Julia Kindt reviews 'Socrates in Love: The making of a philosopher' by Armand D’Angour

Julia Kindt reviews 'Socrates in Love: The making of a philosopher' by Armand D’Angour

Socrates in Love: The making of a philosopher

by Armand D’Angour

Bloomsbury, $34.19 hb, 247 pp, 9781408883907

It may be tempting to think we already know Socrates, the Athenian philosopher whose most famous dictum remains that he was wise only insofar as he was aware of his own ignorance. Although Socrates never published anything of his own, his student Plato presents him in numerous dialogues as a smart and talented (if somewhat pedantic) interrogator who never tired of examining the opinions of his fellow citizens on a range of topics, including such weighty matters as the nature of justice, virtue, knowledge, and love. Plato and several other prominent ancient writers – most notably Xenophon and Aristophanes – depicted Socrates as ‘an extraordinary and original thinker who was always poor, always old, and always ugly’. This image of Socrates has endured to the present.

Armand D’Angour’s Socrates in Love reveals new sides to the historical figure: Socrates as young man, private citizen, soldier, and – as the title suggests – lover. D’Angour draws on a range of mostly minor ancient sources that have not received the attention they deserve in reconstructing the historical figure of Socrates. With great skill and mastery, D’Angour teases out the kind of information this evidence reveals about heretofore unmapped territory in the life of the ancient philosopher. The result is an original account that, at its best, reads like a detective story looking for new yet unrecognised clues in the ancient evidence, piecing together a case that calls existing scholarship on Socrates into question.

Subscribe to ABR

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in August 2019, no. 413
Julia Kindt

Julia Kindt

Associate Professor Julia Kindt is a historian of ancient Greece in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney and a new Future Fellow

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.