Socrates' Struggle: Philosophy over Society When dealing with the extent to which Socrates is a good example for following the ideals of democratic citizenship, a good source to use as a point of comparison to his life is the principles laid out about that citizenship by Pericles in his Funeral Oration. In the Oration, Pericles brought forth certain ideas about Athenian democracy and how its citizens should live their lives in accordance with it. He held these views to be paramount and used them in association with the principles of Athenian Law to prove a persuasive point that Athenian democracy had to be one with the people to survive. Above all other ideals he held first the thought that politics was the highest calling and second that the citizens should strive to improve themselves socially/politically to better the state. These ideas prove to well founded when their validity is examined in answering questions of what is the best form of government, and does that form better serve the nature of freedom, equality and justice. However, when one looks at the actions and words of Socrates (such as his lack of participation in politics or lack of desire to further himself in society), it is clearly seen that he did not believe in or live by these standards.
In the Funeral Oration, where Pericles professed that the core aspect put forth in Athenian democracy was that politics is the highest calling, Socrates believed philosophy to be the eternal endeavor of life. Pericles believed that representing the people of his city was the best way to serve the ideals for which it stood and he proved this by depended on the majority rule inherent to that democracy to preserve freedom. He saw that through hard work and dedication to the state, self-determination would be preserved by the voice of the many, not of the few. Furthermore, in the mind of Pericles, any citizen who did not take some part in the realm of politics was not just missing t...
Bloomfield, Louis A. The Politics of Ancient Rome. Oxford Hill Publishing: New York, 1988.