New York City will require proof of vaccination for all indoor dining, performances, and gyms, mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday.
The move is the first such mandate in any city in the US, although it has been applied in some European countries, such as Greece, Italy, and France.
Those who work in restaurants, entertainment centers, theaters, and gyms will also have to be vaccinated, according to the stipulations of the new measure.
New York City requires proof of vaccination from city workers
De Blasio will introduce a vaccine pass called the “Key to NYC Pass” which will contain proof of vaccination in order to enforce the new mandate.
Those with the NY State “Excelsior” app, which also includes proof of inoculation, or the paper cards from the CDC, will be permitted entry to indoor spaces.
Hoping to urge those who have not yet received the shot to do so, de Blasio announced that the measure will be in effect starting at the end of the month, but until mid-September there will be a transition period. After then, enforcement will be strict.
This coincides with the date that children will return to schools in the city, and when many businesses aim to have a significant portion of their staff back in their normal offices.
In total, 66% of New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated, which is one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Yet there are areas of the city where the rate of inoculation is extremely low.
De Blasio already required that all city workers either conduct weekly testing or be vaccinated, as of late July. He announced that any new hires for the city will have to be inoculated against the virus.
The VA will be making vaccinations a requirement for its medical personnel which includes physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and any other employee that provides medical care to veterans.
While the highly-contagious Delta variant surges across the US, many cities have begun to reinforce indoor mask mandates, which were largely done away with after the CDC announced that vaccinated people did not need to wear facial coverings indoors in May.
But recent findings about the fast-spreading variant have caused the CDC to reverse its judgement and encourage the public, even those who have received the shot, to wear masks indoors.
The Cycladic island is known internationally for its breathtaking beaches, glitzy nightlife, and cosmopolitan vibe, making it a top destination for celebrities and tourists from around the world.
The island’s combination of fine dining, luxurious accommodation, and unparalleled nightlife with its natural landscape and beaches leaves something for everyone, especially those who want to “see and be seen.”
Mykonos is home to approximately 25 beaches, many with golden sand and breathtaking turquoise waters. Options for a daytime swim range from relaxing by hidden coves to having fun at lively beach-side bars and restaurants.
Psarou Beach is a hub for celebrities and those looking to live it up on their trip to Mykonos.
Home to luxurious beachside amenities, gourmet dining by the sea, and music shows from some of the world’s best known DJs, Psarou is never boring.
For more a more quiet, traditional experience, Panormos and Agios Sostis beaches are ideal for sunbathing, clearing your mind, and enjoying the gorgeous waters of the Greek island.
Ornos and Agios Ioannis beaches in the southwestern part of the island are also quiet and family-oriented, complete with the traditional fish tavernas you would expect along the shores of any Greek island.
Charlize Theron on a Greek island vacation
Theron was also spotted on the nearby Cycladic Island of Paros recently, indicating that the star may be “island hopping,” or traveling from one stunning Greek isle to another this summer.
Theron, who was born in Benoni, South Africa in 1975, rose to international fame in the 1990s when she starred in a series of Hollywood films like “The Devil’s Advocate,” and “Mighty Joe Young.”
The star is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, and has received critical acclaim for her work.
She has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Theron is best known for her Oscar-winning role in the 2003 film “Monster,” in which she portrayed female serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
Recently, Theron has focused on her work as a producer. Her company Denver and Delilah Productions has produced many successful films, such as the 2017 film “Atomic Blonde,” which included Theron in the leading role.
Greece’s champion Emmanuel, or Manolis, Karalis came in fourth in the pole vault at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
The 21-year old athlete performed brilliantly and notched a personal best, at 5.80 meters (19.03 feet) for his efforts.
Karalis was one of the fourteen contestants who fought for a medal at Tuesday’s finals in Tokyo. For some time he appeared at the top of the standings, as he vied with Brazilian Thiago, Swedish vaulter Armand Duplantis and the American, Christopher Nielsen, for the gold.
