The Death of Socrates

Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787, oil on canvas 51 x 77 1/4 in. (129.5 x 196.2 cm)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

It represents the scene of the death of Greek philosopher Socrates, condemned to die by drinking hemlock, for the expression of his ideas against those of Athens’ and corrupting the minds of the youth. The painting also depicts both Plato and Crito, with the former sitting ruefully at the edge of the bed and the latter clutching the knee of Socrates. Socrates had the choice to go into exile (and hence give up his philosophic vocation) or be sentenced to death by drinking hemlock. Socrates chose death. In this painting, a red-robed disciple hands a confident Socrates the goblet of hemlock. Socrates’ hand pointing to the heavens indicating his defiance of the gods and fearless attitude to his death.

This painting is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as one of Jacques-Louis David’s greatest pieces of art.

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