Studying Plato

I think it is helpful or maybe essential to understand Plato is to understand,,,Metaphysics...and pluralist

I've compare Plato's idea's to simple things I believe,I am not of any great intellect..and that might be why I believe what he was thinking might of been the proper course for humanity.cause it is so Simple .at least in the aspects I list below,and even if to a degree looked at a bit differently from the ancient writings

Plato the Philosopher

I have great affection for Plato, who is without doubt one of the greatest philosophers of the past 2,500 years. Thus it is unfortunate that many people imagine our post-modern society to have gained such knowledge that the Ancient Greek Philosophers are now irrelevant. In fact the opposite is true. As Bertrand Russell observed (History of Western Philosophy), it was the Ancient Greek Philosophers who first discovered and discussed the fundamental Principles of Philosophy, and most significantly, little has been added to their knowledge since.

As Einstein wrote;

Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

A simple direct view of Plato's Justice......Justice is thus a sort of specialization. It is simply the will to fulfill the duties of one's station and not to meddle with the duties of another station, and its habitation is, therefore, in the mind of every citizen who does his duties in his appointed place. It is the original principle, laid down at the foundation of the State, "that one man should practice one thing only and that the thing to which his nature was best adopted".

I posted Rush's song here,as I believe Plato thought much this way

Here are the lyric's for Rush's(band),"Closer to the Heart"written by-Writer/s: ALEX ZIVOJINOVICH, GARY LEE WEINRIB, NEIL ELWOOD PEART, PETER H TALBOT

..............And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart

Philosophers and plowmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart, yeah, oh

Whoa whoa
You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
Well closer to the heart, yeah
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
I said closer to the heart
Well closer to the heart, yeah
Closer to your heart
Closer to your heart, whoa

11-26-2017...I awoke wrote this...just as I thought it..."One ties their shoes.they do it many times,become efficient,become good at it,They "Master It",...They are a Master at tying shoes.Yet whom made the shoes,which the one is tying?..When it is Mass Produced?,...is the Master Lost,,can the Master be found,,the one whom made these shoes,when it was Mass Produced.(my belief is mass producing goes against the very grain of humanity,,from the the stand-point of it ,,takes away the individuals ability,,to become a Master of the More simple things...and all "Individuals"..for their souls to be full filled need to be important,even if their role is making shoes!

Metaphysics-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

First published Mon Sep 10, 2007; substantive revision Fri Oct 31, 2014

It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject-matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change”.

Five Ways (Aquinas)-

Tertia Via: The Argument from Contingency


In the world we see things that are possible to be and possible not to be. In other words, perishable things. But if everything were contingent and thus capable of going out of existence, then, given infinite time, this possibility would be realized and nothing would exist now. But things clearly do exist now. Therefore, there must be something that is imperishable: a necessary being. This everyone understands to be God.[7][13]


The argument begins with the observation that things around us come into and go out of existence: animals die, buildings are destroyed, etc. But if everything were like this, then, at some time nothing would exist. Some interpreters read Aquinas to mean that assuming an infinite past, all possibilities would be realized and everything would go out of existence. Since this is clearly not the case, then there must be at least one thing that does not have the possibility of going out of existence.[13] However, this explanation seems to involve the fallacy of composition (quantifier shift). Moreover, it does not seem to be in keeping with Aquinas' principle that, among natural things, the destruction of one thing is always the generation of another.[16] Alternatively, one could read Aquinas to be arguing as follows: if there is eternal change, so that things are eternally being generated and corrupted, and since an eternal effect requires an eternal cause (just as a necessary conclusion requires necessary premises), then there must exist an eternal agent which can account for the eternity of generation and corruption. To hold the alternative, namely that an infinite series of contingent causes would be able to explain eternal generation and corruption would posit a circular argument: Why is there eternal generation and corruption? Because there is an eternal series of causes which are being generated and corrupted. And why is there an infinite series of causes which are being generated and corrupted? Because there is eternal generation and corruption. Since such an explanation is not acceptable, there must be (at least one) eternal and necessary being.

