Hoplite Virtue in the Trial and Death of Socrates: Opposition to Imperialism in Classical Athens

Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara (1998)

The dissertation reconstructs Socrates' trial as a site of conflict between imperialist morality and non imperialist morality in classical Athens following the restoration of democracy in 403 B.C. The dissertation argues against conventional explanations concerning the reasons for Socrates being brought to trial, convicted, sentenced to death, and executed by his fellow Athenians. The following thesis is posited in the dissertation: Late fifth and early fourth century B.C. Athenian politics were characterized by the attempt to achieve individual and collective moral excellence through the experiences of agon, and philotimia, . Post Restoration military/political leaders perceived philotimia and agon as essential components of Athenian military aggressiveness and imperial ambition. Indeed these two phenomena were essential to Athenian morality. Socratic principles directly opposed Athenian expressions of individual and collective ambition and extreme competition as nurturing hubris among the Athenian citizenry. The new regime tried and executed Socrates to prevent Socratic subversion within the polis, and in particular within aristoi youth, of its more aggressive military and political policies, including the newly implemented attempt to revive imperialism
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