Socrates: The Dichotomy between Aristophanes and Plato’s Depictions

1489 Words Apr 1st, 2014 6 Pages
Socrates:
The Dichotomy between Aristophanes and Plato’s Depictions

Ignorance: the condition of being uninformed or uneducated; this basic definition is crucial to understanding one of the most controversial figures in ancient Athenian society: the philosopher Socrates. The man’s entire life was devoted to proving the fact that no one actually knew what they thought they did; that everyone lived in ignorance. This viewpoint earned Socrates many enemies, so many that even a renowned playwright, Aristophanes, decided to exploit the situation. He wrote his critiquing play of Socrates called The Clouds; a scathing criticism that the philosopher would partially attribute to his future indictment on charges of impiety and corrupting the
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The philosopher goes on to teach Strepsiades everything about the existence of Vortex, the god that “overthrew” Zeus and also of the Clouds, the true arbiters of worldly learning (Clouds 250-829). Inspired by Socrates’s teachings, Strepsiades goes back home and brings his son to the Thinkery in order to have him learn the ways of the Clouds. In turn, Pheidippides embraces the teachings of Socrates even more so than his father, becoming completely inundated in the philosopher’s teachings. He begins to beat his father, because according to Socrates’s teachings, it is a just thing to do (1322-1333). However, during the time in Ancient Greece, such an act was forbidden by law. Pheidippides attempts to justify this to his father in the following passage: “PHEID: …I will first ask you this: did you beat me when I was a boy? STREP: Yes, I did; I was well-intentioned and concerned for you. PHEID: Then tell me, isn’t it also just for me likewise to be well-intentioned toward you and beat you? For why should your body be unchastised by blows, but not mine? And in fact I too was born free… STREP: But nowhere is it the law that the father suffer this. PHEID: Wasn’t he who set down this law a man like you and me, and didn’t he persuade those of long ago by speaking? Is it any less allowable for me too, then, to set down in turn for the future a novel law for sons to beat their fathers’ in return? As for the blows that we