The best books about the life, death, and thoughts of Socrates

Armand D’Angour Author Of Socrates in Love
By Armand D’Angour

Who am I?

I have studied the ancient world for over 50 years and have found that there are always new things to discover. Everyone thought that all that was known about Socrates had already been said, so I was excited to discover new evidence for his relationship with Aspasia - a woman of extraordinary influence and intellect - hiding in plain sight. I am a Professor of Classics at Oxford University and Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College, Oxford

I wrote...

Socrates in Love

By Armand D’Angour,

Book cover of Socrates in Love

What is my book about?

Socrates: the philosopher whose questioning gave birth to the ideas of Western thought, and whose execution marked the end of the Athenian "Golden Age". But what was he like as a younger man, and what impelled him to take the path of philosophy? My book investigates these questions, and unravels the evidence for a surprising and overlooked influence on Socrates' life and thought - the brilliant and unfairly defamed Aspasia of Miletus.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Hemlock Cup

By Bettany Hughes,

Book cover of The Hemlock Cup

Why this book?

Bettany Hughes creates an imaginative and readable biography of Socrates, filling in the contemporary background of fifth-century Athens and raising many of the questions about his earlier life, answers to which have eluded biographers.

Why Socrates Died

By Robin Waterfield,

Book cover of Why Socrates Died

Why this book?

Socrates’ trial and death together are a famous moment in classical history. This is a vigorous and authoritative scholarly investigation into the historical circumstances that led to Socrates being charged with impiety and corrupting the youth.

Plato's Symposium

By Plato, Seth Benardete, Allan Bloom

Book cover of Plato's Symposium

Why this book?

Plato’s scintillating dialogue on the meaning of Love (as purveyed by a group of fifth-century Athenians including Socrates) is one of the key biographical texts about the philosopher. Allan Bloom provides an insightful essay on the central notion of the dialogue attributed to the ‘clever woman’ Diotima: the Ladder of Love.

Aristoxenus of Tarentum

By Carl Huffman,

Book cover of Aristoxenus of Tarentum

Why this book?

This set of scholarly essays on the learned pupil of Aristotle, Plato’s successor, raises fascinating questions about the nature of Socrates in his youth. Two important chapters (by Schorn and Huffman) consider evidence for Socrates’ early life that is rarely touched upon by traditional accounts.

The Unknown Socrates

By Stephen M. Trzaskoma, William M. Calder, Bernhard Huss, Marc Mastrangelo, R. Scott Smith

Book cover of The Unknown Socrates

Why this book?

This book provides a series of translations of ancient texts relating to the life of Socrates, raising questions about his earlier trajectory among other things. The scattered sources gathered in this volume tell a very different story about the philosopher from that normally obtained by concentrating almost exclusively on his trial and death.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Socrates, Athens, and Plato?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Socrates, Athens, and Plato.

Socrates Explore 14 books about Socrates
Athens Explore 34 books about Athens
Plato Explore 37 books about Plato

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Socrates in Love: Philosophy for a Die-Hard Romantic, The Athenian Murders, and Phaedrus if you like this list.