So the third question. The first question you know about horses and men, trainers of men and trainers of horses. The second was intentionally corrupting or unintentionally corrupting. Now third question is in what sense you make out that I corrupt the minds of the young?
Surely the terms of your indictment make it clear that you accuse me of teaching them to believe in new deities instead of the gods recognised by the State; is not that the teaching of mine which you say has this demoralising effect? (Meletus says) "That is precisely what I maintain." Then I appeal to you, Meletus, in the name of these same gods about whom we are speaking, to explain yourself a little more clearly to myself and to the jury, because I cannot make out what your point is. (Now what is the meaning of this? He says that I don’t understand your point now, let us read again.) I appeal to you, Meletus, in the name of these same gods about whom we are speaking, to explain yourself a little more clearly to myself and to the jury, because I cannot make out what your point is. (Now this statement means actually you are asking me whether I believe in Gods or not, knowing very well that I believe in Gods, therefore he says: I don’t understand your point. Repeat now the argument of Meletus. Meletus says: You believe in Gods other than Gods in which the state believes. So the argument is not that he does not believe in Gods at all. The argument is that he believes in Gods but the Gods which are other than the Gods of the state. Now he will prove that if he believes in divinities at all there can’t be two kinds of divinities. If I believe in one divinity, the divinity is the same everywhere, whether these divinities or those divinities therefore it is a fact that I really believe in divinity. So if you said that I believe in divinity and that I don’t believe in divinity is a self-contradiction. Therefore he says I don’t understand what your point is, I cannot make out what your point is?) Is it that I teach people to believe in some gods (which implies that I myself believe in gods, and am not a complete atheist, so that I am not guilty on that score), but in different gods from those recognised by the State, so that your accusation rests upon the fact that they are different? Or do you assert that I believe in no gods at all, and teach others to do the same? (Then Meletus says) "Yes; I say that you disbelieve in gods altogether." (So now Meletus changes his position. In the first place he said you believe in Gods different from the Gods of the state, now he says no, no, no I want to assert that you disbelieve in Gods altogether. So Socrates says) You surprise me, Meletus; what is your object in saying that? Do you suggest that I do not believe that the sun and moon are gods, as is the general belief of all mankind? (The answer) "He certainly does not, gentlemen of the jury, since he says that the sun is a stone and the moon a mass of earth." (This is the answer of Meletus) "He certainly does not, gentlemen of the jury, since he says that the sun is a stone and the moon a mass of earth."(Socrates now says) Do you imagine that you are prosecuting Anaxagoras, my dear Meletus? (Now Anaxagoras was a philosopher of that time who had declared that the sun and moon are two stones which had come out of the earth and since they are revolving very fast, they have become very hot that was the theory of Anaxagoras. So he says: what you are saying is the theory of Anaxagoras not my theory so are you confusing me with Anaxagoras because Anaxagoras’ philosophy is well known and you are intuiting that philosophy into me, it is not my philosophy.) Have you so poor an opinion of these gentlemen, and do you assume them to be so illiterate as not to know that the writings of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae are full of theories like these? And do you seriously suggest that it is from me that the young get these ideas, when they can buy them on occasion in the market-place for a shilling at most, and so have the laugh on Socrates if he claims them for his own, to say nothing of their being so silly? Tell me honestly, Meletus, is that your opinion of me? Do I believe in no god? (Meletus says) "No, none at all; not in the slightest degree." (So Socrates says)You are not at all convincing, Meletus; not even to yourself, I suspect. In my opinion, gentlemen, this man is a thoroughly selfish bully, and has brought this action against me out of sheer wanton aggressiveness and self-assertion. He seems to be devising a sort of intelligence test for me, saying to himself "Will the infallible Socrates realise that I am contradicting myself for my own amusement, or shall I succeed in deceiving him and the rest of my audience?" It certainly seems to me that he is contradicting himself in this indictment, which might just as well run "Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, but believing in the gods." And this is pure flippancy. (This is the conclusion) "Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, but believing in the gods." And this is pure flippancy. (What is flippancy – a self-contradiction which is amusing? An amusing self-contradiction is flippancy or a non-sense. An amusement in speaking that is nonsense that’s flippancy.)
I ask you to examine with me, gentlemen, the line of reasoning which leads me to this conclusion. You, Meletus, will oblige us by answering my questions. Will you all kindly remember, as I requested at the beginning, not to interrupt if I conduct the discussion in my customary way? (So now he proves the self-contradiction of Meletus. Now let us repeat.)
