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Interactive Curriculum Resource: HomeThemesAuthorsTexts • Sample Series

Apology - Plato


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Themes: Justice, Philosophy, Punishment


The Apology is Socrates’ defense, not just against the charges that have been brought forth, but a defense of the philosophic life. He declares: “So I, men of Athens, am now far from making a defense speech on my own behalf, as someone might suppose. I do it rather on your behalf…” (30d) Later he asserts: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” (38a) Socrates has been charged with impiety and corruption of the youth. See (24c) Clearly the charges are due to the petty motives of some of his fellow citizens. Socrates shows that one of those who has brought forth the charges, Meletus, has no understanding of what corrupts a human being.


When the jury convicts Socrates, he has the opportunity to name his own punishment. His initial suggestion of free meals for life (36e) seems designed to annoy the jury. However, it is also a teaching moment. He is challenging us all to think about justice and injustice, and the nature of the evil he has been charged with.


Opening questions:


What kind of defense has Socrates put on during his trial?


Is Socrates guilty of the charges against him?


Is Socrates being treated fairly?

Suggested Pairing:


Law and Conscience - Sophocles, Antigone; Plato, Apology and Crito;
Lincoln / Douglas Debates; King, Letter from Birmingham Jail

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