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Speech I: Socrates' Defense

(7) The Gadfly

  And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own

Jowett's Notes

  sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin  
  against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you. I am the gadfly of the Athenian people, given to them by God, and they will never have another, if they kill me.
  For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me,


who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort
  of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great
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and noble stead who is  
  tardy in his motions owing  
  to his very size, and requires Bar212.GIF (75 bytes)  
  to be stirred into life. I am  
  that gadfly whichGod has  
  attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always  


fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you.  
  You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would  
  advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel out of  
  temper (like the person who is suddenly awakened from sleep),  
  and you think that you might easily strike me dead as Anytus  
  advises, and then you sleep on for the remainder of your lives,  


unless God in his care of you sent you another gadfly. When I  
  say that I am given to you by God, the proof of my mission is  
  this: - if I had been like other men, I should not have neglected  
  all my own concerns or patiently seen the neglect of them during  
  all these years, and have been doing yours, coming to you  
  individually like a father or elder brother, exhorting you to regard  
  virtue; such conduct, I say, would be unlike human nature. If I  
  had gained anything, or if my exhortations had been paid, there  
  would have been some sense in my doing so; but now, as you  


will perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers dares to  
  say that I have ever exacted or sought pay of any one; of that they  
  have no witness. And I have a sufficient witness to the truth of  
  what I say - my poverty.  
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