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The Apology of Socrates - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by F.E. Sparshott (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).
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The Apology of Socrates
[Monthly Repository, IX (Feb., and March, 1835), 112-21, and 169-78. Not republished; signed “A.” at 152.16, the end of the introductory paragraphs, rather than at the end of the article, presumably to mark what follows as a full translation, instead of an abstract, as are the other dialogues in the Monthly Repository. Identified in JSM’s bibliography (after the general heading cited on 38) as “No IV. The Apology of Socrates: part 1 in the M.R. for Febry 1835 / part 2 in the M.R. for March, 1835” (MacMinn, 37). There are no marks in the Somerville College copy.
For comments on this and the other translations, see the Introduction and the Textual Introduction, xvii-xxviii and lxxx-lxxxiii above.]
we have given several specimens of the philosophy of Socrates, as exhibited, and doubtless improved, by Plato, in those of his works which there is no reason to consider as having any foundation in real incidents, or conversations actually held between the supposed interlocutors. It will now be interesting to the reader to be introduced to Socrates as described by himself, in the work which stands among Plato’s writings under the title of The Apology of Socrates, and in the form of a speech delivered before his judges, on the celebrated trial for blasphemy, which terminated in his capital condemnation. It has been a question among the critics, whether this speech is the work of Socrates himself, or of Plato under his master’s name. But the discerning Schleiermacher, and a scholar and critic not unworthy to be named even with Schleiermacher, the Rev. Connop Thirlwall, have adduced reasons which, in our judgment, leave little doubt that a speech, substantially identical with that which is now about to engage our attention, was actually delivered by Socrates at his trial; and that Plato, in this case, aimed only at being a faithful reporter of what his master had thought fit to say in his own vindication, when prosecuted for his life on the accusation of corrupting the youth, and of being an unbeliever in the gods of his country.*
An abstract, such as those we gave of the three dialogues which have successively occupied our attention,[*] would entirely fail to give any conception of this singular performance: and after some consideration, we have resolved upon attempting an exact translation. It would, however, require a Plato, so to translate Plato as to render the ideas intelligible to an English reader, in the exact shape in which they were presented by an Athenian speaker to an Athenian audience, preserving, at the same time, all the energy and beauty of the style. We have been obliged to confine ourselves to one or the other object: either to put something like the matter of this discourse into the best English we could command, sacrificing all that is characteristic of the manner of Socrates, and of the notions and feelings of the Athenian public; or else, to retain the very thoughts of Socrates, and his very mode of stating and illustrating those thoughts, but to exchange Plato’s eloquent Greek for an English style at once bald and verbose. We have preferred the latter course, as more conducive to the objects we have in view in these papers.
SPEECH OF SOCRATES BEFORE HIS JUDGES
In what manner, O Athenians, you have been affected by my accusers, I know not; I myself, in listening to them, almost forgot that I was myself, so plausibly did they speak. Although, of what they said, not one word, I may say, was true. Among the many falsehoods which they told you, one in particular excited my astonishment; when they said that you should beware lest you be deceived by me, who am a powerful speaker. For, their not being ashamed to be immediately contradicted by the fact, when I am seen to be not at all a powerful speaker, appeared to me most shameless. Unless, indeed, they call him a powerful speaker who speaks the truth. If so, I admit myself to be an orator of a different kind from them. They, as I affirm, have spoken no truth; from me you will hear all the truth. Not, indeed, O Athenians, a speech like theirs, all tricked out with fine words and phrases: what I say, will be said unstudiedly, in such words as offer themselves. For I am convinced that all which I say is just; none of you need expect any thing else of me. Nor would it become these years, O Athenians, to appear before you spinning phrases like a stripling. And this, O Athenians, I especially solicit of you; that if you hear me make my defence in the very same style of language in which I am accustomed to speak in the streets and public places, where most of you have heard me, and elsewhere, you will neither be surprised nor clamorous. For the fact is this: At the age of seventy and more, I now for the first time appear in a court of justice; I am, therefore, a complete stranger to the ways of speaking in this place. As then, if I were really a stranger, you would have pardoned me for speaking in the language and style in which I was brought up, so I now ask of you this justice, as it appears to me, that you will disregard the manner of my speech—which perhaps may be better, perhaps worse—but consider and attend to this, whether what I say is just or not. For that is the excellence of a judge; an orator’s is to speak the truth.
I have to defend myself first, O Athenians, from the first false accusations against me, and from my first accusers; and afterwards from the more recent ones. For I have had many accusers; who have spoken falsely of me now for many years: whom I fear more than Anytus and his associates, although these also are formidable; but those are still more so, O Athenians, who have begun with most of you from your childhood upwards, and poured into your ears false accusations of me, saying that there is one Socrates, a wise man, who has explored the things which are in the sky and under the earth, and who makes the worse appear the better reason.[*] They, O Athenians, who have spread such a character of me, are my really dangerous accusers; for their hearers believe that those who are addicted to such inquiries do not even believe in gods.* These accusers, too, are numerous; they have now spoken ill of me for a long time, and to many of you in the most credulous time of your lives, when you were children, or mere lads, and with all the advantage of an undefended cause, no one replying to them. And, what is hardest of all, one cannot so much as know the names of any of these people, except, perhaps, a play-writer or so.† Neither they who, by calumnies and invidious speaking, have wrought upon you, nor they who, being themselves persuaded, have persuaded others, can be cited to appear in this place. I cannot confute them, but must fight, as it were, with shadows, and refute when there is no one here to answer my questions. Consider, then, that I have to do with two sets of accusers, my present ones, and those ancient ones whom I have mentioned; and observe, that I must reply to the old accusers first, for you heard them first, and during a much longer time than these later ones.
Be it so, then; I must defend myself, and endeavour to expel from your minds, in so short a time, the calumny which has had so long a time to fix itself there. I should be glad (if it be for your good and my own) that this were possible; but I think it is difficult; I do not conceal from myself the weightiness of the task. The event, however, must be as the god pleases. I must obey the law, and make my defence.