In the end, Duplantis won the top honor, notching a jump of 6.02 meters (19.07 feet); the silver was taken by Nielsen, at 5.97 (19.7 feet) and the bronze was earned by Thiago, with a vault of 5.87 meters (19.25 feet).
Karalis’ pole vault effort establishes personal best in his first Olympics
Karalis qualified for the finals over the weekend with an astounding vault measuring 5.75 meters (18.86 feet). He had tried a vault measuring 5.87 meters but failed, while the US’ Christopher Nielsen and Brazil’s Thiago made the 5.87 height and went on to top well over nineteen feet in their vaults.
Son of a Greek father and Ugandan mother, Karalis has consistently ranked highly in youth competitions across Europe.
In his most recent success, in the European Championship of athletes under 23 years of age in Sweden in 2019, Karalis came in second, jumping at 5.60 meters (18.37 feet).
In 2016, the then 17-year old athlete had won a gold medal for his performance at the European Youth Championship that was held in Georgia.
Manolis Karalis’ success follows that of Tentoglou, Petrounias
The day before, on Monday, Greece managed to secure two more Olympic medals: a gold by Miltiades (Miltos) Tentoglou in men’s triple jump and a bronze by Eleftherios Petrounias in rings.
Competing in the men’s long jump, Tentoglou won the gold medal at the very end of the final. The long jumper from the Greek Olympic Team stunned Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria as he thought that he had already secured the gold.
Tentoglou wasn’t at his best in the first rounds and even missed a few attempts, but it was in round six where he made the 8.41-meter (27.59 foot) jump, enough to take down the Cuban star to second place.
The Greek athlete and Echevarria were toe to toe with both having 8.41 meters (27.59 feet) as their best effort. Tentoglou was ranked 1st and took gold on account of his second-best jump of 8.15 meters, which eclipsed Echevarria’s 8.09 meters.
Maykel Masso, who sustained an injury in the first rounds, picked up bronze with 8.21 meters in his second attempt.
Petrounias, the Greek “Lord of the Rings,” won a bronze medal for Greece after a great performance in the men’s Rings finals.
Petrounias received 15,200 points and made history, winning another Olympic medal for the country, five years after his personal triumph in Rio de Janeiro, where he had also finished first.
His dreams for another Olympic gold were not fulfiled this time, as the Chinese duo of Liu Yang and You Hao won the gold and silver medals respectively.
Liu received 15,500 points and You 15,300, one hundred more than Petrounias.
The Greek world champion competed against a total of ten different athletes from Brazil, China, Turkey, France, Russia, Italy, and Ukraine.
Homes burned in the fire in Varympompi, near Athens; residents evacuated
Fueled by the country’s record-breaking heatwave, which brought temperatures around 42 degrees Celsius, or 108 degrees Fahrenheit, the blaze has razed a number of houses in the region.
Earlier in the afternoon, the flames cut off electricity for some residents in the area, but their power has been restored.
The fire is inching dangerously close to some businesses and factories, however, and officials have hinted that they may need to be evacuated, but the order has not yet been issued.
Currently, a team of 300 firefighters, assisted by 35 helicopters and ten airplanes, are battling the flames. Extremely strong winds in the region, which help fuel and spread the fire, have made the work of firefighters on the scene particularly difficult.
They’re hoping to contain the fire so as not to spread to nearby Kifisia, which is more densely populated.
Fire in Evia, Greece, evacuations ordered
Another fire broke out in Evia, central Greece, on Tuesday afternoon in addition to the fire in Varympompi. Residents in the areas Retsinolakkos and Kokkini have been ordered to evacuate due to the fire, which has inched dangerously close to residences.
As the area is heavily forested, and winds and temperatures are extremely high, there is a risk that the fire could spread quickly.
Firefighters on the scene are struggling to push back the flames so that they do not endanger the lives or property of nearby residents.
Children were also evacuated from a summer camp and residents fled their homes as the wildfire raged uncontrolled on the outskirts of Athens as Greece experiences its worst heatwave in over three decades.
More than 300 firefighters with 35 vehicles and 10 aircraft battled the blaze in a densely forested area in the suburb of Varibobi, on the lower slopes of Mount Parnitha.
