The setting of The Apology takes place in Athens, Greece in the year 399 BC. After a 27 year war with Sparta, Athens' democratic government was replaced by an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a form of government in which a small group of tyrannical men rule for selfish gain. It was only two years prior to Socrates' trial that Athens' thirty oligarchs were overthrown and killed and democracy re-established. One important factor in setting the stage for Socrates' trial was the actions of Alcibiades.
Alcibiades, a former associate of Socrates, was implicated in the mutilation of statues of the god Hermes in Athens during intense political upheaval. He was also known to be sympathetic to the Spartan cause. This and other events raised suspicions towards many who were suspected to have been involved in a conspiracy against Athens and her gods. It was apparent that because of Socrates' association with Alcibades, his influence was seen as dangerous to the restored democracy and would be better if removed.
[...] The fact that the daimonian had not cautioned him in his heart before and during this trial reconfirmed to Socrates that the direction of death was likely to be "good". Socrates sees his divine service as the greatest benefit to befall Athens because he urges the welfare of their souls above the lowly pursuit of the clay. He seems to believe that divine law prevents injury by an evil to a good man. " . do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul . [...]
[...] Socrates describes his mission through the colorful metaphor of a "gadfly". A gadfly is an insect that bites and annoys livestock. Socrates is viewed as the annoying person who stimulates, and provokes by persistent, irritating criticism. Athens being the horse that is sluggish and needs to be aroused, Socrates, " . awakens . persuades and reproaches”, busily buzzing all over Athens, searching for the ripe flesh of deceit and lies nipping at it to draw forth the contents beneath the skin of a pretentious city. [...]
[...] Socrates is the roadblock on the road of earthly fulfillment, the narrow door that must be reckoned with along the carnal highway of life. Killing Socrates fueled the justification of shallow pursuits. Socrates was condemned by an earthly court, that same court was convicted by evil! Socrates implores with concern to his jurors "When my sons grow up, punish them, men, and pain them in the very same way I pained you, if they seem to care for money or anything else before virtue". [...]
[...] spokesman and chief instigator of the trial said, "Socrates is (was) guilty of corrupting the minds of the young and of believing in deities of his own invention instead of gods recognized by the State." How did all of these harsh accusations find their way to Socrates, a simple "lover of wisdom"? Socrates' life of philosophy began when he began to contemplate and consider "the heavenly things" rain, sun, thunder and clouds. He said, "When I was young, I had a wondrous desire for wisdom that they call inquiry about nature, the causes of each thing: Why each thing comes into being, why it perishes and why it is". [...]
[...] Socrates was accused of "regarding the things worth the most as least important and the paltrier things as more important", when the truth was that what Socrates deemed valuable possessed true weight and worth. I know I quote the Bible a lot, but Socrates to me, can be paralleled in many ways to Jesus, not that Socrates is God, even Rousseau said, "If Socrates died like a philosopher Jesus Christ died like a God". Socrates however, is certainly an example of commitment to something besides fleshly pursuit. [...]
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