Let us go back, then, to the beginning, and see upon what accusation has been founded that prejudice against me, in reliance on which Melitus has brought the present impeachment. What, then, did my assailants allege? for we must consider them as accusers, and read the words of their indictment. “Socrates is guilty of occupying himself with frivolous and criminal pursuits; exploring the things which are under the earth and in the sky; and making the worse appear the better reason; and teaching others to do the same.” Something of this sort is what they impute to me; and you have yourselves seen, in the comedy of Aristophanes, a certain Socrates, who professes to walk the air, with much other trifling, about which I do not understand one jot. And I do not speak in disparagement of such knowledge, if there be any one who is wise in these matters; but I have no concern with them. And I call most of yourselves to witness, and beg you to inform and to ask each other, (those of you who have ever heard me converse,) and there are many of them among you: tell to one another, if any of you has ever heard in my conversation anything, great or small, on such subjects; and by this you will know, that all the other things which are vulgarly said about me are of the same value. Again, if you have heard any one say that I undertake to instruct people, and receive money for it, neither is this true. I think it a fine thing, no doubt, if any one is capable of instructing people, as Gorgias of Leontium does, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis. Each of these, going to one city after another, is able to draw round him the young men, who, though they are at liberty to converse gratis with whomsoever they please of their own citizens, are persuaded to quit the society of these, and, resorting to the new-comers, converse with them, not only paying them money, but rendering gratitude to them besides. There is now in this very town a wise man from Paros, whose arrival I happened to hear of; for I was accidentally in company with a man who has paid more money to sophists than all other men put together, Callias, the son of Hipponicus. I said to him, (for he has two sons,) “O Callias, if your sons had been colts or steers, we could have found and hired a proper superintendent of their education, who could have formed them to all the good qualities befitting their nature; but now, since they are men, what superintendent have you in view for them? Who is there that is knowing in the good qualities of a man and a citizen? for I suppose that you must have considered the matter, having sons to bring up. Is there such a person,” said I, “or not?” “There is,” he answered. “Who,” asked I, “and of what country, and for what price does he teach?” “Euenus of Paros,” replied he; “and his price is five minæ.” And I felicitated Euenus, if he in reality possesses this art, and is so zealous in the practice of it. I, too, therefore, should be proud, and make much of myself, if I knew these matters; but I do not know them, O Athenians.
Some of you may, perhaps, answer, “But, O Socrates, what, then, is your affair? and whence did these accusations arise? for you would not have been so much heard of or talked about, if you had done nothing strange, or different from other people: tell us, therefore, what it is, that we may not be left to conjecture.” This appears to me a very fair question; and I will try to explain to you what it is which has made me so talked about, and so calumniated. Listen, then: and perhaps some of you may think I am in jest; be well persuaded, however, that I am telling you the whole truth. I, O Athenians, have acquired this reputation, from no other cause than a certain wisdom. What kind of wisdom? That which, perhaps, is the true human wisdom; and the fact seems to be that I possess this wisdom: they whom I have just spoken of have perhaps a wisdom greater than that of man; but I certainly do not possess it, and whoever says so speaks falsely, and wishes to slander me. And do not clamour, O Athenians, even if I seem to speak boastfully; for what I am about to say does not come from myself, but from a source worthy of your attention. I shall produce the Delphic god as a witness to you respecting my wisdom, whether I have any, and of what sort. You knew Chærephon, doubtless. He was my associate from youth, and was also an associate of the Athenian many; he quitted his country with you, and returned with you.* And you know what kind of a man was Chærephon, how energetic in whatsoever he engaged in. He once, going to Delphos, had the boldness to put this question to the oracle; (do not clamour, O Athenians;) he asked whether there existed any person wiser than I? And the oracle answered that there was no person wiser. And to this, since Chærephon himself is dead, his brother will bear witness before you.
Observe now why I mention this; for I am now going to show you how the prejudice against me arose. Hearing the response of the oracle, I considered with myself, What can it mean? what is its hidden significance? for I am not conscious to myself of being wise in any thing, great or small; what, then, can the god mean by calling me the wisest of men? for his words cannot be falsehoods. And for a long time I was puzzled, but at last, with much difficulty, I hit upon a way of examining the matter. I went to one of those who are esteemed wise, thinking that here, if anywhere, I should prove the oracle to be wrong, and be able to say to it, “Here is a man wiser than I.” After examining this man, (I need not mention his name, but he was one of the politicians,) and conversing with him, it was my opinion that this man seemed to many others, and especially to himself, to be wise, but was not so. Thereupon I tried to convince him that he thought himself wise, and was not. By this means I offended him, and many of the bystanders. When I went away I said to myself, “I am wiser than this man: for neither of us, it would seem, knows any thing valuable; but he, not knowing, fancies he does know: I, as I really do not know, so I do not think I know. I seem, therefore, to be, in one small matter, wiser than he, viz. in not thinking that I know what in truth I know not.” After this I went to another, who was esteemed still wiser than he, and came to the same result; and by this I affronted him too, and many others. I went on in the same manner, perceiving, with sorrow and fear, that I was making enemies; but it seemed necessary to postpone all other considerations to the service of the god; and, therefore, to seek for the meaning of the oracle, by going to all who appeared to know any thing. And, O Athenians, (for I must speak the truth,) the impression made on me was this: The persons of most reputation seemed to me to be nearly the most deficient of all; other persons, of much smaller account, seemed much more rational people.
I must relate to you my wanderings, and the labours I underwent, that the truth of the oracle might be fairly tested. When I had done with the politicians, I went to the poets, tragic, dithyrambic, and others, thinking that I should surely find myself less knowing than they. Taking up those of their poems which appeared to me the most laboured, I asked them (that I might at the same time learn something from them) what these poems meant? I am ashamed, O Athenians, to say the truth, but I must say it; there was scarcely a person present who could not have spoken better than they, concerning their own poems. I soon found, that what the poets do, they accomplish, not by wisdom, but by a kind of natural turn, and an enthusiam like that of prophets and those who utter oracles; for these, too, speak many fine things, but do not know one particle of what they speak. The poets seemed to me to be in a similar case. And I perceived, at the same time, that, on account of their poetry, they fancied themselves the wisest of mankind in other things, in which they were not so. I left them, therefore, thinking myself to have the same superiority over them which I had over the politicians. Lastly, I resorted to the artificers; for I was conscious that I myself knew, in a manner, nothing at all, but I was aware that I should find them knowing many valuable things. And in this I was not mistaken; they knew things which I knew not, and were so far wiser than I. But they appeared to me to fall into the same error as the poets; each, because he was skilled in his own art, insisted upon being the wisest man in other and the greatest things; and this mistake of theirs overshadowed what they possessed of wisdom. So that when I asked myself, by way of verifying the oracle, whether I would rather be as I now am, equally without their wisdom and their ignorance, or take the one with the other, I answered that it was better for me to be as I am.
