Throughout history, great minds have used situational platforms like trials to advance their ideas to large audiences. Socrates and Louis Riel are no exception to this and used their respected trials as a means of conveying a final political statement. This is evident in both Plato’s The Trial and Death of Socrates and Hans V. Hansen’s Reil’s Defense: Perspectives on his Speeches. Both men’s speeches can be seen as weak examples of forensic rhetoric and strong examples of political rhetoric due to the fact that Socrates and Riel both believed in a divine mission and cause much larger than themselves. It is clear that neither man set out to win their trial, and I argue that both Socrates and Riel's speeches were intended to politically inspire as they both saw themselves as martyrs for a greater cause.
Socrates trial speech can be considered one of the most important examples of political rhetoric in history. Socrates was brought before the courts on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens because of his teachings and the politico-philosophic questions he posed to his students. At the time Socrates was 70 and could have easily fled Athens with the help of his supporters however he chose to stay in Athens to face the legal consequences of his actions. Socrates had no intention of winning his trial, as Brumbaugh notes “Socrates was not ‘arrested’ […] but was ‘summoned’ to the court of the First Archon to file his answer to the charges against him” (pg.232,