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Art as I see it: Know thy drink!

This is another one of my analyses of paintings that are either well-known or from my schoolwork. This one is titled The Death of Socrates, and as you can see, it can be interpreted a number of different ways. I will attempt to draw your attention to different parts of this painting, and answer questions from school at the same time. Please feel free to comment on things you may find in the painting.

This painting was by Jacques-Louis David, a supporter of the French Revolution. During this time there was a large shift towards Greek, particularly Socratic, thinking. I think that David chose this as his subject due to the large amount of his comrades who were killed for much the same reasons as Socrates.

Something that I see in the painting is that everyone, including the red-robed executioner, is weeping at the death of Socrates. How much more would they weep if they knew what would come next! However, that would simply be what he and all men deserve. He is drinking what could be considered as the physical embodiment of what he has taught throughout his life. That poison is the same as his teaching. He believed in many “forms” above the gods. Believing this is deadly even for a Christian, because it means that there is something beyond the control of the divine, something that will not happen in this life or the next.


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