In seeking to appreciate how one man could be characterised in very different ways, this book explores the exceptional political, intellectual and cultural contexts in which Socrates lived. Whether direct or indirect, Socrates' experience of the effects of Athens' aggressive foreign policy in these years before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War will have made it plain to him that, as a result of exploitation of its controlling position, the allies had become little more than subjects. The fact that Socrates is represented, by Plato at least, as disagreeing with each of the sophists he meets does not, in itself, show that he himself was not one of them. The book takes the portrait of Socrates that Plato provided as its starting point. Plato's Socrates evidently conceives of his mission to acquaint his fellow citizens with the extent of their ignorance as having a positive moral character.