Categories of Being and Universals-Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

We human beings sort things into various classes. And we often suppose that the classes into which we sort things enjoy a kind of internal unity. In this respect they differ from sets in the strict sense of the word. (And no doubt in others. It would seem, for example, that we think of the classes we sort things into—biological species, say—as comprising different members at different times.) The classes into which we sort things are in most cases “natural” classes, classes whose membership is in some important sense uniform—“kinds”. We shall not attempt an account or definition of ‘natural class’ here. Examples must suffice. There are certainly sets whose members do not make up natural classes: a set that contains all dogs but one, and a set that contains all dogs and exactly one cat do not correspond to natural classes in anyone's view. And it is tempting to suppose that there is a sense of “natural” in which dogs make up a natural class, to suppose that in dividing the world into dogs and non-dogs, we “cut nature at the joints”. It is, however, a respectable philosophical thesis that the idea of a natural class cannot survive philosophical scrutiny. If that respectable thesis is true, the topic “the categories of being” is a pseudo-topic. Let us simply assume that the respectable thesis is false and that things fall into various natural classes—hereinafter, simply classes.

Some of the classes into which we sort things are more comprehensive than others: all dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs; all animals are living organisms, but not all living organisms are animals …. Now the very expression “sort things into classes” suggests that there is a most comprehensive class: the class of things, the class of things that can be sorted into classes. But is this so?—and if it is so, are there classes that are “just less comprehensive” than this universal class? If there are, can we identify them?—and are there a vast (perhaps even an infinite) number of them, or some largish, messy number like forty-nine, or some small, neat number like seven or four? Let us call any such less comprehensive classes the ‘categories of being’ or the ‘ontological categories’. (The former term, if not the latter, presupposes a particular position on one question about the nature of being: that everything is, that the universal class is the class of beings, the class of things that are. It thus presupposes that Meinong was wrong to say that “there are things of which it is true that there are no such things”.)

I like this from , at least interesting,and why using Metaphors one must be careful to relay ,that what is,...is a Metaphor-"Motion and it's place in Nature:

 Energeia and Entelechia

The word entelecheia was invented by Aristotle, but never defined by him. It is at the heart not only of his definition of motion, but of all his thought. Its meaning is the most knowable in itself of all possible objects of the intellect. There is no starting point from which we can descend to put together the cements of its meaning. We can come to an understanding of entelecheia only by an ascent from what is intrinsically less knowable than it, indeed knowable only through it, but more known because more familiar to us. We have a number of resources by which to begin such an ascent, drawing upon the linguistic elements out of which Aristotle constructed the word, and upon the fact that he uses the wordenergeia as a synonym, or all but a synonym, for entelecheia.

The root of energeia is ergonó deed, work, or actó from which comes the adjective energon used in ordinary speech to mean active, busy, or at work. Energeia is formed by the addition of a noun ending to the adjective energon; we might construct the word is-at-work-ness from Anglo-Saxon roots to translateenergeia into English, or use the more euphonious periphrastic expression, being-at-work. If we are careful to remember how we got there, we could alternatively use Latin roots to make the word "actuality" to translate energeia. The problem with this alternative is that the word "actuality" already belongs to the English language, and has a life of its own which seems to be at variance with the simple sense of being active. By the actuality of a thing, we mean not its being-in-action but its being what it is. For example, there is a fish with an effective means of camouflage: it looks like a rock but it is actually a fish. When an actuality is attributed to that fish, completely at rest at the bottom of the ocean, we don't seem to be talking about any activity. But according to Aristotle, to be something always means to be at work in a certain way. In the case of the fish at rest, its actuality is the activity of metabolism, the work by which it is constantly transforming material from its environment into parts of itself and losing material from itself into its environment, the activity by which the fish maintains itself as a fish and as just the fish it is, and which ceases only when the fish ceases to be. Any static state which has any determinate character can only exist as the outcome of a continuous expenditure of effort, maintaining the state as it is. Thus even the rock, at rest next to the fish, is in activity: to be a rock is to strain to be at the center of the universe, and thus to be in motion unless constrained otherwise, as the rock in our example is constrained by the large quantity of earth already gathered around the center of the universe. A rock at rest at the center is at work maintaining its place, against the counter-tendency of all the earth to displace it. The center of the universe is determined only by the common innate activity of rocks and other kinds of earth. Nothing is which is not somehow in action, maintaining itself either as the whole it is, or as a part of some whole. A rock is inorganic only when regarded in isolation from the universe as a whole which is an organized whole just as blood considered by itself could not be called alive yet is only blood insofar as it contributes to the maintenance of some organized body. No existing rock can fail to contribute to the hierarchical organization of the universe; we can therefore call any existing rock an actual rock.

