The Apology of Socrates by Plato

Part II – The Apology

“Gentlemen, jurors of the court
I stand before you today
to defend myself against these charges
brought against me by that man
sitting over there Meletus.”

“Please excuse my direct and simple
language for this is my first time in
a court room here in Athens or anywhere
and so I am not skilled in speaking in
such ways as are normally found in the courts.”

“Likewise, I cannot address you with the rhetorical
flourishes of the orators of our city
with their fine words or student exercises
for I stand before you at the age of 70
an old man
who can only but insist
on speaking what is true and from my heart.”

Ch. 1

“To those of you who are young
in the crowd today and serving
as the jurors, here as witnesses
and arbiters, such as yourself young Meletus
who charges me with impiety and corrupting
the youth, including yourself,
I would like you to know
that these charges have been brought against
me before

never in a formal way as now I am being
brought before the courts
but they have been brought against me
in words
in actions
in attitudes and sentiments

your parents the elder men of great Athens
have brought these charges
against me
those who believe I corrupt the youth
those who believe I am impious
whether they are sincere and honest
or whether they make their attacks
out of hatred or envy
or political ambitious
or jealousy”

“I want you to know, you youthful wonderful
spirits here in the crowds here in the jury
box today, boxed in, ready to listen
to me I hope
and to sentence me to whatever will
be the final decision

I want you to know, what has been said
about me before
and the reasons.”

Ch. 2

“You see Meletus, the charges
which you have been encouraged to bring
against me, that I am corrupting you
and the rest of the Athenian youth
that I make up new Gods and blaspheme
against the old ones
that I go out of my way to weaken strong
arguments and make weak ones appear

these are the accusations of your fathers
and men of ambition
men of power who seek to keep their
power at all costs
who desire to keep the truth hidden from
you under rhetoric
and propaganda.

These urgings are the consequence
of the ill-will of men unhappy with their
who hope to paint me as a mere
teacher for some sort of profit
though all in Athens know
my teachings are free.

They hope to cast me as a sophist
someone who argues
for the sake or arguing
someone who does not care about
truth but merely to gain an audience

when the truth is
the Truth is all I know
and my audience comes to
me seeking what is true

not some political or social ambition.”

Ch. 3

I am not a professional teacher
that is not my profession

you will see from my clothing
my dress
my bare feet
that I do not seek profit
in the form of monetary compensation

I do not seek honors and distinctions
hoisted upon by other men and institutions

I speak because I believe that it is important
for us together to discuss what matters
truly in this world
in this society of ours
in Athens

to be Good men to understand what is Justice
and Virtue and Piety and Beauty and Truth

so that we may conduct our lives on the basis
of these principles

so as not to cause unnecessary harm to ourselves
to lift ourselves us up
to be the best we can be
to act in the way that the divine Gods
want us to be

when we are being
our best selves

this is why I speak

Ch. 4

and while I could have taken
up the profession of the sophist
or the orator the professional teacher
or even have engaged in the political arena
for there have been many offers to do so

I walk barefoot through the streets of Athens
the gadfly of Athens
on this mission

without profit or remuneration

Ch. 5

“Meletus, you accuse me of corrupting the youth.
Tell me you who are so young yourself,
who cares so much about this most important
of matters,
the youth of our city Athens
who will grow to be the Men of our city
to look after the affairs of state
and our families

you who care so much about the education
of our children
who must know so much
about what it is right for them to hear
for what them to think and discuss

why is it you believe that I am corrupting

why is it you believe I have corrupted

“It is because, Socrates, you are impious.
You do not believe in the Gods.
And so, what you say is blasphemy
and what you teach us
the youth of this city
is nothing more than adultery and corruption.”

“And do you believe, Meletus,
that I do so intentionally or unintentionally.”

“You do so intentionally Socrates
of that I’m sure.”

“And the other men of this courtroom
do any of them corrupt the youth
are any of them impious?”

“No, Socrates. Only You.”

Ch. 6

“And why, Meletus, do you say
I am impious?”

“Because you do not believe in
the Gods.”

“Do I not believe in the Gods
of Athens and us Greeks
or any Gods whatsoever?”

“You do not believe in any Gods.”

“I see, but Meletus, you have said
before, in your charges against me,
that I believe in new Gods
rather than the traditional Gods
of Athens Greece.”

“Now, you say I don’t believe in
any Gods.

Which is it?”

Ch. 7

“Gentlemen, I cannot participate
in this rhetoric and charades.

I will not entertain what is clearly
character assassination.

Those who know me know my heart
is pure
that I love my city more than anything
in the world
and that I have dedicated my life
to serving it
as a soldier in war
and here at home
in our fair streets talking
with whoever will have me
about Truth and Justice and Virtue

without pay.”

“I hope that you will see through
these charges to the Truth

and I will accept whatever
decision you come to.”

Ch. 8

The Jury has made its decision.

“Socrates, you are found guilty
of impiety and corrupting the youth.”

“You are sentenced to death.”

“Do you have anything to say
for yourself.”

Ch. 9

“I accept your decision
courtroom of Athens

for there is no Justice
where one does not uphold
the laws which we as citizens
of this great city have agreed
to uphold.

And so, I will go
to the gallows
to death row

as you wish.”