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

by Bettany Hughes

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Showing 5 of 5
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  jtck121166 | Jul 16, 2013 |
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. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Washington Post likes this; while I'm not direly in need of another Socrates bio, having read the excellent [b:Why Socrates Died|6321023|Why Socrates Died|Robin Waterfield|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266637140s/6321023.jpg|6506375] a couple years back, I find him - and the necessity of his execution - wicked interesting.

Check out her other books, too. She wrote a bio of Helen of Troy?! I had no idea she was a reliably real person.

NY Times also likes this: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/books/review/Isaacson-t.html?pagewanted=2&...
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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 modern Greece that resulted in the foundations for a lot of Bettany Hughes' supposition.

Each chapter is riveting, engaging, and makes me want to look things up so that I can know more. Taken as a whole, the piece is disjointed and jumpy, uneasily sitting between the history of Athens and the after-image of Socrates.

It's odd the things she explains to her readers and the things she doesn't, often seeming as if she's forgotten to put in a parenthetic statement or footnote in a number of passages (the introduction of Alcibiades was particularly frustrating to me). I was left with the feeling that she wrote some chapters with an academic audience in mind, and others with a popular audience in mind. ( )
  storyjunkie | Jan 8, 2012 |
A bit of a curate's egg ~ constructed in the same manner as her 'Helen of Troy': pulling in the threads of evidence from archaeology, literature and history but (IMO) relies slightly too much on speculation and leaps of faith. Dr Hughes is also manifestly anti- Alkibiades and ~ without overtly saying so ~ appears to blame the Athenian aristocrat for much of what caused Sokrates' (eventual) downfall.
However, it's a well-produced volume and an entertaining read ~ and you can't say that about all books on ancient history! ( )
  JaneAnneShaw | Dec 1, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
There can't be, from my point of view, too many books about Socrates, so I am not complaining at the appearance of this one. It is less than 18 months, however, since I reviewed in these pages an excellent book by Robin Waterfield, Why Socrates Died, on very much this topic. To be fair to Bettany Hughes, though, she was at work on her equally fine version of the theme for at least 10 years, long before Waterfield’s book appeared.
added by Donogh | editThe Irish Times, John Dillon (Dec 11, 2010)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0224071785, Hardcover)

A riveting, lively and brilliantly researched biography of Socrates by the author of the acclaimed bestseller Helen of Troy.

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. Socrates lived and contributed to a city that nurtured key ingredients of contemporary civilisation -- democracy, liberty, science, drama, rational thought -- yet, as he wrote nothing in his lifetime, he himself is an enigmatic figure.

The Hemlock Cup gives Socrates the biography he deserves, setting him in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean that was his home, and dealing with him as he himself dealt with the world. Socrates was a soldier, a lover, a man of the people. He philosophised neither in grand educational establishments nor the courts of kings but in the squares and public arenas of Golden Age Athens. He lived through an age of extraordinary materialism, in which a democratic culture turned to the glorification of its own city; when war was declared under the banner of democracy; and when tolerance turned into intimidation on streets once populated by the likes of Euripides, Sophocles and Pericles. For seventy years he was a vigorous citizen of one of the greatest capitals on earth, but then his beloved Athens turned on him, condemning him to death by poison. Socrates' pursuit of personal liberty is a vibrant story that Athens did not want us to hear, but which must be told.

Bettany Hughes has painstakingly pieced together Socrates' life, following in his footsteps across Greece and Asia Minor, and examining the new archaeological discoveries that shed light on his world. In The Hemlock Cup she reveals the human heart of the man, and relates a story that is as relevant now as it has ever been.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In his unwavering commitment to truth and in the example of his own life, Socrates set the standard for all subsequent Western philosophy. And yet, for twenty-five centuries, he has remained an enigma: a man who left no written legacy and about whom everything we know is hearsay, gleaned from the writings of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes. Now historian Bettany Hughes gives us a vivid portrait of Socrates and of his homeland, Athens in its Golden Age. His life spanned "seventy of the busiest, most wonderful and tragic years in Athenian history." It was a city devastated by war, but, at the same time, transformed by the burgeoning process of democracy, and Hughes re-creates this fifth-century B.C. city, drawing on the latest sources to illuminate the streets where Socrates walked, to place him there and to show us the world as he experienced it.--From publisher description.… (more)

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