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Historical Background of Plato's "Apology"

In 399 BC, the Athenians Anytus (on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians), Meletus (on behalf of the poets), and Lycon (on behalf of the rhetoricians) brought Socrates to trial on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth of the city.  These charges may seem strange to modern ears, but there was in fact much at stake for the city of Athens.   "Impiety" This charge stems from the fear that Socrates was another natural philosopher like the Ionians who preferred a naturalistic account of the cosmos to the traditional account of Hesiod and Homer. The references that Socrates makes in Apology 18b-d and 19c are to Aristophanes' comedy Clouds, in which Socrates is portrayed as a buffoonish academic who teaches his students that natural phenomena are not due to the action of the gods; e.g. in the play Socrates explains that thunder is the result of the clouds farting. There was also a common fear that Socrates was another Sophist who would... read more

Translation project: the war diaries of U-618

My great-uncle Hans was the executive officer (1 Wachoffizier) of the German submarine U-618 during WWII. While on patrol, the sub's activities were recorded in the log (Kriegstagebuch, or war diary). After the war, captured German naval records were microfilmed and archived by the British Admiralty, and copies are stored in the National Archives. Another u-boat researcher, Jerry Mason, was kind enough to send me digital copies of U-618's war diaries, and so I have begun to translate them.    Aside from the family connection, this project is motivated by my interests in WWII naval history and the role that intelligence and cryptography play on the battlefield. Clay Blair's books on the subject are worth a read ("Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters", "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted", "Silent Victory"); for a great fictionalized account of cryptography's role in war, see Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon".   I've... read more

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