Famous Greeks: Lysander and Socrates

The figure of Alcibiades continued to dominate the political scene of Greece in the last days of the Peloponnesian War and even after his death in 403 B.C. Athenian attitudes toward Alcibiades were responsible for the success of Lysander and the trial of Socrates. The exile of Alcibiades by the Athenians gave Lysander his chance to prove himself the most successful general and statesman of the war. His character, patriotism, diplomatic skills, and strategic genius brought victory to Sparta and made him the most famous man in Greece. His subsequent career is a cautionary tale about the blindness of arrogance, the power of envy, and the ability of mediocre men to thwart and ultimately destroy a great leader. The determination of mediocrity to destroy greatness is also the story of the trial of Socrates. His close relationship with Alcibiades was the real reason that his fellow Athenians hated him. The Athenians saw his life and teachings as subversive of their democracy. When some of the favorite pupils of Socrates overthrew the democracy, the lesson seemed clear: The corrupting influence of Socrates must be removed from the Athenian body

Questions to Consider:

1. How could Socrates be regarded as a threat to the Athenian democracy?

2. What aspects of Socrates’s teaching do you see reflected in Alcibiades?

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