Socrates was charged with corrupting the youth in Athens in 399 B.C. He was tried and later convicted based on the charge. In his trial, defended himself by stating that no evil could take place in the life of a good man and neither can it happen after death. There were many friends for Socrates who wanted to forcefully bring Socrates from prison but he made a choice that he go by the law and die the cause that lay before him. He exuded calm confidence by stating that the hour of departure had come for him when he was sentenced to death. He boldly said that he was to die and the men of Athens live but whichever was better, only god knew. Socrates was charged with impiety through the accusations of corrupting the minds of the youth in Athens and not realizing the gods that the state recognized together with the invention of new deities (Plato, 1993).
All said and done, the question remains whether Socrates was guilty of either of these charges. Well, this could be difficult to say since it presents a very complex matter. A lot of views are presented in the Apology text. The exploration of both sides of the question is very important towards coming with a robust conclusion on whether the charge on Socrates was valid or not. The charge placed on Socrates was that he did not believe in the gods or in other words he was an atheist. All the same, Socrates made a lot of arguments that refuted such a claim directly. He talks concerning his devotion to the Delphi Oracle is whole life.
This alone is a proof that Socrates believed in the gods since the Delphi Oracle came from Apollo, the god. In the Apology text, Socrates highlights his actions by questioning every individual with a wisdom reputation: politicians, poets and craftsmen and after the conversation, he established that they were not worthy the wisdom reputation. He found out that he was the only one who had the most wisdom as he realized that he really did not have any wisdom absolutely (Brickhouse and Smith, 2002).
Another charge which was placed against Socrates was based on his belief in the things of the supernatural world which he himself invented rather than those that the state recognized as of God. In the process of cross-evaluation in the Apology text, Socrates made his accuser Meletus who makes a contradiction of himself relating to the impiety charge. Initially, Meletus says that Socrates brought new goods into Athens. Later on Meletus says that Socrates did not believe in any god completely. Well, this cannot be true in any way and thus there charges could have been invalid (Plato, 1993).
Meletus claimed that Socrates' belief was not based on the "right things." He further believed that the moon and the sun were not gods. In his retaliation, Socrates made it clear that he did not have that belief and Meletus was making a confusion of Socrates to Anaximander, another philosopher. Such kind of confusion in the things that Socrates believed in and those that were not his belief is a great cause of concern because it is very difficult for the audience to take serious the charges made by Meletus against Socrates owing to the much contradiction.
It is thus evidently hard to validate the impiety charges against Socrates. Whilst the government of Athens gave all the reasons they to charge him, Socrates offered an explanation of each and every charge. While responding to whether these claims made against Socrates are true, we should make a consideration that the audience in modern times are somewhat having opinions that are biased. Readers in modern times are far more moderate in their perceptions and are very much apt in proving Socrates innocent. During 339 B.C., Athenians were less merciful and accepting towards individuals that stood out in uniqueness like Socrates. They thus believed that Socrates had his head held up in the sky and persistently made the arguments that seemed weak stronger (Brickhouse and Smith, 2002). Socrates was a radical man in the sense that he did not succumb to the customary affairs of Athens in his time.
Socrates thus was an unpopular man among his fellow men and was very much disliked amongst the people of his age. Socrates shared these ideas of revolution to the youth making them have an admiration of him in a great way. All the same, the admiration from the youth elicited a lot anger and hatred from the Athenians population and later was tried as explained in the Apology text. Responding on the validity of these charges is somehow difficult based on a number of reasons. Owing to the fact that Plato who is a close follower authored the apology text, there can be a lot of bias to the text.
Therefore, this complicates the question very much due to the fact that Plato made efforts to show that the person he considered his teacher approving light in his last days on Earth (Colaiaco, 2001). All the same, the closeness with Socrates could have made a problem in the approach he used in composing the apology text and he may have been leaning heavily on the side of Socrates. In actual sense, Plato being the author and not Socrates makes the Apology a secondary source rather than a primary material. This alone presents a biased look just because it was not an original writing by Socrates.
In the apology, the charges against Socrates that warrant a criminal investigation are manifest complications. The accusations stem from idle gossip and intolerance and the answers are thus far beyond reach. Despite the situation, Socrates does his best to deal with the charges made against him. By way of defending himself, Socrates interrogates Meletus who is his main accuser. The Socratic Method is seen in the Apology the moment Socrates talks of the godly mission why he questioned a number of the society levels like the craftsmen, poets and politicians. In his explanation, there is a Socratic way of enquiring and refutation to prove to the jury that the people criticizing him were entirely wrong in their propositions. He stands out against them to prove that he was not doing injustice. Socrates makes the weaker argument prevail over the stronger one and speaks to others who consequently take after the example.
