The Pelopponesian War brought radical changes to Athens, especially after their defeat in Sicely (415-413 BC). Plato, originally Aristocles (Plato means broad- having broad shoulders) was born in 428 BC. It is said from his mother side he was relative of Solon. Before meeting Socrates, Plato had first became acquainted with Cratylus (a disciple of Heraclitus, a prominent pre-Socratic philosopher) and the Heraclitean teachings, and was just 21 years old when he burnt his tragedies and decided to follow Socrates, that is 407 BC. Moreover, Socrates was serving his military duties during the war, and was a mentor of Alcibiades, the person who led Athenians to the catastrophe in Sicily. Nevertheless, Socrates first worked as a stonemason, and there was a tradition in antiquity, not credited by modern scholarship, that Socrates crafted the statues of the Charites, which stood near the Acropolis until the 2nd century AD.
Accordingly Alcibiades, was the son of Cleinias. He was the last famous member of his mother’s aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, as Pericles. Alcibiades took part in the Battle of Potidaea in 432 BC, where Socrates was said to have saved his life and had a particularly close relationship with Socrates, whom he admired and respected. According to Plutarch, Alcibiades “feared and reverenced Socrates”.
Why Socrates was guilty for Athenians
It was not only the relation with Alcibiades that made Socrates a political target for Athenians. Aristophanes’ “The Clouds” was produced on 423 BC and it was for Socrates and his ideology of.. ideas. It is mentioned in the Apology as a contributor to philosopher’s trial in 399.
Consequently, in order to understand more of the social environment of Athens at that period, someone must realize the political environment of chaos and violence after the Peloponnesian War.
Ordinarily Spartans established the Thirty Tyrants regime and its leader Critias, who was Critias was the first cousin of Plato’s mother Perictione. He also was an associate of Socrates, a fact that did not endear Socrates to the Athenian public.
The Thirty tyrants stayed in power between 404-403 BC, until Athenian democrats regain power. Just four years later, Socrates was sent to tril and found guilty or corrupting the youth and of impiety. He was sentenced to death, drinkin hemlock. If you want to see hemlock in Athens, you just have to visit Athens Botanical garden.