Energeia, then, always means the being-at-work of some definite, specific something; the rock cannot undergo metabolism, and once the fish does no more than fall to earth and remain there it is no longer a fish. The material and organization of a thing determine a specific capacity or potentiality for activity with respect to which the corresponding activity has the character of an end (telos). Aristotle says "the act is an end and the being-at-work is the act and since energeia is named from the ergon it also extends to the being-at-an-end (entelecheia)" (Metaphysics 1050a 21-23). The word entelecheia has a structure parallel to that of energeia. From the root word telos, meaning end, comes the adjective enteles, used in ordinary speech to mean complete, perfect, or full-grown. But while energeia, being-at-work, is made from the adjective meaning at work and a noun ending, entelecheia is made from the adjective meaning complete and the verb exein. Thus if we translate entelecheia as "completeness" or "perfection," the contribution the meaning of exein makes to the term is not evident. Aristotle probably uses exein for two reasons which lead to the same conclusion: First, one of the common meanings of exein is "to be" in the sense of to remain, to stay, or to keep in some condition specified by a preceding adverb as in the idiomskalos exei, "things are going well," or kakos exei, "things are going badly." It means "to be" in the sense of to continue to be. This is only one of several possible meanings of exein, but there is a second fact which makes it likely that it is the meaning which would strike the ear of a Greek-speaking person of Aristotle's time. There was then in ordinary use the word endelecheia, differing from Aristotle's wordentelecheia only by a delta in place of the tau. Endelecheia means continuity or persistence. As one would expect, there was a good deal of confusion in ancient times between the invented and undefined term entelecheia and the familiar word endelecheia. The use of the pun for the serious philosophic purpose of saying at once two things for whose union the language has no word was a frequent literary device of Aristotle's teacher Plato. In this striking instance, Aristotle seems to have imitated the playful style of his teacher in constructing the most important term in his technical vocabulary. The addition ofexein to enteles, through the joint action of the meaning of the suffix and the sound of the whole, superimposes upon the sense of "completeness" that of continuity. Entelecheia means continuing in a state of completeness, or being at an end which is of such a nature that it is only possible to be there by means of the continual expenditure of the effort required to stay there. Just as energeia extends toentelecheia because it is the activity which makes a thing what it is, entelecheia extends to energeiabecause it is the end or perfection which has being only in, through, and during activity. For the remainder of this entry, the word "actuality" translates both energeia and entelecheia, and "actuality" means just that area of overlap between being-at-work and being-at-an-end which expresses what it means to be something determinate. The words energeia and entelecheia have very different meanings, but function as synonyms because the world is such that things have identities, belong to species, act for ends, and form material into enduring organized wholes. The word actuality as thus used is very close in meaning to the word life, with the exception that it is broader in meaning, carrying no necessary implication of mortality.

Kosman [1969] interprets the definition in substantially the same way as it is interpreted above, utilizing examples of kinds of entelecheia given by Aristotle in On the Soul, and thus he succeeds in bypassing the inadequate translations of the word. The Sachs 1995 translation of Aristotle's Physics translatesentelecheia as being-at-work-staying-itself.

       The Standard Account of Aristotle's View of Motion

We embarked on this quest for the meaning of entelecheia in order to decide whether the phrase "transition to actuality" could ever properly render it. The answer is now obviously "no." An actuality is something ongoing, but only the ongoing activity of maintaining a state of completeness or perfection already reached; the transition into such a state always lacks and progressively approaches the perfected character which an actuality always has. A dog is not a puppy: the one is, among other things, capable of generating puppies and giving protection, while the other is incapable of generation and in need of protection. We might have trouble deciding exactly when the puppy has ceased to be a puppy and become a dog at the age of one year, for example, it will probably be fully grown and capable of reproducing, but still awkward in its movements and puppyish in its attitudes, but in any respect in which it has become a dog it has ceased to be a puppy.

But our concern was to understand what motion is, and it is obviously the puppy which is in motion, since it is growing toward maturity, while the dog is not in motion in that respect, since its activity has ceased to produce change and become wholly directed toward self-maintenance. If the same thing cannot be in the same respect both an actuality and a transition to actuality, it is clearly the transition that motion is, and the actuality that it isn't. It seems that Descartes is right and Aristotle is wrong. Of course it is possible that Aristotle meant what Descartes said, but simply used the wrong word, that he called motion anentelecheia three times, at the beginning, middle, and end of his explanation of what motion is, when he really meant not entelecheia but the transition or passage to entelecheia. Now, this suggestion would be laughable if it were not what almost everyone who addresses the question today believes. Sir David Ross, certainly the most massively qualified authority on Aristotle of those who have lived in our century and written in our language, the man who supervised the Oxford University Press's forty-five year project of translating all the works of Aristotle into English, in a commentary, on Aristotle's definition of motion, writes: "entelecheia must here mean 'actualization,' not 'actuality'; it is the passage to actuality that iskinesis" (Physics, text with commentary, London, 1936, p. 359). In another book, his commentary on the Metaphysics, Ross makes it clear that he regards the meaning entelecheia has in every use Aristotle makes of it everywhere but in the definition of motion as being not only other than but incompatible with the meaning "actualization." In view of that fact, Ross' decision that "entelecheia must here mean 'actualization'" is a desperate one, indicating a despair of understanding Aristotle out of his own mouth. It is not translation or interpretation but plastic surgery.

