“Socrates was innocent”

Posted by WOOLTONIAN on May 21, 2007, 02:16:15 PM

On this day in 399 BC the philosopher Socrates stood before a jury of 500 of his fellow Athenians accused of "refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state."
 
If found guilty his penalty could be death.

The trial took place in the heart of the city, the jurors seated on wooden benches surrounded by a crowd of spectators. Socrates' accusers (three Athenian citizens) were allotted three hours to present their case, after which, the philosopher would have three hours to defend himself.



Socrates was 70 years old and familiar to most Athenians. His anti-democratic views had turned many in the city against him. Two of his students, Alcibiades and Critias, had twice briefly overthrown the democratic government of the city, instituting a reign of terror in which thousands of citizens were deprived of their property and either banished from the city or executed.

Socrates opened his defence by pointing out that the Gods currently worshipped and recognised by the state were mere passing fads and more lasting Gods were yet to be born.  He drew attention to the emergence of Rome (a port like Athens) and predicted that they would build a great empire that would last for centuries.

He pointed out “that they too would have their own Gods, is the state to recognise them also?”

He continued in his defence that even Rome would one day question or refuse to recognize the Gods that they themselves would hold in great esteem. He concluded his defence by predicting the rise of a future empire from another City, also a port like Rome and Athens.

That City would conquer the whole of Europe and Gods like Liddell, Shankly, Paisley, King Kenny and Robertus Fowlus would replace all former Gods created by Rome and Athens. He also predicted that a new Messiah would be born in a European State and that he would dwell and do all his good works in the Port of Liverpudlium.

Statues of this new Messiah would be built and worshipped in both the country of his birth and the New Scouse Empire. In his closing argument he stated  “These would be the Gods that would be worshipped forever”

After hearing the arguments of both Socrates and his accusers, the jury was asked to vote on his guilt. Under Athenian law the jurors did not deliberate the point. Instead, each juror registered his judgment by placing a small disk into an urn marked either "guilty" or "not guilty." Socrates was found guilty by a vote of 280 to 220.

The jurors were next asked to determine Socrates' penalty. His accusers argued for the death penalty. Socrates was given the opportunity to suggest his own punishment and could probably have avoided death by recommending exile. Instead, the philosopher initially offered the sarcastic recommendation that he be rewarded for his actions. When pressed for a realistic punishment, he proposed that he be fined a modest sum of money. Faced with the two choices, the jury selected death for Socrates.

The philosopher was taken to the nearby jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by drinking a cup of poison - hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.

So remember when your over in Athens, wherever you go, proclaim to all:

“Socrates was innocent”!!

Postscript
As for the Elgin Marbles debate. Can I just point out that it’s only a game of ollies.

“You lose your marbles and the winner takes them home.”
Schoolyard rule Book (1962)

© Wooltonian 2007

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