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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

<p>Take this chance to get beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts in <strong>The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World</strong>. In 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages. The past truly comes alive in this ambitious course, as Professor Garland takes a series of imaginative leaps to put you inside the world of history's anonymous citizens, providing you with a fuller understanding of the distant past. </p>
Average Customer Rating:
4.43 out of 5
4.4
 out of 
5
(128 Reviews) 116
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Rating Snapshot (128 reviews)
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"10912885%of reviewers would recommend this series"
Customer Questions & Answers:
6 Questions | 13 Answers
Customer Reviews for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
Review 1 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Washington State
Like the course, however......
Date:February 5, 2016
" I have a few Great Courses downloaded and have had no problem with those. This one however...skips and then repeats the prior 5 seconds in the recording, increases and decreases in volume and also stops during presentation for up to 27 seconds before resuming and therefore is very frustrating to listen/watch. Doubt if I will continue this course and I really wanted to :-( "
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
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Review 2 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Baltimore
The Good Old Days - Not!
Date:February 1, 2016
" It's taken me months to get to this series of lectures but, once I dove in, I found it to be a fascinating look at every day life in the ancient world. I'm not going to quibble over some minor inconsistencies in the course, but I offer the following as constructive criticism, both to the Great Courses staff and potential purchasers of this course.
First of all, it is entirely Eurasian-centric. The course moves quickly, in chronological order, from the fist civilizations in Mesopotamia, to Egypt, then Greece, Rome, ending with life in the Middle Ages up to roughly 1400 A.D. There is no mention of life in the ancient worlds of Mesoamerica, the Far East, or Pan-Pacific cultures.
That said, it was an eye opener for me to examine the everyday life of people in various cultures who did not make the history books. And yes, the rich and well-off lived lives very different from the common man or woman. The different ideas on government, religion, and cultural norms were fascinating to watch and learn.. But in the end, my biggest take-away is that I'm glad I live in the times I do. For, like the philosopher Thomas Hobbes observation in his opus Leviathan, the life of man in the ancient world was indeed "poore, nasty, brutish, and short." "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 3 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Worthwhile
Date:January 31, 2016
" This was just one of the several Video/DVDs I purchased for myself and as gifts for my son in banking and middle school granddaughter. I enjoyed viewing The Other Side of History. This is a topic not presented in classrooms generally. I am sure my granddaughter will benefit from the mental math DVD as she is quite the student. The professor covered the topic in an erudite, engaging manner. I will certainly endorse this format for your interests. You will not regret making this purchase. They make a gift that will be appreciated. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 4 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Enjoyed The other side of history
Date:January 29, 2016
" I have always wanted to have more information on the lives of ordinary people during the ages. Survival and change is the basis for human advancement. "
0points
1out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 5 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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5 out of 5
Well presented, interesting.
Date:January 28, 2016
" The course was ell presented, and interesting. The professor draws from a wide variety of sources. "
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 6 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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History's Other Side
Date:January 21, 2016
" This course answered so many questions that I have always had about the lives of regular people in the ancient world. I thoroughly enjoyed the lively and complete content as well as the supplemental text that came with this course. Thank you, Dr. Garland, for this amazing course! "
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 7 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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2 out of 5
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Location:NJ
The Other Side of History
Date:January 20, 2016
" Have not yet finished the course. That being said the Professor does not get into as much detail as I hoped. "
-3points
0out of 3found this review helpful.
Response from The Teaching Company:By Customer CareJanuary 21, 2016
Thank you for sharing your feedback with our community. I'm sorry that you are disappointed with the professor's approach. If the course is not meeting your expectations, please don't feel compelled to finish it! After all, this isn't college. That's why we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I hope you will call us at 1-800-832-2412 and one of our associates will offer an alternative you are sure to enjoy, or a full refund of your purchase. Thank you for being a customer.
