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The Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.) Lecturer: Wu Shiyu Email: [email protected] http://sla.sjtu.edu.cn/bbs Introduction In 399 B.C., a trial, one of the most famous of all time, was in progress in Athens. The accused, Socrates, seventy years old, Athenian greatest thinker and teacher, was convicted and later on, executed. The specific charges against him: guilty of impiety; guilty of corrupting the young.” Socrates That is what Socrates has been doing for years: going around Athens, questioning and questioning everybody he could find: “What is justice?” “What is piety?” “What is right and wrong?” Delphi Oracle’s Answer Socrates' friend Chaerephon consulted the oracle at Delphi, asking the question that if anyone was wiser than Socrates. The Oracle offered the answer that none was wiser. When Socrates was told this, he believed that what the Oracle had said was a paradox, because he believed he possessed no wisdom whatsoever. And then he went around Athens, approaching men considered wise by the people, including statesmen, poets, and artisans, with the purpose of refuting the Oracle's answer. By this, however, Socrates realized that each man he questioned who thought he knew a great deal and was wise turned out, in fact, not wise at all. 10. Delphi Oracle’s Answer Socrates then knew that the Oracle was right, “in that while so-called wise men thought themselves wise and yet were not, he himself knew he was not wise at all which, paradoxically, made him the wiser one since he was the only person aware of his own ignorance”. And the saying that “I know that I know thing” which is attributed to Socrates had become well known. And it is Socrates' paradoxical wisdom which made the prominent Athenians he publicly questioned appear foolish, became infuriated, and finally turned against him. Then in 399 B.C., Anytus, a supporter of democracy who had suffered personally under the tyrants, with two other men Meletus, and Lycon of lesser prominence prosecuted Socrates. They accused Socrates of impiety and corrupting young men. Obviously, charges like these are especially difficult to prove, and equally difficult to refute. However, impiety ranked as an extremely serious crime because the gods were believed to punish the entire city-state if it harbored impious individuals. By Athenian custom, Socrates’ trial took only one day. The jury consisted of 501 Athenian citizens. Instead of weeping, pleading, parading his children in front of the jury like the standard procedure in an Athenian courtroom, Socrates, according to Plato, took the position that the best defense was a strong offense. Using the question-and-answer method for which he was famous and which had apparently gotten him into trouble, he defended for himself and also pointing out the inconsistencies in his accusers’ allegations. The following excerption is chosen from Plato’s Apology which showed Socrates’ denial of the charges against him: (Handout) Plato’s Apology Meletus : “Let me ask you this, why don’t you say ‘all right, Socrates, we know these are trumped-up (编造) charges, but we are tired of your going around and harassing us like this, aren’t you ashamed of living such a life that everybody in Athens hates you?’ Soc: “No, I am not ashamed. I took on this mission from God, and what would make me ashamed is if I stop doing it. ” “Well, I tell you well, Socrates. If you will stop doing it, we will drop these charges”. “ I am not going to do that. I am going to continue. As long as I live, I am going to go around and question, and follow the truth wherever it is.” “All right, Socrates, if you are so smart, why aren’t you in politics?” “Well, I am gonna tell you why. Because no honest man can survive in your democracy. It is so corrupt.” “Now what you expect me to do at this stage is to bring in my wife and children. That’s standard in Athenian trial. You bring in your wife and children and you say, ‘Look, if you put me to death, it is going to rob my family of all support’, and the children are supposed to cry and the wife is supposed to cry, and you are thus humiliated. That is part of the purpose of the trial. You know that I am not going to bring them in. Yes, I’ve got children and a wife, but I am not going to bring them in. That has nothing to do with the trial whatsoever. It is for you to make your decision. But I tell you this, I will continue my mission. Nearly half the jury of 501 (280 to 221) Athenian citizens voted in favor of Socrates; he seems to have lost his case by about thirty votes. Meletus, who was presiding over the trial, had proposed the penalty of death. Athenian procedure called for convicted defendants to recommend an alternative penalty, and it seems clear that Socrates’ accusers expected him to propose exile – and would have been quite content to see him leave town. However, Socrates claimed that he was in fact