The fire has consumed an unknown number of homes at present, while explosions were heard after the homes went up in flames. Equestrian clubs let their horses loose so that they could have a chance to escape the inferno.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited a firefighting operations center coordinating the efforts to contain the blaze and other fires which are ongoing in the Peloponnesian Peninsula and on the islands of Evia and Kos.
“All available means and resources have been deployed in the fight on multiple fronts,” his office said in a statement. “In these difficult times, the priority is to protect human lives.”
Residents were ordered out of their homes and summer camp children were forced out of their residence in the Athens suburbs of Varibobi, Adames and Thrakomakedones.
Some people have been seen watering their homes down with garden hoses after refusing to leave their property.
Michalis Vrettos, the deputy mayor of the Acharnes region, told Open TV as thick plumes of smoke rose over the houses behind him “Dozens of homes are being burnt.” As of now, there have been no reports of fatalities, but four people have been taken to hospital with breathing difficulties, according to local television reports.
In Athens, the power grid operator acknowledged that the fire had damaged parts of the grid, which posed a major risk to the electrical supply in some parts of the metropolitan area.
Natural disasters — including deadly heatwaves, wildfires, and flash floods — are becoming more common than ever, in Europe and all around the world.
Europe and the rest of the world have been facing some of the worst natural disasters recently, as their frequency and intensity have been on the rise for years due to climate change.
Is Europe ready to cope with such a turbulent environment? Does the European Union and its member states have the capacity to deal with unprecedented situations that are impossible to predict and very difficult to deal with?
These are legitimate questions as people in Europe have suffered tremendously this year, not only from the coronavirus pandemic, but also the deadly floods of Central Europe earlier this summer and the various forest fires that have burned thousands of square meters of forests across the continent.
How does Europe respond to natural disasters?
For more than 20 years now, the European Civil Protection Mechanism has been trying to coordinate emergency responses across the EU when a member state needs help due to a natural disaster or an emergency.
What is even more surprising is that any nation on earth can ask the European Civil Protection Mechanism for assistance — something that has happened more than 100 times in the last two decades, according to the European Commission.
For example, the EU has responded to the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, floods in Ukraine, Niger, and Sudan, as well as tropical cyclones in Latin America and Asia.
When the scale of an emergency or a disaster overwhelms any country, and its own means are not enough to respond, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Greece, for example, has asked for assistance in the past to deal with forest fires, something that other countries of the EU, such as Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, and Italy, have also done in the past.
It normally takes a few hours from the activation of the request for neighboring nations to assist each other.
This, however, brings into our minds a crucial question: What happens when more than one EU member state faces the same disaster and cannot assist its neighbors?
The ”rescEU” scheme
In 2019, following the devastating fires in Mati, Attica, where 102 people tragically died, the EU reinforced and strengthened some of the most crucial components of its disaster risk management policy.
Under the new rules, the EU itself can now have a European reserve of additional capacities, including firefighting planes and helicopters, medical evacuation aircraft, and a stockpile of medical equipment and field hospitals, called “RescEU reserve.”
To put it in American terms, this new scheme could be described as Europe’s ”federal” reserve, which is ready to assist individual member states.
Up until now, it was member states that helped each other, under the coordination of Brussels. Now Brussels can also step up and help an EU nation in need by deploying necessary personnel and equipment without asking other member states to assist.
As the European Commission describes it, ”extreme weather conditions and emerging threats, such as the coronavirus, have overwhelmed the ability of Member States to help each other, especially when several countries face the same type of disaster simultaneously. In such cases, when Member States are unable to assist each other due to the high risks faced by each country, the EU provides an extra layer of protection,” the Commission stated in April.
”Through the rescEU reserve, the EU ensures a faster and more comprehensive response,” it added.
Forest fires are a major threat to Europe
For the 2021 forest fire season, the European Commission co-financed the stand-by availability of a rescEU firefighting fleet to address potential shortcomings in responding to forest fires.
Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sweden helped Brussels, assembling 11 firefighting aircraft and six helicopters at the disposal of other EU Member States in case of an emergency in exchange for a financial contribution to the standby costs of these capacities.
We might still be in the middle of the Summer, but Europe has had a series of devastating forest fires already.
In May 2021, wildfires in Attica, Greece prompted the evacuation of several villages and monasteries, as the fires spread throughout the Gerania mountain range.
In July, a huge wildfire spread through Limassol, Cyprus, killing four people and forcing the evacuation of several villages. This was described as the worst wildfire in the country’s history.
Eight people have also died in Turkey recently, as the wildfires that spread a few days ago to its southern shores, burning down thousands of hectares of forests, as well as houses and businesses alike.
All these events bring to mind a very crucial realization: Nature will always be stronger than humankind. This is why cooperation and solidarity will be much needed in the coming years, as climate change and its consequences are being made apparent across the globe.
Greece will miss the entire artistic swimming team competition at the Tokyo Olympics due to a new outbreak of coronavirus cases, according to a statement by the Hellenic Olympic Committee early on Tuesday.
Three more Greek athletes of the artistic swimming team have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement from the Committee.
”The Hellenic Olympic Committee announces that three new positive cases of coronavirus were found in the artistic swimming team, after a test that was done,” the statement reads.
”All three athletes, who had no obvious symptoms, will leave the Olympic Village and continue their stay in a quarantined hotel,” the Committee stated.
”This team has not come in contact with other members of the Greek delegation for obvious reasons, from the very first day of its stay in the Olympic Village. The HOC is always on the side of the athletes and provides every possible help,” the statement continued.
”After this development, there will be no representation of Greece in the teams of synchronized swimming,” the statement concluded in a devastating development for the athletes who traveled to Japan to represent their country.
Greek artistic swimming team hit by COVID before
The Greek artistic swimming team had been quarantined in a hotel earlier in July.
This had come after traveling with an assistant who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee had announced that the assistant had tested positive after arriving at the airport in Tokyo.
Evangelia Platanioti was the first member of the team to test positive. Platanioti received her result before ever arriving in Tokyo, and has since dropped out of the games.
Another member of the Greek artistic swimming team at the Tokyo Olympics tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday as well; however, the Committee had thought at the time that the team could go ahead and continue with their performances.
Greece’s artistic swimming team at the Tokyo Olympics
The Greek artistic swimming team is composed of nine talented young women.
The athletes on the team are Evangelia Papazoglou, Evangelia Platanioti, Maria Alzigkouzi, Georgia Vasilopoulou, Krystalenia Gialama, Penelope Karamesiou, Adriana Misikevits, Eleni Fragkaki, and Danai Kariori.
After a thrilling competition, which was a nail-biter till the very last competitor, Italy, Spain, and Greece earned their tickets to this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The three nations joined previously qualified Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Japan, Russia, and Ukraine.
Unfortunately, following the latest developments, Greece’s hopes for a medal in artistic swimming have now been crushed, in what is proving to be a very strange year for the history of the Olympic Games.
Greece was shocked on Tuesday by yet another brutal femicide of a wife by her husband — this time in the city of Larissa in central Greece.
The murder took place on Tuesday morning at 10:30 AM local time in the village of Sotiritsa in Larissa.
According to the local website Onlarissa, a 54-year old man shot his wife multiple times. She was a mother of three. The woman was at her place of work, a restaurant owned by her brother near Larissa, at the time.
Reportedly, the cold-blooded murder took place in front of two other employees of the restaurant.
Her husband has been already arrested, but the motives of the crime are still to be determined.
Seven women murdered by their husbands in seven months in Greece
Seven women have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in a period of just seven months, in a series of crimes that continue to shock the country.
These brutal, disturbing crimes, which many argue should be called femicides, as they share common characteristics of violence against women, have highlighted the issue of domestic violence and abuse in the country.
The latest murder before the Larissa crime had taken place in the neighborhood of Dafni in Athens on Friday.
On the afternoon of July 30, a 40-year-old man willingly appeared at a police station in Athens to confess to the murder of his 31-year-old wife.