With the approach used by Socrates, he makes an effort of proving to the jury that he is actually not guilty of corrupting the Athenians youth. Socrates wants to know from Meletus who really was the major source of corruption to the youth. Meletus responded by saying that it were the laws. Now, that Meletus agreed to his part in his conversation with Socrates as the interlocutor, Socrates on the other hand refutes the reply by stating that it was not what he was referring to.
He pushed Meletus to name the individual whose initial business was to be acquainted with the laws well. Meletus then says that it is the Jury men; in fact, all of the men in the jury including members of the parliament and councilors. Meletus at some point emphatically concurred with the idea that the entire Athens populace had an effect of refinement upon the youth except Socrates and that only Socrates corrupted them. On another occasion, Socrates provides refutation, based on an analogy with the horse where he says that the only trainers of horses, very emphasized on individuals, have a positive effect on horses while many of the people would impact negatively (Plato, 1993).
Indeed, Socrates makes a suggestion that if it requires such skill and expertise to develop a horse, it would be an odd way of thinking that pretty much an individual can develop another. Socrates says that if he defends himself in a similar language all through; a language which it has been habitual to him, both in the market place and anywhere else, people must not be alarmed. He further states that if he belonged to another state, they would by no means excuse him if he talks in the matter and in the dialect he was raised up with. Therefore, it was not Socrates Intention to trip the accusers (Stokes, 2005). His method of defending himself merely happened to be through questioning and refutation, what is commonly referred to as the Socratic Method. It was not an arranged plan for the accusers to contradict themselves. Thus the validity of these charges can not be fully established and neither could Socrates by acquitted because he went against the government.
All the same, a lot of the apology text refutes the impiety charges against Socrates. The government of Athens makes a lot of other accusations against Socrates although Socrates retaliates with a lot of valid descriptions that seek to refute the charges made (Colaiaco, 2001). The evidence offered shows that Socrates was not really impious, although indeed quite virtuous. The reality that Socrates followed Delphi oracle is enough proof of the piety and offers enough evidence that the said impiety charges are not valid. All the same, with the much evidence presented, there is need to explore more on this to make it possible to comprehend the real validity in the said charges against Socrates. Well, the government may not be right in some occasions although everyone is expected to obey. It is considered a breach of peace and the policy of neutrality if an individual does not feel the efficacy of the government. May be that was the only ground under which Socrates was charged and given the death sentence.
Obedience to Law and Penalty Acceptation
In the Apology text written by Plato, Socrates is found guilty of the charges made against him of corrupting the Athenian youth and for not having the same belief with the Athenian gods. The punishment thereof was death. "Crito" occurs in jail where Socrates stays before he passes away. During this time Crito, a friend to Socrates visits him and makes an effort of persuading Socrates to escape. Socrates and his nature and teachings of philosophy made an argument of whether he must escape or remain in jail. Socrates defended himself in an argument which apparently is fallible in comparison with Apology text.
Socrates' premises as seen in Crito offer a robust ground on the reason why he must no escape from jail whilst still having the set values presented in the Apology. On matters of obeying the law, Crito states that violence against parents, both father and mother is taken as an unholy act and is bigger than what we consider to be sin in the country. The analogy of parents by Socrates relates people and the government to children and their parents. Crito asserts that, since people have been born, raised and educated no one can refute the fact that were born as children and slaves because we could not do anything for ourselves at that tender age (Stokes, 2005).
In the initial statement made by Socrates, the declaration made is that government offers education and permits the people to flourish and ultimately reap the society benefits. On the other hand, the people in the state should obey the government laws and be responsible for them since they were raised learning them. Therefore, the citizens are expected to obey the laws of the country and if not, be in a position to accept any penalty that comes with their disobedience. Socrates arguments as put forward by Crito are very clear and persuasive in bringing out the anticipated assertion.
According to Socrates, whilst there was no rights equality with the parents, or master if there was one, to make it possible for individuals to retaliate, and no permission to give an answer back when reprimanded or hit when beaten up, nor doing immense things of a similar kind, there is no permission to disobey the country and the laws therein. Laws are above all men, so even if an individual contravenes a law, he cannot have control over it. The law just like the parent has stern authority to rule over the constituents in it.
Based on the conclusion by Socrates, there is a justification of the execution he faces. He says that if people make an effort of putting anyone to death thinking that there is justice in so doing, the victim will make an effort to destroy the country and the laws. When an individual does not abide by the country laws, then based on this Socrates doctrine, the person could bring the whole society down. The law could be above all people although men made the law. Since now we know this, men can alter the law. Therefore, an individual should persuade the country or do the things ordered by the country, and submit in a patient manner to the punishment that has been imposed by the country regardless of being an imprisonment or flogging. Socrates philosophy and teachings further amaze everyone when he says that when such penalties lead an individual to war or be killed or less severe, wounded, then the individual must comply and states that that is what is simply expected.
