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Greek philosopher and educational reformer of the fifth century BC born at Athens 469 BC died there 399 BC After having received the usual Athenian education in music which included literature geometry and gymnastics he practised for a time the craft of sculptor working we are told in his fathers workshop Admonished as he tells us by a divine call he gave up his occupation in order to devote himself to the moral and intellectual reform of his fellow citizens He believed himself destined to become a sort of gadfly to the Athenian State He devoted himself to this mission with extraordinary zeal and singleness of purpose He never left the City of Athens except on two occasions one of which was the campaign of Potidea and Delium and the other a public religious festival In his work as reformer he encountered indeedhe may be said to have provoked the opposition of the Sophists and their influential friends He was the most unconventional of teachers and the least tactful He delighted in assuming all sorts of rough and even vulgar mannerisms and purposely shocked the more refined sensibilities of his fellow citizens The opposition to him culminated in formal accusations of impiety and subversion of the existing moral traditions He met these accusations in a spirit of defiance and instead of defending himself provoked his opponents by a speech in presence of his judges in which he affirmed his innocence of all wrongdoing and refused to retract or apologize for anything that he had said or done He was condemned to drink the hemlock and when the time came met his fate with a calmness and dignity which have earned for him a high place among those who suffered unjustly for conscience sake He was a man of great moral earnestness and exemplified in his own life some of the noblest moral virtues At the same time he did not rise above the moral level
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