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Gadfly on Trial: Socrates as Citizen and Social Critic 

Josiah Ober, edition of July 31, 2003

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· Further Reading ·

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Plato (Plat. Apol.).
Plato (Plat. Crito).
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The trial of Socrates, and Socrates’ relationship to Athens, have occasioned a great deal of scholarship. The primary sources (in translation) and some major areas of controversy are presented in Brickhouse and Smith 2002. The story of the trial is well told by Colaiaco, who gives an even-handed assessment of the issues and full bibliography. My own understanding of the historical context of democratic Athens is laid out in Ober 1989 and 1996; my reading of Plato on Socrates is presented in more detail than is possible here in Ober 1998. Hall 1995 is a lively attempt to evoke the atmosphere of a typical Athenian trial, emphasizing the importance of performance and the analogy of drama. Hansen 1995 offers a careful analysis of the trial from the point of view of Athenian citizens. Reeve 1989 is a fine philosophical analyis of Plato’s Apology; on the Crito, see Kraut 1984 and Weiss 1998. For a very thoughtful assessment of Socrates’ and his importance, one that is very different from the one I present here, see Nehamas 1998.

Brickhouse, T. C. and N. D. Smith (2002). The trial and execution of Socrates: sources and controversies. New York, Oxford University Press.

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Colaiaco, J. (2001). Socrates against Athens: Philosophy on Trial. New York and London, Routledge.

Hansen, M. H. (1995). The trial of Sokrates—from the Athenian point of view. Copenhagen, Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab: Commissioner Munksgaard.

Hall, E. (1995). “Lawcourt dramas: The power of performance in Greek forensic oratory.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 40: 39-58.

Hansen, M. H. (1991). The Athenian democracy in the age of Demosthenes: structure, principles, and ideology. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, USA, B. Blackwell.

Kraut, R. (1984). Socrates and the state. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.

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Ober, J. (1989). Mass and elite in democratic Athens: rhetoric, ideology, and the power of the people. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.

Ober, J. (1996). The Athenian revolution: essays on ancient Greek democracy and political theory. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.

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Ober, J. (1998). Political dissent in democratic Athens: intellectual critics of popular rule. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.

Nehamas, A. (1998). The art of living: Socratic reflections from Plato to Foucault. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Reeve, C. D. C. (1989). Socrates in the Apology: an essay on Plato’s Apology of Socrates. Indianapolis, Hackett.

Weiss, R. (1998). Socrates dissatisfied: an analysis of Plato’s Crito. New York, Oxford University Press.

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