Kardashian (not that one) Quotes Socrates (not that one)

I think the gossip press gets all excited when one of their regular targets surprises them by quoting some famous dead white male. In this case, It’s Kourtney Kardashian commenting on Scott Disick’s recent hospitalization. Contact music was there and, inter alia we read:

[…] Although there have been reports that his relationship with 35-year-old Kardashian may be going through a rocky patch recently, Kardashian is apparently supporting her partner through his difficult time. It may not have been a coincidence that Kardashian posted a picture on Instagram, with a quotation from Socrates about change, on the same day the news of Disick’s hospitalisation broke. The quotation reads: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Right now I know there are thousands of Classicists in the wild saying to themselves, “That doesn’t sound like Socrates.” They’re right, of course, and even better, this is one of the quotes which one of our favourite blogs — Quote Investigator — dealt with ages ago in another context.  Here’s the relevant chunk (again, inter alia):

[…]In 1980 the first edition of “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by the world-class gymnast Dan Millman was released. The book was a fictionalized memoir that explored the physical and mental challenges Millman faced in his early life and the spiritual growth he experienced. The main catalyst of his spiritual journey was an attendant at an all-night gas station who became his mentor in 1966. Millman gave this enlightened counselor the nickname “Socrates”, and the quotation above was spoken by the modern fictionalized character and not the ancient Socrates.


Read the Contact Music piece to find out who these ‘celebrities’ are, but more importantly, read the Quote Investigator item (which cites other uses of the quotation), because this will probably be important to know for the next fifteen minutes or so.

Socrates Found Guilty!

Well, this is different … as far as I recall, this is the first time we moderns followed the ancients on this one. The Sun Times seems to have the best coverage … here’s the last half or so:

[…] Former assistant U.S. attorney Patrick Collins again teamed up with Fitzgerald to do battle with Socrates’ equally formidable defense team consisting of former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb and personal injury attorney Bob Clifford. All this despite the fact that Socrates actually defended himself.

Fitzgerald argued that history’s view of the original conviction is biased because the only records of the trial are written by Socrates’ student and friend, Plato.

He urged jurors to give the Athenians, “who had the full trial transcripts,” the benefit of the doubt.

Collins mixed Athenian and Chicago lore in his appeal to convict Socrates of creating and worshiping a new God:

“You cannot dis the Gods, the Gods are jealous. The Gods hold a grudge. For God’s sakes even here in America in 1945 a man brings a goat into Wrigley field — there has not been a World Series game in Wrigley since. The God’s have a memory!”

Presiding Judge Richard A. Posner — who sits on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals — equated the charge of corrupting the youth to the modern era charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“Socrates would teach young men, for over 50 years, things such as virtue, he’d teach them a method of thinking about their lives and the problems they encounter in their lives,” said Webb, who, unlike his fellow attorneys, maintained a serious tone throughout.

“The accusers have told you he taught young people to disrespect democracy … and engage in violence and threaten the democracy of Athens.”

The mock trial was presented by the National Hellenic Museum. A jury of leading politicians, lawyers and media stars joined members of the audience in voting for a verdict and recommended sentence.

After arguments, Posner said he couldn’t give the death sentence to a “70-year-old loudmouth.”

His co-judges also weighed in on the amount Socrates should be fined.

Anna H. Demacopoulos, a Cook County criminal judge, suggested 3,000 silver drachmas.

“I’d fine him two bucks and let it go at that,” said William J. Bauer, who also sits on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

As alluded to above, previous ‘retrials’ in New York and Athens both came down on the side of Socrates (see: Yet Another Retrial of Socrates) … this trial seems to have had a more ‘tongue in cheek’ (for want of a better phrase) aspect to it.

Socrates Bashing

I came across these a while ago … figured someone would want to read them. They’re a series about why Socratic philosophy is overrated by someone called ‘Richard in Japan’:

… not sure there’s anything ‘new’ here; seem to be some pretty standard criticisms.

