Chapter

Lysias, Xenophon, and Plato

Stephen V. Tracy

in Pericles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943629 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520256033.003.0011
Lysias, Xenophon, and Plato

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The life of the speech writer Lysias straddled the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Born about 450 B.C., in his formative years Lysias must have been aware of Pericles, whether he personally had direct contact with him or not. Lysias's wealthy mercantile family was from the city of Syracuse in Sicily and acquired metic or resident alien status in Athens. Neither Xenophon nor Plato, whose prolific writing careers date to the first half of the fourth century B.C., can have known Pericles personally. In the opening sections of the Memorabilia, Xenophon seeks to defend Socrates against the charges laid against him, mainly those of impiety and of corrupting the youth of the city. For Plato, Pericles suffered from the failings endemic to all political leaders: he had not devoted his life to philosophy, to the pursuit of wisdom. Nevertheless, he did stand out among them as one of the best of a flawed breed.

Keywords: Pericles; Athens; Lysias; Xenophon; Plato; Socrates; Memorabilia; philosophy; wisdom; impiety

Chapter.  4386 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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