University of Pittsburgh, Summer Term 1997
Philosophy 0330: Political Philosophy
Ben Eggleston, Instructor
The Apology and the Crito are two of a series of dialogues that describe the end of Socrates’s life. In the Apology (whose name is a transliteration of the Greek word apologia, meaning “defense”), Socrates is on trial for several offenses, the main ones being corruption of the young, not believing in the gods in which the city believes, and believing in other gods. Essentially, the powers of Athens have become fed up with Socrates’s meddling ways and are trying to get him to stop or to leave. In reply, Socrates is defiant: he denies the charges, defends his way of life, and refuses to ask for mercy from the jury. The jury finds him guilty, and his accuser proposes the penalty of death. Socrates is given a chance to propose an alternative penalty, and he says that what the city really owes him is not punishment, but a reward: free meals at a government dining hall, perhaps. Not surprisingly, the jury sentences Socrates to death. As the Crito begins, Socrates is in jail, awaiting execution.