The Theme Of Corruption In Aristophanes Comedy The Clouds

In Aristophanes’ comedy the Clouds, Socrates is charged with the corruption of the youth, by teaching them to disregard the traditional values of piety, and the authority of the laws of Athens. Plato, one of the primary advocates and followers of Socrates attempts to defend Socrates from these charges in his dialogues Euthyphro and the Apology by characterizing him as a martyr of justice against a city corrupted by fear in realizing its own fragility. Plato’s depiction of Socrates’ defense in both dialogues is ironic and mocking of the city’s principles. This is because from the start of Socrates’ trial, he is almost certain that he will be convicted unjustly of the crimes laid against him, and thus he makes no attempt to placate the …show more content…
Athens was a city that took pride in its high standards of education, and its tolerance towards deviant ideas. In its treatment of the charges of Socrates’ impiety and his teaching of rhetoric, Athens rejects two of the principles that it prides itself on – free thought and speech. By unjustly convicting Socrates, Meletus, who prosecuted Socrates, is attacking the city’s laws and justice, the principles at the core of the city (Location 167). Though Socrates is at first depicted as a deviant of the city, he also seems to share the value in filial piety that Athens does. When Euthyphro tells Socrates that he is prosecuting his father for murder, and calls himself pious, Socrates is bewildered. He questions how Euthyphro knows what is impious or not, and how he can prosecute “[His] own father” (Loc. 194). Throughout the Euthyphro, Socrates and Euthyphro attempt to define piety, but by the end of the dialogue they still haven’t come up with a definition that can endure Socrates’ questioning. By extension, Plato suggests that Athens as well doesn’t have an enduring definition of piety, though, like Euthyphro, they believe that they know what it is well enough to prosecute someone with …show more content…
He dismisses both charges quickly at first, and then proceeds to antagonize the jury by claiming that the Oracle of Delphi said Socrates was the wisest man. Socrates says that he doubted the Oracle, but had to accept that he was the wisest of all men after he could find no one wiser. To make a claim this bold and insulting to the jury in his trial, Socrates must have accepted that many men would vote against him because of his apparent arrogance. He then proceeds to argue that it is for the benefit of the city that he asks so many questions, comparing himself to a gadfly. (Loc. 981) Socrates denies being a private teacher to anyone, because he asks all of his questions in public spaces. Young men that heard his arguments were intrigued by them and began asking the same questions themselves to others. In this way he denies the charge of being a teacher of rhetoric, because he cannot take away men’s right to listen to his arguments, or ask questions themselves. After bringing Meletus to the stand, Socrates defends his belief in his daimon by using logos to show that he must believe in the gods, since daimons are the offspring of gods, and that product of one thing naturally cannot exist without the precedent. After stating his defense, and predictably losing, Socrates is asked to propose

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