“The Apology” by Plato Summary
Plato's “The Apology” is the speech Socrates makes at a trial in which he is accused with not recognizing the gods recognized by the state, inventing new deities, and corrupting the youth of Athens. Despite its title, however, the speech is not an “apology”. The word “apology” comes from the Greek word “apologia” which means a defense, or a speech made in defense. It can then be inferred that Socrates is not apologizing for his “wrongdoings”, but is instead defending himself from wrongful accusations. He claims that he will speak with honesty and directness, unlike his accusers. He also tells the jury that he is not familiar with the court. He explains that his behavior started from a prophecy by the oracle at Delphi which claimed that he was the wisest of all men. Socrates took this as a riddle. He himself knew that he had no wisdom “small or great”. However, he knew that gods can’t lie. Socrates concluded that he must be wiser than other men only in that he knows that he knows nothing. In order to spread his interpretation, Socrates explains that he considered it his duty to question supposed "wise" men and to expose their false wisdom as ignorance. These activities earned him admiration amongst the youth of Athens, but a lot hatred and anger from the people he embarrassed. Socrates claims that this hatred is why he is being put on trial. Socrates’ proceeds to accuse his accuser, Meletus, of not caring about the things he claims to care about. He argues that no one would intentionally corrupt another person. The issue of corruption is important for two reasons: first, it appears to be the heart of the charge against him, that he corrupted the young by teaching some version of atheism, and second, Socrates says that if he is convicted, it will be because Aristophanes corrupted the minds of his audience when they were young. Socrates then proceeds to deal with the second charge, that he is an atheist. He gets...
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