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The Core Curriculum

The Death of Socrates, by Jacque Louis David, 1787.

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The Death of Socrates, by Jacque Louis David, 1787.

Socrates is depicted here as being powerful and in full control of himself. He appears mature and physically vigorous, resembling a man that's younger than 70 years old. The figure at the foot of the bed is usually identified as Plato. He refuses to listen and appears disconnected from the events taking place behind him.

To the far left, Socrates' family is being led out of the cell.

As the executioner gives Socrates the hemlock, the latter continues to speak energetically to his followers. The executioner himself seems moved and turns away from him. As he and Socrates look in opposite directions, emphasis is given to the cup of hemlock which is positioned in the exact center of the painting.


Information from Picturing Socrates by Kenneth Lapatin.

Metropolitan Museum of Art


via Wikimedia Commons.

Artistic Response
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Licensed for Public Use