ugly Socrates :(

Apparently, Socrates was really ugly.  In a passage from Plato’s Theaetetus, Socrates asks a character named Theodorus if he knows any Athenian youths who are “good for anything”; Theodorus responds by describing the physical features of one particularly intelligent boy in the following way:

“He is no beauty, and you must not be offended if I say that he is very like you; for he has a snub nose and projecting eyes, although these features are less marked in him than in you.” (Benjamin Jowett’s translation from http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/theatu.html)

The chapter on Socrates from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about Socrates’ appearance:

“The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass.”  (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/)

Perhaps this explains Socrates’ preoccupation with the metaphysical world.  Socrates own ugliness would have compelled him to look for beauty outside of the world of physical appearances, and in the metaphysical world of the Forms.  In this world, even Socrates could be beautiful.  🙂

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