The Trial of Socrates

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In the spring of 399 BCE, A man named Socrates was put on trial in front of his native Athenians. Facing the charges of not acknowledging the gods the city acknowledges, and introducing other new divinities. In addition, He is also charged with corrupting the youth of Athens. The affidavit introduced by Meletus demands the penalty of death. These are very serious charges and the demand of death should not be taken lightly. Yet Meletus is ignorant about what he claims and his accusations can easily be rebutted. In a legal case or trial such as the one Socrates found himself in, there is a terminology called precedent meaning “any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations.” There was a decree stating that it was prohibited to have disbelief in the gods of Athens. However it was not enforced, the unjust punishment of Socrates was a rarity, in fact there are documented cases of others mocking and showing greater disbelief in the gods who went unpunished. One such incidence is the case of Aristophanes who at religious festivals mocked not only Zeus, but Dionysus whom the festivals were held in the honor of. What made Socrates the exception to the rule? Was it because so many people listened to what he had to say? Or because he was so persistent, that even in the face of death he still refused to stop spreading his thought? Either way, if there were others, who showed more disrespect, and outright mockery towards the gods, why were they not punished, what made Socrates so dangerous to the Athenians? Meletus claims that Socrates is an atheist in the affidavit, that he teaches others to believe not in the typical Olympian gods but in other gods and demigods. However the defi... ... middle of paper ... ... corrupted testify against him? Unless the only people who consider these youth to be corrupted do not know what Socrates taught these people? Works Cited Plato The Apology http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html (accessed Septermber 24, 2011). Colaiaco, James A. "Socrates Against Athens: Philosophy on Trial." By James A Colaiaco, 121-122. Taylor & Francis, Inc, 2001. Plato. Early Socratic Dialogues. Penguin Classics, 1987. Random House, Inc. Random House, Inc. 2011. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/precedent (accessed September 11, 2011). Stone, I.F. The Trial Of Socrates. Little, Brown & Company, 1988. Waterfield, Robin. Why Socrates Died: Dispelling The Myths. New York : W.W Norton & Company, 2009. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Apology.” SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/apology/ (accessed September 23, 2011).

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