The Apology is Plato’s account of the dialogue of Socrates’ trial in which he is charged with “inquiring into things below the earth and in the sky, making the weaker argument overcome the stronger, and corrupting the youth of Athens.” Socrates’ “apology,” despite the modern definition, is better understood as a speech made in his own “defense,” following traditional proceedings of Athenian Socrates by addressing each charge brought against him. Socrates begins his defense by explaining the origin of his reputation that has subsequently brought him to court. He addresses the accusation that he implies he is a sophist pointing out that while they are wise and highly paid, he does not argue for a fee and claims to know nothing of value. He explains that his friend, Chaerephon, traveled to the Oracle at Delphi to inquire if any man was wiser than Socrates and was informed there was no one wiser. Socrates saw this as a riddle due to the misleading nature of the gods and went on a mission to clarify its meaning. He conversed with politicians, poets, and craftsmen, who were known to be “wise” and found no one wiser because there were many things they thought they knew, yet did not know. He determined that with a “wise” reputation, came pretentious knowledge and therefore less wisdom. Recognizing his own ignorance however, Socrates concludes that he must be wiser due to the fact that his wisdom lies in his awareness that he does not know. Reaching a clarification of the Oracle’s message, he now considers it his obligation to question the “wise” and expose their ignorance. These arguments although earning him the respect from the youth of Athens, embarrassed those he exposed and claims that their anger is the reason he is on trial.
Next, Socrates cross-examines his prosecutor. He accuses Meletus of being thoughtless in his charge of Socrates’ corruption of the minds of the young. He claims that everyone influences the minds of the young and argues that no one would...
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