, Research Paper
Why Socrates should be found Guilty?In 470 B. C or 469 B. C a Greek Philosopher named Socrates was born in Athens. He was the son of Sophroniscus who was a sculptor. Researchers has said that Socrates was brought up as a sculptor. Socrates later abandoned it. When Peloponesion war broke out, Socrates went into active service and he earned high praises by the people of Athens for his courage and his endurance. Socrates took part in three war campaign for Athens. The seize of Potidea which was the beginning of the war and where he saved Alcibiades life. He also took part in the defeat and retreat of the Athenians at Delium in Boeotia in 424. He also fought in the battle of Amphipolis in 422. He was considered a hero by the people of Athens. In 406 B. C a trial of generals who commanded an Athenian fleet at the battle of Arginusae was held. They were accused of failing to pick up survivors and the dead of the battle. The generals defended themselves by claiming that the rescue of the bodies would be impossible because of the strong seas. Socrates was a member of the Prytaneis who are the board of fifty that presided at the trial. What Socrates asked himself was “Whether the generals had a right to be tried separately” (Stone pg.110). He believed that if they were tried together it would be unfair. The Athenian council listened to the public opinion who said, that they should be tried together. The council then decided that they were to be tried together. Socrates dissented and challenged the mass trial as unconstitutional under Athenian law and procedure of the court. But, the population of Athens and the majority of that population was so angered by the decision to postpone the trial, that the committee forgot unconstitutionality and allowed a vote on an amendment to try all ten generals together. Socrates held out against this decision because he believed it was not only illegal but also unjust. The majority prevailed and cleared the passage for the amendment and the trial. Socrates said “What they have done was illegal” (Stone pg. 113). By saying this statement Socrates criticized the majority s decision. Socrates gained many enemies from saying this statement. It gives the majority a view of him as a defector of the city and views not like their own. Socrates went against the decision of the people to try them together. When you go against a majority you create a negative view of yourself. When people have negative views of you, you create many enemies. The second occasion that gave Socrates a negative view was when, Socrates went against the Thirty Tyrants. The Thirty Tyrants were responsible for oligarchy in Athens after they overthrew the Democracy. It was formed by a Spartan commander named Lysander after Sparta has wonthe Peloponnesian war. These Thirty Tyrants were responsible for many judicial murders. They murdered wealthy citizens who s property they wanted for their own. The Thirty ordered Socrates and four other men to arrest a man named Leon of Salimis. Socrates went home while the others obeyed the order. Socrates new the leaders Critias and Charmides of the Thirty well. He was very close with them including Alcibiades. Alcibiades, Critias, and Charmides were all in the Socratic circle. There was then a counter revolution that restored Democracy in Athens. The democrats wanted to prevent a comeback of the horrors that were in every Athenian citizen s mind. The terror that Critias, Charmides, and Alcibades has caused. In order to do this they would have to get Socrates out of the way. The democrats felt since Socrates was the teacher of these Thirty Tyrant leaders, that he was responsible for their misdeeds. Socrates relations with these three tyrants gave the wrong impression in the eyes of the people in Athens. Not only this was the cause of the negativity toward Socrates, it was also the fact that he went home instead of joining the exiled that left the city to over throw the Thirty tyrants. Maybe perhaps if he joined the exiles to overthrow the Thirty his popularity would have risen. A perfect example in modern times of this situation was the decision George Bush made in the Gulf War. He did not overthrow Saddam he just simply went home and Bush spopularity decreased. The majority of people believed that bush should have finished the job. Same with Socrates, he simply went home instead of joining the exiles to overthrow the Thirty. By Socrates having some relation with Alcibiades, Critias, and Charmides it showed that Socrates was against Democracy. Socrates was a traitor of the people and of Democracy. He was charged for corrupting the young against the cause of Democracy. Anytus was his accuser of this accusation. Anytus had a perfect example using Acibiades, Critias, Charmides. If again, Socrates helped to overthrow the Thirty these charges would have never had gone to trial. Since these three men (Critias, Charmides, Alcibiades) took over Athens and took away Democracy, the people would fear that ” Socrates teachings might inspire the newer generations of willful and violent youth in another attempt to overthrow Democracy” (Philosophical Significance Pg. 62). I agree with this statement, Because Socrates influenced these men to not follow Democracy through his teachings. To me, Socrates was responsible for the overthrow of Athens and Anytus accused him rightly. The Poet Meletus also prosecuted Socrates in his trial. He prosecuted Socrates as questioning what is above and below. In another sense Socrates was questioning the Gods. Meletus calls Socrates and atheist in which he does