One thing,I am fairly sure of "we are only human",we have a lot to learn,and that the Earth is a Living aspect of Nature,and all enities are in motion,is the Earth it's self not moving around the Sun?

Plato's conception of reality

Plato's conception of reality as a reflection of the ideal is embodied in the allegory of the cave in The Republic, and Plato emphasizes that the philosopher must return to the cave to understand the relationship between the ideal and its projection in this world. Plato's conception of the existence of Forms as the ideals of the imperfect objects and ideas of this world derived in part from the ongoing discussion in Greek philosophy over change versus permanence. The allegory also relates to issues of epistemology as to what we can know and how we can know it. The cave becomes the touchstone, the example that serves to demonstrate the relationship between the idea and the reality, between perception and reality, between the perfection of the idea and the imperfection of the reality.


 Plato’s understood  therefore in the c
Plato (428-348 BCE) created a poetic vision of one coherentstructure: the metaphysical home in which science was born, which grewwith it, and which houses it today. It starts with his theory of perception:

…the universe really is motion and nothing else. And there are two kindsof motion. Of each kind there are any number of instances, but theydiffer in that the one kind has the power of acting, the other of beingacted upon. From the intercourse and function of these with one another arise offspring, endless in number, but in pairs of twins. One of each pair is some coincides with that of the thing perceived. Now, for the perceptions wehave names like ‘seeing’, ‘hearing’, ‘smelling’, ‘feeling cold’, ‘feelinghot’, and again pleasures and pains and desires and fears, as they arecalled, and so on.

Perception is always ‘Becoming’.
The eye perceives whiteness and the object whitens, both relativelyslowly; the process never fully completes. And this is true of all sense perception.

Neither family, nor privilege, nor wealth, nor anything but Love can light that beacon which a man must steer by when he sets out to live the better life. – Plato

Platonic love takes its name from famous Classical Greek philosopher, Plato (428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC).

Plato wrote about love in his work, the Symposium, a dialogue where the guests of a banquet each gave speeches in honor of the god Eros and debated the true meaning of love.

Initially, Plato’s dialogue was directed toward same-sex relationships, sexual, and otherwise, but by the Renaissance, platonic love had come to encompass the non-sexual, heterosexual relationships we know today.

Platonic love: dasein's urge toward being

A interesting quote of Aspasia- One scholar stated that, "To ask questions about Aspasia's life is to ask questions about half of humanity."

Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.)

The trial and execution of of Socrates in Athens in 399 B.C.E. puzzles historians. Why, in a society enjoying more freedom and democracy than any the world had ever seen, would a seventy-year-old philosopher be put to death for what he was teaching? The puzzle is all the greater because Socrates had taught--without molestation--all of his adult life. What could Socrates have said or done than prompted a jury of 500 Athenians to send him to his death just a few years before he would have died naturally?

Finding an answer to the mystery of the trial of Socrates is complicated by the fact that the two surviving accounts of the defense (or apology) of Socrates both come from disciples of his, Plato and Xenophon. Historians suspect that Plato and Xenophon, intent on showing their master in a favorable light, failed to present in their accounts the most damning evidence against Socrates

What appears almost certain is that the decisions to prosecute and ultimately convict Socrates had a lot to do with the turbulent history of Athens in the several years preceding his trial. An examination of that history may not provide final answers, but it does provide important clues.

Socrates, the son of a sculptor (or stonecutter) and a midwife, was a young boy when the rise to power of Pericles brought on the dawning of the "Golden Age of Greece." As a young man, Socrates saw a fundamental power shift, as Pericles--perhaps history's first liberal politician--acted on his belief that the masses, and not just property-owning aristocrats, deserved liberty. Pericles created the people's courts and used the public treasury to promote the arts. He pushed ahead with an unprecedented building program designed not only to demonstrate the glory that was Greece, but also to ensure full employment and provide opportunities for wealth creation among the non-propertied class. The rebuilding of the Acropolis and the construction of the Parthenon were the two best known of Pericles' many ambitious building projects.

