English 84

Sophomore Seminar: Socrates as Cultural Icon

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2006 Coolidge, John S.
Coolidge, John
W 2-4 205 Wheeler

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Socrates has often been compared to Jesus, an enigmatic yet somehow unmistakable figure who left nothing in writing yet decisively influenced the minds of his own and later ages. We will read the contemporary representations of Socrates?Aristophanes? comic send-up in ?Clouds,? the Platonic dialogues purporting to tell the story of Socrates? trial and death, selections from Plato?s Symposium and Alcibiades and from Xenophon?s Memorabilia?and discuss such topics as Socrates? questionable political associations; Socrates as protomartyr of academic freedom and of civil disobedience; and Socrates and the heroic self. The assigned text is The Trials of Socrates: Six Classic Texts, ed. C.D.C. Reeve. There will be a reader illustrating possible meanings of ?values? like ?piety? and ?virtue,? etc. and the maxims ?know thyself? and ?the unexamined life is not worth living.?

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