Showing posts with label death of Socrates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death of Socrates. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

History Mystery: The famous trial of Socrates -1

The Great great scholar Socrates was executed at the age of seventy in 399 BCE in the most famous town Athens. Why such an old man was executed in the most civilized and democratic society of those days. Was he put to death for preaching mere philosophy or was he molested anybody like today’s religious preachers? The irony here is Plato and Xenophon the disciples of Socrates gives us a different story. The interesting question is- What made the 500 Athenian jurors to put Socrates to death. To find out the real reason behind his death, we have to go back to those days of Athens. Let us go there and analyze!!!

Socrates rose to power of Pericles in his early age. Those were the golden age of Greece. Pericles promoted peoples courts and promoted the arts and philosophy. Socrates rose against evils and he designed a program to ensure full opportunity for employment to the downtrodden working class. Pericles reconstruction of the citadels and construction of the Parthenon were the worth mention. Socrates developed a set of moral values and beliefs that raised him with in most of his fellow Athenians. Socrates is somehow opposite to egalitarian and his views were opposite to self governing of the people. Instead he thought people should be governed and guided by a wise person like sheep herd were cared by a wise shepherded, this view about democracy shaked the Athenian form of government and he criticized indiscriminately the right of every Athenian to speak in the Athenian Assembly.

According to Diogenes and Laertius, the views of Socrates in the streets and market places made the fellow Athenians who passed by to get anger but Socrates accepted all the insults and opposition silently. Because of his old students like Alcibiades and Critas the democratic government was overturned for some period. According to I.F.Stone, Critias who is the cousin of Philosopher Plato is inhuman in nature and he is very strong to overturn the democratic system at the cost of human life. He executed more than 1500 most popular democrats and killed more than 5000 Children women and slaves with the oligarchy. Thirty Tyrants who run their parallel government asked Socrates to execute Leon Salamies and appropriate his assets and wealth. He refused to do so but he neither stopped them or their thugs to do so. This incident made the Athenians to view Socrates and his preaching in another dimension. And the every fellow citizen believed that Socrates and his thoughts are very treacherous and most corrupting which can destroy the common man of that town.


In the year 403 a general amnesty was issued to Socrates by which he could not be prosecuted for any of his offence during the thirty tyrant’s period. Hence his trail was only after 403 to 399BCE a mere four years of duration. In the people’s democratic Athens any public can initiate a criminal proceeding. The poet Meletus, initiated oral summon to Socrates before the witness. According to the summon Socrates required to appear before the King or the lower court judge. The preliminary hearing was happened in the Royal Stoa a fortified building in the central Athens.

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