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    A History of Socrates’ Apology on Trial

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    After being condemned to death and put on trial by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, Socrates’ “Apology” is his rebuttal against the claims of these men. Socrates had been on trial on the accusation that he willingly and intentionally corrupts the minds of young Athenian men for his own amusement as well as the rumor that he had no belief in deities, and was charged with impiety. Throughout his speech, Socrates constantly disproves the accusations made towards him through his own method of cross-examination and rhetorical questions, which in the end, do not appease the court.

    During the trial, Socrates maintains his sense of calm and attempts to disprove the claims made against him piece by piece. Socrates denies the fact that he is a professional teacher (Apology, 42) and continues to state that he has never charged a fellow Athenian for the chance to speak with him, referring to his state of poverty as evidence. Following this statement, Socrates continues by explaining what his ordeal was that has landed him in this situation. The oracle of Apollo has declared that he is the wisest of men (Apology, 43) and Socrates, not satisfied with the oracle’s declaration set out to find a wiser individual.

    Subsequently, Socrates interviewed individuals who were held in high regard for their wisdom, engaging in long conversations with them. Socrates interviewed one person after another (Apology, 45) reaching a similar conclusion after every encounter. He concluded that each individual that he had interviewed appeared wise in the eyes of the surrounding populous as well as their own, but was not truly wise. These actions caused a stir among the Athenians, and Socrates began to be resented by the interviewees as well as other people present. Socrates had initially interviewed politicians, as it was common knowledge that the leaders of the city were among the wise, however, after he had finished interviewing the politicians, Socrates turned to the poets, hoping to find that these individuals were wiser than he.

    Socrates instead concluded that these poets were also not as wise as him, although their writings were impressive. He decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write, rather instinct or inspiration (Apology, 45). Following the poets, Socrates then turned to the skilled craftsmen, seeking a wiser individual than himself. He was not disappointed, in fact, he found them full of impressive knowledge; however, the issue was the same as with poets. The result of the interviews with these citizens led to the attack on Socrates by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon each being aggrieved on behalf of the poets, craftsmen, and orators, respectively.

    Socrates continues his speech by stating that the young Athenians that he had supposedly corrupted attached themselves to him of their own accord (Apology, 47). The accusers were questioned by his “disciples” and felt victimized, and not willing to admit their own confusion, attacked Socrates. Furthermore, Socrates begins his cross-examination and starts a dialogue with Meletus, having no mercy regarding his oratory prowess, which loses him any sympathy the jury may have held for him (Apology, 48). Using his own method, Socrates disproves any claims that he is a heretic by Meletus, as well as debating the difference between a “good” man and a “bad” man, reaching out to individuals present in the hearing that had been an acquaintance to him.

    Socrates attempts to persuade the jury that his actions were a benefactor to the city, however ineffective the argument was. The trial goes on and Socrates states the he does not fear death, as any wise man would do, because no one knows what lies in death. Finishing his rebuttal, Socrates is condemned to death by two -thirds of the jury, yet still maintains a calm atmosphere and awaits his sentence. The passage, Crito, takes place whilst Socrates is in prison awaiting his death sentence. He is visited by an old friend, who wishes to bust him out of his cell. However, Socrates declines the offer and debates with Crito raising points such as the risks that his friends might bear during this ordeal. Socrates then explains why it would be unjust to leave his death sentence, which is highly important as Socrates’ life hinges on what is right and wrong.

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    A History of Socrates’ Apology on Trial. (2023, Mar 08). Retrieved from

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