Socrates claims to not be a good speaker
- He is one trial for one thing, but he worries the jury will give heed to prior accusations, that he is a sophist and an atheist
- He claims not to be a sophist, so why do people think that he is?
- It is because the oracle at Delphi when asked who is the wisest person in Athens replied that Socrates was. He didn’t believe this so he went around speaking to people who were purported to be wise. They were all actually ignorant however. His wisdom was therefore proved in that he knew that he knew nothing, whereas so many other men believed themselves to have great knowledge but were actually mistaken.
- He first went to politicians who were quickly found to be wanting. He next went to the Poets, who when pressed, did not understand their own work. He then went to the craftsmen and businessmen, who had knowledge in some very limited domains, but due to this seemed to have an inflated confidence in all their beliefs.
- The youths enjoyed hearing this so took to following him around.
- The main charge is that he is guilty of corrupting the young, and of not believing in the traditional gods
- Socrates then asks his accusers if he is the only person corrupting the young. The accuser replies that just Socrates corrupts the young. Socrates claims that this is ridiculous. His argument is that even something much simpler, such as rearing a horse, can only be done by a specialist with training, and that anyone else who tries will corrupt the horse. Socrates believes it unlikely that in the case of young people it should be that only one person should corrupt them while everyone else does not.
- Socrates then asks his accuser if he believes him to be an atheist. Socrates then asks him if he also accuses him of teaching the youth to worship new spiritual things. Socrates points out the obvious contradiction in this statement.
- Socrates then goes on to ask himself if he regrets his actions which have landed him up in court under these charges. He says that he does not, and that he believes that what he is doing is right, and he claims that to silence him would be to do a harm to the people of Athens.
- He then mentions his own personal spirit, and that whenever he is about to do something that it disagrees with, it warns him not to do it. Apparently it warned him not to go into politics at one point.
- He claims that he has always tried to do the right thing, and has survived until the age of 70 so far. Therefore whatever he has been doing couldn’t have been too bad. He has never accepted money, he is the same in his personal and public life, and he treats all Athenians he comes across the same.
- Why then has he not brought his Children and Wife along with him to court and begged for mercy? Because he says, that would cheapen the dignity of the court.
- Socrates then refuses to compromise, and suggests a punishment of one mina of silver (equivalent to around 100 times the daily wage of a labourer)
- Socrates then claims the court will be remembered for killing him, and that he believes the main reason they found him guilty was because he refused to beg for his life.
- To anyone who convicted him so as to escape his judgement, he claims that this is to their own detriment and not truly possibly anyway.
- He then says that at no point in the proceedings did his personal spirit tell him that he was doing anything wrong.
- He says that he doesn’t mind death, either death is an eternal slumber or that he will happily go to an afterlife.
- “A good man cannot be harmed either in life or in death”
- “Now the hour to part has come. I go to die, you to live, which of us goes to the better lot is known to no one except the Gods.
Plato's Apology is an absolute classic