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Review 8 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Buffalo, NY
Date:January 20, 2016
" I wasn't sure what it would be like to buy videos of people just giving lectures but I decided to go for it. So glad I did. I bought this to enhance my own teaching and to use for enjoyment of the areas I don't teach. What a great idea to show history from these points of view. My students and I are benefitting from this series enormously. Professor Garland does an excellent job of making his lectures informative and engaging. I plan to purchase other lectures by him since I enjoy his scholarship and delivery so much. "
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 9 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Baltimore, MD
Interesting topic and an excellent presentation
Date:January 20, 2016
" I am a scientist, but decided to try something different for my daily commute to work. This is the first course I purchased and definitely not the last. The topic is facinating and describes a side of history beyond the conventional lists of historical facts. While the material was not completely new to me, it was full of nuance and Dr. Garland made it truly come to life. I highly recommend listening to this course. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 10 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Richardson, TX
Surprising Subject
Date:January 20, 2016
" The breadth of this course is extraordinary, but the captivating fascination for the professor and his subject matter is both surprising and delightful. I haven't stopped watching it over and over again. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 11 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Tucson, AZ
Daily Life
Date:January 20, 2016
" I own around 80 Great Courses and tend to have high expectations. This was one of the best courses that I have watched. I would recommend it to anyone interested in history. "
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
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Review 12 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Los Altos, CA
Loved this course!
Date:January 16, 2016
" I put off finishing because I didn't want it to end. I then went and bought all the other Robert Garland offerings I could find. Please bring us more of him! "
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 13 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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3 out of 5
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3 out of 5
Location:Toodyay, Western Australia
Sedentary in style, bordering on boring
Date:December 12, 2015
" One reviewer described Prof Garland's presentation style as 'didactic' and 'dry'. I have to agree. His pedantry is exacerbated by long.....drawn.....out....... punctuated.......at......each......word....sentences, as if you are dim-witted or slow on the up-take. The first half-a-dozen lectures are entirely missable, while the rest seem to be overly extended. Even when he cracks a joke, his mouth and eyes rarely admit to the fact.
All in all, this is a course which could well have been improved by reducing it to 36, or even 24 lectures. Certainly, the Teaching Company has MANY other courses which cover history in more dynamic ways. "
+7points
10out of 13found this review helpful.
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Review 14 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Berkeley, California
History Made Interesting +Very Engaging Prof =YES!
Date:December 10, 2015
" So, you always fancied having a Time Machine? Why? Le me guess... maybe because you're curious about "what would daily life be like" in a particular historical period? Well - this is EXACTLY what this course is about!
And it's taught superbly: a well-researched course by a very engaging professor.
What more could you want?? Well, maybe a chocolate cake served to you by a bellydancer, but let's not digress!
Growing up, I didn't like History... I found it to be far too much about this and that battle, some king or other king, yawn! I wished I had been born 1,000 years earlier, so they would have been a lot less History for me to deal with LOL
However, in the years since graduate school, I've become a fan of History...
I feel that History, like some other subjects (Math, my grad-school major, comes to mind!), is a fascinating subject that sadly can easily come across as "mind-numbingly dull" if taught the wrong way.
Superb courses like this one are the epitome of presenting History the Interesting way - which (to my mind) is about People, Ideas, Society, Lifestyle... what the world is like, what it transforms into, and how it came to become what is now.
Much the same way I like character-driven movies, in order for the "plot" of History (dates, details, kings, battles, etc.) to become interesting to me, I must first be engaged in the "characters" (once again, People, Ideas, Society, Lifestyle.)
The main focus of the course is ancient societies, which suits me just fine. But, buyer beware, If your primary interest is everyday life in, say, the Renaissance, you will NOT find it covered here. When you reaches the Middle Ages, it's the "end of the line: everyone get off the bus!"
But, of course, we have vastly more knowledge about recent times; the professor takes on the difficult task of understanding more remote times... AND much-less documented groups of people : lots of historians over the eons have written about kings, etc., but how much has been documented about the life of poor people, slaves, sick people, women, etc.?
I hugely recommend this course to the following groups of people:
1) EVERYONE (lol!)
2) Anyone who loves knowledge in other fields but has never found studying History in school very captivating - hey, I'm writing my Autobiography here :)
3) Young people who say "History is boring", "why do I care?", or "so what?" Hey, great way to turn on to History your younglings or students!
