The Greek philosopher, Socrates, was believed to be guilty by the Greek politicians whom charged Socrates with impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens, to which the sentence was capital punishment. Yet, Socrates was not a threat to the Athenian state because he was an atheist or because he negatively influenced the Athenian youth. As Herodotus once said, “Custom is the king of all”, and physically and mentally, Socrates challenged the ideas of the Athenian elite. Socrates was a threat because he questioned society and those in power.
“… [Do] I deserve to suffer…because I…neglected what occupies most people: wealth…, the position of …orator or the other offices, [and] the political clubs…? ...I did not follow that path that would have made
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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.
Socrates was a revolutionary thinker. He brought new ideas and processes of thought to Athenian society and his work still has its place in the world today. However during his time, his ideas were not always thought of as a good thing. Many viewed him as a corrupting influence on other people and accused him of forcing his ideas upon others. Perhaps most frequently the center of controversy was his thoughts on theocracy and piety as seen in the Plato’s Euthyphro. Socrates also appears at the butt end of Aristophanes’ comedy Clouds, where he is satirically ridiculed and seemingly corrupting the youth of Athens in his school, the Thinkery. Although virtually completely seen as a positive influence now, in ancient times, Socrates may have
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 main argument in The Apology by famous ancient Greek philosopher Plato is whether, notorious speaker and philosopher Socrates is corrupting the youth by preaching ungodly theories and teaching them unlawful ideas that do harm to individuals and society. In his words Socrates quoted the prosecution’s accusation against him: “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in supernatural things of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state.” 1 Further Socrates consistently introduces tediously compiled number of examples to provide valid and sound arguments to prove that he is innocent of the charges brought up against him to the court.
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
Socrates was a great philosopher of the Greek world. He was quite an atypical and distinctive person. Being different from all the other philosophers of the land, Socrates was teaching his students ideas totally out of the ordinary from what the society believed was right. As a result, he displeased many people so much that they decided to get rid of him. Socrates was put to trial, accused of spoiling the youth of Athens, tried and sentenced to death. His personal defense is described in works two of his students: Xenophon and Plato. Both of them wrote papers called Apology, which is the Greek word for “defense”. In this essay I used Apology by Plato as the main resource, since it contents a more full account of the trial of Socrates and
As a defender of civic virtue, the significance of obligation and authority of one’s representative government epitomizes the magnitude of respect that Socrates had for Athenian Jurisprudence, irrespective of the fact that he was prosecuted against. In the accounts of the Apology and Crito, there exists a plethora of evidence that demonstrate Socrates’s adherence of institutionalized authority. His loyalty of the Athenian State derives from his notion that the obligation to surrender to the law manifests a just society. One may ask, “how is it possible for a persecuted man to continue to profess allegiance to a polity that sought his trial and execution”? Though many would not have the capacity to sustain such integrity, Socrates had his reasons in
The portrayal of Socrates, through the book “the trial and death of Socrates” is one that has created a fairly controversial character in Western history. In many ways, Socrates changed the idea of common philosophy in ancient Greece; he transformed their view on philosophy from a study of why the way things are, into a consideration man. Specifically, he analyzed the virtue and health of the human soul. Along side commending Socrates for his strong beliefs, and having the courage to stand by those convictions, Socrates can be commended for many other desirable characteristics. Some of those can include being the first martyr to die for his philosophical beliefs and having the courage to challenge indoctrinated cultural norms is part of
Socrates was put on trial with a jury of his peers who were already biased against him. He could have fled, but he chose to face them. This showed fortitude. He was charged with not recognizing the gods, inventing deities, and corrupting the people of Athens. His first and most important counter was the fact that the Oracle of Delphi called him the wisest man. “He asked whether there was anyone wiser than I. The Pythia replied that no one was wiser” (Plato, 4). If the Greeks were so devoted to their
Plato’s account of Socrates’ defense against charges of corrupting the youth and heresy, reveal the ancient teacher’s view of justice as fairness and support of rule of law. In the Apology, Socrates faces a moral dilemma: to either accept his punishment for crimes he did not commit or to accept the assistance of his friends and escape death by the hand of the state. His choice to accept death in order to maintain rule of law reveals his belief of justice. He beliefs his punishment to be just not because he committed the crimes but because his sentence came through a legal process to which he consented. By sparing his life, he would weaken the justice system of Athens which he values above his own existence. This difference between the two men’s beliefs regarding justice draws the sharpest contrast in their views of effective leadership and government.
Socrates was a former infantryman, having fought in three campaigns during the war with Sparta, so it is no surprise that he believed justice should not be invoked by the citizens’ pleading. He
In most circumstances ending the life of a criminal as their punishment usually reflects the magnitude of the crimes that they committed, crimes that often involve the deaths of others or equally heinous actions, yet one historical example stands out for not following this rule. In 399 BC, in Athens, Greece, two men put a meek philosopher named Socrates on trial for two crimes he purportedly committed: not following state gods and corrupting the youth. These charges alleged against Socrates reflected the general sentiment of Athenians regarding Socrates; namely that he was an atheistic charlatan. The jury found Socrates guilty of these crimes and executed, a punishment that does not logically befit the supposed crimes that he committed. No sane or logical jury would find him guilty of such vague claims, especially in such a vehemently democratic polis as Athens, and they would never have executed Socrates for such meager offenses, nonetheless he was. Execution was especially unnecessary because Socrates himself was on the verge of death; he was in his seventies in the Greek era, so he was bound to die soon anyways. The central focus, then, is of understanding how on Earth the birthplace of democracy could have gone so awry and when they tried, convicted, and executed Socrates. Athens sentenced Socrates to death because his beliefs were against the flow of the changing Athenian ideological landscape, people regarded him as a pompous, elitist charlatan who impugned their core
This paper argues that Socrates makes a plausible case for justice. Socrates raised two main questions in the first two books of Plato’s Republic, what is justice? And why should we act justly? Thrasymachus and Glaucon both have different and more negative views of justice than Socrates. Throughout books one and two, Socrates, Glaucon and Thrasymachus go back and forth discussing the definition and application of justice in society. He starts his discussions with Glaucon and Thrasymachus by stating simply, “What is justice?”
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.
Plato’s Socrates is a character plagued and prized with contradictions. He professed to care for nothing so much as virtue and human excellence but was incriminated by the greatest and most open democracy in ancient history. He was wrongfully convicted, yet unwilling to avoid his unjust execution. He is at once the most Athenian, citizenly, patriotic, and other-regarding of philosophers—and yet the most critical and self-regarding of Athenians. In exploring that contradiction, between “Socrates the loyal Athenian citizen” and “Socrates the philosophical critic of Athenian society,” Aristotle’s Politics comes to mind: “the