From this search, O Athenians, the consequences to me have been, on the one hand, many enmities, and of the most formidable kind, which have brought upon me many false imputations; but, on the other hand, the name and general repute of a wise man. For the bystanders, on each occasion, imagine that I myself am wise in those things in which I refute the false pretensions of others. The truth, however, O Athenians, is (I suspect) that the god alone is wise, and that his meaning in the oracle, was, that human wisdom is worth little or nothing: the name of Socrates seems to have been introduced, not for commendation, but for a mere example, as if it had been said, He, O men, is the wisest among you, who, like Socrates, knows that all his attainments in wisdom amount in reality to nothing. Meanwhile, I still, for the honour of the god, continue my search, and examine every one, whether a citizen or a stranger, whom I think likely to be a wise man: and when I find that he is not so, I prove that he is not, and so justify the oracle: and by reason of this occupation, I have no leisure to transact any business of moment, either for the state or for my own private benefit, but am in the depth of poverty from having devoted myself to the service of the god.
Besides this, the young men, those who have most leisure, the sons of the rich, take pleasure in following me, liking to hear the men probed and sifted; and they themselves often imitate me, and attempt to examine others; and they find, I imagine, great abundance of persons who fancy themselves knowing, but who really know either very little, or nothing. Those who are thus examined, are angry with me, not with themselves, and say that there is one Socrates, a wicked man, who corrupts the youth. And when any one asks them, by what practices, or by what instructions? they have nothing to say; for they do not know: but, not to seem at a loss, they are ready with the imputations which are always at hand to be cast upon all who philosophize, of studying the sky, and the parts under ground, and not believing in gods, and making the worse appear the better reason. They do not, I fancy, like to say the truth, that they have been convicted of pretending to knowledge without having any. Being, however, jealous of their reputation, and being much in earnest, and many in number, and speaking with premeditation and in a plausible manner about me, they have filled your ears with false notions of me, from an early period. Of these people, Melitus, Anytus, and Lycon, are those who have now set upon me: Melitus to avenge the cause of the poets, Anytus that of the artificers and the politicians, Lycon that of the orators.* So that, as I said at first, I shall wonder if I am able, in so short a time, to expel from your minds a prejudice of such long standing.
This, O Athenians, is the truth; and I have said it, neither dissembling nor disguising any thing, great or small, although I know that to this very freespokenness I owe my enemies; which is a sign that I speak truth, and that the causes of the prejudice against me are those I have mentioned. And if, either now or hereafter, you examine into the matter, so you will find it.
To the accusations, then, which were brought against me by my first accusers, let this be a sufficient reply. I will now attempt to reply to Melitus, the good and patriotic, as he professes himself; and the rest.
These being a new set of accusers, let us look at their charges, as we did at those of the others. “Socrates,” they say, “is guilty of corrupting the youth, and not acknowledging the gods whom the state acknowledges, but other new δαιμόνια,”† (divinities, dæmons, or things relating to dæmons,) such is the charge: and of this charge let us examine each separate part. He says, then, that I am guilty of corrupting the youth. But I, O Athenians, say that Melitus is guilty of solemn trifling; bringing men with so much levity before a criminal tribunal, and pretending to be earnestly concerned about things which he never paid the slighest attention to. That this is so, I will endeavour to prove to you.
Come hither, O Melitus, and answer me: You are very anxious that the young may be as good as possible?
Come then, tell the tribunal, who is it that makes them good? for it is plain that you know, since you are so concerned about them. You have found who it is that corrupts them, you say, and have pointed him out and brought him hither: now point out who makes them better. Do you see, O Melitus, that you are silent and cannot tell? Is not this shameful, and a sufficient proof that, as I say, you have never concerned yourself about the matter? But say, my good friend, who it is that makes them better?
That was not what I meant, O most excellent person. I asked what man? a man who in the first place, knows the very thing you mention, the laws.
These, O Socrates, whom you now see; the judges.
How, O Melitus? Are these people able to educate the young and make them better?
All of them? or only some?
You say well, by Juno, and there is an ample supply of benefactors.* And the bystanders? Are they also instructors of youth?
And the senators?†
The senators likewise.
And the members of the assembly of the people? they do not corrupt the youth? or do they too, one and all, make them better?
Then it seems, all the Athenians make the youth good and virtuous except me; I alone corrupt them. Do you assert this?
Most certainly I do.
I am a very unlucky person, according to you. And tell me: do you think this is also the case with horses? Are those who make them better, all mankind; and is there one single person who spoils them? Or is the case quite the reverse; one, or a very few (those who have attended to the subject) capable of making them better; the many, if they try their hand upon horses, spoiling them? Is it not so, O Melitus, both with regard to horses and all other animals? Certainly, whether you and Anytus say so or not. It would be a very happy thing for the youth if there were but one person who spoils them, and all others benefited them. But you have sufficiently shown, O Melitus, that you never bestowed a thought upon the instruction of youth; but have yourself been utterly indifferent to the matters about which you accuse me.
Tell us again, O Melitus; is it better to have good, or wicked people for our fellow-citizens? Answer, friend; the question I ask is not difficult. Are not the wicked always doing some evil to those who are nearest to them, the good always doing some good?
Is there any one who would rather be hurt than benefited by those he associates with? Answer, most excellent person: for the law, too, bids you answer. Does any one wish to be hurt?
Well, then: do you bring me here on the charge of corrupting the youth, and making them wicked, intentionally, or unintentionally?
What! are you, O Melitus, at your age, so much wiser than I at mine, that you know the wicked to be always doing some hurt, the good always some good, to those who are nearest to them; but I am so ignorant as not to know that if I make any of those with whom I associate wicked, I am in danger of suffering some evil from them, and, therefore, as you affirm, intentionally do this great evil? I do not believe this, O Melitus, nor, I think, will any other human being. Either I do not corrupt the youth, or if I do, it is unintentionally, and either way you are a calumniator. But if I corrupt them unintentionally, it is not the law to bring men here for such offences when unintentional, but to instruct them and admonish them in private; for it is evident that what I do unintentionally, I shall cease doing if I am taught better. But you avoided conversing with me and instructing me, and have now brought me here, whither the law ordains to bring those who require punishment, not teaching.
What I affirmed, O Athenians, is already evident, that Melitus never gave himself a moment’s concern about these matters. But yet tell us, O Melitus, how you say that I corrupt the youth? In the manner which you mention in the indictment, viz., by teaching them not to acknowledge the gods whom the state acknowledges, but other new δαιμόνια?
Most certainly, I affirm it.
By those gods, O Melitus, who are now in question, I pray you explain yourself more clearly. I cannot make out which of two things you say. Is it that I teach the youth to believe that there are gods, and am myself not altogether an atheist, but believe in gods, though not the same whom the state acknowledges, but others; and is this your charge against me, that I believe in other gods? or do you assert that I do not believe in any gods at all, and that I teach others the same?
