THE HEMLOCK CUP
We think the way we do because Socrates thought the way he did. His aphorism 'The unexamined life is not worth living' may have originated twenty-five centuries ago, but it is a founding principle of modern life. Socrates lived and contributed to a city that nurtured key ingredients of contemporary civilisation - democracy, liberty, science, drama, rational thought - yet, as he wrote nothing in his lifetime, he himself is an enigmatic figure.
The Hemlock Cup gives Socrates the biography he deserves, setting him in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean that was his home, and dealing with him as he himself dealt with the world. Socrates was a soldier, a lover, a man of the people. He philosophised neither in grand educational establishments nor the courts of kings but in the squares and public arenas of Golden Age Athens. He lived through an age of extraordinary materialism, in which a democratic culture turned to the glorification of its own city; when war was declared under the banner of democracy; and when tolerance turned into intimidation on streets once populated by the likes of Euripides, Sophocles and Pericles. For seventy years he was a vigorous citizen of one of the greatest capitals on earth, but then his beloved Athens turned on him, condemning him to death by poison.Socrates' pursuit of personal liberty is a vibrant story that Athens did not want us to hear, but which must be told.
Bettany Hughes has painstakingly pieced together Socrates' life, following in his footsteps across Greece and Asia Minor, and examining the new archaeological discoveries that shed light on his world. In The Hemlock Cup she reveals the human heart of the man, and relates a story that is as relevant now as it has ever been.
Bettany on Socrates and The Hemlock Cup
Love And Eros, The God Of Love
The Hemlock Cup is launched in the UK, USA, and internationally - after ten years of research, five years of writing, this book investigates Socrates’story and his mission to identify what it is that constitutes a ‘good life’. To pull together the evidence for this account Bettany has travelled across Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The latest archaeology from Athens and beyond is examined. Socrates’ key questions – what is the place of money in a society, what is virtue, can goodness be taught, what is the point of city walls and warships and glittering statues if we are not happy are as relevant now as they were 24 centuries ago. Enjoy!
Great news! The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life is now a New York Times bestseller and has also just been shortlisted for the Writers' Guild Non-Fiction Prize.
We're really delighted with the press reaction to The Hemlock Cup and that it has been chosen as a Book of the Year in all the nationals and as Book of the Week, on BBC Radio 4. Please do give us your feedback (Socrates would have insisted on it), and please do spread the word if you can/are so inclined.
The Hemlock Cup has been translated into Korean.