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The Death of Socrates (Profiles in History)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  43 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
There were heroic lives and deaths before and after, but none quite like Socrates'. He did not die by sword or spear, braving all to defend home and country, but as a condemned criminal, swallowing a painless dose of poison. And yet Socrates' death in 399 BCE has figured large in our world ever since, shaping how we think about heroism and celebrity, religion and family li ...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Harvard University Press (first published 2007)
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May 29, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it
Socrates probably would've spit out the hemlock if he had experienced a last minute vision of how future generations would spin his death to suit their own needs, but then again I imagine he would've relished the opportunity to pepper them with questions regarding the "truth" of such interpretations. Fortunately for us, Wilson's survey of such generational revisionism makes for intriguing reading. And if nothing else, she made me self conscious about my own biases regarding the world's most prom ...more
Aug 25, 2008 Gregory rated it liked it
Shelves: greece
This is not a bad introduction to Socrates (or So-crates to all you Bill and Ted fans) which analyzes what he meant to people at different times and places. The most interesting point that the book makes is that we cannot really know exactly what kind of a man that Socrates was or exactly what he really said, as the two contemporary accounts of his life differ somewhat. What this means is that Socrates has been painted in many different lights throughout the years since he remains entirely open ...more
G.G. Grace
Feb 05, 2016 G.G. Grace rated it it was amazing
I found Professor Wilson’s book invaluable in the course of writing a novel, Sophronikos, Son of Sokrates, not so much because of what I didn’t know about the historical figure Socrates, nobody really knows much about him; I found it invaluable because of Wilson’s candor early on. She acknowledges a conflict that so many modern fans of Socrates must have—a conflict between their admiration of a man who relentlessly pursued Truth and their disappointment in him because of his ostensible lack of a ...more
Timothy McCluskey
May 30, 2009 Timothy McCluskey rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I had read I.F. Stone's Death of Socrates many years ago and this is a good companion. Wilson gives an excellent overview of the interpretation of the death of Socrates over the centuries which provides for a context to understand its relevance today. Stone shocked me years ago because I had always understood Socrates to be a defend of truth and integrity which I assumed went hand in hand with democracy. However, the suggestion that he might have been an anti-democrat ...more
Jul 10, 2011 Jim rated it it was ok
This is ostensibly written as an overview of how Western society has viewed Socrates' death in various nations and eras, and as a survey history it isn't bad, but it's clearly written by someone whose specializes more in philosophy rather than history. I say that because Wilson writes more like this is a philosophy text; it asks lots of questions, many more than it answers, and even when she does attempt to answer questions, she's keen to stress first how her answers are not foolproof and how mu ...more
Austin Miller
Sep 09, 2012 Austin Miller rated it it was ok
I loved Socrates since I first read him back in junior high school. I picked up this book not really knowing what it was but I knew it was about Socrates. The first half of the book was interesting, detailing some of the historical context around Socrates and why he died. However, I become bored with the second half of the book. The book essentially became an art history, outlining the way different artists depicted Socrates throughout the centuries, reflecting how different eras viewed Socrates ...more
Jun 24, 2008 Bruce rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. Wilson discusses how the death of Socrates has been interpreted and then reinterpreted through the eras that have passed since his death. These reinterpretations function as mirrors through which to view the concerns and world views of succeeding ages. They also provide insight into historiography itself.

All that having been said, the book is nonetheless just an introduction and points the way to subjects and explorations that could be covered in much more depth. I hope that
Somaia Elshami
I read thoroughly till page 102, found it not worth reading, thought of giving it opportunity, so i skimmed through the rest of it, but this only proved my point. ok, my problem with the book is that it does not discuss ideas or offer contemplation. All what it does is discussing the historical debates about Socrates, referring to what other philosophers throughout ages think about him ...etc
Jan 03, 2008 Terence rated it liked it
A good introduction to Socrates and his place in Western Philosophy. The book is accessible and highlights key aspects of Socrates. However, I think many who have tasted the finer wines of Eastern Philosophy will agree, clearly, that there was no man more foolish than he.
Aug 08, 2008 Todd rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Karen, Jill, Keith
Filled with the other side of the story about Socrates trial. Something I remember touching on in college but not really delving in to. This is a good book for all serious students of western philosophical thought
Jul 12, 2010 Holly rated it really liked it
if you're interested in philosophy and socrates then this is a very good book and also if you know nothing of his death or his philosophy it raises interesting points about morals and society.
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Profiles in History (8 books)
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  • The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The Murder of Caesar and Political Assassination
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