The Apology of Socrates

from Plato: The Socratic Dialogues

(The notes for the footnotes with blue numbers are located at the end. Use the links to jump back and forth)

Part I  (note1)

SOCRATES: What impression, men of Athens, my accusers have made upon you, I know not but as for me, they almost made me forget who I am, so persuasively did they speak. And yet there is practically no word of truth in what they have said. But I was particularly astonished at one of their many falsehoods—their statement that I am a clever speaker and that you must beware of being deceived by me. For what seemed to me the most brazen thing about them is this, that they are not ashamed at the prospect of being confuted at once in actual fact, when I prove myself to be in no way a clever speaker—unless, to be sure, they mean by a clever speaker one who tells the truth. If that is what they mean, I should agree that I am an orator on a very different level from them. My accusers, then, as I state, have said little or nothing that is true. That you shall hear from me the whole truth—not, gentlemen, speeches decked out like theirs with words and phrases and finely arranged, but words uttered as they occur to me in the language of every day—for I am confident in the justice of my plea—and let none of you expect otherwise. For surely it would ill become me at my age to appear before you telling stories, like a boy. There is indeed one thing, gentlemen, which I most earnestly beg and entreat of you. If you hear me making my defence in the language that I regularly employ at the counters in the market place, where many of you have heard me, and elsewhere, not to be surprised nor to interrupt me on that account. For the truth is that this is the first time I have appeared before a court, though I am seventy years old. I am therefore literally a stranger to the language of the courts. Then just as, if I had really been a stranger, you would assuredly pardon me for speaking in the dialect and the fashion of my motherland, so too now I ask this of you, a fair request, in my opinion to ignore my manner of speech—it may be bad, it may be good—and to give this one thing your whole attention and consideration, whether or not my plea is just. For that is the virtue of a judge, as an orator's virtue is to speak the truth.

First of all then it is right for me to defend myself, gentlemen, against the first false charge levelled against me and my earlier accusers, and then against the later charges and the present accusers. For many have come forward to accuse me before you, long ago too, in fact for many years already, without uttering a word of truth and these I fear more than Anytus and his friends, though they too are formidable. But more formidable still are those who took most of you in hand from your childhood and convinced you by their accusations against me, though they were no more true than the present charges, saying that there is one Socrates, a wise man who speculates upon things on high and has investigated all things beneath the earth, and who makes the weaker argument the stronger. These men, who have deluged me with this flood of false statement, are my dangerous accusers for those who give ear to them believe that men engaged in such pursuits do not worship the gods either. And then these accusers are many in number and have long been attacking me; and further they spoke to you when you were of an age most likely to believe them, being some of you children or in your teens and so they literally convicted me by default, there being none to defend me. And the most unreasonable thing of all is that I am not even in a position to know and mention their names, except in the case of the comic poets. But all who sought to convince you by misrepresentation and malice—some too persuading others because they themselves were convinced—all these, I say, are my most baffling accusers for it is not even possible to call any of them into court or cross-examine them, but I must simply fight with shadows, as it were, in making my defence, and cross-question with none to answer. You too must allow then, as I say, that I have had two classes of accusers, the one group whom you have just heard, the other those earlier attackers of whom I am now talking and consider that I must first defend myself against the latter for you heard them attacking me first, and attacking with much more vigour than these later enemies.

Well then, I must offer my defence, gentlemen, and must attempt in the short time at my disposal to eradicate from your minds a prejudice you took many years to acquire. Now I could wish that this might be achieved, if so it be better both for you and for me, and that I might meet with some success in my defence but I think it is a difficult task, and I am pretty well aware of its nature. However, let this follow the course that is pleasing to God. I must obey the law and make my defence.

Let us go back, then, to the beginning and consider what the charge is that gave rise to this prejudice against me—a prejudice upon which Meletus relied, I suppose, when he brought this indictment against me. What was said then by those who aroused this prejudice, to create it? I must read their sworn statement, as it were, just as if they were accusing me in court. 'Socrates is a busybody and is guilty of investigating things beneath the earth and in the sky above, and of making the weaker argument the stronger, and of teaching others these same things.' It runs somewhat like that. You yourselves saw these things in that comedy of Aristophanes (note2), a certain Socrates swinging about, claiming to tread the air and talking a deal of other nonsense about matters of which I know nothing either more or less. And I speak not with any disrespect for such knowledge, if anyone is wise in these matters—may Meletus never indict me often enough to induce me to do that—but in fact, gentlemen, I have no concern whatever with such things. And once again I produce the majority of you yourselves as witnesses and entreat you to instruct and inform each other, as many of you as have ever heard me conversing —and there are many such here present—tell each other, then, whether any one of you has ever heard me talking either briefly or at length upon such subjects and from this you will learn that the other stories told about me by most people are equally groundless.

However, none of these things is true; and if you have heard from any source that I undertake to educate men and exact money for it, that also is untrue. Though as a matter of fact it does seem to me a fine thing if anyone could possess the gift of educating men, as is done by Gorgias of Leontini, Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis (note3) For, gentlemen, each one of them is able to visit any city and win over the young men, who are at liberty to associate free of charge with any fellow-citizens they choose—these young men, I say, they can persuade to abandon such associations and to associate with them instead, and to pay them a fee and feel grateful to them as well. For that matter, there is another wise man, from Paros, who, I discovered, is now in town. I happened to encounter a man who has paid to the Sophists more money that all others put together, Callias, the son of Hipponicus and so I asked him—he has two sons—'Callias', I said, 'if your two sons had been colts or calves, we should have been able to hire an overseer who would have made them perfect in the appropriate kind of excellence; and this would have been one of the groom or farmer class. But as it is, since they are human beings, whom have you in mind to take as their overseer? Who is expert in the form of excellence proper to a man and a citizen? I expect that as a father you have considered the matter. Is there anyone', I said, 'or not'? 'Certainly', he replied. 'Who', said I, 'and whence, and what his fee?' 'Evenus', he said, 'Socrates, from Paros, five minae'. (note4) 'And I thought Evenus a fortunate man if he really should possess this art and actually teaches it so reasonably. At least I should give myself airs and feel most superior, if I possessed such knowledge. But I do not possess it, gentlemen.

