Plato’s Apology: The Trial of Socrates

Socrates in the trial – speaking plainly, daily converse. He is a speaker of the truth, not an accomplished speaker.
Socrates’ accusers:

  1. Meletus
  2. Anytus
  3. Lycon

Why does he fear the early accusers more than the recent ones?

They’re anonymous, they are shadows, rumours brainwashed children of that period are now jurors who will decide his fate, they’re nameless, cannot bring evidence forward. They corrupted mind of jurors.

• Children grew hearing that Socrates is a trouble maker, their minds have been infected since they could not ask any acquisitions.

• They accepted this truth and now deciding his fate with prejudice against him they developed when they were kids. He cannot do anything about the prejudices.

• You cannot argue with phantom, ghosts, cannot address them in a straightforward manner.

He fears them the most, they are formidable, because he exposes them for having a reputation of wisdom while they know little, he broke their façade, exposed their flaws hence they may go to any lengths to take vengeance. He exposed people’s ignorance = made himself a lot of enemies.

They accused him of being a Sophist, bad reputation during his time, teaching people weak arguments, weak ideas for money. Socrates was not a sophist. This is what the early accusers made them believe. Sophists were doubtful of God. The 500 jurors never got to hear Socrates speak, they’re just brainwashed.

Socrates’ Attitude during the trial:

• Kind of saying take it easy on me, old man in court for the first time. “I’m a stranger to the court room, treat me kindly”

• Tries to appeal to their humanness, the jurors.

The story of the oracle (Delphi) – temple of Apollo

Oracle is like a messenger, knowledge she has is provided by the gods. The wisdom was unnatural. One of Socrates followers asked the Oracle who is the wisest, is there wiser than Socrates? The God answered no. Socrates was in disbelief, he knew he was unwise.

So he questioned people and learns that people have a reputation to be wise, yet they know nothing and pretend to know. They continue this charade of wisdom because they’re reputation is built on it. He questioned craftsmen, politicians, poets

In the sight of god: wisdom means nothing, like Socrates, we should not pretend more than we are. True wisdom = not knowing.

“Socrates, the gadfly of Athen”

He was proud of the fact that he was like a fly, an irritant. Gadfly = horse fly. He believes this type of insect is necessary. He compares himself to the gadfly and the horse that the gadfly bites is Athens. Gods put Socrates as a gadfly to wake Athens up. Rousing, reproaching, scolding is a good thing. People do not want to be questioned, be shammed, have their knowledge punctured. He compares this to as though the person who wakes you up, you’d naturally be mad.

Philosophy is dangerous but necessary. Living well is more important than living. Die well is better than to live.

W3 C2 – Plato’s Apology

Accusation: He made weak arguments sound strong, he hasn’t done anything productive, seen as a troublemaker.

P.4 Socrates debate with Meletus

Accused of corrupting the youth and impiety (Does not believe in gods, and gods of the state) – Gods gave politicians their authority. To question the gods of the state is to question the state = treason.

• How can he be both accused of not believing in gods but also creating his own gods?

Death seems to be the best option as a punishment and Socrates seems to support that.

P.8 Socrates, the gadfly

AKA the gadfly is Socrates and the horse it bites is Athens.

• He believes he has been sent by the gods to bite and be an irritant because their success made people complacent, not asking how to live and how to be a good person, they’re sleepily going through their lives.

P.13 Death

Socrates condemned to death and Socrates is in favour.

• End – end to life.

• Beginning – a change, a different type of experience. The true just fair judges who we will meet in the afterlife who are worth something, we should be looking forward to that. He’d be willing to die many times to just have this kind of afterlife. If he gets another life, he could be a philosopher again, he’s willing to die.

P.14 Socrates final public comment

Not just directed at his sons but to everyone.

• Socrates believes and reminds people that a good man cannot be harmed, those who harm him are not harming him but harming themselves. He believes this is his fate. He blames his accusers for wishing him harm.

He says by killing him, he is not harmed, you harm yourself more. A good man can never be harmed. Killing a man unjustly does more harm to the community. He thinks he is God’s gift, this irritated people, he seemed big headed. He thinks he’s very special “you wont find another like me”.

Virtue is what should matter for everyone.

At the end he asks everyone to question and harass his sons, if they care more for money than virtue and if they think much of themselves – scold them. Remind them that they are nothing.

His very last words is that he believes in the gods.

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