Unit 17: Primary Texts on Greece
Plato, "Socrates at the Oracle of Delphi," from
Oracle at Delphi and the Athenians (Herodotus 7.141-143)
The Lives of Eminent Philosophers
, "The Life of Diogenes" [the first
8.4 “Alexander the Great and the Gymnosophists,” from
The Alexander Romance
8.5 Alexander and the High Priest of Jerusalem
The Apology of Socrates
, (B. Jowett translation)
“Socrates and the Oracle of Delphi”
I [Socrates] dare say that someone will ask the question, “Why is this, Socrates, and
what is the origin of these accusations of you: for there must have been something strange which
you have been doing?
All this great fame and talk about you would never have arisen if you had
been like other men: tell us, then, why this is, as we should be sorry to judge hastily of you.”
Now I regard this as a fair challenge, and I will endeavor to explain to you the origin of this
name of “wise,” and of this evil fame.
Please to attend them.
And although some of you may
think that I am joking, I declare that I will tell you the entire truth.
Men of Athens, this
reputation of mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess.
If you ask me what
kind of wisdom, I reply, such wisdom as is attainable by man, for to that extent I am inclined to
believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman
wisdom, which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that I have,
speaks falsely, and is taking away my character.
And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not
to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant.
For the word which I will speak is
I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit, and will tell you about my
wisdom—whether I have any, and of what sort—and that witness shall be [Apollo] the god of
Unit 8: Greek Primary Texts