Socrates ' Apology Of The Jury Essay

Socrates ' Apology Of The Jury Essay

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In his work Socrates’ Apology to the Jury, Xenophon produces an account of the Socratic deliberation –and indeed the logic that seemed to inform that deliberation- over his trial. Specifically, Xenophon, provides his readers with an ambivalent justification of Socrates’ chosen rhetoric during his trial, namely his “boastful manner of speaking” or megalegoria (Patch, footnote 2). Indeed, instead of choosing to deliver a speech that would gain him the jury’s sympathy and the city’s acquittal, Socrates proceeds to deliver a speech that is characterized mainly by its ironic arrogance. Xenophon goes so far as to provide his readers with a kind of statement of purpose that frames Socrates’ megalegoric speech; Socrates had, in the words of Xenophon, “…already believed death to be preferable to life” (1.4). In other words, the rationale that initially frames the Xenophonic Apology, is Socrates’s desirable acceptance of death.
It is important to note here, however, that a more careful reading of this text provides its reader with a secondary framing, namely with an opportunity to judiciously assess Socrates’ responses to the charges laid against him: impiety and corruption of the youth. Hence, while Xenophon’s Apology aspires to provide a defense of the Socratic defense, by offering an ironic and paradoxical evaluation of the extent to which this defense was successful as it pertains to the question of Socrates’ (im)piety.
The first invocation of Socrates piety comes with Socrates’ affirmation that “twice already [he considered his] defense, but [his] diamonian opposes [him]…” (4.6). Socrates then further claims, after Hermogenes expresses great bewilderment at this affirmation, that the latter’s bewilderment is misplaced considering tha...


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...monion. Hence, whilst Socrates affirmation is informed by the very same premise that informs the Athenians’ trust in the conventional divine, an acceptance of that affirmation as proof of Socrates’ piety requires a critical questioning of both that very premise, and of Socrates’ actual belief in it.
In conclusion, Xenophon’s Apology successfully vindicates the Socrates’ defense of his piety in so far as it shows that Socrates holds a belief in that is no different than the one held by any other Athenian, yet to accept the logic that informs Socrates’ vindication –almost always- requires a radical questioning of the foundations that inform conventional Athenian piety. Indeed, this radical questioning, to the extent to which it brings into light the paradoxical inconsistencies of Socrates’ defense, congruently highlights the extent to which that defense has failed.

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