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The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life

The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life

Paperback

By (author) Bettany Hughes

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 33mm | 464g
  • Publication date: 3 October 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099554054
  • ISBN 13: 9780099554059
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations (some col.), maps, ports. (some col.)
  • Sales rank: 112,024

Product description

We think the way we do because Socrates thought the way he did. His aphorism 'The unexamined life is not worth living' may have originated twenty-five centuries ago, but it is a founding principle of modern life. For seventy years Socrates was a vigorous citizen of Golden Age Athens, philosophising in the squares and public arenas rather than in the courts of kings, before his beloved city turned on him, condemning him to death by poison. Socrates lived in and contributed to a city that nurtured key ingredients of contemporary civilisation - democracy, liberty, science, drama, rational thought - yet, as he wrote almost nothing down, he himself is an enigmatic figure. In The Hemlock Cup, acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes gives Socrates the biography he deserves, painstakingly piecing together Socrates' life and using fresh evidence to get closer to the man who asked 'how should we live?' - a question as relevant now as it has ever been.

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Author information

Bettany Hughes is a historian, author and broadcaster who has devoted much of the last twenty years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her first book, Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore was published to great critical acclaim and has now been translated into ten languages. Bettany has made a number of factual films for the BBC, Channel 4, PBS, Discovery, The History Channel and ABC for both the British and International markets including The Spartans, When The Moors Ruled in Europe, Athens:The Truth of Democracy, The Women of the Bible and Helen of Troy. These have now been seen by over 100 million worldwide.

Review quote

"Hughes cleverly extracts the man from the dramatic scene-setting... This intelligent, bright-eyed vigorous book [has] a life as vibrant and provocative as that lived by its subject" The Times "In The Hemlock Cup Bettany Hughes does a very good job of recreating the material world in which Socrates lived...she is up to date on recent archaeological discoveries... She writes frankly of the nastiness of the world in which Socrates grew up and lived" -- Mary Beard Sunday Times "No physical aspect of life as experienced by an Athenian man is left out...Hughes's expert attempts to make him flesh and blood, to fill in the gaps...teach us about the value of the real as well as the philosophical" -- Lesley McDowell Scotsman "Terrific and passionate writing about a philosopher whose heroism is unquestionable (though that heroism resides in a constant questioning); and as lively and learned an introduction to classical Athens as you could want" -- Tom Payne Daily Telegraph "Hughes's prose is the literary equivalent of CGI, re-creating for the reader a sense of the clamour and dazzle of the classical city that has rarely been bettered" Observer

Back cover copy

'Bettany Hughes’ terrifically readable life of the philosopher, The Hemlock Cup, is more than just a life...[it] makes a vivid and persuasive case for the study of Socrates’ Independent on Sunday ‘A work of dazzling erudition which remains hugely readable - what more can one ask’ John Julius Norwich 'Hughes’s prose is the literary equivalent of CGI, re-creating for the reader a sense of the clamour and dazzle of the classical city that has rarely been bettered' Observer ‘Her enormous energy and enthusiasm are infectious. She writes up a storm… Readers will be drawn by Hughes’ beguiling prose' Independent We think the way we do because Socrates thought the way he did. His aphorism ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ may have originated close on twenty-five centuries ago, but it is a founding principle of modern life. For seventy years Socrates was a vigorous citizen of Golden Age Athens, philosophising in the squares and public arenas rather than in the courts of kings, before his beloved city turned on him, condemning him to death by poison. Socrates lived and contributed to a city that nurtured key ingredients of contemporary civilisation – democracy, liberty, science, drama, rational thought – yet, as he wrote almost nothing down, he himself is an enigmatic figure. In The Hemlock Cup acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes gives Socrates the biography he deserves, painstakingly piecing together Socrates’ life and using fresh evidence to get closer to the man who asked ‘how should we live?’ – a question as relevant now as it has ever been. ‘Bettany Hughes does a very good job of recreating the material world in which Socrates lived… she writes frankly of the nastiness of the world in which Socrates grew up and lived’ Mary Beard, Sunday Times