Growing to adulthood in this bastion of liberalism and democracy, Socrates somehow developed a set of values and beliefs that would put him at odds with most of his fellow Athenians. Socrates was not a democrat or an egalitarian. To him, the people should not be self-governing; they were like a herd of sheep that needed the direction of a wise shepherd. He denied that citizens had the basic virtue necessary to nurture a good society, instead equating virtue with a knowledge unattainable by ordinary people. Striking at the heart of Athenian democracy, he contemptuously criticized the right of every citizen to speak in the Athenian assembly.note1

Writing in the third-century C.E. in his The Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Diogenes Laertius reported that Socrates "discussed moral questions in the workshops and the marketplace." Often his unpopular views, expressed disdainfully and with an air of condescension, provoked his listeners to anger. Laertius wrote that "men set upon him with their fists or tore his hair out," but that Socrates "bore all this ill-usage patiently."

We get one contemporary view of Socrates from playwright Aristophanes. In his play Clouds, first produced in 423 B.C.E., Aristophanes presents Socrates as an eccentric and comic headmaster of a "thinkery" (or "thoughtery"). He is portrayed "stalking the streets" of Athens barefoot, "rolling his eyes" at remarks he found unintelligent, and "gazing up" at the clouds. Socrates at the time of Clouds must have been perceived more as a harmless town character than as a serious threat to Athenian values and democracy. Socrates himself, apparently, took no offense at his portrayal in Clouds. Plutarch, in his Moralia, quoted Socrates as saying, "When they break a jest upon me in the theatre, I feel as if I were at a big party of good friends." Plato, in his Symposium, describes Socrates and Aristophanes engaged in friendly conversation.

Other plays of the time offer additional clues as to the reputation of Socrates in Athens. Comic poet Eupolis has one of his characters say: "Yes, and I loathe that poverty-stricken windbag Socrates, who contemplates everything in the world but does not know where his next meal is coming from." Birds, a play of Aristophanes written six years after his Clouds, contains a revealing reference. Aristophanes labels a gang of pro-Sparta aristocratic youths as "Socratified." Sparta--the model of a closed society--and Athens were enemies: the remark suggests Socrates' teaching may have started to be seen as subversive by 417 B.C.E.

The standing of Socrates among his fellow citizens suffered mightily during two periods in which Athenian democracy was temporarily overthrown, one four-month period in 411-410 and another slightly longer period in 404-403. The prime movers in both of the anti-democratic movements were former pupils of Socrates, Alcibiades and Critias. Athenians undoubtedly considered the teachings of Socrates--especially his expressions of disdain for the established constitution--partially responsible for the resulting death and suffering. Alcibiades, perhaps Socrates' favorite Athenian politician, masterminded the first overthrow. (Alcibiades had other strikes against him: four years earlier, Alcibiades had fled to Sparta to avoid facing trial for mutilating religious pillars--statues of Hermes--and, while in Sparta, had proposed to that state's leaders that he help them defeat Athens.) Critias, first among an oligarchy known as the "Thirty Tyrants," led the second bloody revolt against the restored Athenian democracy in 404. The revolt sent many of Athens's leading democratic citizens (including Anytus, later the driving force behind the prosecution of Socrates) into exile, where they organized a resistance movement.

Critias, without question, was the more frightening of the two former pupils of Socrates. I.F. Stone, in his The Trial of Socrates, describes Critias (a cousin of Plato's) as "the first Robespierre," a cruel and inhumane man "determined to remake the city to his own antidemocratic mold whatever the human cost." The oligarchy confiscated the estates of Athenian aristocrats, banished 5,000 women, children, and slaves, and summarily executed about 1,500 of the most prominent democrats of Athens.

One incident involving Socrates and the Thirty Tyrants would later become an issue at his trial. Although the Thirty normally used their own gang of thugs for such duties, the oligarchy asked Socrates to arrest Leon of Salamis so that he might be executed and his assets appropriated. Socrates refused to do so. Socrates would point to his resistance to the order as evidence of his good conduct. On the other hand, Socrates neither protested the decision nor took steps to warn Leon of Salamis of the order for his arrest--he just went home. While good citizens of Athens were being liquidated right and left, Socrates--so far as we know--did or said nothing to stop the violence.

