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Socrates: A Research Guide: Portraits

This fundamental philosopher never wrote a thing. Who is he, really? And what did he really say?


Portraits of Socrates

Regarding Socrates, there is a problem, known as the "Socratic Problem." Since he never wrote down any of his ideas, all we know about them is hearsay, presented in the writings of others, with Plato, Xenophon. and Aristophanes being the main sources. But which of the statements of Socrates that they present is really an accurate presentation and which are those authors putting their own words and ideas into Socrates' mouth? No one is sure.

With the image of Socrates, we have the same dilemma. What we know for sure from ancient writings is that Socrates was ugly. But while there are many images of him, which one is the most true to life?  Again, no one knows. You can see some of them below.

Click the following link to learn more about images of Socrates:

All images below are in the public domain.

Portrait 1

Roman Bust of SocratesTitle: Marble Bust of Socrates

Style: Late Classical

Period: Roman

Collection: Naples, Museo Archaeologico Nazionale

Portrait 3

Marble bust of SocratesTitle: Marble Head of Socrates

Find spot: Rome

Style: Late Classical

Period: Roman Imperial

Region: Latium

Collection: Rome: Museo Nazionale delle Terme

Portrait 5

Marble Portrait of SocratesTitle: Marble Portrait Bust of Socrates

(Roman copy of an original ca. 330 BCE)

Collection: Vatican

Portrait 7

Socrates as a MosaicTitle: Mosaic of Socrates Among the Seven Sages

Find spot: Baalbek

Collection: Beyrough Museum

Portrait 2

Statue, Bust of SocratesTitle: Inscribed Herm of Socrates

Style: Late Classical

Period: Roman

Collection: Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale

portrait 4

Statue, Head of SocratesTitle: Head of Socrates, Perhaps from a Herm Portrait

Find spot: Athens, Agora

Style: Late Classical

Date: Ca. 150 BCE (Roman copy after an original by Lyssipos, ca. 330 BCE)

Region: Attica

Period: Antoine

Photo: Amy Smith

Portrait 6

Statue Head of SocratesTitle: Head of Socrates

Style; Late Classical

Period: Roman

Collection: Paris, Louvre

Portrait 8

Portrait of SocratesTitle: Painting of Socrates in a Roman House

Location: Ephesus