The Trial of Socrates
The trial of Socrates is an excellent source of events during the period in which Socrates lived and died. Athens was a democratic city with much pride in their freedom. Especially their freedom of speech. Socrates was a political philosopher who did not agree with these freedoms provided by the Athenic democracy. However, it is his trial in which both the democracy of Athens and Socrates himself show their hypocrisy. It is this hypocrisy that makes the trial and death of Socrates quite ironic.
Athens, the city in which Socrates resided, was a free democratic city that was governed by all citizens in a fair democracy as seen in apology. It was said to be an association of free men with no single leader or king. The town prided itself on the freedom of its citizens and, especially, its freedom of speech. Most all citizens prided themselves on these views, although they respected the views of other people because of their own freedom of speech.
This was the society in which Socrates lived. Socrates was a philosopher who believed that only those who are wise should rule the people. In other words, the people are not capable of government participation because they do not have the knowledge According to this philosophy; democracy is not a capable government. Other than his time spent fighting for Athens, Socrates rarely took part in any democratic actions. He spent most of his life preaching his philosophical views
Socrates had many pupils to his preaching, although he denied being a teacher of philosophy. He proved this by showing them as witnesses in the court. He boasted about many topics. He also attacked the opinions of many others. He believed that one should give specific definitions of their beliefs. He had the ability to destroy any definition or proposition given to him, although he rarely gave any of his own. I believe that it is the fact that he rarely gave specific definitions that allowed him to be the large influence on his pupils that he was. Socrates was a master of good speaking. He thought that one should not be part of a community or city, but he or she should be separate from society.
Throughout the trial, Socrates acted as though he wanted to lose the case as far as I can understand. He went out of his way to antagonize the jury, making comments that associated himself with certain people and ideas that were offensive to the jury. He attacked the beliefs held by the jury, knowing that they held them dearly. He wanted to die. He wanted the death penalty.
The second part of the trial in Athens involved arguments over the penalty, which was also voted on by the jury. It is here that Socrates makes extreme suggestions in order to be sure that they voted for the death penalty. The jury had two choices for a penalty. One suggested by the prosecution and one given by the defense. Obviously the prosecution decided on the death penalty, while Socrates, according to the writings of...