The horrors brought on by the Thirty Tyrants caused Athenians to look at Socrates in a new light. His teachings no longer seemed so harmless. He was no longer a lovable town eccentric. Socrates--and his icy logic--came to be seen as a dangerous and corrupting influence, a breeder of tyrants and enemy of the common man.

A general amnesty issued in 403 meant that Socrates could not be prosecuted for any of his actions during or before the reign of the Thirty Tyrants. He could only be charged for his actions during the four years preceding his trial in 399 B.C.E. It appears that Socrates, undeterred by the antidemocratic revolts and their aftermaths, resumed his teachings and once again began attracting a similar band of youthful followers. The final straw may well have been another antidemocratic uprising--this one unsuccessful--in 401. Athens finally had enough of "Socratified" youth.

In Athens, criminal proceedings could be initiated by any citizen. In the case of Socrates, the proceedings began when Meletus, a poet, delivered an oral summons to Socrates in the presence of witnesses. The summons required Socrates to appear before the legal magistrate, or King Archon, in a colonnaded building in central Athens called the Royal Stoa to answer charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. The Archon determined--after listening to Socrates and Meletus (and perhaps the other two accusers, Anytus and Lycon)--that the lawsuit was permissible under Athenian law, set a date for the "preliminary hearing" (anakrisis), and posted a public notice at the Royal Stoa.

The preliminary hearing before the magistrate at the Royal Stoa began with the reading of the written charge by Meletus. Socrates answered the charge. The magistrate questioned both Meletus and Socrates, then gave both the accuser and defendant an opportunity to question each other. Having found merit in the accusation against Socrates, the magistrate drew up formal charges. The document containing the charges against Socrates survived until at least the second century C.E. Diogenes Laertius reports the charges as recorded in the now-lost document:

This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pitthos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing new divinities. He is also guilty of corrupting the youth. The penalty demanded is death.

The trial of Socrates took place over a nine-to-ten hour period in the People's Court, located in the agora, the civic center of Athens. The jury consisted of 500 male citizens over the age of thirty, chosen by lot. Most of the jurors were probably farmers. The jurors sat on wooden benches separated from the large crowd of spectators--including a 27-year-old pupil of Socrates named Plato--by some sort of barrier or railing.

Guilt Phase of Trial

The trial began in the morning with the reading of the formal charges against Socrates by a herald. The prosecution presented its case first. The three accusers, Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon, had a total of three hours, measured by a water clock, to present from an elevated stage their argument for guilt. No record of the prosecution's argument against Socrates survives.

Easily the best known and most influential of the three accusers, Anytus, is widely believed to have been the driving force behind the prosecution of Socrates. Plato's Meno offers a possible clues as to the animosity between Anytus, a politician coming from a family of tanners, and Socrates. In the Meno, Plato reports that Socrates's argument that the great statesmen of Athenian history have nothing to  offer in terms of an understanding of virtue enrages Anytus. Plato quotes Anytus as warning Socrates: "Socrates, I think that you are too ready to speak evil of men: and, if you will take my advice, I would recommend you to be careful." Anytus had an additional personal gripe concerning the relationship Socrates had with his son. Plato quotes Socrates as saying, "I had a brief association with the son of Anytus, and I found him not lacking in spirit." It is not known whether the relationship included sex, but Socrates--as were many men of the time in Athens--was bisexual and slept with some of his younger students. Anytus almost certainly disapproved of his son's relationship with Socrates. Adding to the displeasure of Anytus must have been the advice Socrates gave to his son. According to Xenophon, Socrates urged Anytus's son not to "continue in the servile occupation [tanning hides] that his father has provided for him." Without a "worthy adviser," Socrates predicted, he would "fall into some disgraceful propensity and will surely go far in the career of vice."

It is a matter of dispute among historians whether the accusers focused more attention on the alleged religious crimes, or the alleged political crimes, of Socrates. I. F. Stone attaches far more significance to the political crimes, while other historians such as James A. Colaiaco, author of Socrates Against Athens, give more weight to the charge of impiety.

I. F. Stone argues that "Athenians were accustomed to hearing the gods treated disrespectfully in both the comic and tragic theatre." He points out that Aristophanes, in his Clouds, had a character speculating that rain was Zeus urinating through a sieve, mistaking it for a chamber pot--and that no one ever bothered to charge Aristophanes with impiety. Stone concludes: "One could in the same city and in the same century worship Zeus as a promiscuous old rake, henpecked and cuckolded by Juno or as Justice deified. It was the political, not the philosophical or theological, views of Socrates which finally got him into trouble."

