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Socrates


“Socrates: —Son of the mason Sophroniscus and the midwife Phaenarete. He began life as a mason like his father . . . later he took to philosophy after hearing Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and attended the lectures first of Damon and then of Archelaus . . When he had grown up he took part in the military expeditions to Amphipolis and Potidaea, and fought at Delium . . . He was contemporary, as one might say, with the Peloponnesian War, being born in the 77th Olympiad (472-69 B.C.) and lived till he was seventy,1 when by the folly, or rather the madness, of the Athenians he was made to drink hemlock, and died without leaving any written work, unless it were, as some writers hold, a Hymn to Apollo and an Aesopian Fable in epic verse.” Suidas Lexicon “Hereupon Cebes exclaimed ‘Ah, Socrates! you did well to remind me. I have been repeatedly asked —only the other day by Euenus —about the poems you have composed by versifying the tales of Aesop and about your Hymn to Apollo ; they all want to know how it is that you composed them as soon as you came here though you had never before done the like. Now if you would like me to have some answer to give Euenus when he repeats his question, as I know he will, tell me what reply to make.’ ‘Very well, Cebes,’ he replied: ‘tell him the truth, that I composed these poems with no desire to compete with him or his works —for I knew how difficult that would be —but because I wanted to test the meaning of certain dreams I had, and acquit my conscience of any obligation they might lay upon me to make this literary venture. . Thus it was that I first composed a poem to the God whose festival was being held; and then,2 believing that the poet, if he is to be worth the name, should compose myth or fable and not history —and I had no expert knowledge of fiction myself, —I took the fables I had at hand and knew, namely Aesop's, and put the first I happened on into verse. Here then is your reply to Euenus, and pray bid him farewell for me, and say that if he is wise he will lose no time in coming after me. I am going, it seems, to-morrow; such are the orders of my countrymen.’” Plato Phaedo “From the time when the Greeks who went up with Cyrus returned, and the philosopher Socrates died at the age of seventy, 137 years, in the archonship of Laches at Athens (400 B.C.).” Parian Chronicle

Poems


“He even composed, according to some writers, a Paean beginning:

Hail, Delian Apollo, and hail, Artemis, renownad children of . . .

CURFRAG.tlg-0262.1
But Dionysodorus declares that the Paean is not his. He also composed an Aesopean Fable, not very successfully, beginning:

Aesop once bade the dwellers in Corinth not to judge of virtue by the wisdom of a court-of-law.3

CURFRAG.tlg-0262.2

Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers [on Socrates]

“The kind of dancing employed in the choruses was in those days decorous and finely done, and as it were imitative of the motions of soldiers under arms. And that is why Socrates declares in his Poems that the best dancers are the best soldiers, thus:

Those that honour the Gods best in the dance are likewise best in war.

CURFRAG.tlg-0262.3
Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

1 the Gk. says eighty

2 lit. after the God, i.e. following the ancient custom, first sacred and then secular; cf. L.G. iii. 591

3 cf. Dio Chrys. 43. 10 ( παιᾶνα ), Epictet. 2. 6. 26, 4. 4. 22, Themist. 2. 27c ( προοίμιον ἐν τόνῳ ἑξαμέτρῳ ), Suid. Σωκράτηςὕμνον δι᾽ ἐπῶν ); Plut. Aud. Poet. 2, Suid. Σωκράτηςμῦθον Αἰσώπειον δι᾽ ἐπῶν ), Aug. Cons. Evang. i. 7. 12

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