The Apology





The Apology

Plato’s ‘The Apology’ is a speech by Socrates in defense against the charges of “corrupting the youth” and “not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel” to Athens. Socrates seeks to defend himself instead of offering an apology in its real meaning or essence. The accused was in deep problems but in his pursuit, he chose not to show fear but stand his ground in a remarkable speech. Having been accused of creating his deities and worshiping other gods, he was presented to the rulers who demanded he offer an apology. The narration shows that Socrates deviated from the real meaning of an apology and crafted his speech that it would show the weaknesses in the society and the fear that had been pressed on the people. Thus, in The Apology, Socrates attempts to defend himself and his conduct certainly not to apologize for it. The word Apology here fails to fit in its meaning as Socrates diverts his speech to not only defend but to expose the wrongs that the society carried and heaped on the innocent.

One of the striking lines in the apology speech was when Socrates argued that the freedom to obey the law lies in the acceptance that all decisions people make have consequences. In this line, Socrates implied that as much as he was ready to make an apology, even his accusers had a burden to bear for making laws that were partial and driven but irrational thinking (Denyer 12). The accused therefore sought to create a forum that would expose the weakness in the laws that had little to do with order but to pressure the people to do what they felt was wrong. Socrates is found guilty by a narrow margin and a penalty is proposed. In his defense, Socrates argues that a lighter penalty should be given because he was already an admiration and honor to the state through his service.

The apology offers a more liberal outlook to literature based on the structure and creativity. One of the striking things about the apology is that it draws several aspects of literature by using satire and irony in its creation. Socrates derives various forms of communication by offering the audience a single centered literature within many contexts (Denyer 7). The apology first brings out the value for a contemporal and rational thinking that is exhibited between the accused who is Socrates, and the state. The violations stated by the accusers against Socrates by this time were seen as that to the rulers and the authority. The apology also brings the idea of the correlation between the rulers and religion that in this case aligned with the laws and mandates of the courts (Hogenmüller 134). Socrates therefore brings a new taste in literature through a well calligraphed speech that employs different figures of speech. The apology was written with one aim that was to narrate and show the correlation between ancient literature and the organization of rational thinking.

First, the narrator uses different figures of speech and dramatically presents a case of diverse and inclusive ideologies that align with the context of the speech (Hogenmüller 127). Instead of offering an apology, Socrates directs his words towards a calmer approach in belief that his message would be well received. The tone adopted in the apology speaks for itself where Socrates insists on creating a broad message that carries multiple meanings. Perhaps Socrates already knew that his quest for an apology would have to override the fear and stigma that had been created by those in the authority (Denyer 10). In his pursuit, he uses words and phrases that would lighten his tone that was not in any way related to the real apology. The apology like many other forms of literature of its time brings a new outlook into literature that is based on how the rational thinking encompassed writing and language.

In one statement, Socrates sought to expose how the hidden affairs of the state undermined the society and oppressed the subjects. The observed chaos and resistance were already rooted within the harsh and authoritative rule that made it hard for people to choose their way of worship. Socrates narrates that through the oppression and harsh laws, people were left with no choice but to seek comfort in their gods. The element of religion versus state arises in the apology where Socrates argues that the people were the true force that ensured that there was a balance between the law and the state. In its core meaning, the apology was delivered not only to point the various failures that the society carried and its effect on the day to day life of the people. As an eye opener, the apology instigates that idea of enshrined beliefs and antagonism between the state and the people that even came down to matters of religion. In the apology, Socrates warns the jurymen who voted against him that in silencing their critic rather than listening to him, they have harmed themselves much more than they have harmed him.

Works Cited

Denyer, Nicholas, ed. Plato: The Apology of Socrates and Xenophon: The Apology of Socrates. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Hogenmüller, Boris. “The influence of Plato’s Crito and Phaedo on Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates.” Kentron. Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde antique 31 (2015): 127-138.


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