A while back the kids and I had fun with a picture book called Wise Guy about the Greek philosopher, Socrates.
The book gives a good overview of Socrates’ life and philosophical inquiry for an elementary school audience. It doesn’t dumb down the philosophy, but really tries to introduce some of the concepts in a way that is accessible for kids. The pictures are funny and engaging and the text moved along at a decent pace, never getting too bogged down. I like that it separated out the story elements from the more philosophical elements so that one could read one or the other or both depending on the attention span of the audience.
But most intriguing to me was the section about Socrates and religion.
Though he was often critical of the gods of the Greek mythology– especially of all their lying stealing, fighting, and cheating– Socrates was a deeply religious man. Ever since his boyhood, he tells us, he had a special guardian spirit watching over him. The spirit would never tell him what to do (he had to think that through for himself), but he claimed it would warn him with a divine sign when he was about to do or encounter something bad.
It made me wonder if Socrates was somehow given the gift of being aware of the presence of his guardian angel. Interesting considering the long tradition of counting him as among the “virtuous pagans”.