“a Take on the Pericles’ and Socrates’ Views on Athenian Society”

1111 Words Nov 27th, 2012 5 Pages
Athens is a major Greek city-state in European history. It was a great center of cultural and intellectual development, and thus home to philosophers. Socrates and Pericles, two of these philosophers, had polarizing opinions about the city-state and its citizens. While Pericles chooses to praise the Athenian citizen, Socrates criticizes Athens’ people. Pericles gave his opinion at a funeral during the first battles of the Peloponnesian War, while Socrates gave his during the trial that ultimately led to his death. The Athenian city-state has become a model for today’s systems of government and a hearth for western philosophy, so Pericles’ opinion seems to be the one that is more accurate. Pericles starts his speech talking about the …show more content…
Socrates believed that people are incapable of running a democracy because of the vices of the many, and that is the flaw with that system of government. This train of thought is important in today’s world, as we do not have the purer, direct form of democracy. Instead, we have an indirect democracy, where we vote for our decision makers: men of sound character, as opposed to everybody voting on decisions. During Socrates’ trial, he is charged for corrupting the youth, disregarding the deities of the city-state, and bringing in his own beliefs. He is found guilty by a slim margin, and he then suggests his punishment to be a fine. The jury then sentences him to death, a fate that he accepts. In Greek society, a man’s loyalty to his city-state was great enough for him to believe that he owed the city-state his life (Socrates was no different). Socrates then offers one last criticism to those that voted against him. He says “if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censuring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves” (“Apology,” Plato: translated by Benjamin Jowett). Here, he advises his accusers that getting rid of the critic is the wrong solution to the problem. Instead, one should improve himself so that the

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