This is absolute truth presented by Socrates. Socrates explains his beliefs with such wit that even the most mundane analogy appears real. Both in the courts of law and in every place, an individual is expected to whatever the region and the state commands or rather make a persuasion that justice is on the person's favor. An individual was thus considered to alter or even influence the laws in the lad; however, they should follow the regulations and rules of the ruling body (Stokes, 2005). Socrates made a justification of his penalty since he could not ask the jury to pass judgment in his favor. It was with this claim that Socrates was expected to fully obey. This is actually why Socrates chose to accept the death penalty.
However, it can be said that there were a number of flaws in the two initial arguments. One, taking the government like a parent has been refuted by many people. A parent keeps close watch over the children whereas the government does not and neither does it offer the best it can for its people. Moreover, the persuasion or theory of obedience can only be applicable in a republican or a democratic government state. In a dictatorship regime, a normal individual would find it absolutely hard to sway the superiors. Persuasion also requires a lot of man power and skill. An individual cannot change the universe always; usually it is an effort of many people and millions of them. Nevertheless, Socrates leaves himself a scapegoat when he says that although children have been brought up into the universe and raised, educated and provided with a share in the all the good tidings at their disposal....that any person from Athens on reaching manhood and realizing for himself the organization of politics in the state and the laws thereof, is allowed if he is not okay with them is allowed...to take his belonging and move wherever he pleases.
It would be thought a contradiction of Socrates by himself in the Apology and then exhibiting a perception that is opposing in Crito. In his trial, Socrates asserts that if the jury passed judgment that he should stop teaching philosophy, he would not obey and here he says that in the event that in this view the jury said to him that on a particular occasion they would disregard Anytus and free him based on the condition that he stops from giving out philosophy. Socrates was threatened that he would be killed if he was caught going the way of his philosophy. Socrates in his defense said that supposing that the jury would offer to free him on the said terms, he must reply that that he is thankful and a committed servant although he owed much greater obedience to God and exudes calm confidence I stating that he will never stop exhorting them and practicing philosophy, telling all people the truth. This declaration fully meant that he was not ready to go by the jury's directives. This shows a contradiction to what is stated in the principle of obedience in Crito.
Although many of the arguments made by Socrates could appear fallible, he makes strong premises that he would be in a position to dig upon a foundation that is not movable. Socrates is convicted that breaking from the prison will not enhance the situation he is trapped in any way. Socrates knows that if he leaves, all things that he toiled for would become void. Socrates thus says that the verdict of the jurors would be confirmed so that they will appear to have given out the right judgment; for any person who destroys laws could very well bear destructive impact on foolish and young human beings. If Socrates attempted to escape, he would be regarded as heretic and every teaching that he made would just melt away. Another argument that Socrates put forward is that if he escaped, he would have to make plans for the sons to be watched over. Socrates could make foreigners of them or allow the allies to take care of all of them. Ultimately, Socrates chose to stay in jail (Stokes, 2005). He said it was better for him to dying than escaping from jail. Moreover, he stated that leaving and moving to another region would make him an enemy to their rules in the constitution that governs them and every good patriot would look at him with suspicion as one who destroys laws.
Socrates and his philosophies could not be trusted anymore if he escaped the penalty since he would be regarded as a hypocrite. Whilst there are many inconsistencies which have been found with the Socrates' arguments, both the writer and the reader should bear in mind the discrepancies in between or society and that of the Greeks of ancient times. After Socrates confirmed that he would not take heed of the decision of the juror to acquit him, it is indeed not based on being respectful to the country, but to the gods who deserved to be revered. Socrates told them that he was grateful and an ever committed servant. He however expressed much obedience to God than the Athenians men. Additionally, Socrates doctrine of obedience must only be regarded as the truth in conditions in which the population is in a position to challenge the government. Otherwise, the theory is inapplicable in a dictatorship regime (Colaiaco, 2001).
More to that, any action taken by an individual against the government can be defended if the premise is fair. Consequently, an individual must never take all that was written by Plato and spoken by Socrates entirely literally. It is important to know that a person will never have absolute meaning from the presented arguments by the two philosophers. Socrates was correct as he did not make a choice of escaping from where he was confined (Brickhouse and Smith, 2002). If Socrates would have escaped, all his philosophies and doctrines would have been forget and thrown away. Crito would have made an argument for many days although he would never go over the thoughts of philosophy as presented by Socrates. With the amount of understanding together with the reason any individual can put together Crito and Apology to know that Socrates was a real genius.