The police then entered the home, where they found the victim’s body. When asked why he committed the crime, the murderer simply stated that he was jealous.
Many Greek media have been reporting that jealousy was also the main motive of the Larissa crime; however, there is no official statement by the Greek police as of yet.
Despite his attempts to appear like a good family man toward the outside world, friends of the Dafni victim claimed that she had revealed that she was being abused by her husband before the murder.
Murder of Caroline Crouch shocked Greece
The issue of abuse came to the forefront of Greek society when 20-year-old Caroline Crouch was murdered next to her newborn baby by her 33-year-old husband Babis Anagnostopoulos in the Athenian suburb of Glyka Nera.
The murder shocked the public both in Greece and in Britain since the victim was a British national.
Violent crime is relatively rare in Greece, and killings of this type are not common. As time went on, and details emerged, the case became even more disturbing.
Anagnostopoulos, a helicopter pilot, confessed to killing his wife and staging the scene, which included killing the family dog and disabling security cameras, to make it seem as though strangers entered the home and murdered his young wife.
He blamed the crime on foreigners, stating that the intruders were speaking broken Greek and could have been Albanian, an ethnic group that is often the victim of discrimination in Greece.
After two months of professing his innocence and blaming a mysterious group of foreigners, Anagnostopoulos was arrested and confessed to the crime.
Additionally, questions of racism and discrimination emerged in Greece after many felt that Anagnostopoulos’ accusation that the intruders were foreigners was too easily believed.
At this time, feminists and victim’s rights advocates in Greece pushed the public to face this crime as femicide, or the murder of a woman because of her sex. They argued that Crouch’s womanhood enabled her murderer to see her as his possession, a possession he felt he could get rid of when it was convenient for him.
While the murder of the young mother at the hands of her husband was the crime that set off the discussion surrounding murdered women in Greece, it was not the first femicide in the country in the past seven months.
The heatwave that has been gripping Greece since last week broke the country’s highest-ever temperature on Monday afternoon.
The town of Makrakomi in Greece’s Phthiotis region in the eastern part of the Greek mainland was the hottest place not only in Greece on Monday but in the entire European continent as well.
The meteorological station of the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) that is stationed there recorded a jaw-dropping 46.3 degrees Celsius (115.3 degrees Fahrenheit).
This temperature is officially the highest ever to be recorded in Greece’s network of hundreds of stations operated by NOA.
For the registration of a temperature record, recordings of private stations that are operated by individuals other than NOA do not count.
Extremely high temperatures were also recorded across the Greek mainland on Monday, with the town of Dendra, northwest of Larissa in Thessaly, reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
The cities of Thebes, Sparta, and Larissa also recorded temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius on Monday.
According to Giannis Kallianos, an MP and meteorologist for Greece’s MEGA TV channel, Greece held the five highest temperatures in Europe on Monday.
According to Kallianos, Makrakomi, Larissa, and Sparta were the three hottest towns and cities in Europe, followed by two more Greek urban areas, these of Lefkochori in Phthiotis and the city of Thebes.
Greece shuts down archaeological sites due to heatwave
Open-air archaeological sites in Greece will remain closed between 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM from Tuesday through Thursday, August 3-5, due to the high temperatures expected this week, the Culture and Sports Ministry of the country announced on Monday.
The Ministry said the shutdown was imposed for the safety of visitors.
Civil Protection authorities in Greece have already warned of the high risk the heatwave poses to the population, advising extreme caution to every citizen.
Greek authorities also worry about the risk of power outages due to excessive consumption. They are urging the public to restrict the use of electrical devices at peak times, from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM and 6:00 until 10:00 PM local time.
“Conditions for the electricity system are unprecedented, as consumption over the coming days is expected to reach peak levels due to the very high temperatures. For this reason, coordination of the various bodies of electricity producers at the highest level is essential to ensure the uninterrupted supply to consumers during the extreme phenomenon,” the Greek Energy Ministry stated over the weekend.
The consumption of electricity broke a record on Monday afternoon, with more than 11,000 megawatts being demanded at one time across the country.
