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(2) It did ceed from
animosity. (a) Anytus may have
has been reached of asserting with Cato,' that of all sentences ever passed, this was the most strictly legal. Among these views the one lying nearest to hand, is that of some older writers, who attribute the execution of Socrates to personal animosity; always personal giving up the unfounded idea that the Sophists were in any way connected therewith.2 A great deal may be said in favour of this aspect of the case. In Plato,3 Socrates expressly declares that he is not the victim of Anytus or Meletus, but of the ill-will which he incurred by his criticism of men. Even Anytus, it is however said, owed him a personal grudge. Plato hints at his being aggrieved with the judgments passed by Socrates on Athenian statesmen, and, according to Xenophon's Apology," took it amiss
borne him a grudge.
1 Plut. Cato, c. 23.
2 This is found in Fries, Gesch. d. Phil. i. 249, who speaks of the 'hatred and envy of a great portion of the people,' as the motives which brought on the trial. Signart, Gesch. d. Phil. i. 89, gives prominence to this motive, and Brandis, Gr. Röm. Phil. ii. a. 26, who distinguishes two kinds of opponents to Socrates, those who considered his philosophy incompatible with ancient discipline and morality, and those who could not endure his moral earnestness, attributing the accusation to the latter. Grote, viii. 637, inclines to the same view. He proves how unpopular Socrates must have made himself by his sifting of men. He remarks that Athens was the
that Socrates urged him to give his competent son a higher training than that of a dealer in leather, thereby encouraging in the young man discontent with his trade.' Anytus is said to have first moved Aristophanes to his comedy, and afterwards in common with Meletus to have brought against him the formal accusation.2 That such motives came into play in the attack on Socrates, and contributed in no small degree to the success of this attack is antecedently probable. To convince men of their ignorance is the most thankless task you can choose. Anyone who can persevere in it for a life-time so regardless of consequences as Socrates did, must make many enemies; dangerous enemies too, if he takes for his mark men of distinguished position or talents.
Still personal animosity cannot have been the sole cause of his condemnation. Nor are Plato's statements binding upon us. Indeed the more Socrates and his pupils became convinced of the
lead to his justice of his cause, the less were they able to dis
cover any grounds in fact for the accusation. The one wish of Socrates being to will and to do what was best, what reason could anyone possibly have had for
(b) But there must have been
1 Later writers give more details. According to Plut. Alc. c. 4; Amator. 17, 27, p. 762; and Satyrus in Athenæus, xii. 534, e, Anytus was a lover of Alcibiades, but was rejected by him, whilst Alcibiades showed every attention to Socrates, and hence the enmity of Anytus to Socrates. Such
an improbable story ought not to have deceived Luzac (De Socr. Cive, 133); especially since Xenophon and Plato would never have omitted in silence such a reason for the accusation.
2 Elian, V. H. ii. 13. Diog.
Compare Grote, 1. c. 638.
opposing him, except wounded pride? The narrative of Xenophon's Apology would at most only explain the hatred of Anytus; it would not account for the widely spread prejudice against Socrates. It is a question whether it is true at all; and whether, granting its truth, this personal injury was the only cause which arrayed Anytus as accuser against him.' Lastly, allowing, as was undoubtedly the case, that Socrates made enemies of many influential people, is it not strange that their personal animosity should only have attained its object after the re-establishment of order in Athens? In the most unsettled and corrupt times no serious persecution had been set on foot against him. Neither at the time of the mutilation of the Hermæ, had his relations with Alcibiades; nor after the battle of Arginusæ,2 had the incensed state of popular feeling been turned against him. Plato, too, says 3 that what told against Socrates at the trial, was the general conviction that his teaching was of a dangerous character; and he states that as matters then stood, it was impossible for any one to speak the truth in political matters without being persecuted as a vain babbler and corrupter
This is just possible. That the character of Anytus was not unimpeachable we gather from the story (Aristot. in Harpocration dekáCwv; Diodor. xiii. 64; Plut. Coriol. 14), that when he was first charged with treason he corrupted the judges. On the other hand Isocr. (in Callim. 23) praises him for being together with
Thrasybulus faithful to the
2 The astonishment expres-
Apol. 18, B.; 19, B.; 23, D.
of youth. On this point the testimony of writers so opposite as Xenophon and Aristophanes proves that the prejudice against Socrates was not merely a passing prejudice, at least not in Athens, but that it lasted a whole life-time, not confined only to the masses, but shared also by men of high importance and influence in the state. Very deeply, indeed, must the feeling against Socrates have been rooted in Athens, if Xenophon found it necessary six years after his death to defend him against the charges on which the indictment was framed.
With regard to Aristophanes, it was an obvious blot in his plays to allow here and there such a prominence to political motives as to forget the claims of art, and for a comedian, who in his mad way holds up to ridicule all authorities divine and human, to clothe himself with the tragic seriousness of a political prophet.2 Yet it is no less an error to lose sight of the grave vein which underlies the comic license of his plays, and to mistake his occasional pathos for thoughtless play. Were it only this, the hollowness of the sentiment would soon show itself in artistic defects. Instead of this, a sincerity of patriotic sentiment may be observed in Aristophanes,
1 Polit. 299, B.; Rep. vi. 488, 496, C.; Apol. 32, E.; Gorg. 473, E.; 521, D.
2 Rötscher's spirited description suffers from this onesidedness, and even Hegel, in his passage on the fate of Socrates, Gesch. d. Phil. ii. 82, is not quite free from it, although
both of them justly recognise (Hegel, Phänomeno 1. 560; Esthetik, 537, 562; Rötscher, p. 365), that there is an element subversive of Greek life, quite as much in the comedies of Aristophanes, as in the state of things of which he complains.
not only in the unsullied beauty of many individual utterances; but the same patriotic interest sounds through all his plays, in some of the earlier ones even disturbing the purity of the poetic tone,' but proving all the more conclusively, how near the love of his country lay to his heart.
This interest only could have brought him to give to his comedies that political turn, by means of which, as he justly takes credit to himself,3 comedy gained a far higher ground than had been allowed to it by his predecessors. At the same time it must be granted that Aristophanes is as much deficient as others in the morality and the faith of an earlier age, and that it was preposterous to demand the olden time back, men and circumstances having so thoroughly changed. Only it does not follow herefrom that he was not sincere in this demand. His was rather one of those cases so frequently met with in history, in which a man attacks a principle in others to which he has himself fallen a victim, without owning it to himself. Aristophanes combats innovations in morals, politics, religion, and art. Being, however, in his inmost soul the offspring of his age, he can only combat them with the weapons and in the spirit of this age. With the thorough dislike of the narrow practical man unable to give a
1 See p. 29.
2 Compare Schnitzer, translation of the Clouds, p. 24, and the passages quoted by him from Welcker, Süvern and Rötscher.
3 Peace, 732; Wasps, 1022; Clouds, 537.
4 Compare Droysen, Aristoph. Werke, 2 Aufl. i. 174, which seems to go too far.