Skip to Content

The Major Figures in Philosophy in Ancient Greece

This article explores some of the major figures in philosophy in ancient Greece. From Socrates to Hippias, and Thrasymachus, we’ll learn about their major ideas and their contribution to the philosophy of the ancient world. After reading their work, you’ll be ready to engage in your own philosophical debate. But before we get started, let’s look at some of their biggest challenges.


The dialogues between Socrates and his students presumably were philosophical, and they are largely concerned with questions of morality. However, John Cooper argues that the philosopher denied having any new wisdom and denied possessing any new knowledge. Socrates’ discussions of morality and virtues usually revolve around the topics of courage, temperance, and wisdom. In this way, Socrates seems to have been a more important figure than the rest of his contemporaries.

Socrates is generally regarded as the founder of Western philosophy and as the first moral philosopher. Despite the fact that he never wrote anything down, his writings have been preserved throughout history through the postshumous accounts of other classical writers. These written accounts are called Socratic dialogues, and they are a literary genre in their own right. The famous Socratic problem reflects the polarizing nature of Socrates’s position within Athenian society.

Socrates is also well-known for declaring his total ignorance. He would often say that “the only thing I knew was that I was ignorant” in an attempt to imply that knowing one’s ignorance is the first step toward philosophy. Socrates is also often referred to as the personification of the Athenian law. As such, his writings are an important part of ancient philosophy. If you’re interested in ancient Greek philosophy, you should read some of these works.

Plato’s dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates. They demonstrate how Socrates formulated his philosophy, and illustrate the Socratic method of argumentation. Plato also gives the phrase “Socratic irony” its name, describing the style of dialogue between Socrates and his interlocutors. Socratic dialogues also show that the philosopher and his interlocutors often came to impasses.

Related Topic:  The 3 Teachings of Socrates


Throughout the play, the audience is treated to several examples of the power of rhetoric. Socrates, for example, compares the value of pleasure and pain. Socrates defines a “good citizen” as someone who identifies with people. Gorgias, on the other hand, identifies with ideas that cause suffering. Using examples from his life, he illustrates how to distinguish between good and evil.

Rhetoricians have long associated Gorgias with the development of rhetoric in classical Greece. Gorgias was probably born in Sicily, but his father was named Charmantides. He had two siblings, and is believed to have been a student of Empedocles. He may also have been acquainted with Zeno of Elea, whose paradoxes Gorgias uses to justify his claims.

A Sicilian orator and philosopher, Gorgias is credited with transplanting the art of rhetoric from Sicily to Athens. He also contributed to the diffusion of Attic dialect as a literary prose language. His works introduced ornamentation, structure, and paradoxical expression to rhetoric. He is also considered the “father of sophistry” by some scholars. His “Technai” teaches students about the craft of rhetoric.

Themes from Gorgias illustrate the power of rhetoric. Like Pericles, Themistocles, and Gorgias, these writers had great influence over the public. For example, Plato wrote that rhetoric gives people the power to appear to be experts when they are not. In other words, Gorgias believed that entertaining his audience was more important than learning facts. Socrates’ work is still considered important, but rhetoricians should not abuse their power.


The Greek poet and sophist Hippias was a contemporary of Socrates. Like Socrates, Hippias claimed to be the authority in every subject. He lectured on grammar, poetry, history, and mathematics, among other topics. Hippias’ enduring legacy is the quadratrix, a work credited to him. However, it is not clear whether Hippias ever actually wrote the work.

Athenian mythology has Hippias as the son of Peisistratus. The eldest son of Pisistratus, Hippias ruled Athens successfully for five years, 527 BC. Hippias was considered to be a moderate tyrant, but he was also a cruel dictator. In his final years, he was overthrown by the Spartans and Alcmaeonids. Hippias later went to the Persian court and was part of the Persian army at Marathon.

Related Topic:  How to Write a Philosophy of Nursing

The two men who murdered Hippias and his wife, Hipparchus, were not very popular in Athens. Despite the fact that they were regarded as big heroes, the Athenians did not admire Hippias. While Aristogeiton and Harmodius were deemed heroes by the citizens, Hippias was considered a tyrant and a dangerous person. But most tyrants came to power by helping the ordinary people.

Hippias, a famous philosopher, is the most famous of all the Greek philosophers. His works have been translated into many languages and have been studied by students around the world. Unlike Socrates, Hippias is a sophist, which means that he possesses a great intellect and wisdom. In the same way, Hippias is an exception to ignorance.


The philosopher Thrasymachus in ancient Greek culture is a controversial figure. He is considered an anti-conventionalist who lauds tyranny. What is his exact position? Read on to learn about his philosophy and its implications. In the fifth century B.C., the Greek polis was filled with powerful people and tyrants. The power of the ruling party was a significant factor in shaping social and political behavior.

The position of the tyrant and the stronger is discussed in Thrasymachus in ancient Greek culture. The tyrant, he argues, enjoys an unfair advantage because the weaker is disadvantaged. As a result, he “oversteps” his authority and puts the weaker under an oppressive situation. It is this injustice that drives him crazy, and he makes it clear that he wants to end it once and for all.

In other words, Thrasymachus is a representation of the city. In some ways, he is the enemy of Socrates and philosophy in general, but in other ways, he was a fellow intellectual who shared enough of his philosophy to keep philosophy in the city. It is difficult to know Thrasymachus’ precise position because his writings are fragmented.

Socrates then leads Thrasymachus down the path of reasoning. He explains that medicine exists for the benefit of sick people, not for profit. Although Thrasymachus and Socrates agreed that medicine should be free of moneymaking, Socrates argued that sumpheron also means “benefit”. Socrates’ refutation did not satisfy Glaucon, and the argument was abandoned.

Related Topic:  The Nietzsche Philosophy of Higher Human Beings


In the 129th BC, Carneades was a Greek philosopher. He studied logic under the Babylonian Diogenes and Chrysippus. He then attached himself to the Platonic Academy as a scholar. Carneades favored a skeptical philosophy that asserted that no knowledge is certain and that we must judge for ourselves whether or not a given fact is true.

The first debate between Carneades and the Stoics was recorded in Cicero’s De fato. Although it is only partially extant, this speech provides ample evidence that Carneades took on both the Stoics and the Epicureans. Cicero also shows that Carneades defended his views consistently. His work has a large influence on modern Hellenistic ethical theory.

The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy is another helpful resource. It contains all of the fragments for most of the thinkers and offers reasonable explanations for each. The volume contains a helpful chapter on the nomos-phusis debate and a substantial section on further reading. It is an excellent resource for a comprehensive overview of Carneades’ philosophy. And if you want to learn more, I highly recommend The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy.

The third period is known as the Hellenistic period. It is generally thought to have lasted from the death of Alexander in 323 BC to the Battle of Actium. It is possible to study philosophy at the Academy or Lyceum during this period, but most of its scholars tended to focus on Cynics and Epicureans. In traditional terms, philosophy was divided into three major areas: physics, logic, and ethics. Later, logic also encompassed linguistics and epistemology.