Posts Tagged ‘robert browning’

Socrates never claimed to have wisdom but he sought it very keenly. Because he walked about the streets of Athens talking to any one who cared to look for truth was a likely figure of fun. His ungainly figure and simplicity did not strike a casual observer as anything worthwhile. The fact that he never seemed to have visible means of support other than a virago of a wife made him a convenient target for comic poets of his time. Aristophanes who knew Socrates used him in his play The Clouds ( 423 B.C) to represent the new breed of philosophers who doubted the traditional teachings of poets. Unlike the ‘ Socrates’ in the play Socrates did not teach for money. Despite many differences between the real and that of the play the public came to confuse the two.
When the play was staged Socrates was present one evening along with his friends. After the play there was a cry, Socrates, Socrates!. The playgoers went on chanting his name. Socrates was about to get up but Alcibiades advised him not to. The elder said that he saw among those who called out a few who were seekers of truth as he.
“They may be full of Aristophanes now. Here is their opportunity to compare the false with the original.” With that he stood up for all spectators to see.
Twenty four years later when he stood before the court of 501 Athenians he could not convince them that he was not that dishonest and irreverent creature whom they had seen in a comic play.
From whence arises such confusion? The Athenians knew a play from the man. One is a make-believe and the other is real flesh and blood. Even so those who tried him had a problem. Their unconscious mind knew unconsciously,- instinct you call it, as long he lived their position to control the mind of the public was shaky. Here the philosopher was teaching the young never to take anything for granted.’ Question the powers- that-be what makes them curb civil liberties? Under what authority?’These were dangerous times and whoever set man to think was stepping into the unknown. The Establishment feared the unpredictable.
In the mind of the Aristocratic party that wanted war and chaos to keep their position secure, Socrates was the enemy of state. The trial was as they decided already in mind. Unconscious mind the Will made it a necessity to silence Socrates. Only the conscious part of the judges had to supply reason. Thus legally Socrates was found guilty. How can anyone convince another who has unconsciously made up mind to follow his own course? You have to offer him things that he value more than following his own voice. Wordsworth the poet rejected the revolutionary ardor of his youth and became part of the Establishment. Robert Browning’s poem describes it well( see below: The Lost Leader)
Some change and some don’t. Socrates could not change from what he believed as right.
The Lost Leader
Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat—
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
Rags—were they purple, his heart had been proud!
We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our pattern to live and to die!
Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
Burns, Shelley, were with us,—they watch from their graves!
He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!(excerpt)


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