Rich Athenian statesman, Alcibiades lived an extravagant life. With a fortune on his palms, he lived at a luxurious place with many servants. But the same wealth had somehow silted up his mind. Also known for his cunning and treacherous personality, Alcibiades was in himself a mysterious person. He lived during 450–404 BC and was a well-known figure in Greece.
This landlord of Athens didn’t leave any opportunity to exaggerate his wealth and fortune. On every occasion and with every individual he met, he proclaimed the frivolous praise of his richness.
Materialistic Alcibiades at an occasion met with Socrates, a well-known philosopher of his time. Helpless by his urge to exclaim his burning outburst, he repeated the same big talk with Socrates. While most of the people began to move away and avoided Alcibiades when his blabbering began, Socrates calmly and interestedly listened to him.
Perhaps, Alcibiades would do this for the last time today.
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us. — Socrates
When Socrates finished listening to everything, the gracious landlord has to say; he produced a map of the world in his hands. In front of Alcibiades, he rolled open the tea-table sized map.
Alcibiades looked at the map on Socrates' hands, wondering what the foolish philosopher was up to. He barely saw what was coming.
Then began Socrates- “Dear Alcibiades! Can you show me on this map, where our lovely country Greece is?” With his finger there, Alcibiades showed Greece on the map.
Again, Socrates asked him to show their Attica province on the map. With much difficulty, he searched their province and held it beneath the pinpoint of his finger. Only a fraction of the area covered by his finger was the province.
Then again spoke Socrates — “Now within this province, please show me the part from where does your land begins and where it ends.”
The question perplexed the statesman. He furiously asked — “How do I show you my vast land in this small map?”
In a deep soft voice, Socrates spoke — “Dear Alcibiades, then why do you have so much pride for the land that doesn’t even occupy a point in this large map?”
Alcibiades went speechless. He tried to have a more precise look in the map, but could not find a spot to declare.
Socrates further added — “We all have so much pride in the small things we have. But in reality, we are not greater than a grain of sand. As a grain of sand, we should be grateful to our presence, but how can we be proud of being it.”
The words pierced through Alcibiades’s mind. Socrates’ perspective was far beyond his imagination and was enough to awaken him. Alcibiades stopped his overpraise from that day.
Socrates (470–399 B.C.), was a Greek Philosopher born in Alopece, Greece and is known as the father of Western Philosophy.
“Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.” — Socrates
“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” — Socrates