Important support for Stone's conclusion comes from the earliest surviving reference to the trial of Socrates that does not come from one of his disciples. In 345 B.C.E., the famous orator Aechines told a jury: "Men of Athens, you executed Socrates, the sophist, because he was clearly responsible for the education of Critias, one of the thirty anti-democratic leaders."

James Colaiaco's conclusion that impiety received more prosecutorial attention than did political sins rests on Plato's Apology. Colaiaco sees Plato's famous account of the defense of Socrates as being--although far from a verbatim transcription of the words of Socrates--fairly representative of the major points of his defense. He notes that Plato wrote the Apology within a few years of the trial and must have expected many of his readers to have firsthand knowledge of the trial. Why, Colaiaco asks, would have Plato misrepresented the arguments of Socrates, or hid key elements of the prosecution's case, when his actions in doing so could so easily be exposed? Since the Apology seems to give great weight to the charge of impiety--and relatively little weight to the association of Socrates with the Thirty Tyrants--Colaiaco assumes this must have been a fair reflection of the trial. At the same time, Colaiaco recognizes that because of the association of Socrates with Critias "the prosecution could expect any Athenian jury to harbor hostile feelings toward the city's gadfly."

Piety had, for Athenians, a broad meaning. It included not just respect for the gods, but also for the dead and ancestors. The impious individual was seen as a contaminant who, if not controlled or punished, might bring upon the city the wrath of the gods--Athena, Zeus, or Apollo--in the form of plague or sterility. The ritualistic religion of Athens included no scripture, church, or priesthood. Rather, it required--in addition to belief in the gods-- observance of rites, prayers, and the offering of sacrifices.

Any number of words and actions of Socrates may have contributed to his impiety charge. Preoccupied with his moral instruction, he probably failed to attend important religious festivals. He may have stirred additional resentment by offering arguments against the collective, ritualistic view of religion shared by most Athenians or by contending that gods could not, as Athenians believed, behave immorally or whimsically. Xenophon indicates that the impiety charge stemmed primarily from the contention of Socrates that he received divine communications (a "voice" or a "sign") directing him to avoid politics and concentrate on his philosophic mission. A vague charge such as impiety invited jurors to project their many and varied grievances against Socrates.

Dozens of accounts of the three-hour speech (apologia) by Socrates in his defense existed at one time. Only Plato's and Xenophon's accounts survive. The two accounts agree on a key point. Socrates gave a defiant--decidedly unapologetic--speech. He seemed to invite condemnation and death.

Plato's apology describes Socrates questioning his accuser, Meletus, about the impiety charge. Meletus accuses Socrates of believing the sun and moon not to be gods, but merely masses of stone. Socrates responds not by specifically denying the charge of atheism, but by attacking Meletus for inconsistency: the charge against him accused him of believing in other gods, not in believing in no gods. If Plato's account is accurate, Socrates could have been seen by jurors offering a smokescreen rather than a refutation of the charge of impiety.

Plato's Socrates provocatively tells his jury that he is a hero. He reminds them of his exemplary service as a hoplite in three battles. More importantly, he contends, he has battled for decades to save the souls of Athenians--pointing them in the direction of an examined, ethical life. He reportedly says to his jurors if his teaching about the nature of virtue "corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person." He tells the jury, according to Plato, he would rather be put to death than give up his soul-saving: "Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy." If Plato's account is accurate, the jury knew that the only way to stop Socrates from lecturing about the moral weaknesses of Athenians was to kill him.

If I. F. Stone is right, the most damaging accusation against Socrates concerned his association with Critias, the cruel leader of the Thirty Tyrants. Socrates, in Plato's account, points to his refusal to comply with the Tyrants' order that he bring in Leon of Salamis for summary execution. He argues this act of disobedience--which might have led to his own execution, had not the Tyrants fallen from power--demonstrates his service as a good citizen of Athens. Stone notes, however, that a good citizen might have done more than simply go home to bed--he might have warned Leon of Salamis. In Stone's critical view, the central fact remained that in the city's darkest hour, Socrates "never shed a tear for Athens." As for the charge that his moral instruction provided intellectual cover for the anti-democratic revolt of Critias and his cohorts, Socrates denies responsibility. He argues that he never presumed to be a teacher, just a figure who roamed Athens answering the questions that were put to him. He points to his pupils in the crowd and observes that none of them accused him. Moreover, Socrates suggests to the jury, if Critias really understood his words, he never would have gone on the bloody rampage that he did in 404-403. Hannah Arendt notes that Critias apparently concluded, from the message of Socrates that piety cannot be defined, that it is permissible to be impious--"pretty much the opposite of what Socrates had hoped to achieve by talking about piety."

