During the Periclean Age, at a time when Athens was at its imperial and cultural peak, reputation was a highly regarded attribute of the Athenian citizen. Individuals who held a high level of reputation were given prominent statuses and enviable positions throughout the city-state. The philosopher, Socrates, believed that reputation did not stand solid on the grounds of validity. In Plato's The Trial and Death of Socrates, Socrates questioned many of "those who [held a high] reputation,"(22a) as he wished to determine what subjected these particular individuals to such a enamoured lifestyle . He disappointingly discovered that their knowledge was in fact quite minimal. Socrates took it upon himself to interview individuals deemed as "nearly most deficient" and found that their knowledge surpassed their hierarchal counterparts in society. Socrates tries to explain in his apology that reputation should not be based on material things or the status of oneself, but instead, on the moral righteousness of the individual. In doing so, Socrates earned a poor reputation for himself as he exposed those whom were deemed high status to be the most ignorant and bigoted individuals of the society. This provoked Socrates to question how reputation was defined in a society of the world's most enlightened civilizations. In the dialogue of Apology, Socrates initially sets out to seek great wisdom, but in the process, discovers that reputation and its role is a defunct prestige based strictly on social status and the natural hierarchy. Socrates presents the perspective that moral virtue, rather than the element of reputation, should be held of the highest value since reputation is born to an individual and not within an individual's control. .
As Socrates would put it, those believed to have the highest reputation were found to unequipped to challenge his knowledge. During the Periclean Age in Athens; politicians and poets were perceived as men with great knowledge, as Socrates slowly began questioning how wise these men truly were it became apparent that he was much wiser than them.