Apology Of Socrates Analysis

1115 Words 4 Pages
Pain and Gain: The Relationship between the Philosopher and the City
In 1920, Warren G. Harding won the presidential election with the slogan “Return to Normalcy” (“Presidential Campaign Slogans” 1). Although referring to returning to the life style before the horrid World War I, Harding’s campaign highlights an interesting point: People resist change. In the Apology of Socrates, Socrates strongly challenges the city through philosophy, but in Crito, he submits to the laws of the city because it is ultimately the just thing to do. Because Socrates challenges the laws, he is sentenced to death, so it is not easy for Socrates to be a philosopher. In addition, Athens has a difficult reaction to philosophy. However, ultimately, Athens benefits
…show more content…
Socrates first questions the wise of the city. He discovers that the politicians, poets, and artisans all think that “because they [are] good [at one thing] … they also [know] all sorts of high matters” (Apology of Socrates 4). Socrates’ questioning of the honorable politicians threatens their honor and laws of the city. His questioning of the poets threatens their culture and, therefore, the culture of the city. Additionally, his questioning of the artisans threatens their accomplishments in their field and therefore the city’s idea of masters. The city’s traditions are being threatened, which is potentially damaging Athens and leads to Socrates “having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind” (Apology of Socrates 4). This damaging questioning of the city is furthered when Socrates questioned the gods of Athens. Meletus even ventures to call Socrates “a complete atheist” (Apology of Socrates 8). The gods of Athens are the basis of the people’s culture, moral beliefs, and actions. By questioning the gods, Socrates threatens all of Athens because the gods are the root of the laws and traditions. If the roots of Athens’ civilization were destroyed, civil instability would ensue because citizens would not respect the laws founded on tradition. Philosophy is difficult for the city as seen through Socrates and …show more content…
Philosophers aim to make their city more just and closer to the good. This is seen when Socrates compares Athens to a horse and himself to a gadfly. He states, “I am that gadfly” implying that he helps the horse, Athens, progress (Apology of Socrates 11). Without a gadfly, a horse just idles through time just as Athens morally idles and does not progress closer to justice. Socrates uses the metaphor of the gadfly because although gadflies hurt the horse they bite, the horse benefits from the pain because it moves. Socrates is saying that he understands he is making Athens uncomfortable by questioning their traditions and their laws, but that if they listen to his philosophy, they will progress towards justice. Socrates, through the metaphor of the gadfly, shows that philosophers hurt the city, so that the city can progress to a higher good. Socrates further explains how he is benefitting Athens by comparing himself to Achilles, a hero to the city. He asks, “Had Achilles any thought of death and danger?” implying that he is Achilles and does not fear the punishment of death for doing the just thing (Apology of Plato 9). He suggests that philosophers benefit the city so much that they are heroes, just as the warrior, Achilles, was. Through comparing himself to a gadfly and a hero, Socrates shows that philosophers

Related Documents

Related Topics