Political and Theological Lessons of “The Apology”

1.) In Plato’s recant of the trial and eventual suicide of Socrates there are perhaps countless lessons to be learned. I have chosen but two, the ones I think are most easily applied to modern society. It is worth noting (that as far as I know) Socrates never wrote anything down, and because of this it is through Plato that all our knowledge of Socrates comes. Moreover, the fact that Plato could remember the entirety of the trial and aftermath long enough to write it all down (on what though), assuming he did not just make the whole thing up. The first lesson, a political one, concerns a mans commitment to his state, or country. Upon being unjustly convicted, Socrates is urged by his friends and followers to flee Athens, thus saving his life. Socrates, being such a righteous man, refused to leave his country, denying the begging of his family and fellow statesmen. He knew that for a society to run effectively and efficiently its citizens must obey the laws no matter the cost. For this reason he did not run but suffered his fate eventually swallowing the poison hemlock. Socrates shows an awareness of the ‘treaty of man’ idea thousands of years before John Locke. It is interesting to think about Socrates decision in relation to civil disobedience. Socrates knew his ruling was unjust but he obeyed the courts anyway. Had he more fight in him rather than peace he may have disobeyed not unlike that of M.L.K. or Mandela. 2.) The second lesson comes just before Socrates commits suicide when he is discussing the possibility of the Athenian Gods. This is a major theme of The Apology because one of the charges brought against Socrates was questioning the Gods and hence corrupting the youth. Socrates says he has no fear of death because there can be only two possible outcomes. He says, either the Gods do not exist and I will therefore soon cease to exist which will not be painful in the least, or the Gods are real and all of my family and teachers reside in heaven. If it is the latter case he says, then I am excited to reach Heaven and question those who have come before me.


About ben james

"The stars keep me up at night" -some song I heard one time Human. Studying the intersection of Neuroscience and Computation. Wanna be (astro) physicist.
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