Socrates is often considered the first great philosopher of the ancient world. He was born sometime around 470 B.C. in Athens and lived through the Peloponnesian War. During his lifetime Athens went from a position of international supremacy to utter defeat. After serving the polis as a hoplite in the land campaigns against Sparta, he married, had three sons, and entered a long period of philosophical inquiry that involved a persistent and, for some, annoying pursuit of the truths of human nature and politics. Military defeat had made Athenians highly sensitive to criticism, and Socrates' constant questioning of the established order caused him to fall into disfavor with some of the more powerful elements of his society. In 399, Socrates was charged with corrupting the youth of Athens and violating the city's religious practices and condemned to death. Presented with the opportunity to flee the polis, he chose suicide instead. His student Plato recorded a famous account of his death in Phaedo.
Although Socrates never wrote, he influenced later philosophy by his relentless application of closely reasoned questions to the moral and political dogmas of his day. The Socratic dialogue, carried forward by his many students, is an essential part of the Western philosophical tradition.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.
Last modified April 10, 2014