Socratic Irony In Socrates's Trial

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Socrates has the capability to reverse roles in his own trial in order to further prove himself as a paradigm of virtue. Plato creates this Socratic irony through the image of Socrates as a gadfly on the rear of a horse, which represents Athens. Socrates begins this metaphor by saying that he is “far from making a defense speech on my [his] own behalf, as someone might suppose. I [Socrates] do it rather on your behalf, so that you do not do something wrong concerning the gift of the god” by voting to condemn him (Apo. 31e). He also states that, by killing him, it is highly unlikely that they will find another man like him, since the god seems to have set him “upon the city as someone of this sort: . . . to awaken and persuade and reproach …show more content…
Although this is the case, Socrates’ chief talent is revealed through his chief limitation: Socrates does not fear death. He even goes on to say, “ . . . I do even care about death in any way at all -- if it is not too crude to say so -- but that my whole care is to commit no unjust or impious deed” (Apo. 32d). Socrates goes on to comment that he was not condemned to death for his “loss for the sort of speeches that would have persuaded” the jury (Apo. 38d). Rather, he was condemned for continuing to be a model of virtue and not succumbing to what the court would normally see from these sort of cases: “wailing and lamenting, and doing and saying many other things unworthy of me [Socrates], as I affirm -- such things as you have been accustomed to hear from others” (Apo. 38e). Socrates goes on to say, “I much prefer to die having made my defense speech in this way than to live in that way”. Just as Socrates has been proving that he has lived in truth and virtue throughout the matters in which he has been unjustly charged, so he also wishes to die in truth instead of hypocrisy. Socrates is also assured that this truth will not die with him, as he states that the youth who have listened to him will disagree with the men of Athens, and they will be even more “indignant”. He goes on to …show more content…
Socrates perceives that afterlife as either a dreamless sleep or a constant philosophical discussion. Either way, Socrates does not need to worry about the future of the Athenian people, but merely for the care of his own soul, which yearns to philosophize for the sake of itself and virtue itself (Apo 41c). With this final remark, Socrates says, “But now it is time to go away, I to die and you to live. Which of us goes to a better thing is unclear to everyone except to the god” (Apo. 42a). This final statement is ironic because it is clear which of these is the better thing in Socrates case; as a result of living an examined life, and because the “unexamined life is not worth living for a human being,” Socrates has lived his life to the fullest extent by being a paradigm of virtue for the men of Athens in a society that does not want to hear the truth (Apo.

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