Charges Against Socrates as Recorded in the Apology

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Charges Against Socrates as Recorded in the Apology

The Apology written by Plato gives an explanation of the speech made by Socrates at the trial following the charges brought against him by Meletus (Schofield n.p). Socrates is accused of corrupting Athens’ youth, and not believing in the gods of the State and inventing his deities (Plato 24b). However, Socrates is not guilty of these accusations. Although there were multiple prosecutors and evidence pointing to Socrates’ guilt, he stood firm in his beliefs. Many of his beliefs and opinions to defend himself were supported by evidence, which will be presented throughout this essay.

Socrates interrogates Meletus in order to defend himself against the charges brought against him. Socrates is very skillful in the way he questions Meletus. As a result, Meletus proves to be contradicting himself and making absurd charges. For instance, in regard to the charges brought against Socrates that he was corrupting the youths, Socrates asks Meletus who is the improver of the youths (Plato 24b). He tells him since he has taken the pains to discover who their corrupter is, he must be knowing their improver. At first, Meletus does not answer. Socrates considers Meletus’ silence a disgrace and a considerable proof of Meletus’ lack of interest in the matter. He further urges him to speak up and tell who the youths’ improver is. In response, Meletus claims that all citizens are youths’ improvers apart from Socrates, who is the only one corrupting them. Socrates asks Meletus whether the good do their neighbors good and the evil do them evil, which Meletus agrees with. Socrates further asks Meletus if he alleges that he corrupts the youths unintentionally or intentionally. According to Meletus, Socrates corrupts the youths intentionally. He further uses Meletus’s response that the good do their neighbors good and the evil do them evil and asks if having this information, he would be unaware that living among the youths he has corrupted would be posing him the danger of being harmed by them (Plato 25d ). Socrates states that the Meletus would convince neither him nor other people. Socrates then claims that he does not corrupt the youths; and if he does it is unintentional. Defending himself, he says that if his offense is unintentional, the law does not recognize unintentional offenses. He tells Meletus that he should have taken him aside privately and warned. He further states that if he had been advised, he would have stopped doing what he only did unintentionally.

Socrates then challenges Meletus to explain how he is corrupting the youth. He asks if this is so because he teaches them not to recognize the gods that the State believe in but rather acknowledges the gods that he has invented, or is it because Socrates is an atheist who does not believe in any god. Meletus replies by stating that Socrates is an atheist as long as he does not believe in the godhead of the moon and the sun but teaches that the moon is the earth and the sun is stone. In his defense, Socrates reminds Meletus that these things about the moon and the sun were never taught by him but are rather teachings of the Clazomenian and Anaxagoras, who considered the moon and the sun material substances. He tells Meletus that he has a very bad opinion of the judges if he thinks they do not know that the doctrines of the moon and the sun are found in the books of Clazomenian and Anaxagoras. Also, Socrates asks Meletus whether he believes Socrate does not believe in any god. In response, Meletus says, that Meletus does not believe in any god at all. Socrates points out Meletus’s self-contradiction where he accuses Socrates of introducing new gods of his own and still claiming that he is an atheist who does not believe in any god at all. In this case, Socrates defends the two charges brought against him.

Also, Socrates defends himself against the charge of corrupting Athens’ youth brought against him by Meletus by explaining that some of the men from the wealthy social classes are attracted to him since they enjoy listening to him as he exposes the ignorance of the people who consider themselves as wise. He further explains that his followers observe who are assessed and found to be anting in wisdom, and instead of becoming angry with themselves, they become angry with Socrates and refer to him as the misleader of youth (Plato 23e). Socrates explains that he is the wisest man in the land and considers himself a spokesman for the Delphi’s oracle (Plato 22e).

Overall, Socrates is put on trial for two main charges, including corrupting the youths, and not believing in the gods of the State and inventing his own gods. Although there are several prosecutors and evidence to prove Socrates guilty, he is not guilty of the charges against him and uses evidence to defend himself. He interrogates Meletus skillfully, which lends him contradicting himself. For instance, Meletus claims that Socrates is a complete atheist who does not believe in any god. This contradicts one of his accusations that Socrates had failed to acknowledge the gods acknowledged by the city and instead had invented his own gods.

Works Cited

Grube, George Maximilian Anthony, and John M. Cooper. Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo. Hackett Publishing, 2002.

Schofield, Malcolm (2016). “Plato (427–347 BC)”. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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