Socrates and Plato - Track 902

If that is not too strong an expression but that it mattered all the world to me that I should do nothing wrong or wicked. Powerful as it was, that government did not terrify me into doing a wrong action; when we came out of the Round Chamber the other four went off to Salamis and arrested Leon, and I went home. I should probably have been put to death for this, if the government had not fallen soon afterwards. There are plenty of people who will testify to these statements.

So this was another occasion when he could have been killed but still he did what he felt was right. Do you suppose that I should have lived as long as I have if I had moved in the sphere of public life, and conducting myself in that sphere like an honourable man, had always upheld the cause of right, and conscientiously set this end above all other things? Not by a very long way, gentlemen; neither would any other man. You will find that throughout my life I have been consistent in any public duties that I have performed, and the same also in my personal dealings: I have never countenanced any action that was incompatible with justice on the part of any person, including those whom some people maliciously call my pupils. I have never set up as any man's teacher; but if anyone, young or old, is eager to hear me conversing and carrying out my private mission, I never grudge him the opportunity; nor do charge a fee for talking to him, and refuse to talk without one; I am ready to answer questions for rich and poor alike, and I am equally ready if anyone prefers to listen to me and answer my questions. If any given one of these people becomes a good citizen or a bad one, I cannot fairly be held responsible, since I have never promised or imparted any teaching to anybody; and if anyone asserts that he has ever learned or heard from me privately anything which was not open to everyone else, you may be quite sure that he is not telling the truth.

So this is about death, why he is not afraid of death and he gives examples in his life.

Now comes another point. But how is it that some people enjoy spending a great deal of time in my company? You have heard the reason, gentlemen; I told you quite frankly. It is because they enjoy hearing me examine those who think that they are wise when they are not; an experience which has its amusing side. This duty I have accepted, as I said, in obedience to God's commands given in oracles and dreams and in every other way that any other divine dispensation has ever impressed a duty upon man. How do you know what is God’s will? So he says there are many ways by which God’s will can be known, one is when you hear a voice or when you see a dream or when you are about to do something and somebody tells you inside yourself: ‘Don’t do it and there are many other ways. This is a true statement, gentlemen, and easy to verify. If it is a fact that I am in process of corrupting some of the young, and have succeeded already in corrupting others; and if it were a fact that some of the latter, being now grown up, had discovered that I had ever given them bad advice when they were young, surely they ought now to be coming forward to denounce and punish me; and if they did not like to do it themselves, you would expect some of their families — their fathers and brothers and other near relations — to remember it now, if their own flesh and blood had suffered any harm from me. Certainly a great many of them have found their way into this court, as I can see for myself: first Crit (Crito was a good pupil of Socrates. There is one full dialogue written by Plato the title… because in that dialogue Plato describes the last hours of the life of Socrates when Socrates is told by his friends: “Look, you are in the jail, tomorrow you’ll be executed or within a few hours you are going to be executed, the jailors are here they will not mind if you just run away from the jail and then you'll escape, escape the jail, you will escape death and many people around they tried to persuade Socrates to run away. But he said: No, I will not do it, I will do the right thing, I have been put into the jail by law of the state therefore I have accept the punishment, although I don’t deserve the punishment but to escape the punishment I will not run away.

So at that time Crito was one of the great friends who was with Socrates in the last moment.) So he says here is Crito, you ask Crito, I have advised him, I have taught him. He doesn’t call it teaching because he says: I am not a teacher. I have advised him, I have talked to him, I have persuaded him, I have reproved him, you can ask him whether he is spoiled. You can ask his father, mother, whoever they may be complain if I have spoiled this young man. First Crito — over there, my contemporary and near neighbour, the father of this young man Critobulus; and then Lysanias of Sphettus, the father of Aeschines here; and next Antiphon of Cephisia, over there, the father of Epigenes. Then besides there are all those whose brothers have been members of our circle: Nicostratus the son of Theozotides, the brother of Theodotus — but Theodotus is dead, so he cannot appeal to his brother — and Paralius here, the son of Demodocus; his brother was Theages. And here is Adimantus, the son of Ariston, whose brother Plato is over there; and Aeantodorus, whose brother Apollodoms is here on this side. I can name many more besides, some of whom Meletus most certainly ought to have produced as witness in the course of his speech. If he forgot to do so then, let him do it now — I am willing to make way for him; let him state whether he has any such evidence to offer. On the contrary, gentlemen, you will find that they are all prepared to help me — the corrupter and evil genius of their nearest and dearest elatives, as Meletus and Anytus say. The actual victims of my corrupting influence might perhaps be excused for helping me; but as for the uncorrupted, their relations of mature age, what other reason can they have for helping me except the right and proper one, that they know Meletus is lying and I am telling the truth?

