Plato & Socrates: Excellence in Virtue
“Socrates’ positive influence touches us even today” (May 6) and we can learn a great deal about him from one of his students, Plato. It is in Plato’s report of Socrates’ trial a work entitled, Apology, and a friend’s visit to his jail cell while he is awaiting his death in Crito, that we discover a man like no other. Socrates was a man following a path he felt that the gods had wanted him to follow and made no excuses for his life and they way he lived it.
The passage I have chosen from Plato’s Apology is the main passage to which Socrates believed in until his death and gave the basis for his life and they way he chose to live his life. It is this passage that makes clear all of Plato’s writings and perhaps why even in living his own life he chose emulate and follow Socrates and ultimately became one of his better-known students.
To prove this, the paper is organized into four sections. In the first section, I will give the key passage, along with some textual context to give background details. In the second section, I will provide some relevant biographical/historical information about the author and the time period for when the text was written. In the third section, I will provide a detailed analysis meaning and arguments of my key passage and in the fourth section; I will explain the meaning of three passages that support the key passage of the paper. However, before we can move any further into this process, I will present my key passage on which this paper is based.
“As long as I have breath and strength I will not give up philosophy and exhorting you and declaring the truth to every one of you whom I meet, saying as I am accustomed, ‘My good friend, you are a citizen of Athens, a city which is very great and very famous for its wisdom and power-are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither think nor care about your wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?’ If he disputes my words and says that he does care about these things I shall not at once release him and go away: I shall question him and cross-examine him and test him. If I think that he has not attained excellence, though he says that he has, I shall reproach him for undervaluing the most valuable things, and overvaluing those things that are less valuable. This I shall do to everyone whom I meet, young or old, citizen or stranger, but especially to citizens, since they are more closely related to me. This, you must recognize, the god has commanded me to do. And I think that no greater good has ever befallen you in the state than my service to the god. For I spend my whole life in going about and persuading you all to give your first and greatest care to the improvement of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies or your wealth. And I tell you that wealth does not bring excellence, but that wealth and every other good thing which men have, whether in public or in private, come from excellence.” (Baird & Kaufmann 29-30)
In this passage Socrates is our speaker and he is presenting his defense against the charges that have been brought against him by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. The charges they have brought against Socrates are for corrupting the youth and worshipping gods other than the ones all other Athenians worshipped at that time in Ancient Greece. This passage is one of many times that Socrates brings to light the fact that what he has been doing by going around questioning people about their beliefs is commanded by the gods and that he should not be put to death for doing what has been asked of him.
Socrates presents many times that what he is doing in trying to get people to not just question what they believe, but to work on the improvement of their souls. He believes and so states in the passage that wealth and fame do not bring...
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