In 399 Socrates was sentenced to death by a popular tribunal in Athens and executed. He was approximately 70 years old. For decades he had been a fable to the Athenian population, but the trial and execution became an epochal event that left its impact not only on the history of Greek philosophy but on the entire history of Western thought. All later centuries have in fact reacted to Socrates as his friends and ‘students’ did: he has served as a magnet, he has inspired and initiated, and men have seen their own attitudes to life mirrored in the legendary ironist who wrote nothing.