Now perhaps some of you may rejoin 'But, Socrates, what is this occupation of yours? Whence have these prejudices arisen against you? You must surely have been doing something more unusual than most men for all this gossip and talk to have arisen you must have been acting differently from others. Tell us what it is, then, that we may not jump to conclusions about you'. That seems to me a reasonable plea, and I will attempt to show you what it is that is responsible for this reputation and this prejudice. Listen then and perhaps some of you will think I am not serious but be well assured, I will tell you the whole truth. Gentlemen, I have acquired this reputation of mine through nothing else but a kind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom, you will say. The wisdom which is perhaps attainable by a man in reality apparently this wisdom is mine. But those of whom I spoke just now must probably be endowed with a superhuman wisdom, or I know not what to call it for I have no such knowledge, but whoever says that I have is lying and seeking to slander me. Now do not interrupt me, gentlemen, even if you think me guilty of boasting for the words I am about to speak are not mine, but I shall refer them to a speaker in whom you may place all confidence. Of my wisdom—if indeed it be wisdom, and such as it is—I will produce as witness the god at Delphi. You know Chaerepho, I am sure. He was my comrade from his youth, and he was a partisan of your democracy and shared its exile (note5) and returned with it. And you know what manner of man he was, how impetuous in all that he undertook. Now once he went to Delphi and ventured to put this question to the oracle—and once more I ask you, gentlemen, not to interrupt he actually asked if there was any man wiser than I and the Pythian priestess replied there was none. For the truth of this his brother will vouch, since Chaerepho himself is dead.

And now consider why I tell you this for I am about to explain whence this prejudice against me arose. When I heard the story, I began to ponder 'What does the god mean, and what is this riddle of his? I am conscious that I have no knowledge of whatever degree. What does he mean, then, by saying I am the wisest? For surely he is not uttering a falsehood that is not permissible for him'. And for a long time I was at a loss as to his meaning and then with the utmost reluctance I set out to investigate in the manner I now describe. I went to a man with a reputation for wisdom, thinking that there, if anywhere, I might prove the response mistaken and say to the oracle 'This man is wiser than I, but you said I was the wisest of men'. In my examination of him (and I need not mention him by name, but it was a politician with whom I had this experience) (note6) and in my conversation with him, I discovered that he was considered to be wise by many people, and above all by himself, but was not. And then I endeavoured to prove to him that he thought himself wise, but that he was not. The result was that I made an enemy of him and of many who were present. But as I departed, I reflected to myself 'I am at least wiser than he is for in all probability neither of us knows anything good, but he fancies that he does, though he does not, whereas I, even as I have no knowledge, do not think that I have. Apparently then I am his superior in wisdom to this small extent at least, that what I know not I do not imagine that I know'. I went next to another man, one reputed to be even wiser than he, and I formed the same impression; and there too I made enemies of him and many others.

After this I went around to one after another, perceiving with grief and anxiety that I was making enemies, but none the less I thought it necessary to consider the god's mission of the utmost moment. And so in searching out the oracle's meaning onward I must go to all who enjoyed a name for knowledge. And, by the dog, (note7) gentlemen, this is what actually happened—for I must tell you the truth those whose reputation stood highest seemed to me almost the most deficient, as I investigated at the god's bidding and others, of inferior repute, seemed to be their superiors in good sense. I must needs describe to you my wanderings, as of one engaged in the labours of Hercules, only to prove after all that the oracle was irrefutable. For after the politicians I approached the poets, tragic, dithyrambic, and others, intending there to prove on the spot my inferiority in knowledge. I took up then those of their poems which seemed to me to have cost them most trouble, and asked them what they meant, hoping at the same time to receive some instruction from them. Now I am ashamed, gentlemen, to tell you the truth but nevertheless it must out. Practically all present could have given a better account of what the poets had written than the poets themselves. And so with the poets too in their turn I quickly discovered that it was not through wisdom that they composed their works, but by a natural endowment and inspiration, like prophets and givers of oracles for these say many fine things but understand nothing of what they say. Such seemed also to be the plight of the poets; and at the same time I perceived that on account of their poetry they thought they were the wisest of men in other fields, in which they were not. And so I left them also, thinking that I was their superior in the same way, in which I surpassed the politicians.

Finally then I approached the craftsmen for I was aware that I knew practically nothing, but that I should find them possessed of much fine knowledge. And herein I was not disappointed they knew much that I did not, and in this respect were my superiors in wisdom. But, gentlemen, our worthy craftsmen, it seemed to me, made the same error as the poets. Each one, because of his excellent craftsmanship, claimed to be wisest in other matters of the utmost moment, and this presumption threw their wisdom into the shade. So I asked myself on the oracle's behalf whether I would prefer to be as I am, neither wise with their wisdom nor ignorant with their ignorance, or to possess both these qualities of theirs. And I made reply to myself and to the oracle that it was to my advantage to remain as I am.

As a result of this investigation, gentlemen, I have incurred many enmities of the most bitter and grievous kind, and from them many slanders have arisen, and I am called by the name of 'wise'. For those who are present on each occasion think that I am wise in any matters in which I confute others. Whereas, gentlemen, in actual truth it seems to me that the god only is wise and that in this oracle he says that human wisdom is of little or no worth. And apparently he speaks of Socrates here and takes me as an example by using my name, just as if he should say 'that man among human beings is most wise who like Socrates has learnt that in reality his wisdom is nothing worth'. So that is why I go around even now searching and examining, at the god's command, any man, whether citizen or stranger, whom I think to be wise and whenever he does not appear so to me, I come to the god's assistance and point out that the man is not wise. And as a result of this activity I have no leisure to pay any attention worth speaking of either to the city's affairs or to my own, but am in the depths of poverty owing to my service to the god.

And further, the young men who follow me uninvited—the sons of the wealthy, who have most leisure—enjoy hearing people cross-examined, and they often of their own accord imitate me and attempt to cross-examine others and then I suppose they find a plentiful abundance of men who think they possess knowledge but know little or nothing. And consequently their victims are angry with me instead of with themselves, and they say that Socrates is a most pestilent fellow who corrupts the youth and when asked by what action or teaching, they have nothing to say, for they do not know but to avoid appearing at a loss, they utter the stock charges brought against all philosophers, about 'things in the sky and beneath the earth' and 'not worshipping the gods' and 'making the weaker argument the stronger'. For, I suppose, they would not be willing to admit the truth, that they are detected pretending to knowledge, when they know nothing. And so, I imagine, because they are zealous and vehement and numerous and speak vigorously and convincingly about me, they have long filled your cars with their violent slanders. It is on the strength of this that Meletus and Anytus and Lycon have attacked me, Meletus the indignant champion of the poets, Anytus of the craftsmen and politicians, Lycon of the orators and so, as I remarked at the outset, I should be surprised if I could in so short a time rid you of a prejudice which has grown so strong. There, gentlemen, you have the truth, and I speak to you without any concealments or suppressions great or small. And yet I am pretty well aware that it is by these very methods that I make enemies but this is proof that my words are true and that the prejudice and the causes of it are as I describe them. And whether you investigate the matter now or later, you will find that it is so.

