[Socrates] was the first to go out as a soldier, when it was necessary, and in war he exposed himself to danger most unsparingly. — Epictetus
Most people have heard of Socrates, the ancient Athenian philosopher. However, few of us visualize him as a soldier, despite the fact that it’s known for certain that he was one. Socrates served as a Greek hoplite or heavy infantryman. He was no ordinary soldier, though, as we’ll see.
I’m currently working on a graphic novel called Verissimus, about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. I’m also organizing a virtual conference called Stoicon-x Military, the first event of its kind. Individuals from different branches of the armed forces, in different countries, will be describing what Stoicism has taught them. The men and women I’ve worked with in the military are often fascinated by the fact that Socrates served as a hoplite but they’ve never actually seen this depicted. So I commissioned a team of artists to design a special poster for the event, showing Socrates in armour, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.