In Plato’s Apology, Socrates asserts that the god of Delphi was asked “whether there was another wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered that there was no man wiser.” Socrates began his defense at the trial by flaunting his superiority. This is important because it shows that Socrates was not trying to make a good impression upon the jury. He was not taking care to do everything possible to save his life.
Although there are varying accounts of what happened at Socrates’ trial, Plato’s Apology is believed to be an eye witness account of Socrates’ defense. The Apology appears to eloquently document how Socrates explained his innocence and was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. However, through other versions of the trial, critical scholars give reason to believe the Apology was written in a way to solidify Socrates’ legacy. Plato, being Socrates’ avid follower, could have a biased opinion on how Socrates presented himself at trial.
Through looking at the other contemporary accounts of Socrates’ trial and critical essays on those works, a more complete picture of what happened to Socrates appears. Some scholars have argued that Socrates wanted the death penalty as a way to be known for his intelligence without old age tarnishing his reputation. I plan to explain how Plato’s account may not have included all aspects of Socrates’ conviction and death sentence. I want to discuss various theories about why Socrates might have accepted the death penalty, despite his claims to innocence.
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2 April 2015
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18 July 2022
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Dr. Matthew Horton