This should be sufficient defence before you against the charges brought by my first accusers. I shall next attempt to offer my defence against Meletus, that true man and patriot, as he styles himself, and the later accusers. Once more then, as if they were a second group of assailants, let us take up their sworn statement in turn. It runs like this 'Socrates', it states, 'is guilty of corrupting the youth and of not worshipping the gods recognised by the city but following strange religions practices'.

Such is the charge against me and now let us examine each element in it. Meletus says that I am guilty of corrupting the young. But I say, gentlemen, that Meletus is the guilty man, because he jests on a serious matter and light-heartedly brings people to trial, pretending to be zealous and concerned I about matters which have never interested him in the least. And that this is so I shall now endeavour to prove to you also.

Come now, Meletus, tell me do you not consider it of the utmost importance that our young men should be as good as possible?


SOCRATES: Come then and tell the court who it is that makes them better for obviously you know, since you are so interested.' You have, you say, discovered in me their corrupter and you bring me to court and accuse me come then, tell these gentlemen who improves them and reveal his name . . . You see, Meletus, that you are tongue-tied and unable to tell. And yet do you not think this is disgraceful and sufficient evidence of exactly what I say, namely that you have never felt the slightest concern (note8) in the matter? But tell us, my good sir, who makes them better?

MELETUS: The laws.

SOCRATES: That is not what I am asking, my worthy friend, but what man, who of course to begin with must know the laws.

MELETUS: These judges here, Socrates.

SOCRATES: What is that, Meletus? Are they able to educate our youth and improve them?

MELETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: All of them, or can some do so and others not?

MELETUS: All of them.

SOCRATES: That is good news indeed—an abundant crop of benefactors. And what about the listeners (in court)? Do they improve the young or not?

MELETUS: They also do.

SOCRATES: And the councillors?

MELETUS: The councillors too.

SOCRATES: But, Meletus, do the members of the assembly corrupt the young? Or do they too all improve them?

MELETUS: They too.

SOCRATES: Then all the Athenians, it seems, make them good except myself and I alone corrupt them is that what you mean?

MELETUS: Most emphatically, I do.

SOCRATES: It is a great misfortune you lay to my charge.

And now answer this do you hold that the same thing is true with horses, that but one man does them harm, and all others improve them? Or, quite the contrary, that one man or very few can improve them, namely the trainers, but most people injure them if they have anything to do with them or use them'? Is it not so, Meletus, in the case of horses and of all other animals? Of course it is, whether you and Anytus accept or deny it we should have abundant reason to be happy about our young men, if it is really true that one man alone corrupts them, and all others do them good. However, Meletus, you prove conclusively that you have never given any thought to our youth, and clearly display your own indifference and lack of concern about the matters for which you prosecute me.

But in heaven's name, Meletus, answer this further question is it better to live among good or evil citizens? Answer, my friend for it is not a difficult question. Do not evil men do harm to these who at any time are their neighbours, and good men do good?

MELETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Is there any man who prefers to be harmed rather than benefited by his associates? Answer, my good sir for the law bids you answer. Is there anyone who prefers to be harmed?

MELETUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: And now, do you bring me to court for corrupting the young and making them worse men voluntarily or involuntarily?

MELETUS: Voluntarily, I say.

SOCRATES: Why, Meletus, are you at your age so much wiser than I at mine, as to have realise, that evil men always do evil to those who are closest to them, and the good some good, whereas I am sunk in such a depth of ignorance as to be unaware that, if I make any of my associates a knave, I am likely to suffer some harm from him, and yet, according to you, I commit this evil intentionally? Oh, no, Meletus, you cannot convince me of that nor, I should think, convince any other man either. But either I do not corrupt the young or, if I do, it is unintentional so that in either event you are lying. And if I corrupt them involuntarily, for such involuntary errors the law does not bid you bring me to court, but rather to take me in private and instruct and admonish me for manifestly, if I am instructed, I shall cease to do what in any case I am doing involuntarily. But you avoided my company and refused to instruct me, and you bring me here instead, where the law bids you bring those who need, not instruction, but punishment.

However, gentlemen, what I was saying is now quite evident, that Meletus has never concerned himself to any degree whatever with these matters. Nevertheless, tell us, Meletus, in what way you say that I corrupt the young. Or is it evident, by the terms of the indictment you have brought against me, that it is by teaching them not to acknowledge the gods observed by the city but to practise strange religious rites? Is it not by such teachings that you say I corrupt the youth?

MELETUS: Yes, most emphatically I do say so.

SOCRATES: Then in the name of those very gods who are now under discussion, Meletus, explain this still more definitely to me and to the court. For I cannot understand whether you say that I teach men to believe that certain gods exist, not those recognised by the city, but different gods (in which event I myself do believe in the existence of gods and am not an out-and-out atheist and am not guilty in that way) and your charge against me is that they are different; or whether you insist that I do not believe in gods at all and teach this atheism to others.

MELETUS: That is what I mean, that you do not recognise gods at all.

SOCRATES: You strange fellow, Meletus, why do you say this? Do I not then believe, like other men, that the sun and moon are gods?

MELETUS: No indeed, judges, he does not for he says that the sun is a stone and the moon earth.

SOCRATES: Do you imagine, my dear Meletus, that you are accusing Anaxagoras? And do you so disdain these gentlemen and think them so illiterate as not to know that the books of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae are full of these theories? And do the young men actually learn from me doctrines which they may purchase for a drachma at the most at the Orchestra (note9) and then laugh Socrates to scorn if he claims them to be his own, especially when they are so outlandish? In heaven's name, is that what you think of me? Do I not believe in any gods?

MELETUS: No indeed, in none whatever.

SOCRATES: What you say is unconvincing, Meletus, even to yourself, I believe. It seems to me, gentlemen, that my opponent is thoroughly insolent and uncontrolled, and that he has laid this charge literally in a spirit of insolence and wantonness and youthful bravado. He is like a man trying an experiment by composing a riddle 'Will Socrates, that paragon of wisdom, detect that I am trifling and contradicting myself, or shall I deceive him and all who hear me? 'Yes, he seems to be contradicting himself in the indictment, as though he should say 'Socrates is guilty of not recognising gods, but of recognising gods'. Yet this is the behaviour of a trifler.

