The Hemlock Cup

The Hemlock Cup

Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life

Book - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
We think the way we do because Socrates thought the way he did; in his unwavering commitment to truth and in the example of his own life, he 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 Bettany Hughes gives us an unprecedented, brilliantly 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—archaeological, topographical and textual—to illuminate the streets where Socrates walked, to place him there and to show us the world as he experienced it.

She takes us through the great, teeming Agora—the massive marketplace, the heart of ancient Athens—where Socrates engaged in philosophical dialogue and where he would be condemned to death. We visit the battlefields where he fought, the red-light district and gymnasia he frequented and the religious festivals he attended. We meet the men and the few women—including his wife, Xanthippe, and his “inspiration” and confidante, Aspasia—who were central to his life. We travel to where he was born and where he died. And we come to understand the profound influences of time and place in the evolution of his eternally provocative philosophy.

Deeply informed and vibrantly written, combining historical inquiry and storytelling élan, The Hemlock Cup gives us the most substantial, fascinating, humane depiction we have ever had of one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

Baker & Taylor
A dual portrait of the classical philosopher and fifth-century B.C. Athens draws on the latest sources to offer insight into the period’s daily realities and elements ranging from the gymnasia and the red-light district to the battlefields and the teeming Agora where Socrates frequently spoke and was condemned to death. By the author of Helen of Troy.

Book News
This is the US edition of a book published in the UK in 2010 by Jonathan Cape (an imprint of Random House Group Ltd.); it's not clear whether there have been changes for this edition (beyond how the copyright page reads). Bettany is a British author, broadcaster, and historian whose previous book was Helen of Troy (2005). Here she offers a thoroughly referenced history intended for a general audience. She describes the context and content of what is known about Socrates' life and death from a historian's perspective rather than a philosopher's. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell Publishing
"Bettany Hughes's terrifically readable life of Socrates is more than just a life; it is also an evocation and an explanation of the world that created him, and over which he would come to have such influence ... The Hemlock Cup makes a vivid and persuasive case for the study of Socrates as a valuable means to understanding how our way of thinking about our own world came to be, and a guide to how we might understand it better."---DANIEL HAHN, The Independent on Sunday

"A compelling study of an exceptional man's relationship with the one community that had a hope of understanding and accepting him. There's some terrific and passionate writing about a philosopher whose heroism is unquestionable; and as lively and learned an introduction to classical Athens as you could want."---TOM PAYNE, The Daily Telegraph

"Bettany Hughes has done it again; she brings to life not only Socrates himself but the whole of Periclean Athens. Here is a work of dazzling erudition which remains hugely readable-what more can one ask?"---JOHN JULIUS NORWICH, author of Byzantium

"One can plunge enthusiastically into the seething world inhabited by Socrates that Hughes re-creates for us . . . This is the grand sweep of Athenian history during its most politically inventive and culturally exciting period . . . Irresistible."---PETER JONES, The Literary Review

"No one before Bettany Hughes, a highly accomplished communicator, has thought to weave Socrates's examined life into quite so rich and dense a tapestry of democratic Athens's teeming high-cultural and mundane experience . . . [Hughes's] enormous energy and enthusiasm are infectious."---PAUL CARTLEDGE, The Independent

"The life of [Socrates] becomes a peg from which to hang a vivid depiction of Athens in its golden age, from the pinnacle of its greatness to the abyss of its ultimate defeat . . . 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 . . . Hers is an ancient Greece that is authentically cutting-edge."---TOM HOLLAND, The Observer

WE THINK THE WAY WE DO because Socrates thought the way he did; in his unwavering commitment to truth and in the example of his own life, he 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 Bettany Hughes gives us an unprecedented, brilliantly 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-archaeological, topographical and textual-to illuminate the streets where Socrates walked, to place him there and to show us the world as he experienced it.

She takes us through the great, teeming Agora-the massive marketplace, the heart of ancient Athens-where Socrates engaged in philosophical dialogue and where he would be condemned to death. We visit the battlefields where he fought, the red-light district and gymnasia he frequented and the religious festivals he attended. We meet the men and the few women-including his wife, Xanthippe, and his "inspiration" and confidante, Aspasia-who were central to his life. We travel to where he was born and where he died. And we come to understand the profound influences of time and place in the evolution of his eternally provocative philosophy.

Deeply informed and vibrantly written, combining historical inquiry and storytelling elan, The Hemlock Cup gives us the most substantial, fascinating, humane depiction we have ever had of one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

Baker
& Taylor

A dual portrait of the classical philosopher and fifth-century B.C. Athens draws on the latest sources to offer insight into the period's daily realities and elements ranging from the gymnasia and the red-light district to the battlefields and the teeming Agora where Socrates frequently spoke and was condemned to death.

Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf, 2011
Edition: 1st u.s. ed
ISBN: 9781400041794
Branch Call Number: 183.2 HUG
Characteristics: 484 p., [16] p. of plates :,ill. (some col.), maps ;,25 cm.

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TinaJB
Apr 01, 2013

more bio than philosophy

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