The Trial Of Socrates Essay

983 words - 4 pages

Socrates was accused of being a sophist because he was "engaging in inquiries into things beneath the earth and in the heavens, of making the weaker argument appear the stronger," and "teaching others these same things." (Apology, Plato, Philosophic Classics page 21) Socrates is also accused of denying the existence of the gods, and corrupting the youth. Socrates goes about trying to prove his innocence. The jury that Socrates was tried by was made up of 501 Athenian citizens of all classes of society. While he fails to convince the Athenian jury of his innocence, he does a wonderful job in this effort. I personally believe that Socrates is innocent, and that the Athenian jury made the wrong decision.

Socrates was accused of being a sophist, a professional philosopher. Sophists were seen as corrupters of society and as generally bad men. Socrates says that every one of these accusations is false. He tells the Athenians a story where he asks a man who he would hire to educate his sons and how much that man's services would cost. The man replies that he would hire Evenus of Paros, and that he charges 500 drachmae. Socrates expresses his surprise that any man could be good enough to charge that much money. The man says that Evenus is the best tutor in the world. Socrates says that he does not posses the knowledge or wisdom to do anything even remotely close to what Evenus does. Socrates never charged money for his lessons, and he never really did any formal teaching. He had followers, and they claim that they learned a lot from him. But the fact is, Socrates never did any formal instruction, so he never told people what to believe. Therefore, Socrates could not have corrupted the youth with his teaching, because he never did any teaching in the first place.

Socrates poses a question about why, if he is completely innocent, did these accusations arise. Socrates tells a story in an attempt to explain this. It starts with a man named Chaerephon, a well respected citizen of Athens, who had died recently. Chaerephon goes to the Oracle at Delphi and "he asked if there was anyone wiser than" Socrates. (Apology, Plato, Philosophic Classics, page 23) The Oracle, of course, says that there is no man wiser than Socrates. When Socrates heard of what the Oracle said, he begins to wonder what riddle is hidden in those words. He knows that he is not a wise man, so he knows that he cannot be the wisest of men. Not knowing what then Oracle truly meant, he goes out to investigate this. He went to a man who was reputed to be very wise. He thought that he would find a man who is wiser than himself, and thus...

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