And now consider along with me, gentlemen, what makes me think this is his meaning. Do you answer me, Meletus and, as I entreated you at the outset, remember, gentlemen, not to interrupt if I converse in my usual fashion.

Is there any man, Meletus, who believes in the existence of human affairs but not of human beings? Let him answer, gentlemen, and not engage in one interruption after another. Is there anyone who believes in horsemanship, but not in horses? or in flute-playing, but not in flautists? There is not, my good sir if you refuse to answer, I will tell you and all others here. But this next question you must answer. Is there anybody who believes in things divine, but not in divine beings? (note10)>/p>

MELETUS: There is not.

SOCRATES: How obliging of you to answer—though reluctantly and compelled by the court. You assert then that I acknowledge and teach belief in things divine, whether old or new at any rate, by your account, I recognise things divine, and to this you have sworn in your deposition. But if I recognise things divine, surely there is every necessity that I must recognise divine beings. Is it not so? I take it that you agree, since you do not answer. But do we not consider divine beings to be either gods or the children of gods? Yes or no?

MELETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: If I believe in divine beings, as you say, then, if these divine beings are a kind of gods, that would be the riddling jest of which I accuse you—your assertion that though I do not believe in the gods, yet once more I do believe in them, since I believe in divine beings. But if on the other hand these divine beings are the illegitimate offspring of gods, whether by nymphs or by any other mothers whose children they are said to be—what man is there who would believe that the children of gods exist, but not gods? It would be just as ridiculous as if one believed that the offspring of horses and asses exist, namely mules, but not horses and asses.(note11) But beyond all doubt, Meletus, you lodged this indictment against me either as an experiment or because you were at a loss to discover any real guilt wherewith to charge me. There is no means whereby you can persuade anyone with the slightest intelligence that it is not to be expected of the same man that he will believe both in things divine and in what concerns the gods, and again that the same man will not believe in divinities and gods and heroes. (note12)

Well, gentlemen, that I am not guilty of the offences charged by Meletus does not, I think, need much proof, but what I have said is sufficient. But you may be well assured of the truth of what I said before, that many have come to hate me bitterly. And this it is that will convict me, not Meletus nor Anytus, but the prejudice and malice of the many. These things have already convicted many other good men, and are likely to do so again. There is no fear that it will end with me.

Now, perhaps someone may say 'Are you not ashamed, Socrates, of having engaged in an occupation which now exposes you to the danger of death?' To him I could reply with justice 'You are mistaken, my friend, if you think that a man of even the slightest merit ought to calculate risks of life and death, but ought not rather in every action to consider whether it is right or wrong, the act of a good man or an evil. For by your account all the demigods who died at Troy would be slight, unmeritable men, the son of Thetis (note13) included, who despised death in comparison with dishonour. For when in his thirst to slay Hector, his mother, a goddess, spoke to him in some such words as follow, I believe "My son, if you insist upon avenging the death of your friend Patroclus and killing Hector, you yourself will die", said she, "for straightway after Hector's death your fate is ready". He made light of danger and death when he heard this, and fearing far more to live a coward and fail to avenge his friend, "let me die at once", he said, "when once I have punished the guilty, that I may not remain to be laughed to scorn, a mere burden on the earth beside the curved ships". Do you think that he took any account of death and danger?

The truth is, gentlemen, that wherever a man posts himself, because he thinks it best, or is posted by his commander, there, in my opinion, he ought to remain and face the danger, taking no account of death or of anything else, except disgrace. When the officers whom you chose to command me, gentlemen, set me at my post at Potidaea and Amphipolis and Delium, (note14) I remained at my station like anyone else and faced the risk of death. It would be strange behaviour if through fear of death or of any other fate I were to leave my post, when the god, as I thought and understood, assigned me my duty—to live the life of a philosopher examining myself and others. Yes, that would be strange, and then I might in very truth rightly be brought to trial for not believing in the existence of the gods and disobeying the oracle and fearing death and thinking myself wise when I am not. For to fear death, gentlemen, is nothing else but to think oneself wise when one is not. It is to fancy that we know what we know not. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings to man, but men fear it as if they knew well that it was the greatest of evils. And yet surely this is ignorance of the most reprehensible kind—that of thinking one knows what one does not. As for me, here too perhaps I differ from the majority of men to this extent, and if I should claim in any respect to be wiser than any other man, it would be in this, that as I have no definite knowledge about the other world, so too I do not think that I know but I do know that it is shameful and evil to do injury and to disobey one's betters, whether god or man. In preference then to those evils which I recognise as such, I shall never fear or avoid what for all I know may be good. And so, even if you acquit me now and pay no heed to Anytus, who says that either I should never have been brought to trial at all or, since I have, it is impossible to avoid putting me to death, insisting that if I should now escape, your sons will all be utterly ruined by practising the teachings of Socrates—if you should say in answer to this 'Socrates, we will not be persuaded by Anytus this time, we will acquit you, but only on condition that you no longer spend your time in these investigations nor pursue philosophy. If you are caught continuing such practices, you shall die'—if then as I said, you would release me on those terms, I should say to you 'Men of Athens, I love and esteem you, but I will obey the god rather than you; and as long as I breathe and have the power, I shall never abandon philosophy nor cease to admonish you and reveal the truth to any one of you I may meet from time to time, saying in my wonted fashion "My good friend, you are a citizen of Athens, a great city and highly renowned for its power and wisdom are you not ashamed then of seeking to acquire as much money as you can, and reputation and honour, but caring nothing and taking no thought for wisdom and truth and the perfection of your soul?" 'And if anyone of you should dispute this and say that he does care, I shall not at once release him and go my way, but shall question him and examine and convict him and if I make tip my mind that he does not possess goodness but merely claims to, I shall reproach him for making light of the most important things and treasuring what is of lesser value. This I shall do for the benefit of both young and old, whomsoever I encounter, both citizen and stranger; but more especially for you citizens, inasmuch as you are closer akin to me. For I assure you, this is the god's bidding and I consider that the city has enjoyed no greater boon than my service to the god. For I go around engaged in the one activity of persuading you, young and old alike, not to care first and foremost for your bodies or for wealth, but rather for the improvement of your souls, saying 'goodness does not come from money, but it is goodness that makes money and all other things in public or in private good for men'.(note15) If then by such discourses I corrupt the young, it must be harmful but if anyone accuses me of saying anything else than this, he talks nonsense. 'Now then, gentlemen', I shall say, 'you may believe Anytus or not, you may acquit me or not but I will not behave otherwise, even if I have to die many a death.'

