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Encyclopedia > Trial of Socrates
The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (1787)
The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (1787)

The trial of Socrates refers to the trial and the subsequent execution of the Athenian philosopher Socrates in 399 BC. Socrates was tried and convicted by the courts of democratic Athens on a charge of corrupting the youth and disbelieving in the ancestral gods. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Jacques-Louis David (August 30, 1748 – December 29, 1825) was a highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the prominent painter of the era. ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... This page is about the Classical Greek philosopher. ... Centuries: 5th century BC - 4th century BC - 3rd century BC Decades: 440s BC 430s BC 420s BC 410s BC 400s BC - 390s BC - 380s BC 370s BC 360s BC 350s BC 340s BC Years: 404 BC 403 BC 402 BC 401 BC 400 BC - 399 BC - 398 BC 397 BC... This article is about the capital of Greece. ...

The trial was described by two of Socrates' contemporaries (Plato and Xenophon), and is one of the most famous trials of ancient times. For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ...


Background to the trial

Socrates had been a well-known figure in Athens for some years by the time of his trial. Aristophanes's comedy Clouds (Nephelai), produced in 420 BC, has Socrates as a main character, portraying him as a pompous, bombastic con-artist. This article is about the capital of Greece. ... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... A comedy is a dramatic performance of a light and amusing character, usually with a happy conclusion to its plot. ... The Clouds (Nephelae,Νεφέλαι) is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes lampooning the sophists and the intellectual trends of late fifth-century Athens. ... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC 440s BC 430s BC - 420s BC - 410s BC 400s BC 390s BC 380s BC 370s BC Years: 425 BC 424 BC 423 BC 422 BC 421 BC - 420 BC - 419 BC 418 BC... Category: ... A confidence trick, confidence game, or con for short, (also known as a scam) is an attempt to intentionally mislead a person or persons (known as the mark) usually with the goal of financial or other gain. ...

No works by Socrates himself survive, but his pupil Plato recorded numerous 'Socratic dialogues', with his teacher as the main character. Socrates's elenctic examination was resented by influential figures of his day, whose reputations for wisdom and virtue were debunked by his questions. The annoying nature of elenchos earned Socrates the epithet "gadfly of Athens." Elenctic method was often imitated by the young men of Athens, which greatly upset the established moral values and order. Indeed, even though Socrates himself fought for Athens and argued for obedience to law, at the same time he criticised democracy, especially, the Athenian practice of election by lot, ridiculing that in no other craft, the craftsman would be elected in such a fashion. Such a criticism gave rise to suspicion by the democrats, especially when his close associates were found to be enemies of democracy. Alcibiades betrayed Athens in favour of Sparta (although this was likely more a matter of necessity than a matter of ideology), and Critias, his sometime disciple, was a leader of the Thirty Tyrants (the pro-Spartan oligarchy that ruled Athens for a few years after its defeat during the Peloponnesian War), though there is also a record of their falling out. For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Elenchos (Greek: , a cross-examination for the purpose of refutation), sometimes spelt elenchus, is the central technique of the Socratic method. ... Gadfly is a term for people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempts to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant. ... Alcibiades Cleiniou Scambonides (Greek: ; English /ælsɪbaɪədi:z/; 450 BC–404 BC), also transliterated as Alkibiades, was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. ... Critias (Greek , 460-403 BC), was born in Athens, son of Callaeschrus, was the uncle of Plato, leading member of the Thirty Tyrants, and one of the most violent. ... The Thirty Tyrants were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after Athens defeat in the Peloponnesian War in April 404 BC. Its two leading members were Tharamenes and Critias, a former acolyte of Socrates. ... For modern day Sparta, see Sparti (municipality). ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Oligarchy (Greek , Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military powers). ... “Athenian War” redirects here. ...

In addition, Socrates held unusual views on religion. He made several references to his personal spirit, or daimonion, although he explicitly claimed that it never urged him on, but only warned him against various prospective events. Many of his contemporaries were suspicious of Socrates's daimonion as a rejection of the state religion. It is generally understood that Socrates's daimonion is akin to intuition. Moreover, Socrates claimed that the concept of goodness, instead of being determined by what the gods wanted, actually precedes it. The words daemon and daimon (also spelled dæmon) are distinctive Greek spellings of demon used purposely today to distinguish the daemons of Greek mythology, good or malevolent supernatural beings between mortals and gods, such as inferior divinities and ghosts of dead heroes, from the Judeo-Christian usage demon, a...

Socrates' trial described by his contemporaries

The first Tetralogy of dialogues by Plato, Socrates' student has the trial and execution of Socrates as central theme: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo. Also Xenophon wrote the Apology of Socrates to the jury. A tetralogy is a compound work that is made up of four (numerical prefix tetra-) distinct works. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Euthyphro is one of Platos early dialogues, dated to after 399 BC. Shortly before the Greek philosopher Socrates is due to appear in court, he encounters a man, Euthyphro, who has gained the reputation of being a religious expert. ... (The) Apology (of Socrates) is Platos version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of being a man who corrupted the young, did not believe in the gods, and created new deities. Apology here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the... The Crito (IPA [kriːtɔːn]; in English usually [ˈkɹiːtɘʊː]) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ... Xenophons Apology describes Socrates state of mind at his trial and execution, and especially his view that it was better to die before senility set in than to escape execution by humbling himself before an unjust persecution. ...

