The Unknown Socrates: Translations, with Introductions and Notes, of Four Important Documents in the Late Antique Reception of Socrates the Athenian
Socrates (469-399 BC) is one of history's most enigmatic and intriguing figures. He is often considered the father of Western philosophy, yet the four most famous accounts we have of him present a contradictory, confusing picture.
Just who was Socrates? Was he Plato's brilliant philosopher, at times confounding and infuriating, morally serious and yet ironic; the ever-worldly man, sometime mystic, and uncommon martyr? Or did Plato conflate Socrates' views with his own startling genius, as Aristotle suggests? Was Socrates instead the less impressive, more mundane man whose commonsense impressed the laconic Xenophon? Or could Socrates have been the charlatan, the long-winded phony of Aristophanes' Clouds?
The Socratic works included in this volume add intriguing dimensions to the portrait of Socrates. Diogenes Laertius' Life of Socrates emphasizes the philosopher's deep ethical nature and his extraordinary personality; Libanius' Apology of Socrates is based on sources now lost to us; Maximus of Tyre's Whether Socrates Did the Right Thing When He Did Not Defend Himself makes the startling claim (against Plato and Xenophon) that Socrates never actually spoke at his own trial; from Apuleius' On the God of Socrates we hear at length of Socrates' infamous daimonion: the 'divine sign' only mentioned elsewhere. In short, these four texts add new wrinkles to the already enigmatic historical figure of Socrates.
The Unknown Socrates will appeal to philosophers and historians alike, as well as to those interested in the history of ideas.
- A general introduction
- An introduction to each of the four ancient authors and their works
- An English translation of each of the texts, with selective notes
- The original Latin or Greek text of each work
- A selected bibliography for each work
Calder, William M., III, Bernhard Huss, Marc Mastrangelo, R. Scott Smith, and Stephen M. Trzaskoma. The Unknown Socrates: Translations, with Introductions and Notes, of Four Important Documents in the Late Antique Reception of Socrates the Athenian. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy Carducci Publishers, 2002.