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 Class Forums - Spring 2013
 PHIL 200-001 - Sokrates and Plato
 Whose Trial Is It?
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Eva Gomez

5 Posts

Posted - Jan 30 2013 :  2:03:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Was Socrates capitalizing on his trial and trying to arrange an exit from life? Or...was he putting his judges on trial? I think perhaps he was doing a bit of both. Professor Trelogan has come up with a great quotation in support of the second interpretation:
From Plato’s Apology (p. 510)

As regards the accusations of my first accusers, let this defence suffice for you; next I will try to answer Meletos, the good patriot, as he calls himself, and the later accusers.... I say, gentlemen, that Meletos is a criminal, who is making a jest of serious things by prosecuting people lightly, by pretending to be serious and to care for things he has never cared about at all. That this is true, I will try to show you....
I also believe Socrates did a great job of being annoying and arrogant. He meant to drive the court insane, and he did just that.

I believe he was trying to make a quick exit, but wanted to make a spectacular exit as well.

Any thoughts about this?

[Edited to enhance readability -TT]

Karissa Nelson

7 Posts

Posted - Feb 01 2013 :  1:12:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would agree. It would seem plausible to infer that Socrates is doing a bit of both throughout his trial, although I must admit that I lean more toward the idea that what he was doing was putting his judges on trial. It seems to me that Socrates does not necessarily dislike the fact that he is in a position of having to confront ludicrous allegations. Socrates seems to enjoy himself when he responds to his accusers, specifically Meletos, as he is able to prove that the accusations are bogus simply by getting Meletos to contradict himself. An honest man would have definite answers that squared with one another, and Meletos' answers are the exact opposite of that.

It seems to me that Socrates is challenging his judges' morality. Socrates, in my opinion, did not necessarily want to be sentenced to death. Instead, I think he wanted to be allowed to continue living his life in the way he always had lived it, but only if the judges were willing to see that he was being unjustly accused and therefore were willing to release him not because he begged them to, but because it was the honest thing to do.

[Lightly edited to enhance readability -TT]
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Danielle Ross

4 Posts

Posted - May 08 2013 :  7:19:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I wonder if Socrates' behavior was at all influenced by the fact that there was a hold on executions for the time being. He probably knew from the very beginning that he was headed towards death, and he did nothing to slow or stop that journey. I agree with Karissa; it definitely seemed like he was putting his accusers on trial. He treated them like he treated most of his cross-questioning subjects.

He also knew that if and when he was sentenced to death, he had about a month's reprieve to get his affairs in order. Maybe he was less scared then, because it wouldn't be an immediate death, although I doubt he was scared at all.

Either way, he was making a statement by not defending himself or his actions.
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Tom Trelogan
Forum Admin

1526 Posts

Posted - May 09 2013 :  8:16:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's a most intriguing thought, Danielle. Sokrates would have known that he wouldn't have to drink the hemlock right away. This is something the implications of which I've never thought about before.
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