There gentlemen: that, and perhaps a little more to the same effect, is the substance of what I can say in my defence. It may be that some one of you, remembering his own case, will be annoyed that whereas he, in standing his trial upon a less serious charge than this, made pitiful appeals to the jury with floods of tears, and had his infant children produced in court to excite the maximum of sympathy, and many of his relatives and friends as well, I on the contrary intend to do nothing of the sort, and that although I am facing (as it might appear) the utmost danger. It may be that one of you, reflecting on these facts, will be prejudiced against me, and being irritated by his reflections, will give his vote in anger. If one of you is so disposed — I do not expect it, but there is the possibility — I think that I should be quite justified in saying to him "My dear sir, of course I have some relatives. To quote the very words of Homer, even I am not sprung 'from an oak or from a rock', but from human parents, and consequently I have relatives; yes, and sons too, gentlemen, three of them, one almost grown up and the other two only children; but all the same I am not going to produce them here and beseech you to acquit me."

As I told you yesterday that there was a system in those days that if the accused could produce his relatives, cry before the judges, beseech, appeal for mercy then the accused might get a lesser punishment or might even get free. He says: Why not people ask me why I am not doing it? He says: I refuse to do so. Why do I not intend to do anything of this kind? Not out of perversity, gentlemen, nor out of contempt for you; Socrates is now saying as to why he does not want that his people should come to the court and should plead for mercy. When he says: Why do I not intend to do anything of this kind? Not out of perversity, gentlemen, nor out of contempt for you; whether I am brave or not in the face of death has nothing to do with it; the point is that for my own credit and yours and for the credit of the state as a whole, I do not think that it is right for me to use any of these methods at my age and with my reputation — which may be true or it may be false, but at any rate the view is held that Socrates is different from the common run of mankind. Now if those of you who are supposed to be distinguished for wisdom or courage or any other virtue are to behave in this way, it would be a disgrace. I have often noticed that some people of this type, for all their high standing, go to extraordinary lengths when they come up for trial, which shows that they think it will be a dreadful thing to lose their lives; as though they would be immortal if you did not put them to death! In my opinion these people bring disgrace upon our city. Any of our visitors might be excused for thinking that the finest specimens of Athenian manhood, whom their fellow-citizens select on their merits to rule over them and hold other high positions, are no better than women. If you have even the smallest reputation, gentlemen, you ought not to descend to these methods; and if we do so, you must not give us licence. On the contrary, you must make it clear that anyone who stages these pathetic scenes and so brings ridicule upon our city is far more likely to be condemned than if he kept perfectly quiet,….

Now he goes farther and defend on this point….

But apart from all question of appearances, gentlemen, I do not think that it is right for a man to appeal to the jury or to get himself acquitted by doing so; he ought to inform them of the facts and convince them by argument. The jury does not sit to dispense justice as a favour, but to decide where justice lies; and the oath which they have sworn is not to show favour at their own discretion, but to return a just and lawful verdict. It follows that we must not develop in you, nor you allow to grow in yourselves, the habit of perjury; (perjury is a legal term  − deviation from what is just, or right or true. To tell a lie in the court is called perjury, to do something that is not just is perjury, something that is not straight to be crooked is perjury. So to attempt the judge to deviate from his straight course of action by crying, by wailing, by appealing  − be merciful, he said this is not right this is perjury.)  that would be sinful for us both. Therefore you must not expect me, gentlemen, to behave towards you in a way which I consider neither reputable nor moral nor consistent with my religious duty; and above all you must not expect it when I stand charged with impiety by Meletus here. (Impiety means to be pious is to be, you know when a man is pious what does it mean? He is very kind? Mohammad was a pious man. To believe in God and therefore to have great kindness as God has, so impiety is irreligiousness that was the argument against Socrates. Socrates was asked to stand on trail because according to the accusers he was irreligious, he was not even believe in gods. So he said: Now because I believe in God therefore I cannot ask your mercy, I cannot do something that is impious, I stand charged with impiety by Meletus here.) Surely it is obvious that if I tried to persuade you and prevail upon you by my entreaties to go against your solemn oath, I should be teaching you contempt for religion; and by my very defence I should be accusing myself of having no religious belief. But that is very far from the truth. I have a more sincere belief, gentlemen, than any of my accusers; and I leave it to you and to God to judge me as it shall be best for me and for yourselves.