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A Synopsis of The Apology


Socrates begins his account by addressing the wrongful rumors. He says he will tell only the truth. He asks forgiveness for speaking a different language than they, because he has never been prosecuted.

Since childhood, Athenians had heard about, Socrates, a wise man that talks about the heavens, about something beneath the earth, and someone that can change your reasoning. He fears these people most because they tell lies. Because he does not know the people by name, he cannot summon them to be cross-examined. He has two kinds of accusers: Meletus and his associates and people that have spread rumors.

He recalls the character in Aristophenes’ play named Socrates that speaks nothing but nonsense about walking on the sky. Socrates claims he knows nothing about those matters, and that that should prove that the other stories false. He says he does not take money from men to educate them. He is being accused because he attains “human wisdom.”

Chaerephon, a comrade, once went to the oracle at Delphi and asked if there were any man wiser than Socrates. She said no. Socrates could not believe he was the wisest so he went out to look for men wiser than himself. He went to a politician that thought he was wise and found that neither knew anything extraordinary, but Socrates found himself wiser because he realized he knew nothing while the politician thought he knew everything. He found the commoners had better interpretations of the poems than the poets. The artisans were wise, but only in their crafts. The people that thought themselves as wise were not wiser than Socrates because he realized that he knew nothing at all.

He cross-examines Meletus. He states his formal charges which are corruption of the youth and the belief in strange gods. He accuses Meletus of never caring about the youth. He asks Meletus, who teaches the youth? He replies the laws, senators, and listeners of the court, concluding that Socrates is the only one that is negative for them. Socrates talks about the impossibility of one person being able to corrupt and the others to be innocent. He asks: Is it better to live among good citizens or bad citizens?  Because no one likes to get harmed, Meletus says that Socrates hurts the youth intentionally. Socrates explains he would not do that because that would put him at risk. If he does anything, it is unintentional and Meletus’ should correct him.

Meletus finds him an atheist. Socrates has Meletus admit that Socrates does believe in divinities and that it is impossible to believe in divinities and not in divine beings.

Socrates explains he is not ashamed about anything. It was his calling to be a philosopher, and he was true to the gods calling.

Socrates describes himself as an attribute of the state. He says he never acted unjustly; and never taught people to act certain ways, but guided their minds to find things independently.

Socrates states he is not going to beg for release. He wants to convince them of his innocence through reason.As predicted they found him guilty. He reasoned he was never a man that indulged in himself. He focused on Athens’ society and their ideas. He is not arrogant, but innocent. He will not ask to be expelled, or to be imprisoned, he proposes thirty minae from his comrades because it is there wishes.He says it is harder to escape from wickedness than death. His enemies will regret prosecuting. He says he wants to explain to his friends what was happening.He talks about death saying that it is like sleeping, or being in the heavens with gods, where he could examine things with them. He requests that Athenians harass his sons if they seem to care for riches and materials.

He was given the chance to escape by Crito. He refuses and asks if it would be a just act. They conclude that he must carry out his just agreements. He would be destroying the state by escaping. Socrates was in agreement with his punishment. If he does escape he would make the judges seem right in punishing him.