Presentation on theme: "The Apology The Trial of Socrates. Background – on the negative side By 399, there was a growing dissatisfaction with Socrates “the gadfly”, who went."— Presentation transcript:
The Apology The Trial of Socrates
Background – on the negative side By 399, there was a growing dissatisfaction with Socrates “the gadfly”, who went about embarrassing citizens by challenging their opinions, showing up their confused thinking, and encouraging “Dangerous” free thinking amongst the young men of Athens. Over the 30 years since the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war and Athens’ golden age, her pride and confidence had been destroyed, and many saw one of the causes for this was the neglecting of traditional values. Even the great hope – Alcibiades had turned out bad, and some could point to the fact that he had been a protégé of Socrates – more evidence that he was a bad influence on the city. Also both Charmides and Critias (leaders of the reign of terror at the end of the war in 404 ) had been his pupils.
and on the plus side--- And there wasn’t that much on the positive side (if you discounted his call to virtue). In his 70 years he had not offered himself for any formal political or civil service to the polis (unusual for an Athenian with so much influence) save his military service as a hoplite (soldier) early in the Peloponnesian war. According to Plato (quoting Alcibiades in Symposium, and Laches) he had been a great example to others, not caring about his own comfort, a brave soldier, and saving Alcibiades’ life. His one appearance in the public life was probably negative when he was chosen by lot to be one of the council (boule) in 406, and was the only one who tried to prevent the illegal mass trial against the 10 generals after the battle of Arginusae. He also refused to carry out orders of the thirty tyrants in 404 to turn an innocent man over for execution. After the restoration of Democracy in 403 an amnesty for all who had associations with the bad times protected him, but within 4 years distrust of him emboldened his many enemies.
The charges & three accusers So in 399, three citizens, Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, charged him with the serious crime of Impiety (not worshipping the City’s Gods but inventing his own) and Corrupting young minds by teaching them his errors Meletus: the only speaker against him in the Apology (Plato’s record of Socrates’ Trial). An inexperienced young unknown put up to it by Anytus a powerful democratic politician, insulted by Socrates about his no-good son who Socrates taught, and had been on the receiving end of Socrates in some criticisms of democracy. He had been one of many who had courted Alcibiades, but been spurned by him, when he attached himself to Socrates. Lycon was acting for the orators. It seems unlikely that they were after a death penalty for Socrates, expecting him to propose banishment from the city.
What he was up against A scapegoat for the Athenians’ hard times esp. the last 5 years. Alcibiades (well known for self-interest), Charmides & Critias (leaders of the 30 tyrants in 404) and other oligarchs who had betrayed the democracy, were all his protégés. His elenchus was employed successfully by his young pupils in their civil cases, and he was blamed by the defeated litigants for their defeat (teaching the young unfair tricks) Thought to be a sophist (e.g. by Aristophanes in Clouds – in 423) – i.e. paid teacher who challenged traditional values without upholding any – (teaching “naturalistic” explanations (atheism) and “making the weaker argument defeat the stronger”) The prejudices against him dated back so long that he couldn’t challenge the spreaders of them (e.g. clouds was 23 years ago!) and a generation take them as fact by 399 – His inner voice (Daimonion meaning knowing or wise) which he believed expressed his Apollo- given mission to warn him when he was in error.
