This actually isn't so funny, and it is really close to the truth. By Socrates
's) own account of his doings in the Apology
, this isn't so extremely far from what he did.
According to him, he was told by the Oracle at Delphi
that he was the wisest. Wondering what was up with this, Socrates proceeded to go about to question the wisest of Greece
, and particularly of Athens
, on the subject of their specialization: he asked the poet
s of poetry
, the mucisian
s of music
, the "holy
" of piety
in a quest to find out how true the Oracle's words were. His examinations, at least not the portions he discussed, did not involve going up to random people on the street and asking about virtue
, but it did involve going up to people who thought they were wise
in some subject and inquiring of it. Said inquiries generally entailed starting off with Socrates very nicely, very humbly asking said expert of his area of expertise, and it escalated from there, with Socrates questioning and questioning until it was plain that the "expert" was, in truth, a fool.
Now, while all of this questioning was going on in the streets and stuff, young aristocrats like Plato would follow Socrates around and watch, and they would get a major kick out of it. I mean, think about it: wouldn't you get some major kicks from seeing your jerk physics professor
getting shown that he, in truth, really knows (or, rather, understands) very little? Certainly this was why Socrates seemed so subversive
to the people of Athens, and certainly this was why he was accussed of corrupting the youth
: he was questioning the elders, and he was publically humiliating them before the youths. He was showing them that their elders really aren't as brilliant as they claimed, and he was compelling the youth to similiarly question.