That is what I assert; you believe in no gods at all.
Most wonderful Melitus, what is this you say! I do not, then, like the rest of mankind, believe the sun and moon to be gods?
No, by Jupiter, O Athenians: for he says that the sun is of stone, and the moon of earth.
You fancy you are accusing Anaxagoras, most worthy Melitus: and you have such a contempt for these judges, and think them so ignorant of letters, as not to know that the writings of Anaxagoras, of Clazomene, are full of this sort of doctrines. So, then, the youth learn from me, what they may buy sometimes at the theatre* for one drachma, and may then laugh at Socrates if he pretend that they are his, especially being so paradoxical. So you really think that I do not believe in any gods?
In none at all.
You are incredulous, O Melitus; you do not even give credence to your own word. This man, O Athenians, seems to me to be exceedingly self-willed and insolent, and to have brought this prosecution against me from self-will and insolence, and youthful levity. It looks like a trial of ingenuity; as if he had said to himself: Will the wise Socrates find out the inconsistency in what I say, or shall I succeed in cheating him, and the rest of them? For he contradicts himself in the very words of the accusation; saying, in fact, this “Socrates is guilty of not believing in gods, but believing in gods.” This looks like a jest. Attend then, O Athenians, that you may know what I mean: and do you answer, O Melitus. You, O Athenians, as I begged you at first, remember not to be clamorous if I speak in my own usual manner.
Is there any one, O Melitus, who believes that there are human things, but does not believe that there are men? Answer, O Athenians, and do not clamour. Does any one believe that there are things relating to horses, but not believe that there are horses? or that there are things relating to music, but not musicians? Nobody, O best of men; for if you will not answer, I will answer to you and to the judges. But answer the next question. Does any one believe that there are (δαιμόνια) things relating to dæmons, but not believe in dæmons?
How much good you have done, by answering with so much reluctance, and not until the judges obliged you. You say then, that I believe, and teach, that there are things relating to dæmons, no matter whether new or old. I therefore, according to you, believe in things relating to dæmons, and this you have sworn to in the indictment. But if I believe in the existence of things relating to dæmons, I must needs believe in the existence of dæmons: is it not so? It is: for as you will not answer, I consider you as assenting. But do we not regard dæmons as either gods or the offspring of gods? Do we, or not?
Then if I believe in dæmons, as you say; and if dæmons are a kind of gods, this is the riddle I said you were playing off upon us, saying that I, not believing in gods, do nevertheless believe in gods, since I believe in dæmons. But if dæmons are the offspring of the gods, by the nymphs, as they say, or in any other way, what human creature can believe that there exists offspring of gods, but no gods? It would be as absurd as to believe that there exists offspring of horses and asses, namely mules, but that there are no horses or asses. It is impossible, O Melitus, that you can have brought such an accusation for any purpose but to try us, or because you could find nothing true to accuse me of. That you should be able to persuade any person in his senses that the same person can think that there are things belonging to dæmons and gods, and yet no dæmons, nor gods, nor demigods, is impossible.
That I am not guilty, O Athenians, according to the accusation of Melitus, does not seem to need much proof: what I have said is sufficient. But what I have already told you, that I am in much odium, and with many persons, you well know to be true. And this is what will cause my condemnation, if I be condemned: not Melitus nor Anytus, but the prejudice and calumny in the minds of the many: which has been the cause of condemnation to many other and good men, and will continue to be so, and there is no fear that I shall be the last.[*]
Perhaps, now, some one may say, “Art thou not then ashamed, O Socrates, of practising a pursuit from which thou art now in danger of death?” To such a person I may justly make answer, “Thou speakest not well, O friend, if thou thinkest that a man should calculate the chances of living or dying (altogether an unimportant matter); instead of considering this only, when he does anything, whether what he does be just or unjust, the act of a good or of a bad man. For by thy way of thinking, the demigods who perished at Troy are worthy of no admiration; even the son of Thetis, who so despised danger in comparison with any dishonour, that when his mother, a goddess, said to him when eager to slay Hector, ‘My son, if thou avenge thy friend Patroclus, and destroy Hector, thou thyself wilt die,’ he, fearing much more to live unworthy and not avenge his friends, than to die, answered, ‘May I die immediately, after punishing the man who has injured me, that I may not remain the scoff of my countrymen, a burthen to the earth.’ ”[†]
Thus it is, O Athenians: wheresoever our post is,—whether we choose it, thinking it the best, or are placed in it by a superior,—there, as I hold, we ought to remain, and suffer all chances, neither reckoning death nor any other consequence as worse than dishonour. I, therefore, should be greatly in the wrong, O Athenians, if when I was commanded by the superiors whom you set over me, at Potidæa and Amphipolis and Delium,* I remained (like other people) where those superiors posted me, and perilled my life; but when, as I believed, the god commanded me, and bade me pass my life in philosophizing, and examining myself and others, then, fearing either death or anything else, I should abandon my post. Then, indeed, might I with justice be brought before the tribunal, and accused of not believing in gods; if I disobeyed their oracles, and feared death, and thought myself wise, not being so. To be afraid of death, O Athenians, is to fancy ourselves wise, not being so; for it is to fancy that we know what we do not know. No one knows whether death is not the greatest possible good to man. But people fear it, as if they knew it to be the greatest of evils. What is this but the most discreditable ignorance, to think we know what we know not? I, O Athenians, differ perhaps in this from persons in general, (and if I am wiser than any other person it is probably in this,) that not knowing sufficiently about a future state, I do not fancy I know. This, however, I do know; that to do injustice, and to resist the injunctions of one who is better than myself, be he god or man, is evil and disgraceful. I shall not, therefore, fly to the evils which I know to be evils, from fear of that which, for aught I know, may be a good.