a public benefactor, suggesting first a reward for his benefactions (慈善行为) or then, a fine equivalent to about 13 kilos of silver. The jury, no doubt annoyed by this, elected the death penalty. Some of those who had earlier voted “not guilty” now turned against him by voting in favor of death penalty. Socrates was first put in prison for at that season, the people were forced to wait for the return of the vessel before they could kill him. During this period, a small band of his pupils gathered around him in prison and some of them even arranged for everything for the master’s escape. But Socrates refused, claiming that his whole life – a search for absolute truths – had been a preparation for death. “Socrates, we have arranged everything. You can escape, go to the city of Thebes, and there receive hospitality.” And he says, “I am not going to escape, I am going to stay right here. If I were to escape after having been found legally guilty, that would set a bad example. I am going to obey the law. And so the young people will not be corrupted by my example.” 人有没有用脚投票的权利？ The Trial of Socrates He has sent away his wife and children, and some of his students are weeping and he says the words I gave in an earlier lecture, “I sent my wife away and now here you are, worse than women, weeping like this. Stop it! What is bad? I am going to die. My whole life has been a preparation for death, preparing myself so that my soul will be free. And the whole life of a philosopher, the search for wisdom is the preparation for death because wisdom is the understanding of absolute truths, of absolute justice, absolute harmony, absolute beauty, absolute honor, and the soul that has prepared itself will be united with God. And that is what I wait for.” In the words of Plato, such was the end of the man who, of all the men of our time, was the best, the wisest, and the most just. And Xenophon and Plato, by the words of their Apology, would hand down through history this condemnation of the Athenian democracy, which had put to death the best man of its age, who had fearlessly spoken out for truth and whose whole life was a living witness to the search for wisdom. The greatest of all the Athenians, Socrates, immortal, passing his legacy down. In the end, Socrates was executed by one of the customary Athenian methods, being ordered to down a poisonous draft of hemlock. By the words of his Apology, Plato would hand down to posterity this condemnation of the Athenian democracy that had put to death the best man of that age, whose whole life had been a search for wisdom. “我们离开这里的时候到了，我去死，你们去活， 但是无人知道谁的前程更幸福，只有神才知道。” （p32）这是苏格拉底最后一次在公众场合的发 言。 Plato’s Apology 《申辨篇》 苏格拉底审判是司法历史上最著名的审判之一， 对它的讨论一直没有停息，从古代到现代，从西 方到东方。苏格拉底审判蕴含着的政治、司法思 想至今仍然受到广泛而深入地探讨。城邦政治的 直接民主直接介入审判，所引发的对司法的破坏 如何权衡？民主与法治之间存在着怎样的矛盾， 又该怎样统一？古代的法律建构对今天的影响？ 这些都是需要细细讨论的话题。 We place Socrates and his trial within the framework of Athenian democracy and the aftermath of the great war with Sparta. Introduction The trial is regarded as the most infamous episode in Athenian history in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War. What caused such intensity of hatred as to put an old man on trial and for such severe charges? The Aftermath of the Peloponnesian War The Greek World engulfed the Greek world The Athenian Culture never regained the prosperity of its Golden Age The Trial of Socrates Oligarchy at Athens: The Thirty Tyrants Lysander installed an oligarchic government consisting of thirty citizens from the wealthy elite. Only one or two were moderate people like Theramenes. They became known as the Thirty Tyrants for the brutal conduct. Brutally suppressed their opposition in Athens by forcing many Athenians into exile and throwing their leaders into jail. They even carried out a series of murders. The Thirty Tyrants The most terrifying figure of the Thirty was Critias; One of the best pupils of Socrates and a relative of Plato. A passionate antidemocrat and a longtime admirer of the Spartan constitution. Critias brutally ordered murders by the hundreds without a qualm(顾虑 ). He had the moderate Theramenes put to death simply because he was moderate and wealthy, and not on his side by forcing him to drink hemlock, the poison used soon afterwards to execute Socrates. The Thirty Tyrants Some Athenians were murdered because their political propositions, others were murdered simply because they were wealthy. Through these terrible activities, the Thirty Tyrants created an eight-monthlong period of terror in Athens. Not all the victims were political enemies; many were wealthy metics. So violent and brutal that the Spartans did not interfere when a prodemocracy resistance movement finally came to power and ended the violence and brutality of the Thirty. Athenian people had Critias killed in a battle. The Athenians restored their democratic government, with bitter memory of divisiveness (离间). Socrates An ancient Greek philosopher, who helped to shape Greek beliefs. The ideas he created are present in our culture today. Born in 470 B.C., grew up during the Golden Age of Athens, a time period when Greece was very powerful, lived in Athens. His father wanted him to become a sculptor Socrates 2. Socrates At young age, Socrates searched for wisdom and truth. Show no interest in money, would allow groups of men to listen to him speak, never take money from them. Socrates would stand on a stoa while teaching others. Ruins of stone stoas can still be seen in Athens today. 