Of all the prosecutors of Socrates we know the most about Anytus. He lived in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. and was a wealthy Athenian who, though he failed as a general, achieved considerable success as a leader of Athenian democracy. Forced into exile when the oligarchs briefly took power in Athens (this so-called "Rule of the Thirty" ) he lead a successful revolt which returned the supporters of democracy to power. He was active in securing the passage of a general amnesty in 403/402 B.C.E. which prevented charging anyone with a crime committed before or during the Rule of the Thirty. This meant that all charges against Socrates had to be recent ones though he could certainly bank on, as Socrates himself implies, the more historical attitudes against the accused. By the time of Socrates trial in 399 Anytus was a very powerful political leader. This has contributed to the widely held view that he was the real power behind Socrates indictment.
Whereas Meletus and, possibly,
Lycon were most concerned about the impiety charge
against Socrates, Anytus appears more concerned
about the corruption of youth charge. Plato tells
us that Anytus had a mindless and fanatical hatred for
Sophists with whom Socrates was popularly, though erroneously, associated.
As a defender of traditional values and institutions Anytus may have been
incensed by those young followers of Socrates
who went about making the politicians appear foolish. There may also have
been a more personal motive for his entering the fray against
Socrates. According to one account he had trouble
with the upbringing of his son (some things never change I guess) who had
apparently spent time with Socrates.