Greek and Roman History

Pondering the Death of Socrates in Xenophon, Plato, and Aristophanes

These works on the trial and execution of Socrates by Xenophon and Plato testify to their anger at the citizens of Athens for condemning their gadfly teacher and friend. Xenophon and Plato also show their anger at Socrates for the hubris and arrogance displayed in full force in his trial speech and his sentencing speech. They want to remind us that just as the Homeric heroes of the battle of Troy showed their hubris at the battlefield, so too did their hero Socrates show hubris in the public courtroom of Athens. […]

Philosophy

The Stoic Socrates of Xenophon

Xenophon’s Socrates definitely sounds Stoic, he sought to die the good Stoic death. “Socrates was so arrogant in court that he invited the juror’s ill-will and more or less forced them to condemn him. His fate was proper to one loved by the gods, because he both avoided the most difficult part of life and gained the easiest of deaths. His fortitude was obvious, since he decided death was the better option, he showed no weakness in the face of death, but awaited it cheerfully.” […]

Greek Philosophy

Sentencing and Execution of Socrates in Apology and Crito, Blog 2

In the end of his speech to the jurors who will decide whether he will live or die, he says, “Judges, be of good cheer about death, and know for certain that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.” Socrates is forgiving. “I am not angry with my condemners, or with my accusers; they have done me no harm. Although the did not mean to do me any good; for this I gently blame them.” […]

Greek Philosophy

Trial of Socrates in Apology and Crito, Blog 1

How do you encourage your neighbor to grow in wisdom without preaching to him? The Platonic method is the dialectic, the Socratic Dialogue, questions and answers to encourage the citizen to think. The method used by the Gospels is the parable, similar in function to the Delphic Oracle, that also entices the listener to think through questions of right and wrong, justice and virtue. Plato does not use parables as often, but he does use parables very effectively, the most famous parable in the history of philosophy is his Allegory of the Cave in the Republic. […]

Greek Philosophy

Plato: Euthyphro, Who Won’t Listen

Socrates has been charged by the citizens of Athens of impiety, of corrupting the youth, and in preparation he must go to the porch of the King Archon. There he meets his friend, Euthyphro, and they converse about the serious charges filed against Socrates, and the serious charges Euthyphro intends against, surprisingly, his very own father. Socrates senses that his friend has little idea of the consequences of this action, and that his youthful haste may lead to a miserable and penurious future, and that his friend has pondered little of this drastic action. […]

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius Blog 3 Genuine Friends Don’t Keep Scorecards

The Meditations admonish us, Do not be lazy! But then he says sometimes it is necessary to rest, but not in excess. Do not rest or eat or drink more than is sufficient, “so you do not love yourself.” What does a good emperor advise us, and also his successors? “Show those qualities that are altogether in your power: sincerity, gravity, endurance of labor, aversion to pleasure, contentment with what you have and with a simple life, benevolence, frankness, no love of frills, freedom from trifling magnanimity.” Do not grumble, do not be stingy, do not flatter, do not try to please men or show off. […]

Greek Philosophy

Marcus Aurelius Blog 2, Others will be irritating, but not I!

Marcus Aurelius advises us in Book II to “begin the morning by saying to yourself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them because they are ignorant of what is good and evil. . . I can neither be injured by any of these, for no one can force me to be ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. […]

Command 6 Do Not Adulter

St Augustine on Concupiscence, Blog 3, Final Reflections

The church teaches that what gives marriage purpose is the bearing of children, so we do not live our lives for ourselves. Salvation is the purpose of marriage, the salvation of our children, the salvation of our spouse, and the working out of our salvation. How does the command to love our neighbor as ourselves work its way out in marriage? We should consider first the good of our children in the living of our lives, then we should work for the good of our spouse, and we should take care of ourselves, but we are last. But last of all in a marriage should be concupiscence, but we should not neglect loving kindness and tenderness, that should pervade all the relationships with our children and with our husband or wife. […]

Command 6 Do Not Adulter

St Augustine on Concupiscence, Blog 2

St Augustine starts his discussion on “On the Good of Marriage” with a discussion how marriage is first a friendship in bonds of family, and a friendship between man and wife, friends who walk together, side by side, raising children, growing old together. St Augustine is a bit harsher in “Marriage and Concupiscence,” teaching that “in matrimony, let these nuptial blessings b the objects of our love – offspring, fidelity, the sacramental bond.” This sacramental bond is meant to be ever-enduring, “lost neither by divorce nor by adultery, and should be guarded by husband and wife with concord and charity.” […]

Command 6 Do Not Adulter

St Augustine on Concupiscence, Blog 1

St Augustine’s most famous quote, made before his ultimate conversion, was a prayer to God, “Please, Lord, grant me chastity, but not yet.” This shows that St Augustine was quite human, just like us, and quite honest about his struggles with intimacy. Let us give St Augustine the benefit of the doubt, let us read him hagiographically, for even though the modern world with modern technology differs greatly from the world of the ancient Christian, St Augustine has much to teach us, and we can benefit from his teaching, finding purpose in our family life, working out our salvation through the raising of our children and through our relationships with our spouse and other family members and close friends. […]