The Life of Socrates
Socrates is the father of western philosophy. He wandered the streets of Athens in Greece, interrogating, provoking, and enthralling passers-by in the days when philosophy was far more than an academic subject. The study of philosophy was, for many citizens of ancient Greece, a way of life, but for Socrates it was an obsession. To examine the purpose of life, the origins of truth and knowledge, and most importantly, the nature of justice, was all that Socrates lived for. He proved this on the day of his execution, when he told his judges he did not care if he lived or died. All that should matter to a man is whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, he said, before drinking poison for the crimes of “corrupting the city's youth” and “worshipping false gods”.
Socrates was famously ugly. However, his sense of humor, wisdom, and intelligence led many of his students to fall in love with him. (In ancient Athens, homosexuality was widely accepted and often celebrated.) His handsome young pupil, Alcibiades, said of Socrates: “I have been bitten in the heart, or the mind... by Socrates' philosophy, which clings like an adder to any young and gifted mind it can get hold of.”
Socrates is said to have resisted such temptations, however, as his mind was focused on “higher” things during his long, eventful life. In fact, despite being killed prematurely by an Athenian court, Socrates lived until he was almost 70 years old, and his ideas remain with us today.