Socrates and Aspasia




Socrates Aspasia

Socrates and Aspasia

Socrates and Aspasia

Socrates became one of the world's most famous philosophers and thrived during the Golden Age of Athens. But how did he achieve that prominence when he was the son of a stoneworker and did not have the benefit of extensive education? Apparently he taught himself the same way he taught us -- through dialogues with other people.

Among those well-educated people with whom he conversed and maintained a decades-long professional relationship was Aspasia, who is better known as the consort of Pericles. She had been educated in Miletus, which itself had a long tradition as a philosophical forum. Some go so far as to say Aspasia taught Socrates philosophy, yet it is not clear that philosophical development works that way. More reasonably they each learned something from their discussions, which is why their relationship continued for so long.

Socrates not only taught the leading men and young men of Athens, he also left behind a body of work that was written down for us by Plato. These were his famous dialogs. The early dialogues recorded by Plato are believed to be directly from Socrates' teachings, while his later recordings were believed to "based on" Socrates' teachings but reflected more of his own contributions. These dialogs are still read and studied in universities today:

Early Dialogues











Middle Dialogues







The Republic


Late Dialogues







Socrates seeking Alcibiades at the house of Aspasia

Socrates Seeking Alcibiades at the House of Aspasia

To illustrate how Classical Athens was not just philosophical or political in nature, there were many interpersonal relationships that affected what happened in those days as well. Alcibiades the Younger was an occasional student of Socrates, he was written about by Plato and his students, and he was related to Aspasia as well as being frequently seen at her house. 

Apparently, becoming a major contributor to the Golden Age of Athens was not just a matter of what you knew, but also a matter of who you knew.

For additional reading:

The Trial and Death of Socrates: Four Dialogs  (trans.Benjamin Jowett)  New York: Dover Publications, 1992.

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This page updated on August 26, 2020.

Socrates and Aspasia

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Everyone knows that Pericles was the leader of Athens during its Golden Age, and was the general of its armies. Yet it is the personal side of his life that reveals the most about this incredibly influential man.

See Pericles and Aspasia.


As a rich young Greek woman in the city  of Miletus, Aspasia made an unusual choice in life by becoming a hetaira professional woman. Then she moved to Athens and sought to live among the most powerful people in its society. And she succeeded.

See Aspasia of Miletus.

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Socrates and Aspasia

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