Socrates Redux: The 7th Antigone Competition

Talent Wins Prizes

Okey cokey: it’s time for the Seventh Antigone Competition! In the past we’ve asked our clever contestants to tackle art, fiction, music, poetry, parody and even mock-emails. This time round it’s a writing competition, and one that has both a philosophical and a satirical edge.

We all know about Socrates, that dogged debater who politely professes ignorance while making his interlocutors increasingly sweat: the more he asks, the more they doubt whether their beliefs are really quite so secure. What we would like you to do is to imagine that Socrates is once again roaming the world in the 21st century!

You can choose any place in the world, and any time after the year 2000 (including, of course, the present day), and we want you to give us a transcription of how a dialogue between Socrates and one or more contemporary figures would play out. The topic or the question can be whatever you want – but the best entries will combine wit and poignancy in the characteristic dress of Socratic conversation.  You can write up to 1,000 words (including the speakers’ names).

If you’re looking for some context, you can take a look at the articles we’ve published on Socrates’ mode of discussion here, here, here, here, and here; and you could also take a gander at a brilliant prize-winning spoof on Socrates’ encounter with a former Prime Minister here. If you want to read the man’s words (as related by his star pupil), you can read all of Plato’s Socratic dialogues freely online, in various English translations here, or in Ancient Greek here.

As usual, we’ve scrimped and scraped to put together some decent prizes: £250 for the winning entry, and £150 for the runner-up. In addition, we will ping an old Classics book or two to those competitors whose efforts just miss out.

So please do give it a go! As ever, the competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world (but entries are limited to English – or Attic Greek). Perhaps the exercise will amuse you over the festive season, or perhaps it will distract you from the drudgery of January. Either way the deadline will fall on 31 January 2023. Please email entries to

along with your name and where you are based in the world; if you are under 18, please do tell us your age, as the judges will take that into account. Any queries, just ask.

Good luck to all, and with all the best wishes of the season!

Alcibiades being taught by Socrates, François-André Vincent, 1837 (Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France).

The recreation of Socrates’ appearance that stands at the head of this article is reproduced by kind permission of the artist, Robert Kubus. The original, without our temporary addition of sunglasses, can be seen at the top of this piece.