Opening comments The trial begins by Socrates attacking his accusers straightaway. He says they are liars for saying that he is a skilled and persuasive speaker. He claims that his only skill in speaking is that he tells the truth, which puts him out of their class. Unlike their flowery language his defense will be direct and unrehearsed, as he is confident in the justice of his cause. He warns the jury that because he has never spoken in court, and is not familiar with language of the courts, they should be prepared for him to speak just as he does around the city. He asks just one thing – that they ask if his claims are just or not. 17a-18a
The earliest charges He says the false accusations that have been around for 30 years are a greater threat than those he’s facing from Anytus etc because he can’t disprove them. They are about there being “ a clever man called Socrates who has theories about the heavens..and earth....and can make the weaker argument defeat the stronger”. These were heard by the people when they were young and impressionable, never questioned so they’re hard to rebut - especially seeing as he doesn’t even know their source (except a “certain playwright” - Aristophanes), So it is these earlier charges he must deal with before his immediate ones. He begins his defence by referring to Aristophanes caricature of him as a “natural philosopher” by saying he knows nothing and is not interested in nature, asking the many who have heard him speak to verify this. He next disclaims that he is a professional teacher - sophist. He mentions several well known teachers and says it is a fine thing to do if you have the knowledge of perfecting the virtues (for example a famous sophist called Evenus of Paros’s fee of 500 drachma would be good value if he gave the goods. [1 drachma per day was the pay for a mayor or member of the council] 18b-20c
Earliest charges (cont) Socrates next explains what it is that he does and why he has gained this bad reputation. He tells the story of the Delphic Oracle’s answer to his friend Chaerophon that there was no-one wiser than Socrates, and his determination to discover what it meant by searching for a truly wise man. In a long search among reputed wise politicians, poets, and craftsmen he found no general wisdom (though many claimed it because of their specialized knowledge). This search raised the hostility of his fellow citizens, kept himself poor, and attracted a following of young men who enjoyed imitating him and with it a reputation for corrupting the young. He suggests that wisdom is actually the property of the god, and that Apollo’s Delphic oracle must have meant that the wisest of men are those who, like Socrates, know they are “worthless in wisdom” He concluded that his god-given mission is to make this understood. 20d-24a
THE FORMAL CHARGES “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young... He now begins defending himself against the first formal charge. On corrupting the young:- Socrates ask Meletus to tell him that, if he is such an evil influence on the young, who is a good influence one. He tricks Meletus into saying that the jury, council, assembly – in fact the whole of Athens EXCEPT Socrates are good influences on the young. He says that this is so obviously wrong that it shows Meletus has never even thought about the welfare of the young. Socrates next gets Meletus to agree that Socrates corrupts the young intentionally. Then he tricks Meletus gain into agreeing that he couldn’t have done it intentionally (if at all) as he would be one of the first to suffer at the hands of those he had corrupted, and no sane man acts to do themselves harm. In fact if Socrates was that stupid, Meletus should have instructed him rather than charge him. The courts are for those who need punishment, not enlightenment! 24b-26a
THE FORMAL CHARGES 2....and in believing in supernatural things of his own invention, instead of the gods recognised by the state.” Next Socrates takes on the 2 nd formal charge. On disbelieving in the City’s gods: Socrates leads Meletus into stating, that Socrates believes in NO gods (i.e. an atheist) - that he doesn’t believe the sun and moon are gods but are rocks and earth (which Socrates denies). He now says Meletus is being intentionally self contradictory (Eironea) because his charge is essentially nonsense: that Socrates doesn’t believe in the gods, but he believes in the gods. Meletus is trapped because he’s charged Socrates with belief in “supernatural things of his own invention” he must believe in gods. i.e. one part of the charge says he believes in gods and the other that he doesn’t! He repeats that it is the bitter hostility of Athenians that will bring about his destruction, not Meletus & the other stupid accusers. He explains why he continued in such a dangerous path. That no worthy man would turn from justice or the God Apollo’s mission to save his skin. He quotes Homer regarding Achilles facing death and glory to avenge Patrocles rather than saving himself, and his own case of obeying his officers in the war despite the danger, and concludes that he is less likely to run away now when serving Apollo. 26b-28d
