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Justification of Socrates’ Punishment in The Apology

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Was Socrates’ Punishment Just?

In The Apology, Socrates is put on trial for supposedly corrupting the youth of Athens and for not believing in the gods. The charges were brought against Socrates because by Meletus. While on trial, Socrates defends himself very well against the allegations that were brought amongst him. He does so by proving that he believes in the gods by saying, “Does any man believe in spiritual activities, but not believe in spirits? – No one.”(p. 32). He also proved that he didn’t corrupt the youth by saying a very logical statement, “If I corrupt some young men and have corrupted others, then surely some of them who have grown older and realized that I gave them bad advice when they were young should now themselves come up here to accuse me and avenge themselves” (p37). He proves that he’s not guilty to the extent of where a normal citizen of Athens would find him not guilty, had they not known who he was. He was known to be a bit irrational at times and was known to have a very bad reputation of a trouble maker. Socrates attributes this bad reputation to a comical play by Aristophanes. He believed that play really ruined his reputation as a wise and respectable man. This is part of the reason that he was found guilty. Due to the fact that he was portrayed in the play as a troublemaker, he was treated as such by the jury, many of whom had probably seen the play. At the end of the trial, he is found guilty, despite giving multiple reasons showing that he is not guilty. His punishment for corrupting the youth and for not believing in the gods is to drink hemlock, which kills him shortly after he drinks it.

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In this trial, they found Socrates to be guilty despite finding no evidence that he was actually guilty. There were no witnesses that said that Socrates had corrupted them or anyone they knew because the court would not have been able to find someone that would have actually said that. In today’s society, he would have not been found guilty because no evidence could had been revealed. However, in ancient Greece, the laws were much different. They didn’t have the same freedom of speech that we have today. Just because their laws were different though, does not make the fact that based on the story, it was an unjust result. No man should have to die for not believing in certain gods or for corrupting the youth. Even if Socrates had actually had evidence provided against him, the most he should punishment for his actions he should have faced would be a jail sentence. This is only in the case that he was actually corrupting the youth by spreading false information and slandering others, which intentionally causes their beliefs to be skewed from reality, or if he was encouraging them to commit violent acts or things like that. Based on the evidence provided in the story, he was not guilty at all, and he shouldn’t have faced any punishment for what he did. It certainly was a very unjust punishment for a crime that couldn’t even be proven in the court.

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Justification of Socrates’ Punishment in The Apology. (2019, January 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from
“Justification of Socrates’ Punishment in The Apology.” GradesFixer, 28 Jan. 2019,
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