This essay is about Jacques-Louis David's "The Death of Socrates".

Essay by chichisuxCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2003

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The death of Socrates is a historic moment that will forever be remembered thanks to Jacques-Louis David's portrayal of this event in The Death of Socrates. This famous French artist created this work of art in 1787 and it now can be seen decorating the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. However, for a person to truly appreciate this masterpiece and what it represents, one must first grasp a better understanding of the actual detail of the painting, the artist's life and the neoclassical movement.

Holding true to the forms and characteristics of the neoclassical movement The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David portrays a historic scene of Socrates drinking hemlock as demanded by the Athenian government. Socrates was sentenced to death for holding true to his beliefs and teachings. This painting is loosely based on Plato's Phaedo, a dialog of Socrates' discussion of why death should not be feared by a true philosopher.

Choosing his own death instead of renouncing his beliefs, Socrates is surrounded by his students who plead with him to spare his own life and forsake his teachings. Plato, shown as an old man, can also be seen at the foot of the bed in a somber and thoughtful pose even though he was not there at the actual time of Socrates' death. A picture of a calm and at peace Socrates appears to be using his last moments before drinking the fatal poison to teach his students about the immortality of the soul. The old philosopher is depicted with the physic of a young athlete with his posture stiff and strong as he accepts the goblet of hemlock. Showing Socrates fortitude in his actions, chains are shown on the ground un-used on the teacher as he is sitting on...