not believe in any God. Gods such as Zeus, Chronos, Uranius were worshipped by many people in Athens. Socrates not only questioned their existence but also there accomplishments. There was even a play written about Socrates named “The Clouds”. It was written by the poet Aristophones who pictured Socrates as “a philosopher who taught a common man named Strepsiades that there was no Zeus and that the real Gods were chaos, respiration, and air”( Stone pg. 200). The people of Athens thought that the play was hilarious as they laughed at Socrates. The play ends with the common man Strepsiades setting Socrates thinkery on fire as he launches a mob against Socrates and his students. Strepsiades states during the attack “Strike, smite them, spare them not, for many reasons. But most because they have blasphemed the Gods” (Stone 200). This play was showing the Athenians that he was an atheist and did not believe in any God.During the trial of Socrates, There was an exchange between Meletus and Socrates that showed that the play was right and which sealed Socrates belief of the Gods. Socrates says to Meletus “Are you saying that I do not honor or believe in the Gods Athens believes in but I honor other Gods or that I do not myself believe in Gods at all and that I teach this unbelief to other people?” Meletus replies ” That is what I say that you do not believe in Gods at All” (Stone pg. 243). The reason for this accusation is caused by Socrates questioning people in Athens about their Gods. When people cannot answer certain questions about their God and cannot answer they get angry or offended. This is what Socrates did to the people of Athens. He questioned their Gods. Socrates later in the court states to Meletus “you amaze me Meletus! Do I not even believe that the sun or the moon are Gods, as the rest of mankind do”(Gill, Radar pg. 18). Meletus says in response to Socrates “No, by Zeus judges, since he says that the sun is a stone and the moon earth”(Gill, Radar pg. 18). Socrates showed and told the court that he disagrees with the almighty Zeus by stating that the sun and moon are Gods. While Zeus believers say that the sun is a stone and the moon earth. Therefore Socrates is an atheist. Socrates also shows that he studies his own religion and does not follow Zeus. This hurts Socrates reputation and popularity towards religious citizens of Athens. It is like a public official saying publicly that he does not believe in God. It hurts his popularity and reputation. Although being an atheist is not illegal in Athens, it shows you are different from most Athenians. The final charge on Socrates was prosecuted by a man name Lycon who charges Socrates of making the good argument bad and bad arguments good. Itis like two anti abortion people talking about why it should not be legal. Here come Socrates who was listening to the conversation and starts to ask questionswhy they believe this. Then he questions their answer. Socrates made a good argument bad. The issues were not abortion in Athens though. The issues were mainly about issues in government or welfare of the people. Socrates was like a little terrorist running around the city s square full of people asking them questions in their beliefs or argument toward an issue. You would start getting a sense of dislike toward someone who question s you, then counter question s you. Although Socrates was a brave warrior and fought for Athens in the Sparta wars, it does not mean anything to people who disliked him. Such as Albert Einstein who made the atomic bomb for the U. S during World War II, He was later called a communist. Same way with Socrates in Athens. The man was a nuisance to the Athenians and their government and could never be trusted by the government. Hitler disposed people who had the power to influence other people. Hitler did no want any coup or riot against his government nor did the Athenians. They had to dispose Socrates because he could influence the young to overthrow Athens such as the Thirty. He did not believe in the same Gods as the Athenians did. He questioned too many people to the point where theywould get angry at him. But, most importantly he was a threat to the Democracy of Athens. Socrates was not well liked by most Athenians because of the negative views of the Gods, that the play “The Clouds” showed. The play was like a form of negative advertising toward Socrates which damaged his reputation. His decision to postpone the trial of the Generals hurt his popularity. But, I think they mainly disliked him because he spent most of his time in the market and public places in Athens, engaging in conversation and argument with anyone that would succumb their attention to him and be interrogated by him. I believe Socrates should have been executed because he was different then the rest and he was warned to get out and he did not want to leave. He wasn t for Democracy and preached anti Democracy philosophy. He said “a philosopher is much like a gadfly flying around the city” ( Gill, Radar pg.22). “That he was sent to attack it” (Gill, Radar pg. 22). He was like a gadfly, flying around the city bothering people. I don t think he was missed in Athens, because he was a nuisance, just like a gadfly.