4) People particularly interested in ancient societies (up to the Middle Ages), and especially in the Greek/Roman civilizations.
PS: if this course whets your appetite for life in the ancient world - as presented by an engaging, passionate teacher - check out the documentaries by the fantabulous historian Bettany Hughes, whom I'm (not-so) secretly in love with! "
+8points
9out of 10found this review helpful.
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Review 15 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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4 out of 5
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Location:Stamford, CT
A People's History of the Ancient World
Date:September 21, 2015
" What got me into studying history was how people like myself lived and went about their daily lives. This course is a warts and all approach to how people lived their lives hundreds, if not thousands of years go. It is a very in depth examination into the lives of the other 98% of ancient civilizations and cultures.
Most college courses on ancient and Medieval history are about political, social, religious, and economic forces and personalities in a specific period. Very little attention is paid to the people whom the kings, pharaohs, emperors, and popes ruled over. This course aims to fill in the gaps of the history and does a good job of it.
Professor Garland's lectures made me want to live the lives over several of these people, particularly what it must have been like to live in Alexandria, the New York of the Ancient Mediterranean. This is the kind of history that students want to know about. How their distant ancestors lived, worked, raised families, and died.
After finishing the course, I felt a greater appreciation for how those who came before us labored and loved to bring our world into existence. "
 
My Product Recommendations
 
+26points
26out of 26found this review helpful.
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Review 16 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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2 out of 5
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Location:Maryland
Depressing Topic and Static Presentation
Date:August 25, 2015
" Of many courses (DVD and audio format), this is my least favorite DVD series. I would give it away, but I can't think of anyone who would want it. The extreme lack of additional visual information is one of the downfalls, but mostly it is the presentational style of the professor. Didactic, dry, and - in a very long series - just poor. The continual pacing back and forth was an effort to give the presentation some movement and some camera variety -- and it helped a bit, but even that quickly became static, repetitive, and another predictable element. For those who say this is one of the best history series, I would encourage you to try others... many are much better.
This is a topic which is rarely treated in this depth, and for that rarity and the comprehensive way it is treated, it raised my ratings from absolute zero into being somewhat worthwhile. If this is one of the nation's best teachers, I feel sorry for college students... read the book, don't attend the lectures.
To be fair, this is one seriously depressing topic. The everyday lives of poor and disenfranchised people throughout history becomes an extremely long theme and variations on how horribly people treat each other, and the torments and deprivation of "unimportant" members of society (usually women#, and the even worse lives of slaves. I did watch the entire series #eventually), and I can honestly say this is the only Great Courses series I've purchased where I wanted my money and time back. "
+13points
28out of 43found this review helpful.
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Review 17 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Extremely enjoyable and moving series
Date:August 7, 2015
" I snatched up this course the moment it appeared in my catalog. History, while a fascinating subject I enjoy very much, has always been a trial for me. This course offers everything I dearly wished all my Greek and Roman history classes in university had included--what life was *like* "back then"--especially from those erased from history. Robert Garland does a phenomenal job not only presenting basic information such as what people wore, where they lived, what they ate, etc., but also what their mindsets were, what their backgrounds and cultural expectations were. My other classes consisted very much of statements such as " ...and Athenian women were sequestered in the house and never allowed to go outside or show their faces. Let's move on to Aristotle!". Robert Garland speculates humorously that a young Greek girl may well have longed for the death of "Uncle Meletas" or "Aunt Melpomene" just for the chance to go the funeral--one of the very few times she would been allowed to mix with the greater population. And his recount of Plato's "Symposium" is absolutely hilarious.
At any rate, this is a fantastic course, highly enjoyable and interesting, truly giving unsung credit to what is essentially *us*--regular people, living lives. "
+21points
21out of 21found this review helpful.
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Review 18 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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3 out of 5
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For adults
Date:July 13, 2015
" I purchased this course for my high school homeschoolers. We learned some interesting information, but I was very disappointed in the unnecessary bad language in some of the lessons. We skipped through the woman's lessons due to some of the subject matters. "
-51points
4out of 59found this review helpful.
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BGZRedux
Princeton, NJ
Top 10 Contributor
?
