, Athens verses Spartan, and the very make up of Athens democracy. One shudder's when comparing the real deal and element of open Athenian democracy with the modern day American democracy, gaining understanding of both democratic values, vulnerability and today's quasi- democratic counterfeits, that of totalitarian/authoritarian efforts to control.
Top international reviews
Now that I have finished it, I believe it helped me a lot.
The book is not a detailed academic work, rather a book by a man who had interest in the Classics and produced a work for people who would be interested to learn more on Socrates. It does not go in depth but gives a basic idea on matters. It can sometimes be repetitive and it is very obvious that the author was a journalist throughout his mentions of contemporary(taking into consideration the time the book was written) issues in politics. He also is greatly biased against Socrates' ideas but nevertheless his arguments are sound and useful to not allow the reader be illusioned by Socrates.
The book informs the reader on - The Greek city states of the time, some philosophers of the time, the appliance of democracy in Athens, Socrates' ideas, some of Aristotle's ideas, events surrounding the life of Socrates and his relations to them and finally The Trial of Socrates. It would be wise to note that the book does not simply focus and explain the Trial, but is a general overlook on Socrates.