2. Socrates He has been a brave soldier, fought as an Athenian infantry man in major battles of the early Peloponnesian War when he was no longer young. He has a family; his wife, Xanthippe, has sort of a reputation as a shrew; he has children, But mainly he seems to spend his time just walking around Athens, talking and questioning, He has a vigorous group of students who are devoted to him, people like Alcibiades and Critias. Socrates 2. Socrates Socrates was known for being a bit strange. He went into a trance(昏睡 )when he thought hard about a problem. He might stand still for days on end without moving, eating, or sleeping. Men in the city would gather around Socrates to watch him. Once he was finished thinking, he would snap out of his trance and go on as usual. 3. Two Divergent Portraits of Socrates Socrates himself never wrote anything. We do not have many sources available representing a reasonable portrait of the real Socrates. Two divergent portraits of Socrates: Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds; works of Socrates’ well-known pupils, Xenophon and Plato, whose lives were shaped by their teacher, and from Aristotle, father of the university, who was also influenced by the ideas of Socrates through his teacher, Plato. 4. The Clouds by Aristophanes The Cloud produced in 423 B.C. Socrates could be a danger to Athenian traditional society gave Aristophanes the inspiration. Socrates is presented as a cynical sophist. For a fee, he offers instruction in his “Thinking Shop” to his pupils by using the Protagorean technique. 4. The Clouds by Aristophanes Socrates is such a person who can make a good argument seem bad and a bad argument seem good. His pupils were taught how to argue effectively for any position, even an outrageously immoral one. A vivid scene presented in the comedy is the protagonist’s son, a Socrates’ pupil, argues against his father that a son has the right to beat his parents. 5. First Source of Athenian Hostility to Socrates By attending Socrates’ “Thinking Shop”, the young men of Athens showed their disrespect for tradition and for their elders. This makes an indelible impression on the Athenians, especially the old generation. They felt that Socrates could be a danger to the conventional conception. Then the comedy ends by burning down Socrates’ “Thinking Shop.” Therefore, from the play, we can see one important source of Athenians’ hostility against Socrates. And elements of the legal charges made against him in 399 B.C. were already present in this comedy. 6. The Portrait of Socrates from his pupils A totally different portrait from his pupils: Plato, Xenophon, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, father of the university. Both Plato and Xenophon were in their late twenties at the time of Socrates’ trial. All of the three intellectual figures, Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle, were forever molded by what happened on a single day in the year of 399 B.C. For Plato, Socrates’ trial and execution were the beginning of his whole intellectual pursuit of truth. Plato paid his great tributes to his teacher, Socrates, by putting his ideas into the mouth of Socrates (Plato’s Dialogues) 7. Plato’s Dialogue:The Euthyphro This dialogue presents vividly the man on trial. Socrates, who stops, instead of focusing his own trial in defense, is trying to help this man understand that he does not know that he is taking the gravest actions based on the thinking he was wise but in fact he is not. Socrates understood the first step in knowledge is to define words and that people frequently acts on the bias of what they think they know without ever pursuing. And that is what Socrates has been doing for years, going around Athens, questioning and questioning everybody he could find: “What is justice?” “What is piety?” “What is right and wrong?” 