Posted July 17, 2015
I would sincerely be interested in learning what you are referring to, given that I found this course to be outstanding and wonderful.
+23points
24out of 25found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 19 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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Location:Vermont
My new favorite!
Date:July 11, 2015
" We have always considered the courses taught by Robert Greenberg to be the best of the Great Courses, but we now have a new favorite - Professor Garland. He is a fantastic teacher - his presentation keeps your attention fully. He has so much fascinating information to share, and does so with a sense of humor. He is a fantastic teacher. We highly recommend this course. "
+13points
13out of 13found this review helpful.
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Review 20 for The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
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2 out of 5
Location:Detroit
Great Topic, but Many Mistakes were Made
Date:June 17, 2015
" The Other Side of History is a great topic, and Robert Garland seems to be a sincere person. However, Dr. Garland makes so many mistakes that it makes me wonder if I should believe anything that he says. I will give a few examples.
One of these examples is the Trial of Socrates. Socrates had a long history of opposition to democracy. This had been amusing to Athenians when the Democracy was strong, but things changed after the Peloponnesian War when Socrates followers were able to overthrow the Democracy, and put themselves (known as the 30 tyrants) in power under Plato's uncle Crito. Socrates followers had overthrown the Democracy by a policy of assassination and intimidation. They had murdered the middle class leader Thrasybulus, and they had driven his lieutenant, Anytus, into exile. After the Democracy was restored, Socrates was put on trial. One of the charges was that he did not recognize the Gods of Athens: Hephaestus and Athena (who both represented craftsman and artisans). This charge was brought because of Socrates opposition to allowing craftsman, artisans, and other middle class people to vote. Dr. Garland does not seem to know who Anytus was, and he somehow thinks that the trial was about impiety.
Another example is that Dr. Garland pictures medieval peasants as working long hours. Modern scholarship has shown that they generally worked much less than modern people work although they did work long hours (probably 40 - 48 hours per week) during planting and harvest seasons.
Yet another example is when he discussed crossbowmen and longbowmen in his chapter on knights. Garland stated that crossbows had 3 times the range of longbows. The consensus among scholars is that longbows probably had a 3 to 2 range advantage during the 14th century (the time that Dr. Garland was discussing), and that crossbows probably had a 3 to 2 advantage in the 15th century. The main advantage of the crossbow is that it required less training, and the main advantage of the longbow is it's higher rate of fire (which Garland did get right).
I have been very happy with most Great Courses, and the topic for this one is excellent, but I don't know whether or not to believe most of the things that Garland said. If have purchased Great Courses by professors Fagan, McInerny, Daileader, and Armstrong for this time period, and they were all wonderful.
"
+13points
22out of 31found this review helpful.
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78sman
Detroit
Top 500 Contributor
PDNY, Thanks for Your Comments
Posted June 21, 2015
PDNY, thanks for indicating that my review was confusing. I will clarify things.
1. The writings of Plato and Xenophon both indicate that Socrates showed contempt for democracy, and that he preferred the governments of Sparta and Crete to that of Athens. For example, Socrates indicates in Memorabilia that the role of the people is to obey. Xenophon indicated that Socrates’ accusers said that he taught his students to look down on democracy and that he made them violent. Most of Socrates' students. With the exception of Chaersphon, were strongly opposed to democracy. Aeschines indicated that Socrates was put to death because he was the teacher of Critias, the leader of the 30 tyrants.
2. We each made mistakes. In fact, Critias, the leader of the 30 tyrants, was Plato’s cousin. I also mixed up Thrysabulus (democratic leader in Athens) with Theramenes (middle class leader, who was assassinated by Critias’ henchmen). Socrates followers had been intimidating Athenians long before the 30 tyrants came to power. Aristophanes has references to the Socratized youth who went around with clubs. Thucydides indicated that the democratic leader, Androcles, was assassinated by the secret clubs, and that those clubs spread terror through Athens before the Democratic government was overthrown in 411. The Democracy was overthrown again in 404 by the 30 tyrants although the 30 tyrants certainly needed the Spartans to stay in power. Aristotle indicates that 1,500 Athenians were murdered by the 30 tyrants. At the end of his trial, Socrates indicated that he had restrained the secret clubs, and that things would get worse after his death. Socrates was probably not a member of the secret clubs, but he certainly had connections with them.