Authorities in Greece worry that this record might be broken again over the course of this week, as temperatures are expected to remain very high across the country at least until Thursday.
Both the Prime Minister and the leadership of the Ministry of Energy, as well as other relevant bodies, asked citizens on Monday to limit the demand for electricity, especially during peak hours, in an attempt to avoid a large-scale power cut.
Germany will have vaccine booster shots ready as early as September, the country’s health authorities said on Monday. Health Minister Jens Spahn and his team of regional health ministry officials agreed that those with a pre-existing medical condition that puts them at risk for severe disease, as well as the elderly, should receive booster shots on an urgent basis.
Spahn said there were new questions as to whether a “reduced or rapidly declining immune response” existed amongst certain vulnerable groups.
Spahn expanded on the Health Ministry’s plan to roll out the booster shot, stating that mobile vaccination teams would be sent to nursing homes and elderly care facilities to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna booster shot.
Doctors will also give the booster shot to those with qualifying pre-existing conditions.
Although a booster shot is being developed by both Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna, the shot will be offered to those who qualify, regardless of which vaccine they received for their initial vaccination.
Vaccine booster shots are not yet endorsed by CDC, WHO
The race for a booster shot has started since the Delta variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States and across the world. Despite the urge of pharmaceutical companies to develop third shots, the CDC and WHO have both shown hesitancy on the subject.
WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan cautioned those around the world who are “voluntarily thinking about (getting) an additional dose,” during a press briefing this week.
As we are now, she stated, without complete data regarding the safety and efficacy of taking more than the recommended two doses — or mixing and matching — constitutes “a little bit of a dangerous trend.”
She is joined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who headed up the CDC under former President Donald Trump, who have all come out against the third, or booster, shot for those who are worried about mutations.
All of the three vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the United States are spectacularly effective against severe illness and death from Covid-19.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on July 8 “Virtually all Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths in United States are now occurring among unvaccinated individuals.”
Several factors come into play here as well — among them the side effects that do occur in part of the population and which are stronger after the second dose. Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, says that therefore, there is a chance that a third dose might incur an even greater risk of an adverse reaction.
Making his remarks after a meeting with the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Butler added that at this time there is simply not enough data to determine if this will occur.
However, as has already been noted with other vaccines, another factor comes into play- that of “a rare problem whereas you get more and more doses, you actually have a muted immune response,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a former member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.
Some Covid vaccines may be susceptible to this kind of effect, he stated; however, it is not likely to be true with the mRNA-based Covid vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.
Socrates, who lived from 470–399 BC, the Greek thinker from Athens, is credited as a founder of Western philosophy; one of the greatest minds of all time, Socrates’ views on death made him go down in history for his cheerful taking of poison after being sentenced for his radical ideas.
As the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought, it is worthwhile to take a look at what made Socrates view death with such insouciance and courage, to the very end of his remarkable life.
Socrates is the most important exponent of Western philosophy, with his ideas forming a continuum from Ancient Greece to today’s Western thought.
It has been said of the man that he “brought philosophy down from the stars to the earth,” because, thanks to his own personality, philosophers ceased to deal with natural phenomena and began to deal with man and society.
An enigmatic figure, Socrates authored no texts and is known mainly through the posthumous accounts of classical writers, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon.
These accounts are written as dialogues, in which Socrates and his interlocutors examine a subject in the style of question and answer, usually with Socrates taking the lead, and gave rise to the Socratic dialogue literary genre. Contradictory accounts of Socrates make a reconstruction of the history of his life nearly impossible, a situation known as the Socratic problem. Socrates was a polarizing figure in Athenian society.
Socrates’ views on death partly product of long life spent facing fears
Socrates was born to Sophroniscus and Faenarete in Alopece, a deme of Athens. His father was a stone cutter and his mother was a well-known midwife.
Socrates continued to live with his family in Alopece, somewhere near the border of today’s Ano Nea Smyrni and Palaio Faliro, throughout his younger years. Very little is known about his childhood; however, he had a natural intelligence for all things without having received any formal education whatsoever.
