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BBC: Genius of the Ancient World – #2/3 – Socrates



Historian Bettany Hughes embarks on an expedition to India, Greece and China on the trail of three giants of ancient philosophy: Buddha, Socrates and Confucius. All three physically travelled great distances philosophising as they went and drawing conclusions from their journeys. With Bettany as our guide, she gets under the skin of these three great minds and shines a light on the overlooked significance of the 5th century BC in shaping modern thought across the world. Historian Bettany Hughes travels to India, Greece and China on the trail of three giants of ancient philosophy. Historian Bettany Hughes is in Greece, on the trail of the hugely influential maverick thinker Socrates, who was executed for his beliefs.

Additional Resource from The Open University 

Socrates – Teacher, Paragon or Chatterbox?

Dr Carolyn Price discusses the legacy of Socrates, the father of moral philosophy.François-André Vincent - Alcibiades Being Taught by Socrates Alcibiades Being Taught by Socrates, by Francois-Andre Vincent, 1776 Plato’s dialogue Symposium (‘The Drinking Party’) is packed with memorable images. One comes near the end: Alcibiades – a dissolute young aristocrat and a friend of Socrates – is looking for a way to describe his friend. Socrates, he says, is like a certain kind of statue sold in the city: on the outside, these statues are shaped like satyrs – not handsome at all; but they can be opened up, to reveal a god inside. The comparison is certainly a striking one. It captures the impression that Socrates seems to have made on his followers: a decidedly unimpressive exterior, concealing something precious and strange.

To his fellow citizens in fifth century Athens, Socrates must certainly have seemed very odd. In a city that prized power and wealth, Socrates cared for neither. Instead he spent his days walking about in a threadbare cloak, simply talking to people. He attracted an entourage of eager young men hoping to learn from him, and perhaps to gain some notoriety from being seen with him. But he refused to be called a teacher or to accept any payment from them. His views about religion were odd too. He didn’t seem to set much store by the traditional stories about the Olympian gods. Most strangely of all, he claimed to have a guiding spirit or ‘daimonion’, who would warn him when he was about to do something wrong. MORE AT LINK



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