3. The concept of atheism is foreign to Greek pagan religion. If the Athenians had been worried about atheism, then they would have charged Euripides and Aristophanes with atheism instead of awarding them prizes for their plays. There are many instances of Socrates showing contempt for artisans and free speech, which is what Hephaestus and Athena represented for Athens.
+4points
7out of 10found this comment helpful.
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PDNY
NY
Posted June 19, 2015
I didn't hear Garland's lecture/s on the Trial of Socrates, but your own account is confused and misleading. 1) "Soc. had a long history of opposing democracy." Our sources being limited to early dialogues of Plato, Xenophon (and Aristophanes' spoof which was no help to Socrates), it is unclear what kind of "long history of opposition" you have traced in these texts. He certainly criticized politicians (not just democratic but in general and at an abstract level) for wielding power in the name of wisdom they did not--in his estimation-- have. He was not proposing any social doctrine (as Plato did later on), but he said that choosing leaders by lots rather than merits and skills is problematic, as lots are arbitrary and don't distinguish between effective and incompetent leaders. This, in hindsight, has been a contribution to all subsequent theories of democracy which have addressed issues of qualifications and legitamacy. At any rate, pointing out a deficiency in a system and opposing a political doctrine are not the same. It would, though, be accurate to say that Miletus and Antyus, his accusers, probably *believed* that he was a threat to the weak restored democracy they were fighting for. Were they right? Literature on this divides along many lines of interpretation. You do not make any interpretive argument but baldly assert his "long history of opposition to democracy"(i.e. the Polis in which he lived, for which he fought in 3 battles, and whose free speech protected his chosen vocation-- Spartans would never tolerate the likes of a Socrates and he knew it).
2) More important, there are plain historical errors in your account of the 30 tyrants. They did not "put themselves into power" but were imposed by the victorious Spartans (in particular Lysander who oversaw their formation and to whom they were answerable). Their leader was not Crito but Critias-- totally separate entities! Critias (not Crito) was Plato's uncle and had associated with Socrates which, for some, had the effect of calling Socrates reputation into question. On the other hand, Socrates only failed to obey superiors on one occasion we know of, and this was when he defied an order given to him by the 30 tyrants. There's no reason to assume he approved of their regime (he was no defender of tyranny which is based on the "might makes right" arguments he so strongly opposed). It is simply irresponsible to state that "Socrates' followers overthrew democracy using assassination and intimidation" and that they killed the pro-democracy general Thrasybulus who actually died much later in battle in 388, long after Socrates' trial and in no way a victim of "Socratic assassins" or some such nonsense. So, names and timelines are off among others. I also doubt Garland is unaware of Antyus since he (and Miletus) is the main accuser of Soc. in The Apology ( and the Xenephon version too). Even cliff notes would have to include him.
I could go on to discuss the issue of the gods as you describe it (with the class issues and all). Instead, maybe you can provide citations regarding Socrates saying anything critical about Athena and/or Haphaestus. The accusation regarding Socrates' relation to the gods led Miletus into a thicket of contradictions in a famous section of Apology as I recall. As for artisans and craftsmen, Socrates admired them because they knew how to do and produce things with excellence (arete) as opposed to most politicians who had no similar skills in the domain of governing ( i.e. Socrates' classic"Craft Analogy") Carpenters know how to make good tables, but politicians do not have any special knowledge for producing good city-states, says Soc. The argument is not aimed at any particular class or constitution, but alleges that they all fall short because the problem is "ignorant opinion" (doxa) and lack of knowledge (episteme) which is not confined to a city or a class or occupation. Finally, he claims no such political knowledge for himself, but only the humility to acknowledge his own ignorance (Socratic Paradox) which is no basis for any coherent "opposition" movement with "followers of Socrates" carrying out some anti-democratic ideology or program as you seem to suggest.
+10points
12out of 14found this comment helpful.
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