Do not interrupt, gentlemen, but abide by my request not to interrupt but to listen for I believe you will profit by listening. I am about to say something else at which you will perhaps exclaim aloud but do not by any means do that. You may be assured that if you put to death such a man as I describe myself to be, you will do yourselves more harm than me. Meletus and Anytus will do me no harm—that would be impossible. For it is not permitted, I believe, for a better man to be harmed by a worse. He might be killed or exiled or disfranchised and Meletus and others perhaps consider these things to be great evils. But I do not. It is a far greater evil, in my opinion, to do what Meletus is now doing, endeavouring unjustly to put a man to death. Now therefore, gentlemen, I am not making this defence on my own behalf, as you might suppose. Far from it. It is on your behalf, that you may make no error about the god's gift to you by condemning me. For if you put me to death, you will not easily find such another, one who, ridiculous as it may sound, has literally been attached by the god to the city as though to a horse that is thoroughbred and large but owing to its very size somewhat sluggish and constantly needs to be awakened by a gadfly. That is the guise, I think, in which the god has attached me to the city—a kind of creature that never ceases to awaken you and persuade and reproach you, besetting you one and all the whole day long from every quarter. You will not readily find such another, gentlemen, but if you will take my advice, you will spare me. But perhaps in your vexation, like sleepy people suddenly awakened, you will thoughtlessly kill me with a single blow, as Anytus suggests, and then pass the rest of your lives in slumber, unless the god in his care for you should send you another such visitant. But that I am actually a kind of gift from the god to the city you may realise from this fact it does not look like mere human behaviour that I should have ignored all my own affairs and put up with their neglect for so many years now, ever engaging in your interests, approaching each one of you singly as though I were a father or elder brother and persuading you to care for goodness. And if I reaped any profit from this conduct or received a fee for my exhortations, it would be explicable. But as it is you can see for yourselves that my accusers, shameless though they have been in every other respect, have not had the effrontery to produce witnesses and assert that I ever exacted or asked payment from any man. For I think that my poverty is sufficient evidence that I am telling the truth.

Now perhaps it may seem strange that I go around giving my advice in private and busy myself with the concerns of others, but that I do not venture to appear before your assembly and give advice to the state. The reason for this is something you have often heard me speak about and in many places—something supernatural and divine which visits me—the very thing, of course, at which Meletus poked fun in his indictment. This is something that began with me in childhood, a kind of voice (note16) which on each occasion when it comes to me deters me from what I am about to do, but never encourages me to action. This it is that opposes my engaging in politics, and a very good thing it is, in my opinion, that it does oppose. For you may be certain, gentlemen, that if I had long since attempted to enter public life, I should have perished long ago without benefiting you or myself. And do not be angry with me if I speak frankly. There is no man who can save himself alive, if he genuinely opposes you or any other democracy and prevents many evil and lawless actions from taking place in the city but it is essential that the man who is really to fight the battle for justice, if he is to remain alive even for a short while, should act in a private, not a public station.

For this I will offer you good evidence, not words, but what you respect more highly, deeds. Listen to what happened to me; then you may realise that so far from yielding to any man whatever to do wrong through fear of death, I would even be ready to meet my death for not yielding. The proofs I shall offer are mere tiresome commonplaces of the law-courts, but none the less true.

I have never held any office in the city, gentlemen, but once I was a member of the Council (note17) and my tribe, Antiochis, happened to be presiding when you passed your resolution to try in a body the ten generals who failed to recover the dead after the sea-battle—an illegal action on your part, as you all afterwards agreed. (note18) On that occasion I alone of the presiding committee opposed your taking any action contrary to the laws and voted against you. And though the orators were ready to impeach and arrest me, and though you clamoured and hounded them on, I thought it my duty to face the danger to the end on the side of law and justice rather than, through fear of imprisonment or death, to side with you in your unjust decree.

This took place when the state was still a democracy. And when the oligarchy had gained power, the Thirty summoned me with four others (note19) to the rotunda and ordered us to bring Leon of Salamis from his home to be put to death. They gave many such orders to others also, being anxious to secure as many accomplices as possible in their guilt. But then once more I proved by action, not by word, that for death, if I may speak somewhat bluntly, I cared not a straw, but that my whole concern was that I should perform no wrongful or impious act. That government, for all its power, did not terrify me into doing anything wrong but when we left the rotunda, the four departed to Salamis and brought Leon over, but I took my way home. And perhaps I might have met my death for this, had not that government soon been overthrown. And there are many who will confirm the truth of this to you.

Do you imagine that I could have survived for so many years if I had entered public life and had acted like a good man and true in aiding the cause of justice and, as is right, had considered this of paramount importance? Far from it, gentlemen, no other man would have either. But throughout my life, both in any public action and in private, you will find that I have been immutably the same, one who never made any base submission to any man whatever, and I include those whom they slanderously describe as my disciples. I have never been any man's teacher but if anyone wished to hear me speaking and engaging in my mission, whether old or young, I grudged nobody nor is it true that I converse when paid a fee but refuse to otherwise; but I offer myself to rich and poor alike for questioning and if any wish to hear what I have to say in reply. And whether any of these men turn out good or not I cannot rightly be held accountable since I never promised or gave any of them any instruction. And if anyone says that he has ever heard or learnt from me in private anything that was not open to all others, I assure you that he is not speaking the truth.

