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Speech I: Socrates' Defense

(10) Socrates' Family

  Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is all the defence

Jowett's Notes

  which I have to offer. Yet a word more. Perhaps there may  

Water clocks for timing speeches

be some one who is offended He is flesh and blood, but he will not appeal to the pity of his judges; or make a scene in the court such as he has often witnessed.
  at me, when he calls to mind
  how he himself on a similar,
  or even a less serious occasion,  
  prayed and entreated the with  
  many tears, and how he produced  Bar212.GIF (862 bytes)  


his children in court, which was a moving spectacle, together with  
  a host of relations and friends; whereas I, who am probably in  
  danger of my life, will do none of these things. The contrast  
  may occur to his mind, and he may be set against me, and vote  
  in anger because he is displeased at me on this account. Now  


if there be such a person among you, - mind, I do not say that  
  there is, - to him I may fairly reply: My friend, I am a man, and  
  like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not "of  
  wood or stone," as Homer says; and I have a family, yes, and  
  sons, O Athenians, three in number, one almost a man, and  
  two others who are still young: and yet I will not bring any of  
  them hither in order to petition you for an acquittal. And why  


not? Not from any self-assertion or want of respect for you.  
  Whether I am or am not afraid of death is another question, of  
  which I will not now speak. But, having regard to public  
  opinion, I feel that such conduct would be discreditable to  
  myself, and to you, and to the whole state. One who has to  
  reached my years, and who has a name for wisdom, ought not  
  demean himself. Whether this opinion of me be deserved or  


not, at any rate the world has decided that Socrates is in some  
  way superior to other men. And if those among you who are  
  said to be superior in wisdom and courage, and any other  
  virtue, demean themselves in this way, how shameful is their  
  conduct! I have seen men of reputation, when they have been  
  condemned, behaving in the strangest manner: they seemed to  
  fancy that they were going to suffer something dreadful if they  
  died, and that they could be immortal if you only allowed  
  them to live; and I think that such are a dishonor to the state,  
  and that any stranger coming in would have said of them that  


the most eminent men of Athens, to whom the Athenians  
  themselves give honour and command, are no better than  
  women . And I say that these things ought not to be done by  
  those of us who have a reputation; and if they are done, you  
  ought not to permit them; you ought rather to show that you  
  are far more disposed to condemn the man who gets up a  
  doleful scene and makes the city ridiculous, than him who  
  holds his peace.  
  But, setting aside the question of public opinion, there seems The judge should not be influenced by his feelings, but convinced by reason.


to be something wrong in asking a favor of a judge, and thus
  procuring an acquittal, instead of informing and convincing  
  him. For his duty is, not to make a present of justice, but to  
  give judgment; and he has sworn that he will judge according  
  to the laws, and not according to his own good pleasure; and  
  we ought not to encourage you, nor should you allow yourself  
  to be encouraged, in this habit of perjury - there can be no  
  piety in that. Do not then require me to do what I consider  
  dishonorable and impious and wrong, especially now, when I  
  am being tried for impiety on the indictment of Meletus. For  
  if, O men of Athens, by force of persuasion and entreaty I  
  could overpower your oaths, then I should be teaching you to  
  believe that there are no gods, and in defending should simply  


convict myself of the charge of not believing in them. But that  
  is not so - far otherwise. For I do believe that there are gods,  
  and in a sense higher than that in which any of my accusers  
  believe in them. And to you and to God I commit my cause, to  
  be determined by you as is best for you and me.  
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