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IN

INTRODUCTION

ΤΟ

THE APOLOGY OF SOCRATES

N what relation the "Apology" of Plato stands to the real defence of Socrates, there is no means of determining. It certainly agrees in tone and character with the description of Xenophon, who says in the "Memorabilia (iv. 4, 4) that Socrates might have been acquitted "if in any moderate degree he would have conciliated the favor of the dicasts"; and who informs us in another passage (iv. 8, 4), on the testimony of Hermogenes, the friend of Socrates, that he had no wish to live; and that the divine sign refused to allow him to prepare a defence, and also that Socrates himself declared this to be unnecessary, on the ground that all his life long he had been preparing against that hour. For the speech breathes throughout a spirit of defiance, "ut non supplex aut reus sed magister aut dominus videretur esse judicum (Cic. de Orat." i. 54); and the loose and desultory style is an imitation of the "accustomed manner" in which Socrates spoke in "the agora and among the tables of the moneychangers." The allusion in the "Crito" (45 в) may, perhaps, be adduced as a further evidence of the literal accuracy of some parts (37 C, D). But in the main it must be regarded as the ideal of Socrates, according to Plato's conception of him, appearing in the greatest and most public scene of his life, and in the height of his triumph, when he is weakest, and yet his mastery over mankind is greatest, and the habitual irony of his life acquires a new meaning and a sort of tragic pathos in the face of death. The facts of his life are summed up, and the features of his character are brought out, as if by accident in the course of the defence. The looseness of the style, the seeming want of arrangement of the topics, is found to result in a perfect work of art, which is the portrait of Socrates.

Yet some of the topics may have been actually used by Socrates; and the recollection of his very words may have rung in the ears of his disciple. The "Apology" of Plato may be compared generally with those speeches of Thucydides in which he has embodied his conception of the lofty character and policy of the great Pericles, and which at the same time furnish a commentary on the situation of affairs from the point of view of the historian. So in the "Apology" there is an ideal rather than a literal truth; much is said that ought to have been said but was not said, and is only Plato's view of the situation. And we may perhaps even indulge in the fancy that the actual defence of Socrates was as much greater than the Platonic defence as the master was greater than the disciple. But in any case, some of the words actually used have probably been preserved. It is significant that Plato is said to have been present at the defence (38 B), as he is also said to have been absent at the last scene in the "Phædo" (59 B). Is it fanciful to suppose that he meant to give the stamp of authenticity to the one and not to the other?-especially when we remember that these two passages are the only ones in which Plato makes mention of himself. Moreover, the "Apology" appears to combine the common characteristics both of the Xenophontean and Platonic Socrates, while the "Phædo" passes into a region of thought which is very characteristic of Plato, but not of his master.

There is not much in the other dialogues which can be compared with the "Apology." The same recollection of his master may have been present to the mind of Plato when depicting the sufferings of the Just in the "Republic." The "Crito" may also be regarded as a sort of appendage to the "Apology," in which Socrates, who has defied the judges, is nevertheless represented as scrupulously obedient to the laws. The idealization of the sufferer is carried still further in the Georgias" (476 foll.), in which the thesis is maintained, that "to suffer is better than to do evil"; and the art of rhetoric is described as only useful for the purpose of selfaccusation. The parallelisms which occur in the so-called "Apology" of Xenophon are not worth noticing, because the writing in which they are contained is manifestly spurious. The statements of the "Memorabilia " (i. 2, iv. 8) respecting he trial and death of Socrates agree generally with Plato;

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but they have lost the flavor of Socratic irony in the narrative of Xenophon.

The "Apology" or Platonic defence of Socrates is divided into three parts: (1) The defence properly so called; (2) The shorter address in mitigation of the penalty; (3) The last words of prophetic rebuke and exhortation.

The first part commences with an apology for his colloquial style; he is, as he has always been, the enemy of rhetoric, and knows of no rhetoric but truth; he will not falsify his character by making a speech. Then he proceeds to divide his accusers into two classes: first, there is the nameless accuser -public opinion. All the world from their earliest years had heard that he was a corrupter of youth, and had seen him caricatured in the "Clouds" of Aristophanes. Secondly,

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there are the professed accusers, who are but the mouthpiece of the others. The accusations of both might be summed up in a formula. The first say, Socrates is an evil-doer and a curious person, searching into things under the earth and above the heaven, and making the worst appear the better cause, and teaching all this to others." The second, "Socrates is an evil-doer and corrupter of the youth, who does not receive the gods whom the State receives, but introduces other new divinities." These last appear to have been the words of the actual indictment, of which the previous formula is a parody.

The answer begins by clearing up a confusion. In the representations of the comic poets, and in the opinion of the multitude, he had been confounded with the teachers of physical science and with the Sophists. But this was an error. For both of them he professes a respect in the open court, which contrasts with his manner of speaking about them in other places. But at the same time he shows that he is not one of them. Of natural philosophy he knows nothing; not that he despises such pursuits, but the fact is that he is ignorant of them, and never says a word about them. Nor does he receive money for teaching; that is another mistaken notion, for he has nothing to teach. But he commends Evenus for teaching virtue at such a moderate rate. Something of the "accustomed irony," which may perhaps be expected to sleep in the ear of the multitude, is lurking here.

He then goes on to explain the reason why he is in such an

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