APOLOGY OF SOCRATES

 

Part II: Principal Arguments

 

 

Socrates says that he has been ordered to practice philosophy by 'the god'

'To do this has, as I say, been enjoined upon me by the god, by means of oracles and dreams, and in every other way that a divine manifestation has ever ordered a man to do anything.'

 

Socrates's service to the god is beneficial to the city of Athens

1. 'Be sure that this is what the god orders me to do and I think there is no greater blessing for the city than my service to the god. For I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul, as I say to you: "Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.'

 

2. "That I am the kind of person to be a gift of the god to the city you might realize from the fact that it does not seem like human nature for me to have neglected all my own affairs and to have tolerated this neglect now for so many years while I was always concerned with you, approaching each one of you like a father or an elder brother to persuade you to care for virtue."

 

 

Long version of the principal arguments of the Apology of Socrates

(1) 'To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils. And surely it is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know.' (p. 121)

 

(2) 'You are wrong, sir, if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he should look to this only in his actions, whether he does what is right or wrong, whether he is acting like a good or a bad man.' (p. 120)

 

(3) 'I do know, however, that it is wicked and shameful to do wrong, to disobey one's superior, be he god or man.' (p. 121)

 

(4) 'Wherever a man has taken a position that he believes to be the best, or has been placed by his commander, there he must I think remain and face danger, without a thought for death or anything else, rather than disgrace.' (p. 120)

 

(5) 'To do this [practice philosophy] has, as I say, been enjoined upon me by the god.' (A, p. 37)

 

(6) 'I say that it is impossible for me to keep quiet because that means disobeying the god' (A, p. 41)

 

(7) 'If you said to me in this regard: "Socrates, we do not believe Anytus now; we acquit you, but only on the condition that you spend no more time on this investigation, and do not practise philosophy, and if you are caught doing so you will die;" if, as I say, you were to acquit me on these terms, I would say to you: "Gentlemen of the jury, I am grateful and I am your friend, but I will obey the god rather than you, and as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall not cease to practise philosophy..."' (p. 121)

 

 

Supplementary argument

9. "At all previous times my familiar prophetic power, my spiritual manifestation, frequently opposed me, even in small matters, when I was about to do something wrong, but now that, as you can see for yourselves, I was faced with what one might think, and what is generally thought to be, the worst of evils, my divine sign has not opposed me, either when I left home at dawn, or when I came into court, or at any time that I was about to say something during my speech. Yet in other talks it often held me back in the middle of my speaking, but now it has opposed no word or deed of mine. What do I think is the reason for this? I will tell you. What has happened may well be a good thing, and those of us who believe death to be an evil are certainly mistaken. I have convincing proof of this, for it is impossible that my familiar sign did not oppose me if I was not about to do what was right." (A, p. 43)

 

10. "[I]t is clear to me that it was better for me to die now and to escape from trouble. That is why my divine sign did not oppose me at any point." (A, p. 44)

 

 

Argument for obedience to the state?

(1) 'Wherever a man... has been placed by his commander, there he must I think remain and face danger, without a thought for death or anything else, rather than disgrace.' (p. 120)

 

(2) 'at Potidea, Amphipolis and Delium, I... at the risk of death... remained at my post where those you had elected to command had ordered me' (p. 120)

 

NOTE: THIS MAY ONLY BE AN ARGUMENT THAT ONE SHOULD OBEY THE STATE EVEN IF THE STATE ORDERS ONE TO DO SOMETHING THAT IS DANGEROUS OR LIFE-THREATENING -- THAT ONE SHOULD NOT DISOBEY THE STATE OUT OF FEAR OF DEATH. IT MAY NOT BE AN ARGUMENT THAT ONE SHOULD OBEY THE STATE EVEN IF THE STATE ORDERS ONE TO DO SOMETHING THAT IS UNJUST.

 

 

Second Argument of the Apology of Socrates

(1) 'he should look to this only in his actions, whether he does what is right or wrong, whether he is acting like a good or a bad man.' (p. 120)

 

(2) 'When the oligarchy was established, the Thirty summoned me to the Hall, along with four others, and ordered us to bring Leon from Salamis, that he might be executed.' (A, p. 37)

 

(3) 'Then I showed again, not in words but in action, that, if it were not rather vulgar to say so, death is something I couldn't care less about, but that my whole concern is not to do anything unjust or impious. That government, powerful as it was, did not frighten me into any wrongdoing.' (A, p. 37)

 

(4) 'When we left the Hall, the other four went to Salamis and brought in Leon, but I went home. I might have been put to death for this, had not the government fallen shortly afterwards.' (A, p. 37)

 

 

Third Argument of the Apology of Socrates

(1) 'I do not think it is permitted that a better man be harmed by a worse'

(2) 'a good man cannot be harmed either in life or in death'

(3) 'certainly he might kill me, or perhaps banish or disenfranchise me, which he and maybe others think to be great harm, but I do not think so'

(4) 'he is doing himself much greater harm doing what he is doing now, attempting to have a man executed unjustly'

(5) 'Be sure that if you kill the sort of man you I say I am, you will not harm me more than yourselves'

(6) 'I am far from making a defense now on my own behalf, as might be thought, but on yours'

(7) 'to prevent you from wrongdoing by mistreating the god's gift to you by condemning me'

 

 

Fourth Argument of the Apology of Socrates

(1) '[There are] many unjust and illegal happenings in the city' (A, p. 36)

(2) 'I served [ i.e. as required by law] as a member of the Council, and our tribe Antiochis was presiding at the time when you wanted to try as a body the ten generals who had failed to pick up the survivors of the naval battle. This was illegal, as you all recognized later.' (A, p. 36)

(3) 'I was the only member of the presiding committee to oppose your doing something contrary to the laws, and I voted against it.' (A, p. 36)

(4) 'The orators were ready to prosecute me and take me away, and your shouts were egging them on' (A, p. 36)

(5) "I thought I should run any risk on the side of law and justice rather than join you" (A, p. 36)

(6) "no man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other crowd and prevents the occurrence of any unjust an illegal happenings in the city" (A, p. 36)

(7) 'if I had long ago attempted to take part in politics, I should have died long ago' (A, p. 36)

(8) 'A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time' (A, p. 36)

(9) '[If I had died long ago I would have] benefited neither you nor myself' (A, p. 36)

 

 

Supplementary Argument

11. 'I have a divine or spiritual sign which Meletus has ridiculed in his deposition. This began when I was a child. It is a voice, and whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything. This is what has prevented me from taking part in public affairs, and I think it was quite right to prevent me.' (A, p. 36)