Socrates, in his conviction from the Athenian jury, was both innocent and guilty as charged. In Plato’s Five Dialogues, accounts of events ranging from just prior to Socrates’ entry into the courthouse up until his mouthful of hemlock, both points are represented. Socrates’ in dealing with moral law was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of by Meletus. Socrates was only guilty as charged because his peers had concluded him as such. The laws didn’t find Socrates guilty; Socrates was guilty because his jurors enforced the laws. The law couldn’t enforce itself. Socrates was accused of corrupting Athens’ youth, not believing in the gods of the city and creating his own gods. In the Euthyphro, Socrates defends himself against the blasphemous charges outside the courthouse to a priest Euthyphro. Socrates looks to the priest to tell him what exactly is pious so that he may educate himself as to why he would be perceived as impious. Found in the Apology, another of Plato’s Five Dialogues, Socrates aims to defend his principles to the five hundred and one person jury. Finally, the Crito, an account of Socrates’ final discussion with his good friend Crito, Socrates is offered an opportunity to escape the prison and his death sentence. As is known, Socrates rejected the suggestion. It is in the Euthyphro and the Apology that it can be deduced that Socrates is not guilty as charged, he had done nothing wrong and he properly defended himself. However, in the Crito, it is shown that Socrates is guilty only in the interpretation and enforcement of Athens’ laws through the court system and its jurors. Socrates’ accusations of being blasphemous are also seen as being treasonous.
In the Euthyphro, Socrates is making his way into the courthouse; however, prior to entering he had a discussion with a young priest of Athens, Euthyphro. This dialogue relates religion and justice to one another and the manner in which they correlate. Euthyphro feels as though justice necessitates religion and Socrates feels the opposite, religion necessitates justice. Euthyphro claims that religion is everything, justice, habits, traditions, customs, cultures, etc. all are derived from religion. Socrates went on to question what exactly would be the definition of pious. Euthyphro offered Socrates three definitions of pious and in all three Socrates was able to successfully find fault...
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...ur trials and manage the city in other ways, has in fact come to an agreement with us to obey our instructions (63e). If the decisions of the city’s governing agents are not thoroughly respected as just and cohesive parts of society, the very structure by which the society stands is subject to collapse.
Socrates was not guilty as charged; he had done nothing wrong, as seen in the Apology. Not even a priest could tell Socrates what he had done wrong religiously, Euthyphro wasn’t even able to give Socrates a precise definition of piety. It is then questioned by Crito why Socrates would remain to face a penalty for a crime he did not commit. In the Crito, it is explained why, although innocent, Socrates must accept the penalties his peers have set upon him. It is his peers that will interpret and enforce the laws, not the law which will enforce it. Even if the enforcers don’t deserve attention and respect because they have no real knowledge to the situation, Socrates had put himself under their judgment by going to the trial. Therefore, Socrates must respect the decisions made by the masses because the decisions are made to represent the laws, which demand each citizen’s respect.
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