|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
ACCUSATION OF SOCRATES
SOCRATES, as you know, was one of the best and gentlest
of men, yet he had many enemies. These were principally
the people who were jealous of him and of his renown
for great wisdom; for his reputation was so well
established, that the oracle at Delphi, when consulted,
replied that the most learned man in Greece was
Although Socrates was so wise and good and gentle, he
was not at all conceited, and showed his wisdom by
never pretending to know what he did not know, and by
his readiness to learn anything new, provided one could
prove it to be true.
Among the noted Athenians of this time was
Aristophanes, a writer of comedies or funny plays. He
was so witty that his comedies are still admired almost
as much as when they were played in the Theater of
Dionysus for the amusement of the people.
Like most funny men, Aristophanes liked to turn
everything into ridicule. He had often seen Socrates
and Alcibiades walking through the streets of Athens,
and was greatly amused at the contrast they presented.
 Now, Aristophanes, with all his cleverness, was not
always just; and while his ridicule sometimes did good,
at other times it did a great deal of harm. He soon
learned to dislike Alcibiades; but he saw how dearly
the people loved the young man, and fancied that his
faults must be owing to the bad advice of his teacher.
Such was not the case, for Socrates had tried to bring
out all the good in his pupil. Alcibiades' pride,
insolence, and treachery were rather the result of the
constant flattery to which he had been exposed on the
part of those who claimed to be his friends.
Aristophanes disliked Alcibiades so much that he soon
wrote a comedy called "The Clouds," in which he made fun
of him. Of course, he did not call the people in the
play by their real names; but the hero was a
good-for-nothing young man, who, advised by his teacher,
bought fast horses, ran his father into debt, cheated
everybody, and treated even the gods with disrespect.
As the actors who took part in this comedy dressed and
acted as nearly as possible like Alcibiades and
Socrates, you can imagine that the play, which was very
comical and clever, made the Athenians roar with
Everybody talked about it, repeated the best jokes, and
went again and again to see and laugh over it. We are
told that Socrates went there himself one day; and,
when asked why he had come, he quietly said, "I came to
find out whether, among all the faults of which I am
accused, there may not be some that I can correct."
You see, the philosopher knew that it was never too
late to mend, and fully intended to be as perfect as
possible. He knew, of course, that he could not
 his crooked nose or make his face
good-looking, but he hoped to find some way of
improving his character.
"The Clouds" amused the Athenians for about twenty years;
and when Alcibiades turned traitor, and caused the ruin
of his country, the people still went to see it. In
their anger against Alcibiades, they began to think
that perhaps Aristophanes was right, and that the youth
they had once loved so dearly would never have turned
out so badly had he not been influenced for evil.
As the teacher in the play was blamed for all the
wrongdoing of his pupil, so Socrates was now accused by
the Athenians of ruining Alcibiades. Little by little
the philosopher's enemies became so bold that they
finally made up their minds to get rid of him.
As he was quite innocent, and as there was no
other excuse for dragging him before
the Tribunal, they finally charged him with giving bad
advice to young men, and speaking ill of the gods.
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