If, therefore, you were to acquit me, (in spite of the predictions of Anytus, who said that either I ought not to have been tried, or if tried, it is impossible not to put me to death, since if I escape, all your sons will practise the instructions of Socrates, and be ruined); if, to prevent these consequences, you should say to me, “O Socrates, we will now, in spite of what Anytus said, let you off, but upon condition that you shall no longer persevere in your search, in your philosophizing; if you are again convicted of doing so, you shall be put to death”—If, I say, you should let me off on these conditions, I should say to you,—O Athenians, I love and cherish you, but I will obey the god rather than you; and as long as I breathe, and it is not out of my power, I will not cease to philosophize, and to exhort you to philosophy, and point out the way to whomsoever among you I fall in with; saying, as I am wont, “O most worthy person, art thou, an Athenian, of the greatest city and the most celebrated for wisdom and power, not ashamed that thou studiest to possess as much money as possible, and reputation, and honour, but concernest not thyself even to the smallest degree about Intellect, and Truth, and the well-being of thy mental nature?” And if any of you shall dispute the fact, and say that he does concern himself about these things, I will not let him off, or depart, but will question him, and examine, and confute him; and if he seem to me not to possess virtue, but to assert that he does, I will reproach him for valuing least what is highest worth, and highest what is most worthless. This will I do both to young and old, whomsoever I meet with; to citizen and stranger, but most to my fellow-citizens, as connected with me by a nearer tie. For these, as you well know, are the commands of the god. And to me it appears, that no good can happen to the state greater than my service of the god: for I pass my whole time doing nothing whatever but inciting you, both the young and the old, to care neither for body nor estate in preference to, nor in comparison with, the excellence of the soul; telling you that wealth does not produce virtue, but virtue wealth, and all other good things, to mankind, both collectively and individually. If, then, saying these things, I corrupt the youth, these things must be noxious: for if any one asserts that I say any other things than these, he speaks falsely. I say, therefore, O Athenians, whether you believe Anytus or not, whether you acquit me or not, let it be with the knowledge that I shall do no other things than these—not though I should die many deaths.
Do not clamour, O Athenians, but abide by what I requested of you, not to bawl out against what I say, but to listen to it; and I think you will be the better for hearing it. I have still some other things to say, at which you will, perhaps, cry out; but I exhort you not to do so. Know well, O Athenians, that if you put me to death, being such as I describe myself, you will not hurt me more than you will hurt yourselves. Me Anytus and Melitus will not hurt; they cannot. It is not permitted that a better man should be hurt by a worse. Kill me, or exile me, or deprive me of civic rights, they may. And these, to Melitus, perhaps, and to others as well as him, may appear great evils; but not to me. To do what he is now doing, to attempt to kill another man unjustly, seems to me a far greater evil. Nor am I now, O Athenians, as you may perhaps suppose, pleading for myself,—far from it,—but for you; that you may not, by condemning me, commit a crime against the gift which the god has given to you. For if you kill me, you will not easily find another person like me, who in sober truth (though it may sound ridiculous) am sent by the god to this city, as to a strong and generous horse, who is somewhat sluggish from his size, and requires to be stimulated by a stinging insect. The god, as it seems to me, has given me to you as such an insect, to goad you by persuasions and reproaches, settling upon one of you after another. You will not, O Athenians, easily find another such man: and therefore, if you take my advice, you will spare me. But you, perhaps, being angry, like sleepers awakened, will strike at me, and being persuaded by Anytus, will inconsiderately put me to death; and then pass the remainder of your lives in slumber, unless the god in his care for you should send to you some one else.
That I am such a person as one bestowed on you by the god might be expected to be, you may judge from this: it is not like the ways of mere humanity, to neglect all my own concerns, and let my private affairs be so many years uncared for, devoting myself to your interests; seeking each of you, as if I were his father or his elder brother, and inciting him to the pursuit of virtue. If I gained anything by it, and gave these exhortations for pay or reward, there would be something intelligible in it. But now you yourselves see, that my accusers, shameless as they have shown themselves in all their other accusations, could not carry their shamelessness so far as to affirm, producing testimony, that I ever took or asked reward from any one: for I have truly a good and sufficient witness to my assertion, my poverty.
Perhaps it may appear strange that I go about and busy myself with giving these exhortations in private, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the people in the public assembly. The cause of this is, what you have often heard me speak of; that I have a divine (or dæmonic) monitor; which Melitus alluded to in the indictment, and ludicrously perverted. This is, a voice, which from my childhood upwards has occasionally visited me, always to dissuade me from something which I was about to do, but never instigating me to any thing. It is this voice which opposes my meddling in public affairs. And rightly, in my opinion, has it done so: for know, Athenians, that if I had long ago attempted to interfere in politics, I should long ago have perished, and done no good either to you or myself. And be not angry with me for saying the truth. It is impossible that any human being should escape destruction, who sincerely opposes himself to you, or to any other multitude, and strives to prevent many injustices and illegalities from being transacted in the state. He who means really to contend for the right, if he would be unharmed for even a short time, must keep to private, and avoid public life.
I will produce to you signal proofs of this; not words, but, what you most honour, deeds. Hear, then, the things which have happened to me; that you may know that I would never, from the fear of death, have succumbed to any one contrary to justice, and not succumbing, would inevitably have been destroyed. What I will tell you, may sound arrogant and presuming; but it is true.
The only office I ever held in the state, O Athenians, was that of a member of the Senate of Five Hundred; and it fell to my tribe (the tribe Antiochis) to preside, when you decided that the ten generals, accused of not taking up the bodies of the slain in the seafight,* should be tried collectively; an illegal decision, as since that time has become the opinion of you all. On that occasion, I alone of the Prytanes† resisted your doing any thing contrary to law. The orators cried out to indict me instantly and drag me to prison, and you assented by acclamation; but I preferred to run all risks on the side of justice and the law, rather than to join with you in an unjust resolve from fear of chains or death. This happened while the state was under a democracy. When an oligarchy succeeded, the Thirty sent for me and four others to the Tholus,* and commanded us to proceed to Salamis and bring from thence Leon, the Salaminian, that he might be put to death. They at that time gave such commands to many persons, wishing to compromise the greatest number of persons possible as accomplices in their proceedings. I then, not by word but by deed, proved that I do not care one jot for death, but every thing for avoiding any unjust or impious action. That government, powerful as it was, did not intimidate me into any act of injustice; but when we quitted the Tholus, the other four went to Salamis and brought Leon from thence, but I returned home. Perhaps this would have cost me my life, had not that government soon after been overthrown. To these facts I can produce many witnesses.
Do you think, then, that I could have lived so many years, if I had mingled in public affairs, and, as befits a good man, had always given my aid to the just cause, and made that, as I ought, my grand object? Far from it, O Athenians; neither I nor any other man. But I, throughout my whole life, and in whatever public transaction I may have been engaged in, shall always be found such as I am in private, never tolerating the slightest violation of justice, either in any one else, or in those whom my calumniators assert to be my disciples. But I have never been any one’s teacher; though if any one, whether young or old, desired to stand by and listen to me, speaking and following my own path, I never grudged to allow him. Neither is it my practice to converse with people when they pay me money, and not otherwise; but I permit rich and poor alike to question me, or if they please, to answer my questions, and to hear what I have to say. And whether any of these turn out a good or a bad man, I cannot justly be held accountable,† since I never taught nor undertook to teach them anything. If any one affirms that he ever learnt or heard from me in private, any thing but what all other persons have heard, be assured that he speaks falsely.
