Socrates was a Western Ancient Athenian Greek philosopher who lived from 469 BCE until his death in 399 BCE. He was a student to another philosopher, Sophists, Socrates was different from most Greek philosophers he wanted to get at the truth and find out how one can truly be ‘good’ and moral in life. “To Socrates the soul is identified with the mind; it is the seat of reason and capable of finding the ethical truths, which will restore meaning and value of life” (ADD IN-TEXT CITATION SEMINAR). We continue to use many of Socrates teachings today, such as, ‘The Socratic method’, which is known as asking a question and within these questions you lead it to the answer you wanted to hear, many uses this as a teaching technique and is shown to be highly effective. A great number of Athenians looked up to Socrates and considered him the wise man of Athens, he had many followers whom would ask questions and seek answers. As popularity and following of Socrates grew so did accusations. The charges laid on Socrates by the Athenians were unjust and therefore his death was highly wrong in the eyes of true democracy that Athens was apparently known for. In this paper, I will discuss how Socrates was wrongfully convicted for the corruption of the youth despite having many young followers, introducing new Gods while still being considered an Atheist, and the main reason he was seen as a threat to Athens was that he brought change to the city.
At no point during the proceedings did Socrates deny that corrupting the youth was a criminal act punishable by death. Socrates in fact believes that it is noble to prosecute those who corrupt the minds of the youth. Moreover, in the Euthyphro Dialogue, Socrates even praises Meletus saying that, “He [Meletus] is the only one who begins at the right point in his political reforms; for his first care is to make the young men as good as possible” (2). Therefore, while Socrates may not have necessarily agreed with the verdict of his trial, he did agree with the essence and/or idea of what the law that he “broke” was founded on.
Socrates was a man who spent most of his time talking to people. He would ask them hypothetical questions, and make them think for themselves about the true answer they believed in, by serving as a guide for the conversation. Many people, including the accusers, believed that while Socrates did this, he was serving as a Sophist. A Sophist is a person who talks to people, and teaches them how to argue a point, whether the point is right or wrong. A Sophist would collect money for this lesson, and go on with their teachings (Xenophon 42). This accusation is inaccurate because Socrates did not collect any money for his conversations with people. Instead, Socrates was a very poor man, who happened to have rich friends. Talking to these people was a way for Socrates to try to spread his way of life to the Athenian's. He enjoyed conversing with people about ethical issues, and moral beliefs. In his argument, Socrates refutes Meletus' charge that he corrupts the young. One crucial point deals with the idea of Socrates as a paid teacher. This would imply that Socrates was actively seeking students and teaching "corrupting" ideas. This plays a part in the argument, by Meletus, that Socrates has deliberately corrupted the youth. Socrates says that, "the young men who follow me around of their own free will, those who have most leisure, the sons
The charges against Socrates were brought upon him by a man names Meletus. Meletus was a young man that Socrates did not know very well. These charges brought on by Meletus caused the indictment of Socrates. One of the charges in the affidavit written by Meletus against Socrates is that he is "corrupting the youth." Another charge that is brought upon Socrates is that of he is making up new Gods and disregarding the old Gods the Athenians believe in. These were the charges brought on Socrates.
Athens could also be seen as a place where they educated their citizens. Socrates understood that he would not be the man who he is today, without Athens. Like anything, a child would not willingly do harm on a parent, especially if they receive love and protection, and no harm in return. This parental versus child relationship is quite similar to the relationship Socrates had with Athens. The people of Athens could have assumed that Socrates would try to escape and that his death sentence would not follow through, but Socrates did not see this as an important factor. He believed that if he escaped, it would hinder the image of Athens because he would not be following their laws, which might influence the citizens to also break the laws of Athens. People with a lot of influence, have a lot of followers, for example, the people of Athens. If Socrates, supposedly the wisest man were to escape from prison and his death sentence, other people might think it is fine to disobey Athens as well. On the other hand, the citizens expected him to escape, but the fact that he stayed in prison to face his death sentence shows how seriously he took subjects like harming others and obeying the state to heart. Another objection to this argument could be, that Socrates was falsely accused and was harmed when he was truly innocent, he did not commit any of the crimes he was accused of, but Socrates still had the opportunity to a fair trial, he just did not use
The conclusion that can be made about these premises is that Socrates is not the one who is corrupting the youth because he is a specialist in this field. In addition, the real corruptors of the youth are the greater population of Athens because they are not specialist on teaching wisdom. What important about this conclusion is that even though Socrates uses horses as an example he manages to apply his example to all beings and prove his case that he is innocent of the charges.
