Cyrus The Great And Socrates

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Despite the fact that Cyrus the Great and Socrates led exceedingly different lives in

different areas of the world, both of these men were very much free thinkers and prospered in

their respective endeavors as a result of the extraordinary knowledge they possessed. In

particular, to better understand Cyrus’s ascension to and maintaining of the throne, it’s useful to

draw parallels between his knowledge and the knowledge of Socrates presented via Plato’s

Gorgias. I will argue that Cyrus’s success as leader of the world’s most powerful empire could

not have come to fruition without his utilization of the Socratic method of thought and

questioning throughout his development as a boy, youth, and mature man. Specifically, I will

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For example, as a young boy about

to embark on his first hunt Cyrus proceeds to inquire enthusiastically of the older guards

concerning, “...which animals one should not approach and which one should pursue boldly”

(35). After perceiving the advice of his “attendants”, Cyrus almost immediately goes against the

counsel of the more experienced guards and leads chase to multiple animals including a deer and

boar. Now, in doing so the first instinct of the reader is to assume naivety and immaturity on the

part of Cyrus; however, inspecting this occurrence through the text of Gorgias, a much different

conclusion can be reached. Recall that in the same way that Socrates asks questions of his peers

and considers their respective answers with thoughtful skepticism, so too does Cyrus take the

answers he receives with a grain of salt and instead treats them as yet another route he may take

if he chooses to do so. This Socratic questioning period that Cyrus undergoes during his boyhood

is crucial in understanding the development of Cyrus as a tremendously successful king as it

illustrates the fact that he will not be commanded by another human being nor will he fall victim

to his own ignorance in being close-minded.

Second, as a young man we can see Cyrus’ gradual accrual of wisdom as he begins to use

fewer words and is more interested in learning than to always emerge victorious, “He did not run

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