Professor Nathan Poage
July 15, 2013
Apology: Is Socrates Guilty or Innocent?
The Apology is Plato’s accurate depiction of the Socrates’ own defense at the trial provoked by Meletus. However, besides current accusers, Socrates has to speak out to defense against former accusers who have created prejudices of him for long time. Former accusers prosecute Socrates for “studying things in the sky and below the earth” and “[making] the worse into the stronger argument” (Plato 18b-c). Moreover, Meletus, who is one of recent accusers, charges Socrates of “[corrupting] the young and not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in new spiritual things” (Plato 24c). The dialogue between Socrates and the jury as well as Meletus describes the true personality of Socrates and answers the question if Socrates is guilty or innocent of those charges.
First, Socrates is accused of studying “things in the sky and things below the earth” (Plato 23d). In this time period, Athenian people believe that gods are the ones who create and rule the world. Everyone must believe in and worship with no doubt. Therefore, if anyone tries to study and explain matters in terms of natural phenomenon instead of religious belief, he or she is immediately charged of not believing in gods and receives punishments from whole society. In this case, older accusers believe that what Socrates is doing is as same as other philosophers who trying to oppose religious belief and negatively impact the society. This is reflected by the comedy of Aristophanes depicting Socrates as a person who has ability to “walk on air” and present “a lot of other nonsense” matters (Plato 19c). However, Socrates proves that he is not that type of person and he does not have any knowledge of those matters by saying “I do not speak in contempt of such knowledge” and asking if anyone has ever heard him discussing about these subjects (Plato 19d). In fact, Socrates’ occupation is a wisdom...
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