History – The Defense of Socrates


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1. Although Socrates never wrote anything, his ideas were captured and communicated by his student, Plato. You have already read a selection from Plato’s Republic. Also consider the document “The Defense of Socrates,” (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/13726/13726-h/13726-h.htm) in which Socrates defends himself when he is on trial for his life before the Athenian assembly. How do these documents trace out a vision of Socratic philosophy? What is the goal? What is the method? In what ways might the philosophical approach still be of value today? 

2. The section on the Roman Empire provided accounts from Augustus, Nero, and Marcus Aurelius. This should also consider an account (again, from Suetonius) of the Emperor Domitian, (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Domitian*.html). How do these various documents demonstrate both the ideals for Roman Emperors and their practice? How did Emperors both shape and respond to culture in the Empire? How do you assess an institution in which these four emperors (among many others) were in charge?  

3. The Early Christian Church remains a topic of on-going interest. In addition to the documents for the course, also consider, “The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus,” (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/diognetus-roberts.html) and Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata, (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02101.htm). How did the Early Church relate to its broader culture? What did it share with Greco-Roman culture, what did it reject, and what did it transform? How does this help us understand the growth of the Early Christian Church?

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