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

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Random House, Jan 25, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 544 pages
4 Reviews

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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User Review  - Sullywriter - LibraryThing

Though the copious details are at times overwhelming, Hughes does a beautiful job depicting the ancient Athens of Socrates and renders a superb portrait of the philosopher. Vivid and fascinating. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - storyjunkie - LibraryThing

The Hemlock Cup is actually three narratives in one book: the physicality and history of Athens during Socrates' life, a largely-guesswork biography of Socrates, and a guided tour through the digs in ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

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.

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