They agree about what the charges against Socrates were: failing to acknowledge the gods recognized by the city, introducing other new divinities, and corrupting the young. To corrupt someone is to make them a worse person, which would also make them a worse friend to have around. His last moments are beautifully related by Plato in the Phaedo. Therefore, according to Meletus’ accusations, Socrates believed in supernatural beings even though not those commissioned by the Athenian state. It revealed that Socrates was aware that, through his teachings, he was corrupting the youth. Socrates' accusers propose death. Socrates references to gods in the Apology were general and did not refer to any specific Athenian god (Grube, 2002, p.77). The trial took place in Athens in 399 BCE. Meletus accused Socrates of corrupting the young people of Athens with his impiety and believing in other supernatural gods other than those commissioned by the state of Athens. The Apology of Socrates begins with Socrates addressing the jury of perhaps 500 Athenian men to ask if they have been persuaded by the Orators Lycon, Anytus, and Meletus, who have accused Socrates of corrupting the young people of the city and impiety against the pantheon of Athens. His impiety went against the Athenian way of life and warranted execution. In addition, he claimed that it was impossible for anyone to believe in divine matters without believing in divine beings. "The Apology" by Plato: Socrates Accusations. The story includes an account of the cosmos and the afterlife that greatly influenced religious, philosophical, and scientific thought for many centuries. Create your account. Socrates believed in god, which was the main reason why he withstood great suffering. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we do not use a simple average. Socrates was found guilty and was sentenced to death. The Apology may be the closest we get to hearing Socrates himself. This outrageous suggestion probably sealed his fate.  In such cases — where the penalty of death might arise as a legal sanction for the accusations is presented — Athenian law required that the prosecutor and the defendant each propose an administrative penalty to punish the actions reported in the accusations. 2020. , Regarding a citizen's obedience to authority, Socrates says that a lawful authority, either human or divine, should always be obeyed. This is what he does for Athens: he keeps people from becoming intellectually lazy and forces them to be self-critical. IvyPanda. The matter of moral corruption is important for two reasons: (i) the accusation is that Socrates corrupted the rich, young men of Athens by teaching atheism; (ii) that if he is convicted of corruption, it will be because the playwright Aristophanes already had corrupted the minds of his audience, when they were young, by lampooning Socrates as the "Sophistical philosopher" in The Clouds, a comic play produced about twenty-four years earlier. Socrates then sought to solve the divine paradox — how an ignorant man also could be the wisest of all men — in effort to illuminate the meaning of the Oracles' categorical statement that he is the wisest man in the land. For example, in the play “Clouds”, Socrates stated that: “What gods do you intend to swear by? Death, he says, is either an endless dreamless sleep, which is nothing to fear, or it leads to an afterlife where, he imagines, he will be able to carry on philosophizing. In the 4th century bce Athens had no norm of accurate reportage or faithful biography, and so Plato would have felt free to shape his material in whatever way suited his multiple aims. He did not agree with their great reverence for the Athenian elders and the social structure that governed their lives at the time. Anyway, the supposedly impious beliefs he is accused of holding--e.g. He claimed that: “These people are ambitious, violent, and numerous; they are continually and convincingly talking about me; they have been filling your ears for a long time with vehement slanders against me” (Russon and Fagan, 2009, p.78). Plato's Apology is one of the most famous and admired texts in world literature. Plato's Apology is one of the most famous and admired texts in world literature. For Bertrand Russell the basic reason was to define ‘justice’ and since it is easier to see things ‘in the large rather than the small’ so the state is first delineated and then what aspects of it could be described as ‘justice’. His first proposal is that, since he's an asset to the city, he should receive free meals at the prytaneum, an honor usually given to Olympic athletes. Because it was Socrates he wished to praise, he had no choice but to make the Socrates of the Apology close to the original. 30 May. Socrates says he never was a paid teacher; therefore, he is not responsible for the corruption of any Athenian citizen. In the Trial of Socrates, the judgement of the court was death for Socrates; most of the jurors voted for the death penalty (Apology 38c), yet Plato provides no jury-vote numbers in the text of the Apology of Socrates; but Diogenes Laërtius reports that 280 jurors voted for the death penalty and 220 jurors voted for a pecuniary fine for Socrates (2.42). This accusation resulted from Socrates’ claim of receiving guidance from another divine god other than the gods of the state. Although short, it offers an unforgettable portrait of Socrates, who comes across as smart, ironic, proud, humble, self-assured, and fearless in the face of death. However, he only referred to other gods that he claimed were guiding him. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-apology-by-plato-socrates-accusations/. The system required the prosecution to propose a penalty and the defense to propose an alternative penalty. Grube, G. (2002). In turn, young men imitate the method of Socrates. Plato wrote The Apology because he was disgusted with the politics that led to Socrates trial. After systematically interrogating the politicians, the poets, and the craftsmen, Socrates determined that the politicians were not wise like he was. Ph.D., Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Philosophy, University of Sheffield. However, that did not prevent the jury form convicting Socrates. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Plato wrote The Apology because he was disgusted with the politics that led to Socrates trial. London: Oxford University Press. He more or less harangues the jury and everyone else present to reform their lives, to stop caring so much about money, status, and reputation, and start caring more about the moral quality of heir souls. In light of that definition, Socrates defensively argues that he cannot be mistaken for a Sophist philosopher because Sophists are wise men, are thought to be wise by the people of Athens, and, thus, are highly paid for their teaching; whereas he (Socrates) lives in ten-thousand-fold poverty, and knows nothing noble and good (23c). I think it’s fair to say that both intended a justification for Socrates. After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. In cross-examination, Socrates leads Meletus to contradict himself: that Socrates is an atheist who also believes in spiritual agencies and demigods. Socrates says he is not afraid of death and shall not act contrary to religious duty. These included the old accusations and the new accusations. Plato wrote The Apology to document Socrates' defense of his methods and philosophy when he was brought before a tribunal in Athens for corrupting the... See full answer below. Socrates service to the city of Athens had resulted from his response to the commands of the city’s gods. (1901). We know that Xenophon was not present as a live witness. He then reformulates the diffuse accusations from the orators against him into the proper legal form: "Socrates is committing an injustice, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky; and makes the weaker argument the stronger; and teaches others to follow his example" (19b-c). First, he was accused of making constant inquiries into the earth and sky because of his immense curiosity. The main accusation brought against Socrates by Meletus was that Socrates did not believe in the state gods, but other supernatural beings (Brickhouse and Smith, 1989, p.64).
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