Socrates: Plato and Aristophanes Portrays Socrates Essay examples

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Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, was a man seen in various ways by many. The diverse personalities given to him by others have drawn both praise and criticism. There are many literary works that portray Socrates to be an all-knowing educator as well as corrupt and immoral teacher. In Aristophanes’ “The Clouds”, he takes a satirical approach showing Socrates as a sophisticated, yet impatient teacher that used his knowledge of philosophy and rhetoric in his teaching techniques to educate individuals. In Plato’s version of “Apology”, Socrates is depicted as a wise man that was very humble and even acknowledged his own ignorance at times. Though this is only how Plato portrayed him to be; many Athenians did not agree. One overlapping theme seen in both literary works is the knowledge and use of proper rhetoric for personal advantages lead to Socrates’ inevitable death. The Athenians believed Socrates became too influential in society and was corrupting the youth through his teachings and beliefs. This ultimately led to his trail and death, which gave speculation to wonder if Socrates actually was a wise man or the worst kind of sophist. In “The Clouds”, Socrates is seen to be a man of many skills. He runs a facility called “The Pondertorium” where he and colleagues reside and teach individuals philosophy and rhetoric. Strepsiades, an Athenian, is intrigued by “The Pondertorium” because he hears that the educators there can teach one to make a weak argument seem strong and vice versa. Aristophanes portrays Socrates as an omniscient man who possesses the ability to settle any unjust case. Upon meeting Socrates, one quickly learns that he is not very tolerant and becomes impatient with Strepsiades. Socrates says, “You utter, uneducated barbarian oaf! We may well have to beat some sense into this old fool.” (Aristophanes. 2000, 492-493) Here Aristophanes takes a comedic approach of Socrates insulting the ignorance of Strepsiades. Unable to understand the teachings at the Pondertorium, Strepsiades wants his son, Pheidippides, to learn this trait in order to settle his father’s debt. The theme is presented here due to Strepsiades willingness to allow his son to gain the knowledge of Socrates’ teachings and allow him to use it for his own personal gain. Though he was reluctant at first, Pheidippides ends up attending the Pondertorium. Once gaining the knowledge and proper use of rhetoric, Pheidippides quickly becomes surmounted with overwhelming confidence and empowerment. He begins to lash out against his father both verbally and physically. Pheidippides believes that his father is too ignorant to pose any justification for his actions against his son. He challenges his father stating, “I’ll prove it to you, by arguing my view, and I’ll win too.” (Aristophanes. 2000,1334) Here the theme is presented again due to Pheidippides using his knowledge of Socrates’ teachings for personal gain and empowerment. This action by Pheidippides causes Strepsiades to become enraged at Socrates for what he has done to his son. Strepsiades shouts, “I wish you’d go back to your horses, by Zeus! I would much rather have to pay for a four-horse chariot team than run the risk of sustaining bodily harm every day!” (Aristophanes. 2000, 1406-1409) Strepsiades accuses Socrates for creating a monster in his son, and thus burns down the Pondertorium. Aristophanes uses the character of Strepsiades as a metaphor for the Athenian population; and how the teachings of Socrates have led to much resentment from the Athenians. Through the use of education and intellectual empowerment to the many youth who have bestowed upon his teachings, Socrates has created a demographic in society that is deemed troublesome to the general population. The teachings of Socrates, accompanied with the notion of questioning justice, paves way for anyone to give doubt to all legal proceedings. It is the exaggeration of the teachings that Aristophanes illustrates to cause…