fifty years ago August 9, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (August 9, 1971): Site where Socrates was sentenced

A team of American archaeologists has completed piecing together the site where Socrates stood trial and was sentenced to death in Athens 24 centuries ago [Athens, August 8]. The site is the royal stoa, or arcade, which according to ancient writers was Athens’ seat of religious and judicial affairs. It was discovered and unearthed in the western corner of the agora (market) at the foothill of the Acropolis by a group of American archaeologists under Professor Theo-dore Shears Jr. of Princeton University. The stoa was a covered colonade, about 20 metres long. It was part of the marketplace and civic pulse of ancient Athenian life, a centre of public services, business establishments and gossip. In 399 B.C. it provided the site for the trial of the famous philosopher Socrates, found guilty of “corrupting youth and refusing to worship Gods.” Socrates boldly reiterated his beliefs before his judges, and was sentenced to drink a cup of poisonous hemlock. His last hours were spent discussing the immortality of the soul with a group of his disciples. “It is thrilling for an archaeologist to sit on the benches near the north wall of the stoa — where the Athenian judges sat and where such well-known and notorious events have taken place,” Prof. Shears said.

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