Solomon, Socrates, and Aristotle in Pompeii?

Yesterday my mailbox metaphorically ‘dinged’ and what was in it was an item from a couple of years ago which was in one of the 2008 issues of Biblical Archaeology Review. It claims that a wall painting in the House of the Physician at Pompeii depicts Solomon, Socrates, and Aristotle sitting in judgement, yadda yadda, yadda … you can read it here for yourself:

… and, of course, it is being touted (again) as the earliest depiction of a scene from the Bible. When one looks at the thing up close, however, it is a pretty sketchy claim and Dorothy King more-than-adequately shot this one down a year or so ago:

That recent papyrus thing (Another Papyrus ~ Implications for the Ancient Novel?) might also somehow be an influence here …

Socrates Going on Trial Again

I first read about this in Greek Reporter a few days ago, but it wasn’t sufficiently detailed for my liking … now ANSA comes through, however:

Have you ever dreamed of having a time machine to travel as you wish into the past and personally witness an historical event? Today, in some ways, this is possible. As a matter of fact the aficionados of great trials will be able to witness online and live the replica of one of the most famous trials in history, the one against the Greek philosopher Socrates which took place about 2500 years ago and ended with the death penalty for the defendant charged with hemlock poisoning. This time there will be new judges in the case and there is the possibility that the final verdict might even be different.

The initiative of repeating the trial, as Kathimerini newspaper reported, came from the Onassis foundation and will take place on May 25 in the prestigious headquarters of the foundation’s cultural centre in Athens. Famous European and American jurists were invited to re-examine the social and legal claims which were taken against Socrates, whereas the final decision will be up to the members of the public which will follow the trial in the courtroom and online.

Socrates had been accused of heresy towards the locals, wanting to introduce new gods and to corrupt the young. He was put on trial by 500 citizens of Athens as jurors and judges and the philosopher was found guilty with a majority of 280 votes and was condemned to death. Historical accounts have told us that Socrates remained tranquil and composed during the whole trial and also after hearing his sentence.

Today, many centuries after his death in 399 BC, the great philosopher is back in the dock. Presenting extensive discussions and talks from both parts, the event is aimed to re-examine the trial based on historical and contemporary accounts, trying to adapt the court case to the modern day standards of public ethics and current perception of justice.

This exchange of judicial arguments also proposes a new approach to Socrates as a Philosopher and to his contribution to the public life of ancient Athens.

A similar virtual trial against Socrates was organised by the Onassis Foundation last May at the Federal Court in New York and ended with his acquittal. Will this year’s verdict be different? Those in defence of Socrates this year will be the British lawyer Michael Beloff and his French colleague Patrick Simon, whereas the lawyers called to represent the Public Ministry and the interests of the city of Athens will be Ilias Anagnostopoulos, lawyer at the Supreme Court and professor at Athens University and the lawyer Anthony Papadimitriou who is also Chairman of the Onassis Foundation.

Taking part in the jury are Sir Richard Aikens and Sir Stephen Sedley, both members of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales; Sophie-Caroline De Margerie, judge of the French State Council; Pierre Delvolve and Francois Terre, both members of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences; Stephan Gass, vice-president of the Swiss Court of Appeal; Giuseppe Nay, former president of the Swiss Federal Court; Loretta Preska, Head judge of New York City’s south district; Anna Psarouda-Benaki, professor of criminal law and former president of the Greek Parliament; Vasilleios Rigas, vice-president of the Supreme Court of Athens and Peter Westermann, professor of law at Tubingen University.

The new Socrates virtual trial will be shown live on the website: www.sgt.gr/dikisocrati.

Interestingly, last year — almost to the day — they did a similar thing in New York: Socrates Retried Redux; I don’t think that one was generally available like this one seems to be. If the link up there doesn’t work for you, try this one (I think the above is the actual broadcast and isn’t live yet; the latter link is the Greek homepage for the event). Not sure if this is going to be an English thing or subtitled or what.