Socrates


399 BC - The Trial of Socrates

In the year 399 BC, seventy years after he was born, Socrates was brought before the Athenian court on charges of impiety and corrupting the city's youth.

His belief that the gods must be good or otherwise not be gods ran contrary to almost all Greek mythology, which is filled with jealous and self-serving deities, and the jury had little difficulty in finding him guilty.

The second charge of corrupting the city's youth raised a dilemma. Should Socrates be held responsible for the actions of his pupils, particularly those among them who had joined the tyrants?

Timed by a water clock, the old philosopher remained as stubborn as ever. Far from corrupting the city, he argued, his life of questioning had done it nothing but good.

Plato's 'Apology' records what Socrates said:

'To put it bluntly I've been assigned to this city as if to a large horse which is inclined to be lazy and is in need of some great stinging fly and all day long I'll never cease to settle here, there, everywhere, rousing and reproving every one of you.'

The huge jury was infuriated, finding him guilty by 281 votes to 220. But worse was to come… BP 2a. The Origin of the Olympic Games (Event Page: First Olympics 776 BC)

According to tradition the first Olympics took place in 776 BC. While one legends claims the games were established by Heracles (Hercules), who brought a sacred olive tree to Olympia, an alternative myth has the hero Pelops (from which the name of the Peloponnese region of Greece originates) establish the festival after defeating King Oenomaus in a chariot race.

Whatever the precise origin of the games, they became a central aspect of Greek culture very early on and in many ways were the most important factor uniting the Greeks, except for their language and mythology.

Over time the site of Olympia, in southern Greece, became famous for its temples and monuments, particularly the gold and ivory Statue of Zeus that sat upon his throne in the high temple, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.