But why do certain people enjoy spending much time with me? You have heard already, gentlemen, l have told you the whole truth. It is because they enjoy hearing the cross-examination of those who think themselves wise when they are not and it really is diverting. But, as I tell you, this task has been enjoined upon me by the god in oracles and dreams and in every way in which a divine dispensation has ever enjoined upon any man any act whatever. That, gentlemen, is the truth, and it may easily be tested. If I have already corrupted some of our youth and am now corrupting others, then surely some of them, on recognising as they grow older that I had given them evil advice in their youth, should have made their appearance in court to accuse and punish me or if they themselves were unwilling, their kinsfolk, fathers, brothers, and other relatives, should now have remembered and punished it, if those near and dear to them had suffered any harm at my hands. In any case many of them I can see here in court, first of all Crito, who is of my own age and parish, the father of Critobulus yonder; and then Lysanias of Sphettus, whose son Aeschines is present, and Antiphon of Cephisus also, the father of Epigenes; and others too, whose brothers spent their time in this manner, Nicostratus, son of Theozoticles and brother of Theodotus—and Theodotus is dead and so could not dissuade him—and Paralus, son of Demodocus, whose brother was Theages and yonder is Adeimantus, son of Ariston, whose brother is Plato here,(note20) and Aeantodorus, whose brother is Apollodorus yonder. And there are many others I could mention to you, some of whom Meletus ought to have brought forward to give evidence, preferably during his own speech; but if he forgot then, let him do so now—I will stand aside—and let him say if he has any such witness. But, quite on the contrary, you will find, gentlemen, many who are ready to help me, the corrupting influence, the man who harms their relatives according to Meletus and Anytus. It would be reasonable of course to expect the victims of corruption themselves to help me but those who are not corrupted, their kinsmen who are now older men—what other reason can they have for helping me than the true and just reason, that they know Meletus is lying and I am speaking the truth?

Well, gentlemen, this is pretty much what I have to offer in my defence, this and other similar evidence, I suppose. Now perhaps some one of you may be indignant when he recalls his own case—how, though involved in a far less critical trial than this, he begged and implored the judges with many a tear, bringing his small children and others of his family and many friends into court, in order to win the utmost sympathy, whereas I, it seems, intend to do none of these things, even though exposed, by all appearances, to the extremes of peril. Perhaps then in taking note of this he may harden his heart against me and being angered at this conduct of mine may give his vote in anger. If any one of you is so affected—and I do not expect it of you, but if so—I think I should make a reasonable plea if I said to him 'My good friend, I too have kinsfolk for, in Homer's words, "I am not sprung from oak-tree or from rock", (note21) but from human parents and so I too have kinsmen, and sons also, gentlemen, three of them, one in his teens and the other two still children. Nevertheless I shall not bring any of them into court and implore you to acquit me.' Why then will I do none of these things? Not through stubborn pride, gentlemen, nor in disrespect towards you. Whether I am confident or not when death is in question is another matter but where honour is in question, mine and yours and that of the whole city, it does not seem good to me to act in such a way at my age and with my reputation for whether that reputation be deserved or not, it seems generally believed at any rate that Socrates is in some way distinguished from the majority of men. If then those of you who are considered superior in wisdom or courage or any other virtue are going to behave in such a fashion, it would be a shameful affair. I have often observed the conduct of such men when on trial, men of some reputation too, but conducting themselves in the most extraordinary way, as though they thought they would suffer some terrible fate if put to death, as though indeed they would be exempt from death if you did not remove them. These men, in my opinion, attach discredit to the city, so that even a stranger might conceive that those of the Athenians who excel in worth, those whom the people select as their magistrates and other officers, are in no way superior to women. Any among you who enjoy any reputation at all should not act in this way, nor should you put up with it if we do but you should make it plain that you are far more likely to condemn the man who puts on these dismal dramas and makes the city ridiculous, than the man who holds his peace.

And quite apart from reputation, gentlemen, I do not consider it right to implore the judge and secure acquittal by entreaty, but rather to inform and convince him. For the judge does not sit to dispense justice by favour but to render judgement. And he has taken oath, not to favour whomsoever he pleases, but to judge according to the laws. We should not then form in you the habit of perjury, nor should you acquire it for neither of us would be acting with piety. Do riot expect me then, gentlemen, to act towards you in a way which I consider neither honourable nor right nor pious, especially and above all when it is for impiety that Meletus here is prosecuting me. For if I should persuade you and do violence to your oath by entreaties, I should plainly be teaching you not to believe that the gods exist, and my very defence would literally convict me of not fearing the gods. But this is far from being true. I do fear them, gentlemen, as do none of my accusers; and I leave it to you and the god to come to whatever decision is likely to be best both for me and for you.

Part II   (note22)

If I am not vexed, gentlemen, at your verdict of condemnation, there are many factors that contribute to my attitude and among others, that the event was not unexpected by me. But I am much more surprised at the number of votes on either side. For I did not expect that the margin would be so narrow, but a considerable one. As it is, apparently, if only thirty votes had been cast the other way, I should have been acquitted. As far as Meletus is concerned, in my opinion I am already acquitted and not only that, but it is perfectly evident to everybody that if Anytus and Lycon had joined him in the accusation, he would have suffered a fine of a thousand drachms for not having obtained the fifth part of the votes. (note23)

And so, he proposes the penalty of death. Well, what alternative penalty shall I suggest, gentlemen? Plainly what I deserve. And what punishment or fine do I deserve for refusing throughout my life to hold my peace'? I neglected what most men love, money-making and the management of property, military commands and political leaderships, and all the factions and cabals that prevail in your city, thinking myself in fact too good a man to be suffered to live if I took that direction. And so I did not follow a road by pursuing which I was likely to be of no use either to you or to myself, but I chose a different path, that of visiting each one of you in private and doing you, so I claim, the greatest of benefits. I strove to persuade each one of you not to concern himself with his external possessions rather than with his self and the perfection of that self in goodness and wisdom; and not to concern himself with the trappings of the state rather than with the state itself, and in all other matters also to display a similar concern. Then what requital do I deserve for such conduct? Something good, gentlemen, if I am to assess my true deserts; and some good thing too that would be appropriate for me. What reward then is appropriate for a poor man and a benefactor, who needs leisure to give you counsel? There is nothing so appropriate, gentlemen, as that such a man should enjoy free maintenance at the Prytaneum (note24)—far more so indeed than if one of you has won a victory at the Olympic games with a horse or a pair or a four-horse chariot. For he but gives you the semblance of happiness, I the reality and he has no need of maintenance, but I have. If then I must assess the penalty I justly deserve, I propose free maintenance at the Prytaneum.

