Socrates and Early Socratic Philosophers of Law
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Socrates is arguably the most important and elusive figure in the history of moral philosophy. The few known facts about his life are easily told. He was an Athenian citizen, born in 469 B.C., and worked as a sculptor. He served his city bravely in the Peloponnesian War, but did not seek an active role in politics. Nevertheless, he was briefly forced into prominence after the battle of Arginusae when, as one of the presidents of the Assembly, he resisted the clamor to try the generals en masse, which he saw as illegal. During the rule of the Thirty Tyrants (404–403 B.C.) he refused an order to take part in arresting Leon of Salamis. After the restoration of democracy, he was put on trial in 399 for introducing strange gods and corrupting the young.2 He refused to save himself by opting for exile or by using any of the devices by which defendants usually sought to arouse the sympathy of Athenian juries. As a result, he was condemned and put to death by poisoning.