The Trial and Execution of Socrates
In Plato’s Apology, the reader finds much interesting information about the philosophic thought that is derived from Socrates’ defense speech. Socrates, Plato’s teacher, and friend is ready to defend himself. Socrates’ mission is to help people to better understand the meaning of life in order to change their lives, placing emphasis on virtue and souls. He says,
It is the greatest good for a human being to discuss
Virtue every day and the other things
About which you hear me conversing and examining both myself and others,
For the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being (Plato 38b).
Socrates claims that his role in Athenian society is important because he is the one who can support the integrity of the society he lives in by his role as gadfly. Socrates uses his unique philosophical argumentation to explain power relations within the Athenian society.
There are two sets of charges that were brought against Socrates: the first one is disrespect to the city’s gods and the second one is the corruption of young people.
These charges include formal charges brought by Anytus, Meletus, and Lycon and some earlier charges brought by anonymous people. Nevertheless, these two sets of charges are interlinked. The charges include “corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daemons that are novel” (Plato 24b).
Socrates’ responses to these charges are convincing. He denies the fact that his philosophy and philosophic activities cause harm to the society he lives in and the city in general.
He denies that his philosophy can corrupt the youth, claiming that his philosophic thought is of great value to humanity. Socrates tries to persuade the jury about his innocence, “No greater good has come to be in the city than my service to the God” (Plato). Socrates states that his way of life is the best way of life for all human beings because it produces happiness for everyone in the city.
My own view of Socrates’ innocence is based on a number of facts, including his philosophic thought, his mission, and his self-confidence. I believe in Socrates’ innocence, although the charges brought to him by the court are rather serious for Athenians. Socrates’ defense against the charge that he doesn’t believe in God is honest and sufficient. He admits that he does not believe in the Gods of the city, but he is guided by some sort of higher being, or spirits. He states, “I live in great poverty because of my service to God” (23c). I completely agree with Socrates’ argument that the claim regarding his atheism is false because he believes in higher spiritual beings. I would have voted to set him free because these two sets of charges are insufficient for the death penalty. The second claim about the corrupted youth is also false because there is no proof. One man cannot be blamed for the corruption of the entire generation of young people. Therefore, for these two sets of charges, I would have voted in Socrates’ favor, considering him innocent.
Thus, it is necessary to conclude that Socrates has gained worldwide fame for accepting his death for the two sets of charges – corrupting the youth and disregarding the Athenian city’s Gods. In Apology, Plato tells the story of Socrates’ trial, describing his behavior and his unique defense during the trial process. Socrates is innocent because his philosophic thought is useful for Athenians. He has been wrongly accused.