[[quoteright:360:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Socrates_8848.jpg]]

->''"To express oneself badly is not only faulty as far as the language goes, but does some harm to the soul."''
-->--'''Socrates''', ''[[Creator/{{Plato}} Phaedo]]''

Socrates, commonly considered the father of philosophy (though not the first one by any stretch), was an Athenian philosopher who lived from 469-399 BCE, when he was executed in the wake of UsefulNotes/ThePeloponnesianWar (of which, interestingly, he was a veteran, having served with distinction at Delium in an earlier phase of the war). The earlier philosophers are, in fact, known as the "pre-Socratic philosophers".

He disapproved of writing, and so is known chiefly through the writings of his student Creator/{{Plato}}. (Another of his students, Creator/{{Xenophon}}, also wrote about him, but his works are less known.) Socrates taught and inspired many prominent young Athenians, from the aforementioned Plato to [[{{MagnificentBastard}} Alcibiades]]. (Plato even devoted a good chunk of his ''Literature/{{Symposium}}'' to defending against the common charge that Socrates had an affair with Alcibiades).

The story goes that the Oracle at Delphi described Socrates as the wisest man in Greece, and Socrates, a simple bricklayer, set out to disprove this claim by seeking out all the most knowledgeable men in Greece and demonstrating that they knew more than he did. It always backfired, because Socrates, possessing basic reasoning skills, could always see and point out the massive holes in everyone's claims. For example, he tried to get [[CharacterTitle Euthyphro]], an esteemed religious expert, to put forth a workable definition of "piety". None of Euthyphro's attempts held up under scrutiny, and eventually he gave up and went away.

Take everything you read about Socrates with a grain of salt: Plato was very fond of putting his own words in his teacher's mouth, and it's hard to tell how much of Socrates's dialogue in Plato's works is Socrates's words and how much is Plato's. (This is described academically as the "Socratic problem".) The ''Literature/ApologyOfSocrates'' is usually considered the most faithful work, and it covers Socrates's trial and conviction on charges of corrupting the youth and introducing new gods. If one reads between the lines in ''Literature/TheRepublic'' and ''Literature/{{Symposium}}'', it's quite possible that Socrates was guilty on both counts, though he vigorously denied the charges in court. Creator/{{Aristophanes}} lambasted him without mercy in ''Theatre/TheClouds''.

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!!Socrates is associated with the following tropes:

* ArmorPiercingQuestion: His specialty, although it has been argued that Socrates' questions sometimes pierce [[TheWarOnStraw straw armour.]]
* BadassBeard
* BaldOfAwesome
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: In a time when many Greeks genuinely believed this (good looks could allegedly even be used as exonerating evidence in court), [[http://www.utexas.edu/courses/moorecomedy/comedyimages/Socrates.jpg Socrates]] was a major [[AvertedTrope aversion]].
* ComplimentBackfire: Some people just ''can't'' take a compliment...
* ConstantlyCurious
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: [[PlayingWithTropes He doesn't get one]], but if there is an afterlife, he IS one - interrogating the dead about their wisdom.
* CoolOldGuy
* TheCynic[=/=]DeadpanSnarker: ''So'' much. He was even an immediate influence to the original [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism#Influences Greek Cynics]].
* DiesWideOpen
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Possibly the UrExample.
* DoomedMoralVictor
* DyingMomentOfAwesome[=/=]ObiWanMoment: His trial and execution.
* FaceDeathWithDignity
* TheGadfly: TropeNamer. Some semantic drift.
* GeniusBruiser: Although not as much as his student Creator/{{Plato}} (who was a [[BloodSport pankration]] champion), Socrates did serve with distinction in UsefulNotes/ThePeloponnesianWar, which took no small amount of physical strength.
** According to some accounts, Socrates [[WorkingClassHero earned his living as a stonecutter]], prefering not to receive money for teaching. No doubt this also required considerable physical strength.
* HonorBeforeReason: Why he chose to stay in jail and be executed instead of escape when he was given the chance--or just leave Athens before he could even be tried.
* IDrankWhat: Implied in the film ''Film/RealGenius'' - which is the TropeNamer here - and in other comedies that Socrates accidentally drank the hemlock. But this is averted in RealLife: Socrates knew ''exactly'' what he was doing.
* ILoveYouBecauseICantControlYou: Apparently why Socrates married Xanthippe.
* KnowNothingKnowItAll: Possibly the world's greatest ''inversion'' of this trope. A quote often attributed to him is ''"The only thing I know is that I know nothing."''
* NewMediaAreEvil: Socrates did not approve of reading. He thought it destroyed the memory. The fact just that having decentralized physical memory such as books allows for a greater possible total sum of human knowledge presumably never occurred to him.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Combine this with ArmorPiercingQuestion and you've got the Socratic method.
* OffingTheMouth: Socrates called himself a [[TheGadfly "Social Gadfly"]] for precisely this reason. He'd say outrageous or taboo things simply to bring them into conversation, while knowing fully well he was putting himself in danger by saying them and, like a gadfly, could be "swatted" at any time. Indeed, he ''was'' eventually executed on charges of corrupting the youth with his words.
* ThePhilosopher[=/=]ContemplateOurNavels: Obviously, but he's not the [[SesquipedalianLoquaciousness sesquipedalian]], "bookish" philosopher.
* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight: With regard to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_of_Salamis Leon of Salamis]]. Socrates refused to obey the orders of the Thirty Tyrants to unjustly arrest Leon and turn him over for execution. Fortunately for Socrates, the Tyrants were swept from power before their wrath could be turned on ''him'' as well.
* SuicideByCop: What his execution might have been; according to Plato's ''The Crito'', Socrates went willingly to his sentence to teach others the value of law in a just society.
* TeacherStudentRomance: With Plato. Much ValuesDissonance ensues for modern readers, such as that the Ancient Greeks had six different kinds of love, each identified with a separate word, and TeacherStudentRomance was effectively one of them.
* TextileWorkIsFeminine: In both Plato's works and Xenophon's, he takes this for granted, and so do the people he talks with.
* WordOfDante: Plato is the intercessory agent here.
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