Two things are always listed when Socrates’ childhood is described — that he lacked good manners and that he helped his father in the stonecutting business. According to the historian Porphyrius, he was disobedient to his father’s orders, however.
He surely lived in this world and was not locked away in a philosopher’s ivory tower, wrestling with ethereal ideas.
His physical courage was attested to when in 431 BC, as the Peloponnesian War was about to break out, Socrates fought at Potidaea – a city-state threatening to break away from Athens. The great philosopher fought in the battlefield and then later, in the subsequent siege of the city.
Socrates fought in the campaign for three full years, returning to Athens as part of a victorious army, after distinguishing himself on the battlefield.
With the first phase of the Peloponnesian War raging, Socrates then fought at the Battle of Delium.
Nevertheless, the great thinker seems to have maintained some order in his retreat, receiving kudos for his mien on the field of war.
The Athenian general Laches later praised the philosopher, saying: “If all the Athenians had fought as bravely as Socrates, the Boeotians would have erected no (victory) statues.”
Trials, home life helped shape Socrates as a man and a thinker
Then, later on, Socrates married a very difficult woman, whose horrendous personality was even remarked on by several well-known figures of the day.
In a dialogue between Socrates and Alcibiades, Alcibiades wonders how Socrates can withstand the nagging of Xanthippi, to which Socrates answers: “Just as you withstand the croaking of geese, because they give you eggs and goose chicks, so Xanthippi gives me children, too.”
Xanthippi’s extraordinarily hard-to-live-with behavior was even mentioned by Xenophon in the play “Symposium”, in which Antisthenes characterizes her as the most difficult to withstand of all women that had ever existed.
Socrates, when asked how he endured living with such a woman, evenly replied that just as those who wish to become the best horsemen choose the most wild of horses to tame, he chose Xanthippi so he could learn to deal with all people — even the most difficult.
Clearly the man was one of the most famously even-keeled of humans; having no fear of the battlefield, after years of combat, or the ongoing domestic battlefield of his home life, he seemingly simply had nothing left to fear.
Socrates was of course most interested in the deeper motivations of people; not concerned with the right way of living and action, either personally or socially, he sought the deeper principle of every moral concept, which is not influenced by historical and social conditions or by individual perception.
In other words, he sought the absolute and rejected the relative; he studied the essence of morality and disregarded what he saw as more superficial moral issues.
Aristotle attributed to Socrates the use of inductive logic, or inductive symbolism, which was aimed at discovering a universal and unchangeable definition. That is, the ability to achieve an accurate concept or definition of a subject.
Socrates seemed to consider important a universal definition that is mainly related to moral behavior and considered it useful to keep our discourse away from the vortex of the relativity of sophism, which has a strong presence in our time.
For example, if we have a universal definition of justice, we have a secure basis for not only judging the action of an individual but also for the solid construction of the moral rules of society.
By inductive reasoning, Socrates was not so much interested in solving problems of logic, but in discovering universal definitions.
Using the dialectical method (meaning dialogue) he started from a less precise definition and reached a more precise, valid and universal definition of concepts through intense dialogues with his interlocutors.
Socrates’ completely innovative ideas about morality, which had come about through living life in the real world and dealing with difficulties of all kinds, soon helped to bring him to the courts of ancient Greece, however, in the year 399 BC.
It was widely believed then — and still is today — that it was Socrates’ frequent ridicule of democracy that was really on trial, however.
The articulate stone cutter had long insisted that democracy was a morally corrupt voting system in which greedy demagogues hoodwinked the ignorant mob.
Unshaken belief in the human soul led to freedom, acceptance of physical death, according to Socrates
The charges cited two impious acts by Socrates: “failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges” and “introducing new deities,” which were very serious. The philosopher was sentenced to death, a sentence he received without complaint.
The philosopher’s death sentence was the legal consequence of asking difficult politico-philosophic questions of his students as part of his dialectical method.
After a sham of a trial that lasted just one day, the great thinker was sentenced to death. He spent his last day in prison, steadfastly refusing to escape.
