The Attack on Socrates
In order to understand what happened during the trial of Socrates it might help to have a better idea of what Socrates background. Plato was the pupil of Socrates. Little is known of Socrates because it is believed that Socrates never wrote anything. What we know of what Socrates might have said is from Plato. The Apology is the clearest picture of Socrates trial for impiety and corrupting the youth. As Socrates states in his trial (paragraph 1 line 7 page 780) "for I am seventy years of age and appearing now for the first time in a court of law." This gives some insight about Socrates that we may not have known unless the reader is familiar with his philosophies from other writings about him.
In the apology of Socrates he is brought to trial for alleged crimes by three people; Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. Meletus accused Socrates of being an atheist and corrupting the youth intentionally with teachings of atheism; Anytus on behalf of the craftsman and politicians; Lycon on behalf of the rhetoricians.
Anytus said that since Socrates is convicted he should be put to death and if he is to escape now, all of the Athenians sons will be ruined by his teachings. Socrates says that the reason he is being prosecuted is because Chaerephon, a friend of Socrates, asked the oracle if anyone was wiser than Socrates on earth. The oracle replied no. In Socrates conquest to show the oracle it is wrong because he according to Plato, Socrates does not believe the oracle. In his conquest, he makes enemies of three groups of people, the poet, the politicians, and the artisans, represented by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon. (page 783)
As Socrates talks to the politician he says "when I began to talk with him I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by mankind still wiser by himself; and there upon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise but was not really wise and the consequences was that the hated me and his sentiments was shared by several who were present and heard me" ( Plato, page 783). Later Socrates made a wonderful comment about the politician "for he know nothing and thinks he knows, I neither know nor think I know." (Plato, page 784) Socrates does this procedure to many people in the same field but they all had the same mind set as the first politician. This is the reason Anytus wants Socrates given the death penalty. he quarrels on behalf of the politicians. This portion of the account gives most readers an example of what could be some of government's first unjustified lawsuit.
To prove the oracle wrong, Socrates decides he will talk to the poets but he finds that the poets write beautiful words but they do not know what they mean. Socrates says in
I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings and asked what was the meaning of them, thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I .must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I know that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but a sort of genius and inspiration. They are like diviners or soothsayer who also say many fines things, but do not know the meaning of them". (Plato, page 784)
If people today were told that they don't know anything about what they do for a living they might get mad too. It does not seem very clear of what Socrates meant, but he is considered one of the smartest people of the world. So an individual that comes across this passage may want to think critically on what he said or read the passage over again.
As the reader looks back on Socrates trail you hear of Lycon being one of the three people prosecuting Socrates, Meletus, Anytus and Lycon. It is easy to see where Socrates is being accused by Meletus and Anytus, but Lycon is only briefly mentioned; when Socrates is naming his three accusers and once again when he is confronting Meletus.
As Socrates speech ends he is tried and convicted by 280 of the