Socrates First Martyr Of Free Speech Analysis

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The First Martyr of Free Speech
Socrates is commonly known as the first martyr of free speech, fighting for personal freedoms, and whose actions can be compared to that of Jesus. Although it is difficult to find accounts of this trial, the primary sources are that of his two students Xenophon and Plato. The latter of whom wrote works such as Meno and Apology. These two books, although argued to be biased towards the author’s former teacher, provide historical insight into the trial of Socrates. The argument in this brief is to provide information and show how Socrates is not guilty for corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety or in other words, failing to acknowledge the gods recognized by the state of Athens as well as introducing new deities.
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Socrates had been a teacher and philosopher asking insightful questions and leading lectures to the citizens of Athens for over 40 years and the question of why this charge was not brought up early is an indicator of its ludicrousness. Many of his pupils went on to have various important impacts on Athens, both good and bad. The ones who did not twist and misunderstand his words became great benefits to the city state, the most famous being Plato who established the Academy, the first higher learning institution in the western world. This accusation is a twisted view of the important lessons Socrates taught which is shown when Socrates states that if teaching about the nature of virtue “corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.” I believe that this accusation is just a retaliation of Socrates instilling ideas of personal freedom in a traditionally conservative …show more content…
Generally, in Athenian trials the defendant would try to gain the sympathy of the public jury mentioning their family or the good things they had done. Hhowever, Socrates failed to mention his wife and 3 children or that he was a hoplite fighting for his city well into his forties. Counterintuitively, he did state that he believed himself “a hero saving the souls of Athens,” going as far as to say “Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey the gods rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy.” Seeing as he would rather be put to death than give up his “soul-saving” it seemed the only punishment able to silence Socrates. When voting for his punishment Socrates proposed he receive free meals, which infuriated the jury and when forced to pick a different punishment, he choose to pay one minae silver. However, this was unrealistic and was changed to 30 minae silver. Supporters offered to pay it, but Socrates denied their help which showed “his readiness to die.” This evidence shows that even with the atmosphere of the trial and the nature of the punishments, the fact that Socrates was still choosing death reveals the main focus of what he was trying to accomplish. The

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