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Why Socrates Died

Robin Waterfield

Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths by Robin Waterfield gives the real story behind one of the great philosophical scandals of history – Socrates’ trial and condemnation.

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Socrates’ trial and death together form an iconic moment in Western civilization. The picture we have of it – created by his immediate followers and perpetuated in countless works of literature and art ever since – is that a noble man was put to death in a fit of folly by the ancient Athenian democracy. But an icon, an image, is not reality. The trial was, in part, a response to troubled times – a catastrophic war and turbulent social changes – and so provides a good lens through which to explore the history of the period; the historical facts allow us to strip away some of the veneer that has for so long denied us glimpses of the real Socrates. Written by a scholar, but not only for scholars, this is an accessible, authoritative account of one of the defining periods of Western civilization.


Robin Waterfield’s previous book for Faber was Xenophon’s Retreat. In 2005 he published a new translation of Xenophon’s Anabasis as Xenophon: The Expedition of Cyrus. He is also the author of Athens: A History and has translated works by Euripides, Plutarch, Herodotus, Aristotle, and Plato, as well as other works by Xenophon.

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