Home > Trivia > In conversation with Socrates… Part II

In conversation with Socrates… Part II


We are in conversation with Mr. Socrates the highly controversial figure of Greek Civilization who braves the paparazzi day in and out.

Mr. Historian: Mr. Socrates, we agreed on the dynamic unfaltering spirits of Greeks, but all this intellect and passion for life didn’t stop Greeks to fight amongst themselves! The two city-states of Athena and Sparta fought for 27 years. How can you justify that?

Mr. Socrates: The war, which broke out in 431, B C had its origin in rivalry, which started long before. Athens and Sparta both came up as major city-states of Greek in 6 th Century BC It was a time when survival was far more important than anything else. Man had very recently left the nomadic ways of life and was learning to live together. Athens and Sparta were no different and any threat to survival often led to clashes.

Also, though both had same ancestors, ideology of any two cities could not be more opposite. Where Sparta was a pure military ruled state, with highest emphasis laid on war and war related activities, Athens priority was encouraging the intellectual and artistic capabilities of its people. In this Athens was always supported by its reformist rulers like Solon and Pericles who believed in wonders of life.

These not only opposite but contradictory views always brought the two states in battlefield. Infact the big war broke out because Pericles, leader of Athens, dreamt beyond his time – of a centrally ruled empire. An idea that later on did become a reality!

In the end Spartans won the war, but they found themselves imprisoned by the culture and heritage of Athens. So in effect this war, that lasted for more than two decades, could not diminish the spirit of Greek people & led to further development and advancement of Greek culture for now both cities were following it.

Legacy of Past

Legacy of Past

Mr. Historian: But again the same question comes up-What made Pericles think that an empire could be centrally governed at a time when no such empire existed? Why and how did the Greek people managed to come up with such novel and untried ideas?

Mr. Socrates: Mr. Historian… I cannot say what Pericles thought of when he talked of centrally governed empire! But your other question as to why only Greeks came up with novel ideas – I will try and answer that.

To understand this, you will have to analyze a number of points starting from the origin of Greek culture. To make it clearer, I’ll start from the beginning.

The country GREECE as it is referred to, was never a continuous stretch of land. Greece was a name given to an area, whose population believed in same concepts and ideas. Greece was made up of a large number of small cities. All isolated from one another by either mountains or by sea. As such no central control was possible. This aspect gave a sense of uniqueness to each city. Also as no help could be obtained from outside world, these cities had to be self sufficient in every manner. This need for self-sufficiency led individuals to believe that every one of them has to make a contribution to the life of society around them.

Infact it was this belief that gave world the concept of equal participation in state affairs or Democracy, as we know it today.

Participatory Democracy

Participatory Democracy

Mr. Historian: You mean, contribution was needed from everyone in a city to maintain self-sufficiency and so principle of participation by everyone came into being, which later on took the form of present day Democracy!

Mr. Socrates: Right, it was us, who gave world the now coveted concept of Democracy.

But at that time it was the need to be independent and self-sufficient, which led the Greeks to produce or make everything on their own. They could not afford to be specialists in one or the other field. This led to an overall development and Greeks became masters in almost every field.

Another reason for our excellence could be our belief in supremacy of man. We were different from others, in this very basic concept. We gave more importance to human being and his life, rather than simply praying to Gods. We believed in the power of man. We knew that man is capable of changing everything around him. This belief of ours led us to question everything and look for better though untried ways and thus everything we did was different from not only our ancestors but our fellow human beings also!!!

Mr. Historian: Thanks Mr. Socrates for giving us some of your valuable time.

I am sure our conversation with you would have shed some light on the Greek Civilization one of the most modern and elite of its time.

We were in conversation with Mr. Socrates.

Mr. Socrates an eminent lawgiver, scientist, philosopher- a genius in many ways. In true sense–Greek spirit personified. He clearly spelt out the thinking and working of Greek people –the nature and bent of their mind. How they believed in power of man and proved it to be supreme. How they turned threats into opportunities, conquered everything that came into their way. Their geographical location taught them to be independent and in the process they mastered every art and profession and thus gave world several Great Men and their masterpieces.

For who can fathom History without

Alexander the great

Herodotus, father of history

Sophocles and his Oedipus Rex, which became the basis of Freudian concept Euclid and his geometric theorems

Pythagoras and his famous Pythagoras theorem

Archimedes and his principle of water displacement

Homer & his Illiad & Odyssey

Pericles and Erectheum, which he built

And the present world without

The Coins

The Olympics

The names—Mesopotamia, Assyria. INDIA too!

The concept of Democracy

All of which were given by GREEKS!!!

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