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The unjust execution of socrates

THE UNJUST EXECUTION OF SOCRATES

Michael Turack

Professor Pierson

History 101.02N

The University of Toledo

4/28/92

In the vortex of life, many evils have transpired.

Vices such as plagues, unforeseen deaths, and corruptness.

Among the tragic acts of malefic proportion was the death of

the Greek philosopher, Socrates. He tried to prove and

invalidate many theories through reasoning, and he was

murdered for his beliefs. His execution was not justified

because the charges that were brought against him were false

and unfounded.

The fist crime that Socrates was charged with was that

of impiety. This charge was invented primarily to discredit

him and make him unpopular with the citizens. The charge was

that of not acknowledging the same gods that the state

believed in. Throughout the book, Socrates refers numerous

times to the fact that it is because of the gods that things

are as they seem to be. "Do you suggest that I do not

believe that the sun and moon are gods, as is the general

belief of all of mankind?" (57). The fact that Socrates did

not publicly speak about the gods attributed to the fact

that the charge was heresy. Socrates maintains that he is

not like other philosohers. He is a free-thinker, and his

beliefs are those of private and intimate thoughts of Gods.

Socrates also states that he is not a teacher, however he was

not at all happy with the analogy, but took it as a

compliment and used it in his defense. He used these

accusations to his advantage by saying that he never charged

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charged anyone for believing or listening to them. The

combination of these arguments should have cleared Socrates

of the charge of heresy.

The second charge brought against Socrates was that of

corrupting minors. Socrates battled this charge through the

use of the same arguments. The argument that he did not

consider himself a teacher, the fact that he never accepted

any money for talking or listening to people, and the fact

that he believes in gods are what Socrates used to defend

himself. By confronting the accusation that he was

corrupting the minors, Socrates tried to clear himself by

manipulating his arguments so that Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon

(the men who brought both charges against Socrates) had to

answer questions about these charges. When the questions of

Socrates were placed before Meletus, his answers seemed to

have proven that Socrates was innocent. However, when the

verdict was announced, it demonstrated the opposite.

Upon hearing the verdict, GUILTY, it was plain to see

that the Greek assembly was like every other political

assembly, corrupt.

"I should never have believed that it would be such a

close thing; but now it seems to me that if a mere thirty

votes had gone the other way, I would have been acquitted.

Even as it is, I feel that so far Meletus' part is concerned

I have been acquitted; and not only that, but anyone can see

that if Anytus and Lycon had not come forward to accuse me,

Meletus would have actually lost a thousand drachmae for not

having obtained one-fifth of the votes" (69).

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People in todays society need not look any further than

their own governments (especially in the United States) to

see how ancient were governments really immoral.

Once the verdict of guilty had been announced, Meletus

demanded the death penalty. Socrates could have easily

persuaded the assembly that it was too harsh and taken a

lesser sentence, but Socrates took the sentence of the death

penalty in stride. Unlike all other executions, Socrates

could not be penalized immediately due to a religious

ceremony during which it is forbidden to carry out

executions. Socrates' execution would not take place

immediately because the ceremony ended upon the return of a

ship to a distant island. He was incarcerated, and was

entitled to have visitors. He permitted many of his friends

to see him, and even though Socrates was urged many times to

try to escape (because it could be arranged) he would not

attempt it. When confronted as to why he would not do as his

friends advised, he replied that it would be breaking laws

and his code of ethics. Crito had this to say, "And will no

one comment on the fact that an old man of your age, probably

with only a short time to live, should dare to cling so

greedily to life, at the price of violating the most

stringent laws?" (95). At the conclusion of this, Socrates

said that if he compromised his beliefs, then he would be

compromising his soul. Upon that, Crito did not discuss the

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over that issue anymore. Then came the day when the boat

arrived. All of Socrates' friends gathered to be with him

one last time. After a long discussion, Socrates took the

poison that was to end his life before it was mandatory for

him to do so. His reasoning was that the inevitable can not

be put off. Minutes later Socrates died, and the punishment

had been carried out.

If it was not for the fact that a corrupt government

existed as well as those who wish harm upon others, many of

the travesties, such as the death of Socrates, could have

been avoided. It is only now that people can reflect back

upon what Socrates thought and admire him for the true

philosopher that he was.

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