Plato's Apology

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The Apology is Plato's recollection and interpretation of the Trial of Socrates (399 BC). In this dialogue Socrates explains who he is and what kind of life he led. The Greek word "apologia" means "explanation" -- it is not to be confused with "apologizing" or "being sorry" for one's actions. The following is an outline of the 'argument' or logos that Socrates used in his defense. A hypertext treatment of this dialogue is also available.

I. Prologue (17a-19a)

The first sentence sets the tone and direction for the entire dialogue. Socrates, in addressing the men of Athens, states that he almost forgot who he was. The speeches of his accusers had led him to this point. The dialogue will thus be a kind of "recollecting" by Socrates
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Who Socrates IS: He IS like a Gadfly, helping the City out of a pious response to the Delphic Oracle.]

He asks, finally, if any present in the court felt that he had corrupted them. Plato and others indicate that, to the contrary, they have been helped by Socrates. Hence "those around him" also say that Socrates does not corrupt the youth.

VI. Epilogue (34c-35d)

Socrates tells the "men of Athens" that he wants to be judged according to his account of himself and not by any other standard -- such as appealing to his old age or the fact that he has children.

Thus Socrates wishes to be judged and not "forgiven" or let off for any other reason than that it is JUST to do so.

At this point, a vote is taken and Socrates is found quilty by a margin of some 30 votes).

VII. The Conviction and Alternate Penalties (36a - 38c)

Socrates is found guility by a margin of some 30 votes. The penalty proposed is death by hemlock. At this point Socrates has the opportunity to propose an alternate penalty.

Socrates argues that since the penalty should be something he deserves, and since he has spent his life freely offering his service to the City, he deserves FREE MEALS for the rest of his life.

VIII. Final Speeches (38c-42a)

There are two sets of final speeches. The first are to those who voted for his death; the second are for those who voted for his aquittal. It is only in the latter speech that Socrates