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In Ancient Greece, leading a good life is rather more complex than it is in today’s society. It is evidenced in Plato’s four dialogs in The Trial and Death of Socrates. Through the dialogues of Socrates we can learn that in Ancient Greece education, religion, society in general, law and values played a major role on a person’s way of living a good life. In the dialogues of The Trial and Death of Socrates, society condemned those such as Socrates for changing or questioning their way of life.
A person in Ancient Greece must be a pious man who conforms to the laws and values of the society. We can learn how a man should lead a good life in Ancient Greece through the dialogues of Socrates in his trial.
In order for a man to lead a good life, he must have a good education. In ancient Greek society it is stated that a man shouldn’t think about having kids if he doesn’t plan on giving a good education to them (Plato 45).
This signifies that education is the first thing in a man’s life that will make him a good person. In the dialogues of Crito, we can see that music and gymnastics played a major role in education because Socrates’s father trained him in those fields (Plato 51). Education also plays a major role in a man’s life because it not only helps in this life but also the after life. According to Socrates, education and nurture are the only things that you can take with you to the underworld (Plato 106).
Your knowledge and education will help you in your next life not your material wealth.
Asides from having a good education, a man in Ancient Greece should value and ignore certain actions. As I have stated earlier a man should value education, but asides from that he must be a pious person. We can see in the dialogues between Euthyphro and Socrates that piety should be valued a lot. In other words a man should value his religion and the gods. Both Socrates and Euthyphro come up with their meaning of piety. Being a pious person according to Socrates and Euthyphro is doing things that is dear to the gods and is agreeable to them. Also making offerings to the gods and looking after them (Plato 6-13). Another thing that a man must value is reputation. We can see example of how Socrates maintains his reputation by refusing to flee Athens because it would tarnish his family name. In the same example Socrates shows us that Athenian Citizenship is valued a lot because he doesn’t escape prison since it would mean his family would lose their citizenship (Plato 52-54). With the events that occurred to Socrates, it shows us that one should ignore questioning or changing the law or religion. The whole reason Socrates is being put to trial because he was charged with not recognizing the gods and inventing new deities and corrupting the youth (Plato 2,5).
During the time of Socrates, religion and law should be respected and followed. In Ancient Greece, men who hold a citizenship of a city-state such as Athens must conform to all their laws and religion. Religion at that time was very important and valued. If anyone tried to change it or question it would be doomed to death. This what happened to Socrates because not only did he question the God but he was also corrupting the younger generation according to the courts (Plato 2 and 4). For a man in Ancient Greece he should be a pious person. As I mention earlier one must submit to the gods and make offering to them. From Socrates’s point of view, a person should always question society. Socrates always questions people because he thin that by doing so he can make the society better. He wants to make people think critically (Plato 31). Also question society can lead to wisdom. In Socrates case, he question different authorities outside of their knowledge because they claim to know every thing and admits to not knowing everything (Plato 23). Asides from religion and society a man must conform to the laws of the city-state.
The laws of Athens for example shape the life a person living in it. The laws of Athens for example gave Socrates education, citizenship and the option for him to go in exile (Plato 50-52). Socrates signifies that he accepts the laws of Athens because he defends it and ultimately stays in Athens when he had the chance for exile (Plato 51-53). Since Socrates is a well-known figure in his society we can accept that these are the norms of society. According to Socrates, a man should deal with death with ease. He views death as a gateway to join other souls. In his view, he will get to join should that died before such as Homer Ajax and gets to question them to find out who is the wisest (Plato 40). Socrates also states that suicide is a bad action. The life and souls belongs to the Gods, by committing suicide you can’t summon yourself to the Gods (Plato 59). Socrates suggests that the soul joins the Gods after death. He believes that you can get a better understand of the world (Plato 69). In conclusion, for a man to lead a good life in Ancient Greece he must be pious, well educated, and follow the laws of the society. Since Socrates is viewed as a great philosopher today we can use his actions and views in the Trail and Death of Socrates as an example of how a person should lead his life in Ancient Greece. Through his understandings we learned that education plays a major part in the beginning of a mans life. And also the laws and religion must be adhered to for a man to lead a good life.
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