Plato's Account Of Socrates Apology Essay

2091 words - 9 pages

Plato's account of Socrates' Apology

In Plato's account of Socrates' apology, Socrates is brought to trial on the charges that he corrupted the youth of Athens through his teachings, and that he did not believe in the gods that the state believed in. Throughout the account, the argument against him comes across as unreliable and biased. Therefore, Socrates is innocent of the charges laid against him by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon due to the facts that the jury consisted of men that already held a biased opinion of him, he does not make a living by corrupting the youth, and the accusation that he created his own deities was never validated.
Socrates enters into his trial acknowledging the fact that he is going up against a jury of men, many of whom already have a biased, negative view towards him. He explains that many of them, though not knowing him personally, feel as though they do based solely on word of mouth, weakening the validity of the trial against him. As Socrates states in the account of his defence;
these accusers are numerous, and have been at it a long time, also
they spoke to you at an age when you would readily believe them,
some of you children and adolescents, and they won their
case by default, as there was no defence (Plato qtd. in Melchert 18c).

He accepts the fact that he must defend himself and as he states “attempt to uproot from your minds in so short a time the slander that has resided there so long” (Plato qtd. in Melchert 19a). These are not people who can actually act as witnesses to his wrongdoings, yet they (the audience) have born witness to him not committing the alleged crimes of “walking on air and talking a lot of other nonsense” (Plato
qtd. in Melchert 19c). He then addresses first the accusation that he studies the things that are
Smith 2
considered to be the workings of the gods that the state believes in. Socrates contemplates how the accusation would transpire if his prosecutors were before him:
What did they say when they slandard me? I must, as if they
were my actual prosecutors, read the affidavit they would have
sworn. It goes something like this: Socrates is guilty of wrongdoing
in that he busies himself studying things in the sky and below the
earth, he makes the worse into the stronger argument, and
he teaches these same things to others (Plato qtd. in Melchert 19b).

Socrates brings up these charges by saying that these are the types of accusations that are typically used against all philosophers, and were brought before him simply because those that spoke against him, when asked, were “silent, as they do not know, but so as not to appear at a loss, they mention those accusations that are available against all philosophers” (Plato qtd. in Melchert 23d). He then explains how these were older charges brought against him before, and that Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon have just restated these typical charges to strengthen their case against him, also that these...

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