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(4) His death.
to the Athenian mode of procedure, the next thing was to treat of the measure of the penalty. Socrates, however, spoke out with undaunted courage: were he to move for what he had deserved, he could only move for a public entertainment in the Prytaneum. He repeated the assurance that he could not on any account renounce his previous course of life. At length, yielding to the entreaties of his friends, he was willing to consent to a fine of thirty minæ, because he could pay this without owning himself to be guilty. It may be readily understood that to the majority of the judges such language in the accused could only appear in the light of incorrigible obstinacy and contempt for the judicial office ;2 hence the penalty claimed by the accusers was awarded—a sentence of death.3
The sentence was received by Socrates with a composure corresponding with his previous conduct. He persisted in not in any way repenting of his conduct, frequently expressing before the judges his conviction, that for him death would be no misfortune. The execution of the sentence being delayed
1 The above is stated on the authority of Plato's Apology, in opposition to which the less accurate assertion of Xenophon, that he rejected any pecuniary composition, and that of Diog. ii. 41, çannot be allowed to be of any weight.
2 How distinctly Socrates foresaw this effect of his conduct is unknown. It may have appeared probable to him; but he may also have anticipated
all the more readily a contrary effect, if he thought such conduct imperative. Nietzsche's idea (Sokrates Bas. 1871, p. 17) that Socrates, with full consciousness, carried through his condemnation to death, appears untenable for the same reasons as the above.
3 According to Diog. ii. 42, it was carried by eighty more votes than his condemnation.
+ Plato, Apol. 38, C.
pending the return of the sacred-ship from Delos,' he continued in prison thirty days, holding his accustomed intercourse with his friends, and retaining during the whole period his unclouded brightness of disposition.2 Flight from prison, for which his friends had made every preparation, was scorned as wrong and undignified.3 His last day was spent in quiet intellectual conversation, and when the evening came the hemlock draught was drunk with a strength of mind so unshaken, and a resignation so entire, that a feeling of wonder and admiration overcame the feeling of grief, even in his nearest relatives.4 Among the Athenians, too, no long time after his death, discontent with the troublesome preacher of morals is said to have given way before remorse, in consequence of which his accusers were visited with severe penalties; these statements, however,
1 Mem. iv. 8, 2; Plato, Phædo, put Socrates to death, and 58, A. attacked his accusers, putting them to death without a judicial sentence. Suidas makes Méλnros (Meletus) die by stoning. Plut. de Invid. c. 6, p. 538, says that the slanderous accusers of Socrates became so hated at Athens that the citizens would not light their fires, or answer their questions, or bathe in the same water with them, and that at last they were driven in despair to hang themselves. Diog. ii. 43, conf. vi. 9, says that the Athenians soon after, overcome with compunction, condemned Meletus to death, banished the other accusers, and erected a brazen statue to Socrates, and that
2 Phædo, 59, D.; Mem. 1. c.
See p. 77, 1. According to Plato, Crito urged him to flight. The Epicurean Idomeneus, who says it was Eschines (Diog. ii. 60; iii. 36) is not a trustworthy authority.
• Compare the Phædo, the account in which appears to be true in the main. See 58, E.; 116, A.; Xen. Mem. iv. 8, 2. Whether the statements in Xen. Apol. 28; Diog. ii. 35; Elian, V. H. i. 16, are historical, is a moot point. Those in Stob. Floril. 5, 67, are certainly exaggerations.
5 Diodor. xiv. 37, says that the people repented of having
are not to be trusted, and appear on the whole improbable.1
The circumstances which brought about the death of Socrates are among the clearest facts of history. Nevertheless the greatest difference of opinion prevails as to the causes which led thereto and the (1) It was justice of his condemnation. In former times it was
work of the Sophists.
B. The cause of this sentence of condemna
Anytus was forbidden to set
This view, already expressed by Forchammer (1. c. 66) and Grote, viii. 683, appears to be the correct one notwithstanding Hermann's (1. c. 8, 11) arguments to the contrary. For thongh it is possible that political or personal opponents of Anytus and his fellow-accusers may have turned against them their action against Socrates, and so procured their condemnation, yet (1) the authorities are by no means so ancient or so unimpeachable that we can depend upon them. (2) They contradict one another in all their details, not to mention Diogenes' anachronism respecting Lysippus. And (3)
the main point is, that neither
thought quite natural to refer it to an accidental outburst of passion. Were Socrates the colourless ideal of virtue he was represented to be by those lacking a deeper insight into his position in history, it would indeed be inconceivable that any vested interests could have been sufficiently injured by him to warrant a serious attack. If then, he was nevertheless accused and condemned, what else can have been the cause but the lowest of motives-personal hatred? Now who can have had so much reason for hatred as the Sophists, whose movements Socrates was so effective in thwarting, and who were otherwise supposed to be capable of any crime? Accordingly it must have been at their instigation that Anytus and Meletus induced Aristophanes to write his play of the Clouds, and afterwards themselves brought Socrates to trial.
This was the general view of the learned in former times.1 Nevertheless its erroneousness was already pointed out by Fréret.2 He proved that Meletus was a child when the Clouds was acted, and that at a much later period Anytus was on good terms with Socrates; that neither Anytus can have had anything to do with the Sophists-Plato always representing him as their inveterate enemy and despiser 3—nor Meletus with Aristophanes; and he showed, that no writer
Reference to Brucker, i. 549, in preference to any others.
2 In the admirable treatise: Observations sur les Causes et sur quelques Circonstances de la Condamnation de Socrate, in the Mém. de l'Académie des Inscript. i. 47, 6, 209.
Meno, 92, A.
9 Aristophanes often amuses himself at the expense of the poet Meletus, but, as has been remarked, this Meletus was probably an older man than the accuser of Socrates. See Hermann, De Socr. Accus. 5.
of credit knows anything of the part taken by the Sophists, in the accusation of Socrates.1 Besides, the Sophists, who had little or no political influence in Athens,2 could never have procured the condemnation of Socrates. Least of all, would they have preferred against him charges which immediately recoiled on their own heads.3 These arguments of Fréret's, after long passing unnoticed, have latterly met with general reception.5 Opinions are otherwise still much divided, and it is an open question whether the condemnation of Socrates was a work of private revenge, or whether it resulted from more general motives; if the latter, whether these motives were political, or moral, or religious; and lastly, whether the sentence was, according to the popular view, a crying wrong, or whether it may admit of a partial justification. In one quarter even the length
1 Elian (V. H. ii. 13), the chief authority for the previous hypothesis, knows nothing about a suborning of Anytus by the Sophists.
2 The political career of Damon, who according to the use of the Greek language can be called a Sophist, establishes nothing to the contrary.
3 Protagorashad been indicted for atheism before Socrates, and on the same plea Socrates was attacked by Aristophanes, who never spared any partizans of sophistry.
4 The treatise of Fréret was written as early as 1736, but not published till 1809, when it appeared together with several other of his writings. See
Mém. de l'Acad. i. 47. 6, 1. It was therefore unknown to the German writers of the last century, who for the most part follow the old view; for instance, Meiners, Gesch. d. Wissenschaft, ii. 476; Tiedemann, Geist d. spek. Phil. ii. 21. Others, such as Buhle, Gesch. d. Phil. i. 372; Tenneman, Gesch. d. Phil. ii. 40, confine themselves to stating generally, that Socrates made many enemies by his zeal for morality, without mentioning the Sophists.
5 There are a few exceptions, such as Heinsius, p. 26.
6 Forchhammer: Die Athener und Socrates, die Gesetzlichen und der Revolutionär.