8. Socratic Method Aristotle observed about Socrates that the two things could be attributed to him: inductive reasoning and universal definition. Socrates believed that the best way to develop ideas was in the give and take of conversation, and the best way to educate people was to ask them a series of questions leading in a particular direction ( “The Socratic Method”). Socrates never directly instructed his conversational partners; instead, he led them to draw conclusions in response to his probing questions and refutations of their cherished but unexamined assumptions. Socratic Method 5. Second Source of Athenian Hostility to Socrates This indirect method of searching for the truth often left Socrates’ conversational partners in a state of puzzlement and unhappiness. His Athenian citizens come be as puzzled and frustrated to him as Euthyphro did in the dialogue. They felt they were forced to believe and admit that they were ignorant of what they began by assuming they knew perfectly well and that the principles by which they lived there were unable to withstand close intellectual scrutiny. And what makes it more annoying is Socrates failed to give a direct and an ultimate answer. This, like Aristophanes’ The Clouds, shows another source of Athenians’ hostility to Socrates. 11. Third Source of Athenian Hostility to Socrates The third possible source of hostility concerns Socrates’ association with his two pupils, Alcibiades and Critias, and his remarks about democracy. For the Athenians, who believed their democracy was superior to the government of the Spartans, their defeat by the Spartans was incomprehensible and unacceptable, they were ready to find scapegoat (替罪羊). 11. Third Source of Athenian Hostility to Socrates Alcibiades and Critias, Socrates’ two pupils, had done the most damage to the Athenian democracy. Both of them were Socrates’ best pupils and yet both of them were openly hostile to Athenian democracy. Alcibiades, one of Socrates’ most devoted followers, once commented at Sparta that democracy is “acknowledged folly”. In the eyes of Socrates’ Athenian critics, this must represent the teaching of Socrates. Critias, another Socrates’ follower and the most notorious one of the Thirty Tyrants, had played a leading role in the murder and plunder in the violence and brutality by the Thirty-Tyrants. But both of them were already dead, only Socrates was available. 11. The third possible source of hostility Socrates was also blamed for ever speaking sharply about democracy. Most people, he pointed out, aren’t terribly thoughtful or analytical, so why should “most people,” that is, the majority, make the life and death decisions that affect the polis? 11. The third possible source of hostility In fact, as other scholars have proposed, it is hard to determine whether Socrates really opposed democracy for Socrates enjoyed puncturing illusions, and it may be that had he lived under a monarchy or an oligarchy, those would have been the governments he spent his time undermining. But combined with his association with Alcibiades and Critias, however, his pointed remarks about the foibles of democracy seemed downright unpatriotic, and he could easily enough be cast as purveyor (传播者) of dangerous ideas. 12. The Fourth source of Athenians’ hostility Another possible source of Athenians’ hostility is that Socrates held unusual views on religion. He made several references to his personal spirit, although he explicitly claimed that it never urged him on, but only warned him against various prospective events. Many of his contemporaries were suspicious of Socrates's daimonion as a rejection of the state religion. It is generally understood that Socrates's daimonion is akin to intuition. Moreover, Socrates claimed that the concept of goodness, instead of being determined by what the gods wanted, actually precedes the entire business of deities. Many Athenians blame that the act of desecration of of the images of a god was at least partly responsible for the Athenian defeat in Sicily. From Plato’s Dialogues, we can see that Socrates had a keen wit and an engaging personality. And for this, pupils flocked to him eagerly, like Plato and Xenophon. But he had nothing that could be called a school. And Socrates was poor for his refusal to charge fees and therefore, he was not a sophist. His goal was to inculcate moral excellence. Like the sophists, however, he used clever arguments and subjected conventional notions to rational analysis. Quotations from Socrates By means of beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. “For this appears to me the safest answer to give both to myself and others; and adhering to this, I think that I shall never fall, but that it is a safe answer both for me and any one else to give — that by means of beauty beautiful things become beautiful” Quotations from Socrates False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. “In every one of us there are two ruling and directing principles, whose guidance we follow wherever they may lead; the one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgment which aspires after excellence.” Quotations from Socrates As for me, all I know is that I know nothing. “For when I don't know what justice is, I'll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy. “ Quotations from Socrates The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. “ I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.” Thank You!