Who was Socrates?

           Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the world born till date. He was born at Athens in Greece around 470 B.C. His father Sophroniscus was a sculptor and mother Phaenarate, a midwife. Nothing is known of his early life but he became well-known by the time he was middle-aged.

          Though Socrates was not impressive in his looks yet he was a man of exceptional brilliance. Nobody could argue with him on any subject for a long time. No one could match the wisdom and brilliance of Socrates. He would often stand up in the city market and argue with people about the way of living. Whenever he saw people purchasing various kinds of articles, he used to think, ‘How many things I can do without?’

         Socrates believed that all the wrong doing is due to ignorance and if any people knew what was right, they would have no difficulty in choosing the right path. He made two most important fundamental contributions to Western philosophy. They are: shifting the focus of Greek philosophy from cosmology to ethics and the development of the spirit of enquiry from ignorance to logic. He used to say that ‘virtue is knowledge’ and that no one does any wrong willingly. He preached that it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. He taught the correct definitions of justice and love and exhorted people to try and purify their souls. He often used to say: ‘Try to know yourself’. He did not write any book. Most of his teachings were made known to the people by his illustrious disciple, Plato.

          Through his teachings, Socrates generated great self-confidence amongst the people. He had a large following. However, Athens’ officials neither liked his teachings nor his fame. They were envious of him and accused him of misleading the youths of the city. As a result, he was put in jail. But Socrates did not give up the pursuit of his own ideals. Even in the jail, he preached about the immortality of soul. Finally the officials became so much annoyed with him that he was awarded death sentence. This did not frighten him. He was made to drink a cup of poison called hemlock. Socrates smilingly drank the poison. While he was drinking it, tears welled up in the eyes of his friends, but Socrates kept smiling till his death.