But perhaps some of you will think that in speaking thus, just as in what I said about prayers and entreaties for pity, I am behaving with stubborn pride. That is not so, gentlemen, but the truth is rather this. I am convinced that I do no intentional harm to any man, but of this I cannot convince you. For we have spoken but a short time together. Whereas, in my opinion, if you had a law such as is found elsewhere, that capital trials should last, not one, but many days, you would have been convinced. But now it is not easy to dispel such deep-rooted prejudices in a short time. Being convinced then that I do wrong to nobody, I am but little likely to wrong myself by stating that I deserve to suffer some evil and naming such a penalty against myself. What fear should so impel me? The fear of suffering this penalty which Meletus suggests, when I tell you that I know not whether it be good or evil? Am I to choose as an alternative and propose for myself something I well know to be evil? Shall it be imprisonment? And why should I live on in prison, a constant slave to your successive magistrates? Shall it be a fine, and imprisonment until it is paid? But that is what I told you just now. I have no money wherewith to pay it. Shall I choose exile then? For perhaps you would accept that choice. I should indeed be devoted to life if I were so irrational as not to be able to reason thus with myself you, my fellow-citizens, could not endure my words and discourses they became too tiresome and odious to you, and you now seek to be quit of them will others then cheerfully put up with them? Most unlikely, gentlemen. A fine life mine would be if I left Athens at my age and lived like a hunted thing, constantly changing from city to city. For I am well aware that, wherever I go, the young men will listen to me as they do here and if I repel them, they will of their own accord persuade their elders and drive me forth and if I do not repel them, their fathers and kinsmen will drive me out for their sakes.

Now perhaps some of you may say 'Can you not leave us, Socrates, and live in peace and quiet abroad'? This is the most difficult thing of all to bring home to you. For if I say that such behaviour is disobedience to the god and that for this reason it is impossible for me to keep silent, you will regard me as insincere and will refuse to believe but you will be still less ready to believe me If I say that the greatest good that can befall a man is to discourse every day about goodness and those other subjects about which you hear me conversing and examining myself and others, and that the life unexamined is not worth living. Yet the truth is as I say, gentlemen, difficult though it be to persuade you. Moreover I am not in the habit of considering myself deserving of any evil. If I had money, I would have proposed a fine such as I had some prospect of paying for that would not have harmed me. But as it is I have none—unless you are willing to accept as a fine such a sum as I could afford. And perhaps I could afford one mina. That, then, is the sum I propose . . . . But Plato here, gentlemen, and Crito and Critobulus and Apollodorus bid me propose 30 minae, and offer themselves as surety. That then is the sum I propose and you will find them sufficient sureties for the money.


Part III

For lack of but a little patience, gentlemen, you will acquire, from those who wish to malign the city the evil name of having, put to death Socrates, a wise man—for those who wish to reproach you will call me wise, even if I am not. At any rate, if you had waited but a little while, this would have happened in the natural course of events for you see that I am well stricken in years and near to death. I am now speaking, not to all of you, but to those who voted for my condemnation. And to these same people I have this further to say. Perhaps, gentlemen, you think that I was convicted through lack of words which might have persuaded you, if I had thought it right to leave nothing unsaid or undone to secure my acquittal but that is far from true. I have indeed been convicted through a lack, not a lack of words, however, but a lack of effrontery in shamelessness and of readiness to say the kind of thing you would most have delighted to hear from me—weeping and lamentations and many other deeds and words which I claim to be unworthy of me—the kind of thing you are accustomed to hear from others. But neither at the time did I think that I ought to do anything common or mean because of the danger, nor do I now regret having so defended myself but I would much rather die after such a defence than live on after a defence like theirs. For neither in court nor on the battlefield should I or any other contrive to escape death at any cost. In battle it often becomes evident that death may be avoided if a man flings away his weapons and goes on his knees to his pursuers and in dangers of every kind there are many means of escaping death, if a man ventures to leave nothing unsaid or undone. But perhaps it is not difficult to escape death, gentlemen, but a far more difficult thing to escape the stain of evil for it flies faster than fate. And now I who am an old man and slow have been overtaken by the slower, and my accusers, who are quick and clever, by the faster, the taint of evil. And now I depart condemned to death by you, and they, convicted of evil and wrong-doing by Truth herself. And I abide, as they do, by the decision. Perhaps these things had so to happen, and I think it is well.

And now I wish to prophesy to you, all you who have condemned me for I have reached the time at which men are most gifted with prophecy, the hour when death is near. And I say to you, my slayers, that immediately after my death a punishment will come upon you far more bitter than this death sentence of yours. You have now done this, thinking you will be released from submitting an account of your lives, but it will turn out completely the reverse, I tell you. Those who cross-examine you will be more numerous men whom I have held back, though you never knew it and they will be more troublesome, inasmuch as they are younger and you will be far more vexed with them. For if you think that by putting men to death you will restrain any from reproaching you for your evil lives, you are quite mistaken. Such a method of escape is scarcely possible nor is it honourable but the noblest and easiest is, not to repress others, but to see to it that each one of you is as perfect as possible. With this prophecy to those who condemned me, I bid you good-bye.

And now I should be glad to converse about what has happened with those who voted to acquit me, while the officials are busy and before I depart to the scene of my death. Remain with me, my friends, for just so long for there is nothing to prevent us from talking together while yet we may. You are my friends, and to you I am ready to reveal the meaning of what has now befallen me. A strange thing has happened to me, justices—for I can properly give you that name. The customary divine, prophetic monitor has on all previous occasions been most persistent, opposing me in quite trivial matters if I were going to do something amiss. And now, as you see for yourselves, something has come to pass which might be considered, and actually is considered, the greatest of evils. But this sign from God offered no opposition, either when I left my home this morning or when I made my way to court, or when I was on the point of saying anything in my speech. Yet during other discourses it has often checked me in the very act of speaking. But nowhere in this present affair has it offered any objection to what I said or did. I will explain to you what I conceive to be the reason for this. The fate that has befallen me must be good, and all who believe that death is an evil must be wrong in their opinion. I have good evidence of this for beyond question the accustomed sign would have opposed me, if I had not been going in some way to fare well.

