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What justification was there for Socrates' trial, verdict and death sentence?

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Introduction

Q. What justification was there for Socrates' trial, verdict and death sentence? Athens, known for its enthusiasm for new ideas, had gone down in history as a centre of new ideas, and was called the "school of Hellas," which attracted philosophers from near and far. So why was 'the wisest man,' who distributed opinions and ideas put to death? Were his trial, the two charges Socrates was blamed upon, and the resulting verdict justified? Socrates was brought to trial in 399 B.C, by three accusers, and citizens of Athens - Meletus, Anytus and Lycon. The jury in the trial, and the three accusers considered Socrates a sophist, corrupter and a nuisance. They defeated Socrates on two charges, "corrupting the minds of the young," and "believing in supernatural things of his own invention instead of gods recognised by the state,"1and as a result, he was put to death. I believe these two charges were neither justified, nor fair. For the first charge, of corrupting the youth of Athens, as Socrates argued in his defence speech, he never considered himself a teacher, and never charged a fee. In my opinion, the 'pupils' of Socrates were not forced to, but chose to follow Socrates and imitate his ways. ...read more.

Middle

Socrates was believed to be the teacher of people who later became traitors to Athens, such as Alcibiades and Critias. Critias was part of the Thirty Tyrants, who terrorised Athens in 404 B.C, just five years before Socrates' trial. During this time, thousands were either executed or banished from the city. Many Athenians chose to flee the city during this time. Socrates did not exile with the democrats, but stayed in the city. This would have been seen as supporting the regime, and hate built up in the eyes of the Athenian citizens, because Socrates had taught this man who created the tragedy. This incident would be prominent in the minds of the jury, and they therefore would have a set dislike for Socrates, and a bias. He also did not suffer at the palms of the thirty Tyrants unlike his principal accuser, Anytus, who lost much of his property when he fled and joined the fight to free the city. This is another reason why Anytus could have brought Socrates to trial. If this is so, the charges were not just, because this was a hidden agenda, which Socrates may not have prepared for. ...read more.

Conclusion

The death penalty was not fair, if the jury were already bias in so many ways, and of the large amount of confliction about the two charges. However, Socrates played into the hands of the jury, by not acting in the way recognised by the court in the duration of his trial. He antagonised them continually through the trial, bringing up memories of how he criticised those while philosophising inside the city, and his reputation. I believe Socrates was a scapegoat for the problems inside Athens. The actual trial itself was legal, but I believe the charges which brought him to trial were merely to cover up a deep hatred for Socrates, as a result of his contacts, and teachings of traitors, and the Peloponnesian War. Even fifty years after Socrates died; nobody had denounced the trial and his death. It find it suspicious that the accusers chose to convict Socrates at this late date - he was seventy, and surely in a few years he would have died of natural causes, and then he would no longer annoy people. 1 Apology, p. 46 2 'A New Apology for Socrates' by I.F. Stone. 3 Socrates - speaking in his trial in 399 B.C, as told by Plato. Elysse Jones 13cl ...read more.

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