Socrates vs Pericles

August 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

Socrates was a Greek philosopher of Athens that lived from 469 to 399 B.C. Socrates was known as one of the wisest people of all time where a lot of current knowledge of him and teachings come from some of his pupils like Plato through scripts and dialogues. Socrates was also known for spending his life conversing about integrity, justice and religious quality wherever his fellow citizens gathered.

On the other hand, Pericles was a Greek statesman and leader of Athens who lived from 460 to 429 B.C.. Pericles started his political career by establishing a vote in the popular assembly. The assembly was the occasionally opportunity for male Athens to speak their minds and exercise their votes regarding the government. This lead to the exile of Cimon, the Athenian leader who cared more about the relationship with Sparta than Athens. Pericles is known for transforming Athens from a limited democracy to a popular government. A limited democracy is a democracy where average citizens still had to defer to members of the aristocracy. Popular government is where the mass of people were fully sovereign. This event has been named the true beginning of Athenian democracy. However people like Socrates had a different view of democracy. Socrates would view democracy as a disaster for the people because the people who would be voting have so many factors in their voting decision that can poorly affect the city.

In 399 B.C., Socrates was placed on trial for allegedly corrupting the youth and not believing in the deities of the city of Athens. Plato, one of Socrates’ pupils, spoke Socrates’ apology which back then means defense, to defend himself and his conduct. Throughout the case and the trail, Socrates defended himself as at aknow-it-all which did not give him a good look to the jury. Socrates knew he was right with his beliefs and didn’t care if all jurymen in all of Athen voted in favour of sentencing him to death for corrupting the youth. Socrates was accused of teaching the youth to question authority and his whole goal was to expose the authoritative and orthodoxy views of his time that were all wrong. It was obvious that the jury was run based on their emotion. Socrates believes that the people who vote in the democratic body have emotions that influence their decisions resulting in an not necessarily reasonably vote. In the apology, Socrates uses a horse and trainer analogy for how many people it takes to influence a child. Socrates believes that Meletus had never thought or cared about the youth, but however, only cares now because the dislike against Socrates. Meletus was one of the youngest accusers in the trail. In the apology it states, How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good?…the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? (Socrates 22). Socrates argues that it is absurd for the jury to believe that he is guilty of corrupting so many youths in Athens. He thinks it impossible for him to do that as one single man. This analogy can be perceived as an explanation of Socrates view on democracy by rule by the many vs. by one or the few and how many results in a fallen nation.

In contrast, Pericles, via his funeral oration speech, believes that democracy is better ruled by many rather than few. In the first year of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles gave speech in Athens honoring the brave warriors who were killed protecting their city-state. In Pericles speech he lists qualities of Athenians citizens who are alive and should feel honored that their loved ones and the people they know were brave enough to die for Athens and their government. Pericles believed that Athenian government, democracy, is a system where its male citizens can further in their merit rather than wealth. Perit stated,

In the middle of Pericles’ speech, he lists some qualities of Athenian citizens. What traits does he describe? Pair these descriptions with passages in Socrates’ speech where he would seem to disagree.

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