Let us reflect in this way too that there is every hope death is a boon. For death is one or other of two things. It is either complete annihilation, when the dead man has no sensation of anything; or, as we are told, a change of life and migration of the soul from one world to another. And if death means complete unconsciousness, like a sleep in which the slumbering man sees not even a dream, then it would be a marvellous gain. For if a man had to choose that night in which he slept so soundly as not even to dream, and after comparing with it all the other nights and days of his life had after due deliberation to say how many days and nights in his life he had spent more pleasantly and happily than this, I think that not only a private person, but even the Great King (note25) himself would find such nights easy to count in comparison with the other nights and days. If then death is like this, I count it a gain for thus reckoned all eternity seems no longer than a single night. But if on the other hand death is like making a journey to another land, and there is truth in the stories that all the dead dwell there, what greater boon could there be, my judges, than this? For if on reaching the other world, released from those who claim to be judges here, a man is to discover the true judges who are said to give sentence there—Minos and Rhadamanthys and Aeacus and Triptolemus and other demi-gods who lived righteously in their life here—would such a journey be a trivial matter? Or again, to associate with Orpheus and Musaeus, and Hesiod and Homer—what would not any one of you pay for that? For my part, I am willing to die many deaths if these stories are true. Life there, in my opinion, would be a wonderful thing, when I could meet Palamedes and Ajax son of Telamon and any others of the men of old who were put to death through an unjust verdict, and compare my experiences with theirs—this, I think, would be a real pleasure and, greatest pleasure of all, to spend my time there, as here, questioning and cross-examining to discover which of them is wise, and which thinks himself wise when he is not. What price, my judges, would not a man pay to examine the leader of the great expedition to Troy, or Odysseus, or Sisyphus or countless others, both men and women, whom one might mention? It would be bliss unspeakable to converse with them and live with them and question them. In any case they do not in that world put men to death for doing this for not only are the dwellers in that world happier in general than are we, but for all time to come they are immortal, if what we are told is true.

But you too, my judges, must face death with good hope, and remember this one truth, that a good man cannot suffer any evil either in life or after death, and that the gods do not neglect his fortunes. What has happened to me also is not mere chance, but I am sure that it was better for me to die now and be rid of my troubles. That is why the sign nowhere restrained me, and I am not so very vexed with those who accused and condemned me. And yet it was not with this intention that they accused and condemned, but thinking to harm me. For this they deserve to be reproached. But this much I entreat of them. When my sons reach manhood, gentlemen, punish them by vexing them in the same way in which I vexed you, if you think they concern themselves with money or anything else in preference to goodness and if they consider themselves to be something when they are of no account, reproach them as I reproach you for not caring for what they should and for thinking they are of some account when they are worthless. And if you do this, both I and my sons will have received just treatment from you. But now the time has come for us to go our different paths, for me to die, for you to live. And which of us is going to the better fate is unknown to all save only to God.




note 1

The speech attributed by Plato to Socrates, when he spoke in his own defence on a charge of impiety (see Euthyphro 2A-3A). The speeches for the prosecution were made by Meletus, an obscure poet, Lycon, a still more obscure orator, and Anytus, a prominent politician. Anytus was apparently content to remain more or less in the background because a direct attack on the political opinions of Socrates was impossible in view of a political amnesty proclaimed after the restoration of the Athenian democracy in 403 BC. The real intent of the accusers had therefore to be disguised, and Socrates is impeached for offences against religion. Anytus appears in Plato's Meno (90-100). The jury panel consisted of 500 or 501 members. (return to text)
note 2

The Clouds.  (return to text)
note 3

Three of the most famous Sophists of the Fifth Century. There are Platonic dialogues named after Hippias and Gorgias.  (return to text)
note 4

A mina (100 drachms) is a sum of money, not a coin, and is conventionally regarded as equivalent to about 4 or $20 (pre-war rate). But its real value can be determined only by the purchasing power of money in those days. Burnet remarks that 1 mina was the fair ransom price of a prisoner of war. Plato (Gorgias 511) speaks of a ship-captain carrying a man, his family, and property, from Egypt to Athens for 2 drachms at most!  (return to text)
note 5

After the defeat and surrender of Athens in 404, when the oligarchical government of the so-called Thirty Tyrants was established. see 32C-E. (return to text)
note 6

Was this Anytus? One can imagine a roguish glance at him from Socrates, as he made this statement.   (return to text)
note 7

A common oath with Socrates, as innocent as 'golly', 'gosh' 'darn', etc. today.  (return to text)
note 8

Throughout this interrogation Socrates plays upon the name Meletus, connecting it with the Greek word meaning 'to care, to be concerned'.  (return to text)
note 9

Probably a place near the market, where books might be purchased, not the orchestra of the theatre.   (return to text)
note 10

'Divine beings' there is no satisfactory English equivalent for this Greek word daimonos, which is used either generally, of deities, or specifically, of the offspring of a deity and a mortal, a demi-god. The English derivative 'demons' will not suit the occasion. (return to text)
note 11

The Greek word for mules means literally demi-asses. The illustration gains in point when demi-gods and demi-asses are compared in respect of parentage.  (return to text)
note 12

This last terrific sentence, Burnet suggests, was pronounced at full speed, and was intended to leave Meletus gasping. (return to text)
note 13

Achilles Homer, Iliad, xviii, 94 onward. (return to text)
note 14

For the courage of Socrates in battle see Plato, Laches, 181B, Symposium, 219E-221A.   (return to text)
note 15

The most obvious and generally accepted rendering of the Greek is 'It is from goodness that money comes and all other good things, etc.' The rendering adopted here, based upon Burnet's note, is at least more consistent with the Socratic point of view. (return to text)
note 16

See Euthyphro, 3B, Apology, 40A-B  (return to text)
note 17

The Council consisted of 500, 50 members from each of the ten tribes. Each group of 50 would act as a presiding committee for a period of five weeks. The Council would present resolutions to the popular Assembly.  (return to text)
note 18
After the battle of Arginusae (406 BC) a storm arose which prevented the rescue of the living and recovery of the dead. The Athenians in a wave of mass hysteria condemned and executed those of the ten generals who returned to the city. (return to text)
note 19

The so-called Thirty Tyrants, the oligarchical government set up in Athens by the Spartans after her defeat and collapse in 404 BC It is interesting to note that one of the 'four' mentioned here was named Meletus and he may have been the present prosecutor of Socrates.   (return to text)
note 20

Only here and once more in the Apology, and once in the Phaedo, does Plato mention his own name. (return to text)
note 21

Odyssey, xix 163  (return to text)
note 22

The second part of the speech was delivered after the court had returned a verdict of guilty. In pronouncing sentence, the court had to choose one or the other of two alternative penalties suggested by plaintiff and defendant. (return to text)
note 23

The vote was apparently 280 to 220. Socrates, is of course slyly joking when he suggests that the 280 must be divided between the three accusers. The penalty of 1000 drachms was intended to discourage merely frivolous and malicious accusations. (return to text)
note 24

The central hearth of the city, where distinguished citizens (generals, athletes, etc.) were regularly entertained. (return to text)
note 25

i.e. of Persia.  (return to text)