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[[File: Socrates One.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Statue of Socrates in Athens]]
==History of Athens ==
In order to understand the death of Socrates, it is essential to understand the historical context. In 510 BC Cleisthenes founded democracy in Athens. It was a democracy, but not like the modern political system, in countries such as the USA. It was a radical form of democracy and this meant that the people did not only vote for the government, but they were also the government. Citizens voted on every aspect of life, from making war and even making judicial decisions. The city played a crucial role in defeating the Persians during their two invasions of Greece. As a result, it became the leader of much of the Greek world. Athens’s leaders turned the Anti-Persian league, of city-states and islands into the Athenian Empire <ref> Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 1. 3-5</ref>. Under the guidance of the great Pericles, the city flourished, economically, politically and culturally. This period is known as the Athenian Golden Age. It was a time of unprecedented achievements in philosophy, sculpture, philosophy, and drama. However, the golden age did not last long. The power of Athens provoked the ire of Sparta and its allies. This led to the brutal Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). This was a period of great suffering for the Athenian people and they had to endure wars, famine, and plague. The city’s politics became very tumultuous and there was an oligarchic coup in 411 but democracy was restored. The Peloponnesian War ended in a total and catastrophic defeat for the Athenians. The victorious Spartans imposed an oligarchic government on the city-state, known as the Thirty Tyrants. Their rule was brief and bloody, but ultimately democracy was restored by Thrasybulus.
==The Life of Socrates==
There are a number of diverse sources for the life of Socrates, including Xenophon, Aristophanes, and Diogenes Laertes. The best-known source is the Platonic dialogues. The exact date of the birth of Socrates is not known, but it was probably sometime between 479 and 469 AD. The future philosopher was born outside the walls of Athens and was the son of a stonemason or a sculptor and his mother was a midwife <ref>Cross, R. Nicol. Socrates, the man and his mission (New York, Routledge, 2018), p. 6</ref>. He was married twice and had three sons. According to one tradition, he was an apprentice sculptor and even sculpted some of the statues that adorned the Acropolis. It seems that from a young age that he was renowned for his conversation, wit, and intellect. Socrates was a full citizen of Athens and was expected to participate in the political, civil and military life of the city. Like other citizens he was expected to serve as a hoplite, a heavy infantryman <ref> Cross, p. 78</ref>. Socrates fought in the Peloponnesian War and fought in a string of battles over many years, he was widely praised for his bravery. Socrates according to the sources was often seen in the streets and public spaces of Athens and he was always raggedly dressed. He would engage people in conversation and often would demolish their cherished assumptions. This did not always make him popular. In Aristophanes' play, The Clouds, he is satirized as a ridiculous figure <ref> Aristophanes The Clouds, iv, iii</ref>. Socrates is widely credited with the invention of dialectic, which is a method of critical reasoning. He taught people that virtue, which he defined as a kind of excellence as the essential aim of life and not money, fame or honor. Socrates was very concerned with ethics and subjects such as justice. He held that people will be moral if they know what the good is and virtue is knowledge <ref>Russell, B. History of Western Philosophy (London, Routledge, 2000), p 17</ref>. Socrates was also very concerned with refuting the relativism of the Sophists, a class of teacher and wandering intellectual. Athens was a radical democracy and the citizens were directly involved in all aspects of the government and the legal system. Socrates, while serving as the supervisor of the Athenian Assembly’s court, vetoed the execution of a number of generals <ref>Cross, p 71</ref>. They were accused of abandoning wounded Athenian soldiers on the battlefield. However, despite Socrates' efforts, the generals were executed. He was a very well-known public figure in Athens and a very controversial figure. During the reign of the Thirty Tyrants, he defied their request to arrest a man. In 399 BC, Socrates was charged with corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and with not believing in the gods of the state. He was found guilty by the Council of Athenian citizens and condemned to death by poison. The jury was composed of Athenian citizens who voted by a majority to find him guilty. The trial of Socrates is often condemned as a show-trial <ref>Cross. p. 58</ref>. During the trial, the philosopher was defiant and did not admit any guilt and was defiant. When he was found guilty, Socrates claims that he was convicted because the Athenians feared the truth and his urgings to live an examined life. However, the philosopher accepted the verdict of the court and refused offers of help to escape. We have a detailed account of the death of the philosopher in the dialogue Phaedo, by Plato. In his last moments, he is shown as philosophizing, in which he claims that all philosophy is concerned with how to die. Socrates died by drinking the poison hemlock.