The process of the trial

The first element of the trial was a formal accusation, which the accuser Meletus swore before the King Archon, a state office-holder with primarily religious duties. Having decided that there was a case to answer, the King Archon summoned Socrates to appear before a jury of Athenian citizens, to answer charges of corrupting the youth of Athens and disbelieving in the ancestral gods. The Apology of Socrates by Plato names Meletus as the main perpetrator against Socrates. ... Look up Archon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Athenian juries were drawn by lottery from a group of all male citizen volunteers (citizenship was not open to women, slaves or resident aliens), but from every social class. Unlike trials in many modern societies, majority verdicts were the rule rather than the exception. (For a satirical account of juries and the sort of people found on them, read Aristophanes' comedy The Wasps.) Wiktionary has related dictionary definitions, such as: slave Slave may refer to: Slavery, where people are owned by others, and live to serve their owners without pay Slave (BDSM), a form of sexual and consenual submission Slave clock, in technology, a clock or timer that synchrnonizes to a master clock... Sketch of Aristophanes Aristophanes (Greek: , ca. ... The Wasps is a comedy by Aristophanes. ...

Socrates faced a jury of 500 citizens - the large size of the jury showing that the trial was seen as important - and after he and his accuser had made speeches, the jury voted to convict him by 280 to 220, a majority of sixty.

Next, Socrates and his prosecutor suggested alternative sentences. Socrates, after expressing his surprise of the little amount he needed to be found guilty, jokingly suggested free meals at the Prytaneum, a particular honor held for city benefactors and winners at the Olympic Games, then offered to pay a fine of 100 drachmae, which was a fifth of his property and a testament to Socrates' poverty. Finally he settled on the sum of 3000 drachmae, put forward by Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, who guaranteed the payment. His prosecutor proposed the death penalty. The prytaneis (literally presidents) of ancient Athens were members of the boule chosen to perform executive tasks during their term (a prytany), which lasted about one month and then was rotated to other members of the boule. ... A benefactor is a person or other entity providing money or other benefits to another; the person receiving them is called a beneficiary. ...

The jury voted for death as the penalty - the larger majority (360 to 140) showing, Plato said, that Socrates had lost support by his slighting and unapologetic tone.

Socrates's followers encouraged him to flee (see: Crito), and citizens expected this and were probably not averse to it; but he refused on principle. Apparently in accordance with his philosophy of obedience to law, he carried out his own execution, by drinking the hemlock poison provided to him. He was, thus, one of the first of a limited number of strictly intellectual "martyrs". Socrates died at the age of 70. (See: Phaedo). The Crito (IPA [kriːtɔːn]; in English usually [ˈkɹiːtɘʊː]) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. ... Species Conium chaerophylloides (Thunb. ... For other uses, see Martyr (disambiguation). ... Platos Phaedo (IPA: , Greek: Φαίδων, Phaidon) is one of the great dialogues of his middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium. ...

Interpretations of the trial in the ancient world

The Athenians of the time did not give Socrates's trial the iconic status it enjoys today. Athens had just come through a difficult period, where a Spartan-supported group, called the Thirty Tyrants had overturned the city's participatory democracy and sought to impose oligarchic rule. That Critias, the leader of the Tyrants, was one of Socrates's pupils was not seen as a coincidence. His friends tried to make excuses, but the view of the Athenians was probably that expressed by the orator Aeschines some years later, when, in a prosecution speech, he wrote: "Did you not put to death Socrates the sophist, fellow citizens, because he was shown to have been the teacher of Critias, one of the Thirty who overthrew the democracy?" For modern day Sparta, see Sparti (municipality). ... The Thirty Tyrants were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after Athens defeat in the Peloponnesian War in April 404 BC. Its two leading members were Tharamenes and Critias, a former acolyte of Socrates. ...

Interpretations of the trial in the modern world

The death of Socrates, as presented by Plato, has inspired writers, artists and philosophers in the modern world, in a variety of ways. For some, the execution of the man Plato called 'the wisest and most just of all men' has shown the unreliability or undesirability of democratic rule. For others, notably I.F. Stone in his book The Trial of Socrates, the Athenians' action was a justifiable defense of their recently re-established democracy. In general, Socrates is seen as a wise and benevolent father figure, martyred for his intellectual beliefs. That is exactly how Plato and Xenophon portrayed him, it is hardly surprising - but the myth of Socrates and his execution has taken on a distinct existence, apart from the historical man, whose true views and politics we are never likely to know. Isador Feinstein Stone (better known as I.F. Stone) (December 24, 1907 – July 17, 1989) was an iconoclastic American investigative journalist best known for his influential political newsletter, . Stone was born in Philadelphia. ...

  Results from FactBites:
trial: Definition, Synonyms and Much More from Answers.com (7295 words)
Thus, a trial might be closed to the public to protect classified documents, protect trade secrets, avoid intimidation of witnesses, guard the safety of undercover police officers, or protect the identity of a juvenile.
In a civil trial, the plaintiff initiates the lawsuit and seeks a remedy from the court for private civil wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant or defendants.
In a criminal trial, the government is represented by an attorney, known as the prosecutor,who seeks to prove the guilt of the defendant.
JURIST - The Trial of Socrates (3537 words)
Finding an answer to the mystery of the trial of Socrates is complicated by the fact that the two surviving accounts of the defense (or apology) of Socrates both come from disciples of his, Plato and Xenophon.
This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pitthos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing new divinities.
When the three-hour defense of Socrates came to an end, the court herald asked the jurors to render their decision by putting their ballot disks in one of two marked urns, one for guilty votes and one for votes for acquittal.
  More results at FactBites »



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