AESCHINES OF SPHETTUSAthens, 425 – 350 BC
Aeschines of Sphettus (c. 430 - 360 BC). Socratic philosopher. Son of the butcher Charinos, others call him Lysanias, from the Attic municipality of Sphettus, west of today's Koropi. He was one of the most devoted students of Socrates, who said "Only the butcher's son knows how to appreciate me". Historians call him Aeschines the Socratic, to distinguish him from the orator Aeschines. Together with his father he attended the trial of Socrates and then his death. It was he who advised Socrates to escape and not Crito as Plato said.
We know that he was poor and was helped financially by Socrates. Aeschines approached Socrates and said: "I am poor and have nothing else, but I give you myself." And Socrates: "don't you understand that you are offering me the most important thing of all?" His poverty sent him to the court of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse apparently through the mediation of Aristippus or Plato: both versions exist. The troubled situation in Syracuse forced him to return to Athens, where – perhaps – he worked as a teacher of rhetoric "for a fee" and as a scribe.
Once Aristippus was angry with Aeschines, and a third party said to him: "Aristippus, where is your friendship?" Aristippus replied: "She is asleep, but I will wake her up." And approaching Aeschines he said to him: "I seem to you to be so ill-shaped and incurable, that you do not rebuke me?" And Aeschines answered: "What you say is not strange at all. By excelling in everything compared to me in character, you saw the right thing here too (in this case)"
Aeschines wrote dialogues of the Socratic/Platonic type. Soudas gives us seven dialogues as genuine (with the titles: Miltiades, Callias, Axiochus, Aspasia, Alcibiades, Telaugis, Rinus) and seven others, the so-called "acephalous" (without a prologue), which are considered inauthentic. They are titled: Phaedon, Polyaenos, Drakon, Eryxias, Peri arete, Erasistratos, Scythians.
Diogenes Laertius mentions that in the Platonic dialogue "Crito", the protagonist was not Crito but Aeschines, a fact based on Plato's dislike for Aeschines.
According to historians, Aeschines surpassed Xenophon and reached the level of Plato.