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Of Athens; born 469 B.C., son of the sculptor Sophroniscus and the midwife Phaenarete. He pursued for a time his father's art, but soon gave it up, holding it to be his proper task in life to labour at the moral and intellectual improvement of himself and his friends. His indifference to external necessities enabled him to bear his poverty with the same equanimity which he preserved in dealing with the quarrelsome temper of his wife Xanthippe. He took no part in affairs of State, yet did not withdraw from the performance of his duties as a citizen in war and peace. He did not give formal instruction, but sought by means of dialectical discourse, in which any one might join without payment, to lead on the young people who used to collect around him to think and act in accordance with reason. Different as are the representations of him given by his pupils Xenophon and Plato, yet they agree in this, that he was a character of absolute moral purity, whose clear peace of mind was troubled by no passion, in whom reason at all times asserted its supremacy over sensuality, and whom no considerstions could move from the declaration of his convictions. He preserved this unshaken fidelity to his convictions, not only in earlier passages of his life, but also at the time when a capital charge was brought against him, of being out of accord with the religion of the State, of introducing new gods (an accusation founded upon his belief in the daemon, an inward voice, which used to warn him from evil and urge him towards good), and of corrupting youth. Although it would have been an easy thing for him to have escaped the sentence of death, he did not hesitate for a moment in giving expression to his conviction in the most open manner, and for that conviction was put to death by being compelled to drink a draught of hemlock. (See also PHILOSOPHY and PLATO, with cut.)
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