100 Heroes: Socrates

The gay man who shaped the way the world thinks.

100 Heroes: Socrates

Socrates was a philosopher during the Ancient Greek period. He’s credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy.

Socrates exerted a strong influence on philosophers in later antiquity and in the modern era. Depictions of Socrates in art, literature and popular culture have made him one of the most widely known figures in the Western philosophical tradition.

Early life

It’s believed that Socrates was born sometime around 470 BC.

Socrates served for a time in the military forces of Athens, seeing action in the Peloponnesian War.

Challenging the status quo

Socrates lived during the time of the transition from the height of the Athenian hegemony to its decline with the defeat by Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian War. At a time when Athens sought to stabilise and recover from its defeat, the Athenian public may have been entertaining doubts about democracy as an efficient form of government.

Claiming loyalty to his city, Socrates clashed with the current course of Athenian politics and society. One of Socrates’ purported offences to the city was his position as a social and moral critic. Rather than upholding the status quo and accepting the development of what he perceived as immorality within his region, Socrates questioned the collective notion of “might makes right” that he felt was common in Greece during this period. It’s believed that Socrates irritated some people with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness.


In 299 BC, Socrates was tried and found guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens. He was sentenced to death and executed.

Personal life

By all accounts, the approach that the Ancient Greeks took to sexuality and relationships is fairly distinct from the accepted boundaries under which we operate today.

Socrates was a teacher, tutoring the sons of the noble families of Athens. Reports indicate that he was renowned for having relationships with his students. One of the most passionate affairs was with his student Alcibiades.

Socrates also wrote about the mutual benefits of intergenerational relationships between mature men and younger men.

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