Death to the Guilty
A seventy-one year old man is on trial. If found guilty, the punishment of death would be the only acceptable one. What could be so wrong that a man near the end of his life should die prematurely? He corrupts the young, and does not believe in the gods of the city of Athens. These crimes are unacceptable. These accusations are nothing but the truth, and these truths are told by Plato in Socrates' Apology. I will argue that Socrates is guilty, by using his own words against him.
The first crime Socrates is guilty of is corrupting the young. Socrates shows his guilt by attempting to say that if he corrupts those around him, he will hurt himself. He asks, "And does a man exist who would rather be harmed than benefited by his associates?" (Apology, 25d). He says that there is no man who would rather be harmed, but that is untrue. For example a mother would gladly be harmed for her child's sake. She would gladly through herself in front of an out of control vehicle in order to push her child out of the way. There are many people who would do the same for a perfect stranger. The fact that people would prefer to be harmed rather than be safe and watch another person be injured totally goes against the idea that there is no person that would rather be harmed than not. This proves Socrates' statement to be wrong. If a mother would prefer to be harmed then it is possible for Socrates to want to be harmed as well. Therefore, Socrates could make his associates wicked by his own accord and not accidentally.
Another way that Socrates proves his own guilt, he does in a indirect way. He goes through great lengths to prove that the majority of society corrupts the young. He never simply states that he does not corrupt them. He says, "It would be a very happy state of affairs if only one person corrupted out youth, while the others improved them" (Apology, 25b). The fact that he never comes out and says that he is innocent of corrupting the young simply proves that he is not innocent, because any thoughtful man such as Socrates was, would see that if he just simply stated the fact of his innocence then backed it up with his argument, the jury would be more easily convinced. By not stating his innocence Socrates shows he is guilty, because he never says otherwise.
The other crime he is guilty of is not believing in the gods of the city of Athens. He proves this by showing he distrusts the Oracle. He says, "I am very conscious that I am not wise at all; what then does he mean by saying that I am the wisest?" (Apology, 21b). If he truly believes in the gods, then he must believe all they say to be true. If he believes all they say to be true then why does he undertake the great painstaking task and loss of respect by others to prove this Oracle wrong. He does not believe the Oracle which Webster defines as "a deity that utters answers to questions". Webster defines a deity as "a god or goddess." It can then be said that if Socrates does not believe in a Oracle of the city of Athens, then he does not believe in a god of Athens. Thus proving that he does not believe in the gods of Athens.
Another way he proves himself guilty in this accusation is by going through great trouble to prove that he believes in divine actions. He says, "But if I believe in spiritual things I must quite inevitably believe in spirits" (Apology, 27c). Here he states that he believes in spirits, and he later states that spirits are gods. The problem is that he never says which gods he believes in. The actual accusation is that Socrates does not believe in the gods of Athens. Socrates proves he believes in gods, very well, but he never proves that he believes in the gods of Athens. Put this together with the fact that he does not believe in the oracle, and he is guilty in believing in gods other than those of the city. This is what is punishable by law, therefore, he must be put to death.
There is opposition to the fact that Socrates is guilty. People can make an argument by saying that this seventy-one year old man was not accustomed to the ways of the court, because this was his first time there. Socrates states at the end after being found guilty, "I was convicted because I lacked not words but boldness and shamelessness and the willingness to say to you what you would most gladly have heard from me, lamentations and tears and my saying and doing things that I say are unworthy of me but that you are accustomed to hear from others" (Apology, 38d). Here he is saying that he has to much self respect to degrade himself so he could be found innocent. Most people in the courts would cry and whine, beg and plead to be let off. These people showed no self-control and no self-respect. Socrates is saying that he will not give up his self-respect for anything, including his life.
Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and not believing in the gods of Athens. He tries to prove his innocence by running circles around the answer. Rather than proving his own innocence, he proves that everyone else is guilty. He cares to much about the way others see him rather than his own innocence. He proves himself guilty both by the way he carries his defense and by never simply stating his innocence. Socrates dies as he should according to the law. He distrusted the gods of Athens, and made his followers corrupt by teaching them hi sway of reason. Socrates is guilty and death is what he deserves.