Is there anyone in the world, Meletus, who believes in human activities, and not in human beings? (Repeat the question.) Is there anyone in the world, Meletus, who believes in human activities, and not in human beings? Make him answer, gentlemen, and don't let him keep on making these continual objections. Is there anyone who does not believe in horses, but believes in horses' activities? Or who does not believe in musicians, but believes in musical activities? No, there is not, my worthy friend. If you do not want to answer, I will supply it for you and for these gentlemen too. But the next question you must answer: Is there anyone who believes in supernatural activities and not in supernatural beings? (Now Meletus says) "No." How good of you to give a bare answer under compulsion by the court! Well, do you assert that I believe and teach others to believe in supernatural activities? It does not matter whether they are new or old; the fact remains that I believe in them according to your statement; indeed you solemnly swore as much in your affidavit. But if I believe in supernatural activities, it follows inevitably that I also believe in supernatural beings. Is not that so? It is; I assume your assent, since you do not answer. Do we not hold that supernatural beings are either gods or the children of gods? Do you agree or not? (Meletus) "Certainly." Then if I believe in supernatural beings, as you assert, if these supernatural beings are gods in any sense, we shall reach the conclusion which I mentioned just now when I said that you were testing my intelligence for your own amusement, by stating first that I do not believe in gods, and then again that I do, since I believe in supernatural beings. If on the other hand these supernatural beings are bastard children of the gods by nymphs or other mothers, as they are reputed to be, who in the world would believe in the children of gods and not in the gods themselves? It would be as ridiculous as to believe in the young of horses or donkeys and not in horses and donkeys themselves. No, Meletus; there is not avoiding the conclusion that you brought this charge against me as a test of my wisdom, or else in despair of finding a genuine offence of which to accuse me. As for your prospect of convincing any living person with even a smattering of intelligence that belief in supernatural and divine activities does not imply belief in supernatural and divine beings, and vice versa, it is outside all the bounds of possibility.
As a matter of fact, gentlemen, I do not feel that it requires much defence to clear myself of Meletus' accusation; what I have said already is enough. But you know very well the truth of what I said in an earlier part of my speech, that I have incurred a great deal of bitter hostility; and this is what will bring about my destruction, if anything does; not Meletus nor Anytus, but the slander and jealousy of a very large section of the people. They have been fatal to a great many other innocent men, and I suppose will continue to be so; there is not likelihood that they will stop at me. But perhaps someone will say "Do you feel no compunction, Socrates, at having followed a line of action which puts you in danger of the death-penalty?" I might fairly reply to him "You are mistaken, my friend, if you think that a man who is worth anything ought to spend his time weighing up the prospects of life and death. He has only one thing to consider in performing any action; that is, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly like a good man or a bad one. On your view the heroes who died at Troy would be poor creatures, especially the son of Thetis. He, if you remember, made so light of danger in comparison with incurring dishonour that when his goddess mother warned him, eager as he was to kill Hector, in some such words as these, I fancy, 'My son, if you avenge your comrade Patroclus' death and kill Hector, you will die yourself;
Next after Hector is thy fate prepared,'— when he heard this warning, he made light of his death and danger, being much more afraid of an ignoble life and of failing to avenge his friends. 'Let me die forthwith', said he, 'when I have requited the villain, rather than remain here by the beaked ships to be mocked, a burden on the ground.' Do you suppose that he gave a thought of death and danger?"
Let us repeat a little. He has disposed off the two arguments, one that he is corrupting the youth and second that he does not believe in divinity, both the arguments he has now disposed off. But now he raises a third argument which was not in the affidavit. He says after having disposed of these two arguments you may raise a third question. What is the third question? Socrates why do you conduct your life in such a way that you are brought to this position today that you are to defend yourself against penalty of death because it might come to you. Why do you conduct your life so dangerously? So to that now Socrates says that is because – what is his answer? Why he wants to lead his life dangerously. His reply is: I might fail to reply to him, you are mistaken my friend if you think that a man who is worth anything ought to spend his time weighing up the prospects of life and death. I do not care whether I live or I die, if I have to weigh all the time whether I shall live or die then of course your proposition is correct that I should not live life in such a way that I may incur the penalty of death. He says my concern is only one thing, he has only one thing to consider in performing any action that is whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, like a good man or a bad one.