But why, then, do some persons take pleasure in frequenting my society? You have already heard, O Athenians; I have told you the whole truth; they like to hear those persons exposed, who fancy themselves wise and are not; for it is not unpleasant. But to me, as I affirm, it has been enjoined by the god to do this,—enjoined in oracles, and in dreams, and in every other way in which Divine ordinance commands anything to a human being.
These things, O Athenians, are true; and could easily be disproved, if they were not. For if I corrupt some of the young men, and have already corrupted others, they, if any of them growing older have perceived that I had given them evil counsels when young, ought to appear now, and charge me with it, and punish me; or if they were unwilling, some of their relations, their fathers or brothers, if these people have suffered any evil from me, should remember it now. There are many such persons present, whom I now see; Criton, my contemporary and member of the same ward,* the father of Critobulus, here present; Lysanias, the father of Æschines, who is present; Antiphon, the father of Epigenes; others, again, whose brothers have kept company with me; Nicostratus, the son of Theodotides, brother of Theodotus; (Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore cannot have dissuaded his brother from appearing against me;) Paralus, the son of Demodocus, whose brother Theages was; Adeimantus, the son of Ariston, and brother of Plato here; Æantodorus, brother of this Apollodorus; and many others I could mention. Some one of these, Melitus should have produced as a witness; and if he then forgot, let him produce them now, and I will give place. But you will find the very contrary of this, O judges; they are all eager to assist me—the corrupter and injurer of their relatives, as Melitus and Anytus affirm. Those indeed, who have themselves been corrupted by me, might naturally enough be supposed to take my side: but the uncorrupted, some of them elderly men, the relatives of the others—what reason can they have for aiding me, but the right and just one, their knowledge that Melitus is a calumniator, and that I speak the truth?
These things, O Athenians, and such as these, are what I have to say in my defence. Perhaps some one among you may be displeased with me, when he bethinks himself that in the trial which preceded mine, the accused, though he had less at stake, entreated the judges, with many tears; and brought hither, to excite their pity, his children, and others of his relations and friends; while I shall do nothing of the kind, although the penalty which, as it may seem, I am in danger of, is the severest of all. Some of you, perhaps, thinking of these things, may feel harshly towards me, and may give an angry vote. If any one among you feels thus, which I hope is not the case, I think I may very properly hold the following discourse to him. I too, most worthy person, have relatives: I am not (as Homer says) sprung from an oak tree, or from a rock, but from human beings;[*] and I have not only relations, but three sons, O Athenians; one of them a youth, the two others still children. Nevertheless, I shall not, bringing any of them here, implore you to acquit me. And why? Not from pride, O Athenians, nor from disdain of you; but for this reason: whether I look upon death with courage or with fear is another matter: but with a view to our reputation, both mine and yours, and that of the city itself, it does not seem to me honourable that I should do such things at my age, and with such a name as I have, whether merited or not. Men certainly believe that Socrates is in some way superior to the multitude of mankind. It would be shameful if those among you who are esteemed superior to the rest, whether in wisdom or in courage, or in any other virtue, should conduct themselves like so many others whom I have seen on their trial, and who might have been taken for people of some account, but who moved heaven and earth to be acquitted, as if it were something dreadful to die; as though they expected to be immortal unless you should put them to death. Such persons appear to me to bring discredit on the city; a foreigner might conclude that the most virtuous among the Athenians, they whom the Athenians select from themselves as the worthiest, for public offices and other honours, are in nothing superior to women. Such things, O Athenians, we, who are thought to be of some account, ought neither to do, nor if we did, ought you to suffer us, but, on the contrary, to show that you will much rather condemn those who enact these pathetic dramas, and make the city ridiculous, than those who refrain from them. And besides the discredit, it does not seem to me even just, to supplicate the judge, and escape by supplication, but to instruct and convince him. For the judge does not sit here to make a favour of justice, but impartially to inquire into it; and he has sworn not to gratify whomsoever he pleases, but to judge according to the laws. We, therefore, should not accustom you, nor should you let yourselves be accustomed, to violate your oaths: it would be impiety in both of us. Do not then, O Athenians, demand of me to do such things towards you as I deem to be neither beautiful, nor just, nor holy; especially as I am actually on trial for impiety. If I should work upon you and influence your decision by supplications, when you have sworn to do justice, I should indeed teach that you do not believe in gods, and my defence of myself would be an accusation against myself that I believe not in them. But far is this from the truth. I believe in them, O Athenians, as not one of my accusers does. And I commit to you and to the god to decide concerning me, in whatever way shall be best for you and for me.
AFTER THE VERDICT OF CONDEMNATION
Among many things, O Athenians, which prevent me from feeling indignant at your having condemned me, one is, that what has happened was not unexpected by me. Much rather do I wonder at the number of votes in my favour. I did not expect to be condemned by so small a majority, but by a large one: it now, however, appears, that if but thirty of the votes had been given differently, I should have escaped. As far as Melitus is concerned, I have escaped as it is: and it is even clear to every one, that if Anytus and Lycon had not appeared as my accusers, he would have been liable to the penalty of one thousand drachmæ, not having obtained a fifth part of the votes.*
The penalty proposed by my accuser is death. What penalty shall I, on my part, propose?† surely that which I deserve. Well, then, what do I deserve to suffer or to pay, because I never relaxed in instructing myself, but neglecting what the many care for, money-getting and household management, and military commands, and civil offices, and speech-making, and all the political clubs and societies in the city; thinking myself, in fact, too honest to follow these pursuits and be safe; I did not go where I could be of no use either to you or to myself, but went to each man individually, to confer on him the greatest of all benefits; attempting to persuade every one of you, to think of none of his own concerns till he had looked to making himself as good and as wise as possible; nor of the city’s concerns till he had looked to making the city so; and to pursue all other things in a similar spirit. What, then, ought to be done to me for such conduct? Some good, O Athenians, if I am really to be treated according to my deserts; and a good of such a kind as beseems me. What, then, beseems a man in poor circumstances, your benefactor, and requiring leisure to prosecute his exhortations? There is nothing, O Athenians, which would be so suitable for such a man to receive, as a maintenance at the public expense.‡ It would befit him much better than any of you who may have carried away the prize of horse or chariot-racing at the Olympic contests. For, such a man makes you only seem happy, but I make you be so: and he does not require a maintenance, but I do. If, therefore, I must estimate myself justly according to my deserts, I rate myself at a maintenance in the Prytaneum.