Plato’s “Apology of Socrates” is an early philosophic defense of the philosopher, presented in the form of a Socratic dialogue. Socrates asks the jury, as per his own method of reasoning, to judge him by the truth of his statements, not by his oratorical skill.
Although Aristotle later classified the dialogue as a work of fiction, it remains today as a useful historical source about the great philosopher.
Despite his dismantling of society’s moral principles down to their cores, he had always urged people to follow basic moral rules and to always be just. For Socrates, justice was what helps man to achieve true happiness and to have balance in his soul.
He believed that pleasure in life is good, but that true and lasting happiness could only be achieved by moral people. Socrates argued to the end that there is a higher eternal human nature, with universal moral values that serve and guide human behavior, and his behavior to the very end of his life exemplified that ideal.
The philosopher Phaedo had been present at the execution of the great man, and his friend Echecrates asked him to relate how Socrates had met his end. Phaedo’s reply, using Plato’s work as its source, was extremely revealing.
Phaedo stated that Socrates had met with a few of his friends when the appointed day came for him to drink the poisonous hemlock that would kill him. His wife Xanthippe, was inconsolable and had to be sent away, according to the story.
However, Socrates was in a buoyant mood because he had always thought that for a true philosopher dying was not something to be dreaded; because he had lived his life in a good and moral way, he simply had no fear of death.
His friends who had been present asked him why this would be true.
Socrates insisted that for a moral person, death was a good thing and should be welcomed. Suicide was wrong, he added, because men and women are the property of the immortal gods, and as such we should not harm outside intentionally since we are the property of others. However, when death did occur through no actions of our own, it was not something to be dreaded.
Socrates believed that because of the immortality of the soul, death could not be evil, because to free the soul by guiding it to the eternal truths was the entire point of life. When death does come, it is a liberation of the soul.
The soul was in direct opposition to the human body, which he believed was nothing but a source of unwieldy passions and crude desires. It was the soul that was capable of seeing truth, and therefore at death, the soul would be set free to find true virtue and happiness — the point of its existence.
Interestingly, this dichotomy between the body and the soul would go on to have a major and lasting influence on the writers of the New Testament and Christian thought.
When pressed by his friends as to why he believed that our souls were immortal, Socrates was ready with an answer — actually, four of them.
First of all, he stated, the soul must be immortal because life always emerges after physical death, as we see in nature, as life springs up from decaying organic matter.
Just as nature makes a way for new life coming out of decay, so too must the soul survive physical death.
Death, Socrates believed, must be like waking up from a sleep.
He also believed that how humans tend to remember things that they have had no experience of in their lifetimes — referred to as the principle of recollection — proves this hypothesis.
He stated that nobody “needs to be taught what a circle or a triangle is.” People know these concepts naturally, which suggests that they must have learned things like these in a former life.
Socrates then argued that the soul was immortal because of something he called “affinity.” His reasoning was thus: immortal beings, such as gods, are normally invisible by their very nature. Despite his belief in Zeus or Apollo or other gods, they were not ordinarily seen taking strolls along the streets of Athens, he noted. However, the human soul knows that they exist; how could the soul do so without having at least a bit of the divine in itself?
Socrates went on to describe the soul by saying that it is like a cloak made by a weaver; just as the cloak continues to exist after the weaver dies, so too must the human soul live after the body dies.
Socrates also introduced the concept of “pure forms,” or things that we all know that are eternal. Such concept, including beauty — or even just numbers — exist outside of our bodies, and they are eternal concepts.
The soul, he held — even on his deathbed, after being sentenced to death in a kangaroo court — must be like these things, both abstract and eternal. Socrates old his friends that when freed from the body, the human soul continues to exist, just like other pure concepts do, such as truth or beauty, which will live forever.
So now, when everything seems to be threatening us, from the injustices of the world to nature itself, as a pandemic continues to ravage the globe, the serenity of the great philosopher is surely a great comfort to us in our times.
Socrates’ greatest quotes
Some of the greatest quotes from Socrates include the following:
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.
The easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.
Be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.
The unexamined life is not worth living.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.