Born: 469 B.C.
Died: 399 B.C. (died after drinking hemlock)
Birthplace: Athens, Greece
Best known as: The great Greek philosopher who drank hemlock
Socrates is the ancient Greek thinker who laid the early foundations for Western philosophical thought. His "Socratic Method" involved asking probing questions in a give-and-take which would eventually lead to the truth. Socrates was born in Athens and fought as a foot soldier in the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, but in later years became a devotee of philosophy and argument. He spent years in the public places of Athens, engaging his fellow citizens in philosophical discussions and urging them to greater self-analysis. Socrates's iconoclastic attitude didn't sit well with everyone, and at age 70 he was charged with heresy and corruption of local youth. Convicted, he carried out the death sentence by drinking hemlock, becoming one of history's earliest martyrs of conscience. Socrates's most famous pupil was Plato, who in turn instructed the philosopher Aristotle.
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