Monday, August 6, 2012

History Mystery: The famous trial of Socrates -2

Meletus read the written charges against Socrates. The Magistrate questioned both the complaint and the defendant and gave the opportunity to explain the charges and the counter for it. Since he felt the charges against Socrates were correct he drew up the formal charges. Socrates was found guilty for refusing and recognizing the gods of the state and found guilt for corrupting the youths of Athens for which the penalty is death. The trial was happened for ten hours in the court of peoples of Athens. Juries of 500 males of who sat on the wooden benches were drawn a lot from the farmers in the middle age. A proper barricade was there to separate the public from the Juries. Meletus presented his case against the three accusers first then total of three hours were given for the counter argument. The poet Melitus, Anytus and Lycon are the three who found guilty on Socrates. Anytus vehemently accused Socrates, since he strongly believed that his son was spoiled him. In his Meno Plato describes the relationship of Socrates in his own words, “I have a close relationship with your son and we are close in spirit too” (We cannot conclude this connection meant sex but by those times sleeping with their students and doing bisexual relationship was entertained on those days).

With the available resources the historians have different opinion, for example James A. Colaiaco says Melitus and others gave more weight age for the religious crimes where as I.F. Stone says it is for political crime. Stone quotes the words of the most popular orator Aechines (345 BCE) words as the strong reference for religious crime but Stone reject the religious crime since Athenians sometimes treated their gods indecently both in theater and plays. He shows In Aristophnes’s Clouds, rain was nothing but the urination of the god Zeus through a sieve but no one criticized him. Hence from his point of view Socrates was convicted for his political but not for the religious crime. Plato’s Apology narrates the incident very clearly but it did not speak about his close relationship with the thirty tyrants. According to Plato’s Apology Meletus charges Socrates for believing celestial objects such as Sun and Moon as gods but Socrates question Meletus about the religious charges, without counter their atheism charges he attacked him for the inconsistency.
Socrates contented that he was a war hero and he had rendered his service extraordinarily in the previous three battles and saved the life of fellow Athenians. Socrates didn’t apply to the jurors for mercy that he had wife and children or his family did not appear before the court. In Athenian jury system the convict or the accused can appeal for the mercy by for sympathy the jurors by introducing their family before the trial court. And Socrates believed pleading for mercy will render disgrace to the justice. After the three hours long trail ended each Jury is asked to renter their judgment by putting their ballot paper in the pots. Finally Socrates was found guilty by 280 Judges and 220 jurors in favour of his acquittal. After the trial the jurors asked Socrates and Meletus for proposing the punishment. The three accusers proposed for the death sentence. Instead of praying of exile, Socrates daringly proposed he should not be punished instead he should be rewarded. And he asked for the dinner in the public dining hall in the center of the city. Though it shows Socrates was ready to die, his activities irritated the jurors and made his punishment evident. But Jurors want the fair punishment; Socrates un interestingly suggested a fine of one mina of silver (That was the very lesser punishment he proposed). Again the juror voted for the conviction 360 in favour of death by drinking cup of poisoned hemlock against 140 for fining him. He told Athens will one day ashamed for its sin. He was sent to jail and the poison he drunk ate his life slowly. Usually the convicted was allowed to speak before the public hence Socrates also boldly utter the following "The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways--I to die, and you to live. Which to the better fate is known only to God"

Most of the historian and the great scholars believe that the conviction and the execution was his deliberate choice by himself. Yes; The trail is a interesting suicide of himself more deliberately.