Perhaps I seem to you, in saying this, as in what I said about supplication and entreaty, to be influenced by pride. The fact, however, is not so: but rather, as I am now about to tell you. I know that I do not intentionally injure any one; but I am not able to convince you of it; for we have conversed together but a short time: if, indeed, it were the law with you, as in other countries, not to terminate capital trials in one day, but continue them through several, you could then have been convinced; but now, it is not easy, in a short time, to conquer strong prejudices. I, then, being convinced that I wrong no one, cannot consent to wrong myself, by affirming that I am worthy of any evil, and proposing that any evil should be inflicted upon me as a penalty. From what fear should I do so? From the fear lest I should suffer what Melitus proposes? when I affirm that I know not whether it be an evil or a good? Shall I, then, choose something which I well know to be an evil, and propose that as the penalty? Imprisonment, for example? And why should I seek to live in a prison, at the mercy of every successive police officer?* A fine? and imprisonment until I pay it? That would be the same thing; for I have no means of paying it. Shall I propose banishment? for perhaps you might sentence me to that. But I must be very fond of life, O Athenians, if I am so bad a calculator as not to compute that if you, who are my countrymen, have not been able to bear my ways and my sayings, but have found them burthensome and invidious, and now seek to get rid of them, it is not likely that other people will bear them easily. Far from it, O Athenians. It would be an unworthy life for me, exiled at my age, to live in perpetual wanderings and banishments from one city to another. For, I well know, that whithersoever I go, the young men will listen to my discourses as they do here. And if I repel them, they, by their influence with the older people, will drive me from the place: but if I admit them, their fathers and relations will do it for their sake. Perhaps somebody may say, But canst thou not, O Socrates, going into exile, live there in peace and silence? Here it is that I have the hardest task to persuade you; for, if I say that this would be to disobey the god, and that I, therefore, cannot remain silent, you will think it ironical, and disbelieve it. And if, again, I say that the greatest good possible for man is, to discuss daily concerning virtue, and the other matters on which you hear me converse and examine myself and others, and that to live an unexamined life is not endurable, you will still less believe me. The fact, however, is as I say, but it is not easy to make it apparent.
I am not used to pronounce myself deserving of any evil. If I had money, I would estimate my penalty at as much money as I was able to pay, for it would have been no damage to me; but now—I have none; unless you are willing to fix the penalty at what I am able to pay. Perhaps I could pay as much as a silver mina: at this, therefore, I rate the penalty. Plato here, and Criton, and Critobulus, and Apollodorus, O Athenians, bid me rate it at thirty minæ, and they undertake to be my sureties. I do so, therefore, and their security is adequate.
AFTER THE DECLARATION OF THE SENTENCE
It is for the sake of but a short span, O Athenians, that you have incurred the imputation, from those who wish to speak evil against the city, of having put to death Socrates, a wise man, (for those who are inclined to reproach you, will say that I am wise even if I am not). Had you waited a short time, the thing would have happened without your agency; for you see my years; I am far advanced in life, and near to death. I address this not to all of you, but to those who have voted for the capital sentence. And this too I say to the same persons: Perhaps you think that I have been condemned from want of skill in such modes of working upon your minds, as I might have employed with success if I had thought it right to employ all means in order to escape from condemnation. Far from it. I have been condemned, not for want of things to say, but for want of daring and shamelessness; because I did not choose to say to you the things which would have been pleasantest to you to hear, weeping and lamenting, and doing and saying other things which I affirm to be unworthy of me; as you are accustomed to see others do. But neither did I then think fit, because of my danger, to do anything unworthy of a freeman; nor do I now repent of having thus defended myself; I would far rather have made the one defence and die, than have made the other and live. Neither in a court of justice, nor in war, ought we to make it our object, that, whatever happen, we may escape death. In battle, it is often evident that a man may save his life by throwing away his arms, and imploring mercy of his pursuers; and in all other dangers there are many contrivances by which a person may get off with life, if he dare do or say everything. The difficulty, O Athenians, is not to escape from death, but from guilt; for guilt is swifter than death, and runs faster. And now I, being old, and slow of foot, have been overtaken by death, the slower of the two; but my accusers, who are brisk and vehement, by wickedness, the swifter. We quit this place, I having been sentenced by you to death, but they, having sentence passed upon them by Truth, of guilt and injustice. I submit to my punishment, and they to theirs. These things, perhaps, are as they should be, and for the best.
But I wish, O men who have condemned me, to prophesy to you what is next to come; for I am in the position in which men are most wont to prophesy, being at the point of death. I say, then, O you who have slain me—that immediately after my death there will come upon you a far severer punishment than that which you have inflicted upon me. For you have done this, thinking by it to escape from being called to account for your lives. But I affirm that the very reverse will happen to you. There will be many to call you to account, whom I have hitherto restrained, and whom you saw not: and being younger they will give you more annoyance, and you will be still more provoked. For if you think, by putting men to death, to deter others from reproaching you with living amiss, you think ill. That mode of protecting yourselves is neither very possible, nor very noble: the noblest and the easiest too, is not to cut off other people, but so to order yourselves, as to obtain the greatest excellence. Having prophesied thus to those who have condemned me, I leave them.
With those who voted for my acquittal, I would gladly, while the officers are busy, and I am not yet going to the place where I am to be put to death, converse a little about this which has happened. Stay with me, my friends, until then; for I would explain to you, as my well wishers, the meaning of what has now happened to me. There has occurred to me, O judges, (for you I may rightly call by that name,) something surprising. My accustomed dæmonic warning has, in all former times, been very frequent, and given on small occasions, if I was about to do any thing not for my good. But now, as you see, those things have happened to me, which are generally esteemed the worst of evils; yet the divine monitor did not warn me, neither when I left my home in the morning, nor when I came up hither to the judgment-seat, nor at any time when I was speaking; though on other occasions I have often, while speaking, experienced the warning, and been checked in what I was about to say. But in neither word nor deed connected with this business, have I been checked by the sign. What do I suppose to be the cause? I will tell you. This which has happened is most likely a good; and those of us who think death an evil are probably in the wrong. For the accustomed warning would certainly have been given to me, if what I was about to do had not been for my good.
