The Death (?) of Socrates

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Athens, Greece

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The Death of Socrates is a 1787 oil on canvas painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David. Like many of his works from that decade, the painting focuses on a classical subject, in this case the story of the execution of Socrates, as told by Plato in his Phaedo. In this story, Socrates, as punishment for criticizing Critias, the tyrant of Athens, is told he must either drink the poison hemlock or face exile. Socrates, rather than fleeing, uses his death as a final lesson for his pupils, and faces it calmly.

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