Rest of his defence He adds it is evil to do something he knows to be dishonourable (desert his duty to the Gods) but to die may not be an evil at all – we don’t know what lies in store after death, so why assume that death is the greatest tragedy that can befall someone? Socrates states that a lawful superior - human or divine - should be obeyed (the divine taking precedence if they conflict). So, since Apollo has singled him out to spur his fellow Athenians on to greater awareness of moral goodness and truth, he will never stop even if they were to withdraw the charges! He then further infuriates the citizens saying that his concern for their souls is the greatest good that has happened to them. God doesn’t permit the better man to be harmed by the worse. He likens himself to a gadfly stinging a lazy horse (the city or polis). He says his poverty proves that he follows a higher calling for the city. 29a-31c
Rest of his defence He says that his inner warning voice or Daimonion proves the god’s mission for him. It always acts to prevent him from doing wrong - but not on this matter – therefore he’s doing right. He realises his Daimonion is partly behind the charge of him inventing his own gods. He makes matter worse for him by thanking his Daimonion for preventing him from taking an active role in political life, because he would certainly have landed in trouble in politics criticising the democratic system, which allows inexperienced citizens important public positions. As he has never been a teacher he can’t be blamed for any member of his circle (like Alcibiades, Charmides & Critias) or nor given credit for any who turn out well). In fact, he asks, why haven’t those he has corrupted, or their families come forward to testify against him – many of his circle and their families are in fact there in the jury to support him. He concludes this part of the hearing by saying he will not make a plea for mercy/sympathy, and will not fail in his religious duty. His case relies solely on sound judgement and truth. He’s found guilty by 280 out of the 501 jurymen 31d-35d
THE VERDICT AND DISCUSSION OF PENALTIES: 280 guilty, 221 acquit Now begins the 2 nd part of the procedings – the Sentencing Socrates antagonises his audience further, by saying he is not surprised or distressed by their condemnation. He claims it was a close thing (30more on his side and he’d have been acquitted), and tried a mathematical eironeia by suggesting Meletus should be fined 1000 drachma for not getting enough votes for his case. He needed 1/5 of the 500 jurors – 100, but 1/3 (his “share”) of the votes was only 93! As punishment he first proposes that as a great benefactor to the city, he should be given free meals at the Prytaneum (an honour for prominent citizens and champion athletes) sayig his gift of moral goodness to the city is so much more important than the passing glory of an Olympic charioteer! Why, he asks, should he consider a punishment if he has done no wrong, nor intentional harm? 36a-37c
FURTHER DISCUSSION OF PENALTIES Socrates didn’t make the expected proposal of banishment, which the jurors would have accepted. He points out that no other city would want him, and anyhow, that to expect him to make such a proposal would be to expect him to betray his Apollonian mission, (which he had already explained would be as an undoubted evil compared to deaths possible evil.) Although they won’t believe him, he must continue to examine his fellow citizens and himself, and “discuss virtue” – That’s the very best things a man can do, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In response to the jurors’ anger he proposes a fine of 100 drachma, which his supporters increased to 3000 drachma! A considerable sum. As most of this would not have come from Socrates, the jurors were not satisfied with it. 37d-38b
THE FINAL ADDRESS TO HIS CONDEMERS ON THE JURY (who vote 360 for death, only 141 for the Dr3000 fine – 80 more have turned against him!) Firstly he addresses those who have voted for his death, saying had they waited a little nature would have saved the credit or blame for killing him (he’s already 71 years old). He adds that it is not because of weak arguments but because he hasn’t played the usual defendant game of pleading for mercy that he will die. He is happy not to have fought to escape death but to have escape wickedness, unlike his accusers (he says) who have been overtaken by wickedness. He adds that he will leave the court condemned to death but they will leave the court “convicted by truth herself of depravity and injustice!” He prophesises that if they had hoped to escape criticism for killing him, younger and harsher critics will come after him and condemn even more than Socrates has. Criticism of evil can only be silenced by stopping evil. 38c-39d
THE FINAL ENCOURAGEMENT TO HIS FRIENDS AND THOSE WHO VOTED FOR LIFE He concludes by saying he feels content with the trial’s outcome because his Daimonion had not warned him from defending himself the way he did – it was the right thing to do, and even a blessing! About death – he believes it must be a good – either like a dreamless sleep (“a marvellous gain”), or a transformation to an afterlife where he has “the unimaginable happiness” of the company of great men like Orpheus, Homer, Odysseus etc. He can have dialogue with them, and not executed for it! He says death should be met with the confidence because “nothing can harm a good man either in life or after death and his fortunes are not a matter of indifference to the gods.” To his accusers, and jurors he bears no grudge, and commends his 3 young sons to their protection as they grow up, ensuring they put goodness ahead of selfish interests. “I am he off to death – but who is better off only god knows.” 39e-42d