We may also, from the following considerations, conclude that there is much hope of its being a good. For death must be one of two things: either the dead are incapable of feeling or perceiving anything; or death is, as we are told, a change of abode, a passage of the soul from this to some other place. Now, if after death there be no sensation, but it be like a sleep in which there are no dreams, death is a mighty gain. For if any one were to choose from his life, a night in which he had slept without dreaming, and comparing with this all the other nights and days of his life, were required to say in how many of them he had lived better and more pleasantly than in that night, I imagine that not a private man merely, but the Great King, would find that such days and nights were soon counted. If then this be death, it is a gain: since all eternity would not thus appear longer than one night. But if death be to quit this place for another, and if it be true as is affirmed, that in that other place is the abode of all the dead; what greater good can there be, O judges, than this? If, arriving in the other world, and leaving these people who call themselves judges, we shall see the real judges, who are said to judge there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Æacus and Triptolemus, and all other demigods who lived justly while they were alive, would it not be a noble journey? What would not any of you give to converse with Orpheus, and Musæus, and Hesiod, and Homer? I would gladly die many times if this be true; since to me it would be a delightful residence when I had met with Palamedes, and the Telamonian Ajax, and any other of the ancients who perished in consequence of an unjust judgment. To compare my own fate with theirs, would not, I think, be disagreeable: and best of all, to live examining and interrogating the people there, as I have done here, to discover who among them are wise, and who think themselves so, but are not. How much would not one give, O judges, for an opportunity of examining him who led the great expedition to Troy; or Ulysses, or Sysyphus, or ten thousand others whom one could mention, both men and women; with whom to converse and associate there, and to examine them, would be the height of happiness. They do not, there, put one to death for such things; for the people there are happier than the people here, both in other things, and in this, that when once there they are immortal; if what we are told is true.
It behoves you, O judges, to be of good cheer concerning death; and to fix this truth in your minds, that to a good man, whether he die or live, nothing is evil, nor are his affairs neglected by the gods; neither did what has happened to me occur spontaneously, but it is evident to me that to die, and come to an end now, was most for my good. For this reason was it that the sign did not interpose to check me; and I do not much complain of my accusers, nor of those who condemned me. Though they, indeed, accused and condemned me not with any such intention, but purposing to do me harm: and for this it is fit to blame them.
Thus much, however, I beg of them: When my sons grow up, punish them, O Athenians, by tormenting them as I tormented you, if they shall seem to study riches, or any other ends, in preference to virtue. And if they are thought to be something, being really nothing, reproach them as I have reproached you, for not attending to what they ought, and fancying themselves something when they are good for nothing. And if you do this, both I and my sons shall have received what is just at your hands.
It is now time that we depart, I to die, you to live; but which has the better destiny is unknown to all, except the god.
[* ]The sentiments both of Schleiermacher and of Mr. Thirlwall may be found at full length in the sixth number of the Philological Museum. [Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, “Introduction to Plato’s Apology of Socrates,” trans. Connop Thirlwall, Philological Museum, II (1833), 556-61; Thirlwall, “Socrates, Schleiermacher and Delbrueck,” ibid., 562-87.]
[[*] ]I.e., Protagoras, Phædrus, and Gorgias, printed above, pp. 39-61, 62-96, 97-150.
[[*] ]Plato is referring to The Clouds; see Aristophanes (Greek and English), trans. Benjamin Bickley Rogers, 3 vols. (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960), Vol. I, p. 344; the wording of Mill’s translation echoes John Milton, Paradise Lost, in The Poetical Works of Mr. John Milton (London: Tonson, 1695), p. 31 (Bk. II, 110-13).
[* ]This passage, and much other evidence, shows that physical speculation of a recondite kind was regarded by the Greeks as a sort of black art, like witchcraft and sorcery among the moderns: “an attempt to know more than is permitted.” There is remarkable sameness in superstitition, all over the world.
[† ]πλὴν εἴ τις κωμῳδοποιὸς τυγχάνει ὤν. [See Apology, in Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phædo, Phædrus (Greek and English), trans. H. N. Fowler (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1917), p. 72 (18d).] An allusion to Aristophanes, and his comedy of The Clouds, a gross and ignorant libel on Socrates.
[* ]An allusion to the secession of the Athenian plebs from the dominion of the Thirty Tyrants, and their return under Thrasybulus.
[* ]These were the three accusers of Socrates. The first was a tragic poet, the second a currier, of great wealth, and influence in public affairs, the third an orator. Melitus, the first of the three, was the ostensible prosecutor.
[† ]We give this word in the original language, because, as will presently be seen, the argument turns in part upon the vagueness of its signification. There is no word of exactly similar vagueness in the English language.
[* ]The principal Athenian court of criminal justice, the Heliæa, was a multitudinous assembly, consisting of more than 1000 citizens.
[† ]βουλευταί, the members of the council of five hundred.
[* ]The commentators explain this passage as an allusion to the practice, not unfrequent with the dramatic poets, (especially Euripides,) of introducing on the scene sentiments borrowed from the writings of the philosophers.
[[*] ]The first instalment in the Monthly Repository ends here.
[[†] ]See Homer, Iliad, trans. Murray, Vol. II, pp. 294-6 (XVIII, 96, 98, 104).
[* ]Allusion to battles and sieges, well known to all readers of Grecian history, and at which Socrates had eminently distinguished himself.
[* ]The celebrated trial of the ten generals who gained the battle of Arginusæ: one of the most disgraceful blots in the Athenian annals.
[† ]Among the functions of the senate of Five Hundred, was that of furnishing a committee of fifty (styled the Prytanes) to preside and take the suffrages of the people in the general assembly. The senate consisted of fifty members from each of the ten tribes; each tribe (i.e. its fifty representatives) performed the office of Prytanes in its turn.
[* ]A public building at Athens, where the Thirty Tyrants, as we may infer from this passage, transacted business.
[† ]We are told in Xenophon’s Memorials of Socrates, that nothing contributed more to his condemnation, than the fact that Critias (the chief of the abhorred Thirty) and Alcibiades, had, in their youth, been reckoned among his disciples. [See Memorabilia, in Memorabilia and Œconomicus (Greek and English), trans. E. C. Marchant (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1923), pp. 16-18 (I, ii, 12-17).]
[[*] ]See Odyssey, trans. Murray, Vol. II, p. 240 (XIX, 163).
[* ]To restrain frivolous and vexatious prosecutions, a law existed at Athens, by which a penalty of one thousand drachmæ was imposed on the accuser if he did not obtain a fifth part of the votes.
[† ]After condemnation, the accused was at liberty to speak on the question of punishment; and the question was put to him, at what penalty he himself estimated his offence.
[‡ ]Ἐν πρυτανείῳ σιτει̑σθαι: to be boarded in the Prytaneum (a public building in the Acropolis). This privilege was occasionally conferred upon public benefactors; and among others, upon such citizens as, by gaining the Olympic prizes, were conceived to have conferred honour upon their country.
[* ]οἱ ἕνδεκα, the officers in charge of gaols, and prisoners; annually chosen by lot from among the people. They correspond to the triumviri rerum capitalium of the Romans.