Socrates implies that the true nature of this charge was, in fact, vengeance carried out on the part of the power-holders of the Athenian society; the politicians, the poets, the manual artisans. Socrates, unwillingly made fools out of these people by exposing their speeches as mere rhetoric than actual wisdom and knowledge. These men who were seen as the wisest and the most enlightened, but in fact, by believing that they are most knowledgeble is what keeps them from real wisdom. Socrates is also being charged with attacking the Athenian society by corrupting its citizens, mainly the youth. He defends himself by claiming that either Meletus beleives that Socrates does not corrupt the youth or he does corrupt them but involuntarily. Socrates bring to light that "if I corrupt them voluntarily, the law does not call upon you to procecute me for an error which is involuntary, but to take me aside privately and reprove and educate me" (33). Socrates goes on further to say
So to sum up the trial, the charges against him were officially two, corrupting the youth and impiety. The two charges were, of course, linked, and, in the relevant senses, he was, we must admit, guilty of at least one of them. For his effect on the lives of the young men who followed him was indeed disrupting, and even corrupting, of the social order. What his followers learned from him above all else, is to do two things. They learned to scrutinize, and they learned to be skeptical. It was not that they mindlessly adopted a motto like "trust no one over 30," or that they became, like many of today 's young people, contrary simply for the sake of being contrary. Rather, they learned not to take on authority or on faith what others told them about virtue, justice, or piety; they were seeking, as was Socrates himself, the truth of the matter and the reasons for taking it to be the truth of the matter. And as we all know, the relentless pursuit of the truth produces enemies. A Socrates may in the long run serve mankind, but in the short run he aggravates virtually everyone around him.
He proclaims that “examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living” (Plato 66). Socrates believes that the government will be able to change so that people who value goodness and truth would be in power. However, later in the Apology, Socrates contradicts himself when he explains why he has led a mostly private life, saying that “if I had long ago attempted to take part in politics, I should have died long ago” (Plato 58). Socrates believes “a man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life” (Plato 59). This goes against what he has been saying for the rest of the trial and demonstrates the unrealistic quality of the high standards to which he holds the government and leaders. If Socrates says it is dangerous for proponents of justice to live a public life, it becomes extremely difficult for politicians to be virtuous and morally good, since politicians live essentially their whole lives in the public sphere. It is not realistic for Socrates to believe that the government of Athens could progress so that good people hold the power, when he has shown that in his own experience and observations it is not safe for good people to hold public positions.
Everyone knows that Greeks invented democracy, but it was not democracy as we know it now-days. The charges that were made to Socrates would be ridiculous today, but in Ancient Greece, they were legitimate crimes. At that time, speaking of other gods, having different ideologies, disagreeing with Athenian politicians, etc. were seen as unacceptable. Socrates was believed to be that kind of man. Plato and Xenophon, two of Socrates students, claimed that because of Socrates openly criticized of Athenian politicians made him gain many enemies. Not to mention that at that time Ancient Greece went through a time of war, famine, loss, and plague. There was crisis in Athens and Socrates came in with his new teachings. Many of Athens thought that his teaching were corrupting the youth, the only people that could now bring Athens forward (cam.ac.uk). But were the accusations true? Was Socrates actually innocent? I believe he was. Three reasons why I believe Socrates was innocent was because Socrates did believe in Athenian gods, he didn’t actually corrupt the youth, and many of the bad things said of Socrates were rumors.
Finally i will have to tell you who is this man you are falsely accusing today. Even though we all, men of Athens, hates Socrates’s way of seeing and doing things and the way he embarrassed our greatest men of Athens in public. But the past had proven to us that he is a good wise man that rarely been mistaken in term of what was good for Athens. Moreover, one event that we cant forget is the trail of the 8 Generals where he oppose the exception of the 8 men. Even though he was threaten to take the same fate as theirs. Athenian thought he was crazy back then and ordered to execute the 6 Generals they have at hand and the same fate awaits for those who fled. However, few years later Athens needed as much strong men as they can get so they dropped
On the first charge that Meletus brought against Socrates that he, ‘corrupted the youth’, this charge could have been seen as true by many. Socrates was teaching his followers to think for themselves. The government and people may have seen this as a threat. They believed that the youth may the try to break away from the norms that were set up, which would have lead to havoc.
One relevant argument Socrates makes quite well is the fact that those bringing charges against him clearly dislike his character and actions. Socrates openly dissenting with political figureheads such as Meletus and Anytus which spurred their disdain for him. He uses this as a ploy to help his jury find him innocent. Though he is correct in asserting the charges against him are brought because his enemies want to see him dealt with, he is not correct in assuming they are inherently wrong in
By definition, to corrupt someone means “having a willingness to teach someone to act dishonestly in return for money and personal gain”. Meletus accused Socrates of corrupting the youth of Athens; however Socrates proved throughout his trial that what he wanted more than anything was for everyone to be honest with themselves and others. Socrates merely opened up the eyes of the youth, showing them they have other options of what to believe in and how to view the world. The children that Socrates was accused of corrupting were young and impressionable, Socrates simply spoke out and they listened and were encouraged. Socrates had no youth at the trail to testify against him. Socrates chargers were flawed and he is innocent as far as corrupting the youth goes.
In 399 B.C.E. Athens, Socrates, one of the greatest axial philosophers, was charged with impiety and corruption of the youth by Meletus, Lycon, and Anytus. Socrates was convicted of these accusations and executed. Socrates was one of many great thinkers in Athens, which was experiencing a Golden age as the most progressive and learned democracy in Greece. Strangely, Athens executed Socrates for his speech, which contrasted with Athenian democratic values. Moreover, Socrates was seen as annoying to authorities of the time, but never considered threatening enough to receive punishment to Athens before this. In order for Socrates to be executed, Athens needed to have undergone a deep shift that changed perceptions of Socrates from a gadfly to a danger to society. As a result of a crippling defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian Wars, Athens was paranoid of threats to its democracy, Athenian citizens were looking for a scapegoat for their recent troubles, and Socrates made enemies out of powerful politicians and thinkers due to his irritating Socratic method and uncustomary beliefs, therefore, he was easy to blame and execute.