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(4) Diffi


caused by Socratic Schools.

fruit of Greek philosophy at the perfection of its historical growth.

One phenomenon only will not fall into this historical chain, but threatens to break the continuity of Greek thought, viz. the imperfect attempts to expand the Socratic principle which are seen in the Megarian, the Cynic, and the Cyrenaic schools. In these schools a real and essential progress of the philosophic consciousness was not indeed to be found, inasmuch as philosophy, which had arrived at any rate in principle even in the time of Socrates at objective knowledge, such as could only be found in a system, was by them limited to subjective training of thought and character. Nor yet can they be said to be wholly unimportant. For not only were they, at a later period starting points for Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticism, but they also promoted, independently of this, many scientific enquiries, by means of which they exercised an undeniable influence on Plato and Aristotle. The same case occurs elsewhere, and is met with, even in this epoch, in the older Academy, and in the Peripatetic schools, both of which had no independent influence on the growth of philosophy, but yet cannot be overlooked in its history. Of all these phenomena one and the same thing must be said. Their chief importance lies not in their having expanded a principle theoretically, but in their having been practically helpful in advancing it, by preserving the older forms of culture for cotemporaries to see, here and there improving and widening them, and by thus keeping the philo

sopher's mind in sight of a many-sidedness, without which later systems would never have included the products of the earlier ones.

This permanence of philosophic schools is not therefore met with until philosophy had attained a certain general extension, in Greece not until the time of Socrates and Plato. Whereas Plato, by summing up all the pre-Socratic schools, put an end to their existence; after his time no theory was put forward which did not propagate itself in a school until the time that Neoplatonism put the coping-stone on Greek philosophy, in and with which all previous systems were extinguished. In later times, however many intellectual varieties rise up side by side, only a few of them possess a distinct life of their own. The rest are a traditional revival of previous views, and cannot, in considering the peculiar philosophical character of an age, be taken further into account. They need therefore only to be mentioned by the historian in a passing way. This statement applies to the imperfect followers of Socrates. Their doctrines are not an advancement in principle, but only incomplete reproductions of Socratic views, and connected with Socrates in the same way that the elder Academy is with Plato, or the Peripatetic school with Aristotle.








THERE is no instance on record of a philosopher whose importance as a thinker is so closely bound up with his personal character as a man as it was in the case of Socrates. Every system, it is true, as being the work of a definite person, may best be studied in the light of the peculiarities, culture, misfortunes and circumstances of its author; yet in the case of others it is easier to separate the fruits of their intellectual life from the stock on which they grew; doctrines can generally be received and handed down quite unchanged by men of very different characters. In the case of Socrates this is not nearly so easy. His teaching aimed far less at definite doctrines, which can be equally well embraced by different men, than at a special tone of life and thought, at a philosophic character and the art of intellectual enquiry, in short, at a something not to be directly imparted and handed down unaltered,

but to be propagated freely, others being stirred up to an analogous development of their peculiarities. So much the more anxious should this make us for detailed information as to the training of a character which has had so powerful an influence on history. Here a very common difficulty meets us. What Socrates was, and how he acted in his riper years, is well known; but only the roughest outline is preserved of the circumstances of his life. Over the earlier part of it deep darkness rests. For the history of his intellectual and moral training, if we except a few scanty and for the most part untrustworthy statements of earlier writers, we are left entirely to conjecture.



The youth and early manhood of Socrates fall in the most brilliant period of Grecian history. Born during the last years of the Persian war,' he was

1 The best ascertained date in the life of Socrates is the date of his death. According to Demetrius Phalereus and Apollodorus (in Diog. ii. 44), it happened in Olympiad 95, 1 (Diod. xiv. 37), probably in the second half of the month Thargelion. For at this time must be placed the return of the Delian Oewpls, which, according to Plato (Phædo, 59, D.), arrived the day before the execution of Socrates. Comp. K. F. Hermann, De theoria Deliaca, Ind. Schol. Gotting. 1846. About a month earlier (Xenophon, Mem. iv. 8, 2, says definitely thirty days), i.e. in the month Munychion, the judicial enquiry took place. Socrates must accordingly have

been condemned in April or
May 399 B.C., and have suf-
fered death in May or June the
same year. Since at the time
of his death he had passed his
seventieth year (Plato, Apol.
17, D.), but not long (Crito,
52, E. calls him in round num-
bers seventy), his birth cannot
have fallen later than Ol. 77, 3,
or 469 B.C. If his birthday is
rightly fixed for the 6th Thar-
gelion (Apoll. in Diog. ii. 44,
Plut. Qu. Conv. viii. 1, 1,
Elian, V. H. ii. 25), and was
not past at the time of the
judicial enquiry, we should
have to go back for it to 470
or even 471 B.C. (Comp.
Böckh. Corp. Inscript. ii. 321;
Hermann, 1. c. 7).

The question then arises whe


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nearly cotemporary with all those great men who adorned the age of Pericles. As a citizen of Athens he participated in all those elements of culture, which thanks to its unrivalled fertility of thought, congregated in that great metropolis. If poverty and low birth somewhat impeded his using them,1 still

ther these statements respecting the time of his birth are facts or a mere fiction; and whether the birthday of Socrates, the μαιευτικός, was not placed on the 6th of Thargelion to make it agree with that of Artemis, as Plato's was made to agree with Apollo's. If so, he may have been born in 469 B.C. (Olym. 77, 3). Anyhow, Apollodorus, placing it in 468 B.C. (Ol. 77, 4), (Diog. l. c.) is wrong. Nor can the statement noticed by Diogenes that he was only sixty years of age weigh against the clear language of Plato, and probably rests upon a transcriber's mistake. Hermann's observation (Plat. Phil. 666, De Philos. Jon. ætat. ii. A. 39) that Socrates could not have been born in the third or fourth year of an Olympiad, since he was twentyfive (Synes. Calv. Enc. c. 17) at the time of his interview with Protagoras, which interview happened (Plato, Parm.) at the time of the Panathenæa, and consequently in the third year of an Olympiad, will not hold water. Supposing the interview to be even a fact, which is very doubtful, the remark of Synesius (Calv. Enc. c. 17) respecting the age of Socrates is a pure guess, and altogether refuted by the lan

guage of the Theætet. 183, F., and the Parmen. 127, C., máv νέος, σφόδρα νέος.

That his father Sophroniscus (Xen. Hellen. i. 7, 15; Plato, Lach. 180, D.; how Epiphanius, Exp. Fid. 1087, A., comes to call him Elbaglus, is difficult to say) was a sculptor, may be gathered from Diog. ii. 18. The services of his mother Phænarete as a midwife are known from Plato's Theætetus, 149, A. As regards circumstances, it is stated by Demetrius Phaler. in Plutarch's Life of Aristides, c. 1, that he not only possessed land, but had seventy minæ-a considerable sum-at interest; but this statement is at variance with the testimony of the best witnesses. The reasons for it are without doubt quite as weak as those for a similar statement respecting Aristides, and arose seemingly from some Peripatetic's wish to find authorities for his view of the worth of riches. Plato (Apol. 23, B., 38, A.; Rep. i. 337, D.) and Xenophon (Ec. ii. 2; xi. 3; Mem. i. 2, 1) represent him not only as very poor, πάνυ μικρὰ κεκτημένος and èv Tevía μvpía, but they also give reasons for thinking so. Plato makes him say, perhaps he could pay a fine of a mina, and Xenophon depicts him as

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