Socrates was born in 469 BC. His father was a stonemason and his mother was a midwife, a profession he would later use to characterize himself, since he would later describe himself as a midwife who helped give birth to truth.
During Socrates' youth Athens was a city at the height of its power and the intellectual center of the Greek world. The spirit of openness which democracy encouraged had given rise to new fields of thought and enquiry. Playwrights were exploring new depths of human experience and exposing the hopes, fears, and vanities of both the great heroes of the past, and the leading politicians of the present. The first scientists were building on the insights already made by Ionian Greeks such as Thales, while the world's first historian, Herodotus, had begun his famous 'Histories': our first record of Ancient Greek life.
Undoubtedly the young Socrates absorbed many of these exciting new influences as he walked through Athens' teeming streets, played sports in the gymnasia, and discoursed with people in the market-place, but before he began his career as a philosopher, he was destined for more deadly pursuits...
The Streets of Athens
The Populace of Athens
The Houses of Athens
Leisured Life: The Gymnasia
Pericles Funeral Oration in Depth
Intellectual Life in Athens during its height
The Rest of the World at the time of Classical Greece