What is strikingly absent from the defense of Socrates, if Plato's and Xenophon's accounts are to be believed, is the plea for mercy typically made to Athenian juries. It was common practice to appeal to the sympathies of jurors by introducing wives and children. Socrates, however, did no more than remind the jury that he had a family. Neither his wife Xanthippe nor any of his three sons made a personal appearance. On the contrary, Socrates--according to Plato--contends that the unmanly and pathetic practice of pleading for clemency disgraces the justice system of Athens.


When the three-hour defense of Socrates came to an end, the court herald asked the jurors to render their decision by putting their ballot disks in one of two marked urns, one for guilty votes and one for votes for acquittal. With no judge to offer them instructions as to how to interpret the charges or the law, each juror struggled for himself to come to an understanding of the case and the guilt or innocence of Socrates. When the ballots were counted, 280 jurors had voted to find Socrates guilty, 220 jurors for acquittal.

Penalty Phase of Trial

After the conviction of Socrates by a relatively close vote, the trial entered its penalty phase. Each side, the accusers and the defendant, was given an opportunity to propose a punishment. After listening to arguments, the jurors would choose which of the two proposed punishments to adopt.

The accusers of Socrates proposed the punishment of death. In proposing death, the accusers might well have expected to counter with a proposal for exile--a punishment that probably would have satisfied both them and the jury. Instead, Socrates audaciously proposes to the jury that he be rewarded, not punished. According to Plato, Socrates asks the jury for free meals in the Prytaneum, a public dining hall in the center of Athens. Socrates must have known that his proposed "punishment" would infuriate the jury. I. F. Stone noted that "Socrates acts more like a picador trying to enrage a bull than a defendant trying to mollify a jury." Why, then, propose a punishment guaranteed to be rejected? The only answer, Stone and others conclude, is that Socrates was ready to die.

To comply with the demand that a genuine punishment be proposed, Socrates reluctantly suggested a fine of one mina of silver--about one-fifth of his modest net worth, according to Xenophon. Plato and other supporters of Socrates upped the offer to thirty minae by agreeing to come up with silver of their own. Most jurors likely believed even the heftier fine to be far too slight of a punishment for the unrepentant defendant.

In the final vote, a larger majority of jurors favored a punishment of death than voted in the first instance for conviction. According to Diogenes Laertius, 360 jurors voted for death, 140 for the fine. Under Athenian law, execution was accomplished by drinking a cup of poisoned hemlock.

In Plato's Apology, the trial concludes with Socrates offering a few memorable words as court officials finished their necessary work. He tells the crowd that his conviction resulted from his unwillingness to "address you as you would have liked me to do." He predicts that history will come to see his conviction as "shameful for Athens," though he professes to have no ill will for the jurors who convict him. Finally, as he is being led off to jail, Socrates utters the memorable line: "The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways--I to die, and you to live. Which to the better fate is known only to God." It is likely that this last burst of eloquence comes from Plato, not Socrates. There are no records suggesting that Athenian practice allowed defendants to speak after sentencing.


Socrates drinking a cup of hemlock

Socrates spent his final hours in a cell in the Athens jail. The ruins of the jail remain today. The hemlock that ended his life did not do so quickly or painlessly, but rather by producing a gradual paralysis of the central nervous system.

Most scholars see the conviction and execution of Socrates as a deliberate choice made by the famous philosopher himself. If the accounts of Plato and Xenophon are reasonably accurate, Socrates sought not to persuade jurors, but rather to lecture and provoke them.

The trial of Socrates, the most interesting suicide the world has ever seen, produced the first martyr for free speech. As I. F. Stone observed, just as Jesus needed the cross to fulfill his mission, Socrates needed his hemlock to fulfill his.-famous-trials.comcom

(note1) in essense Thad Stevens said the same to President Lincoln, on matters of the 13 amendment to end Slavery. I agree ,unless a individual is educated on what is voted on,to see it in a wise and Objective way,not Subjective,thus not biasied by emotion, the individual by Honor should decline from voting, or else their vote cancels out a "proper vote"

-me       voting straight ballot/ or subjective voting in my eyes is very , dangerous,and has partly lead to a great problem with government today.