Socrates ' One Day At 399 B.c '

977 Words4 Pages
John Paul Avila
Stephen Prothero
02 May 2017
One day in 399 B.C., the man championed as the founder of Western philosophy stood before a jury, accused of “corrupting the young,” “not believing in the gods” of Athens, and believing “in other daimonia that are novel” (Plato, “Apology” 24b). Three hours were given to Socrates’ accusers, and another three for Socrates to defend himself. He was then given a choice: death or exile. To many it was startling that such vague accusations led to even a mention of death, especially in a radically democratic Athens which prided itself on freedom of speech, yet here Socrates was with death right in front of him.
Without a single doubt in his mind, he chose death. “I go to die, you go
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Socrates lived through a time of political instability in Athens. As a loyal citizen, he constantly fought with the current passage of Athenian politics and challenged societal norms. Plato kindly referred to Socrates as the ‘gadfly’ of the state of Athens, stinging many Athenians into thinking about justice and the pursuit of goodness over immorality. His unique position within the Athenian community, as well as his philosophical affront to the conventional Greek way of thought did not sit well with many powerful Athenians who felt that their power was being undermined. Socrates had become a voice of change, and Athens did not like it.
Socrates valued the importance of virtues and morals. After the jury sentenced him to death, Socrates proclaims to the jury that he could have never kept silent because “the unexamined life is not worth living for human beings” (Plato, “Apology” 38a). Socrates asserts that we must always “reflect upon what we believe, account for what we know and do not know,” and “to seek out, live in accordance with, and defend those views that make for a well lived and meaningful life” . In the Apology, Socrates makes it clear that he would chose to die now and keep to his moral principles – in essence defending his views – rather than violating those principles and escaping. To Socrates, accepting exile or escaping from prison would have meant giving up the principles and values that he held

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