Plato’s Apology

Plato’s Apology


Dramatis Personae in the action


Socrates–Seventy year old philosopher

Meletus–Part of the new democratic faction out to get those who they thought made Athens “soft.”


Plato’s Apology


Key Outlines:  #1–24d-28a “The antithesis (Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of not believing in the city’s gods, but in other new divinities) ought to be rejected.”  #2–28b-31c “The antithesis (Death is the greatest evil and should always be avoided and feared so that it is the ultimate guide of action) is false.”  #3–31c-34b  ” Socrates is innocent of both public and private crimes.”  #4–40c-42a  “No ultimate evil can befall a good man.”


Outline #1


24b 8  1.  Antitheiss: Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of not believing in the city’s gods, but in other new divinities–A


24d  2.  The young should be as good as possible by being taught through appropriate experts (i.e., those trained in the relevant techne)–A


25b  3.  In general the hoi polloi (non-technical experts) corrupt while the few (technical experts) improve students–F


  1. [Socrates is one of the few, i.e., technical experts, while Meletus and the others are one of the hoi polli, i.e., non-technical experts]–A


25b 7  5.  Socrates doesn’t corrupt and is the most appropriate person to teach the young (or anyone else) in Athens (or anywhere else)–2-4


25c  6.  To corrupt is to hurt–F


25c  7.  Association with a bad person causes corruption–A


  1. 8. [No one wants to be hurt]–F


25c 9.  No one wants to be corrupted–6-8


25d  10. All human actions are either voluntary or involuntary–F


25d  11.  People repay harm with harm–F


25d  12.  If  Socrates voluntarily corrupts others, he risks being harmed–9,11


25d  13.  Socrates will not voluntarily corrupt others–8, 12


25d  14.  To act involuntarily absolves one from a “graphe” trial–F


26a  15.  Socrates should not be on trial for corruption of the young–5, 10, 13, 14


26c  16.  The second charge is interpreted as “Socrates believes in no gods”–F


26d  17.  Socrates’ teaching about other gods, i.e., that the “sun = fire” and “the earth is stone,” etc., are not his ideas, but really those of Anaxagoras–F


26e  18.  Socrates is not the only one who teaches Anaxagoras’ speculations–F


  1. [Others have not been blamed, and the law should be interpreted uniformly]–F


26e  20.  Socrates is not to blame for teaching about other gods–17-19


27b  21.  To believe in x’s activities means you also believe in x–F


27c  22.  Socrates believes in divine activities–17, 18


27c  23.  Socrates believes in gods–21, 22


  1. 24. [The second half of the charge is to be rejected]–16, 20, 23


28a  25.. Thesis: The Antithesis is to be rejected–15, 24, 1





What does it mean to be “corrupted”?  This is a deep and interesting question.  Presumably it means something like being pulled off the “correct” path.  But what is the correct path?  This is often the parents’ ideals for their sons or daughters.  But their own vision may not be fully reflective, but an artifact of society’s inclination.


If a teacher engages a student in sex or drugs or “wrong political or religious ideas,”  then has he corrupted him/her?  If this activity really helped another fulfill his/her actualization, then would it be bad?  Or is this type of activity so evil that its very instantiation is an instance of corruption?


Premise # 3–Is it true that the few improve and the many corrupt?


#11 –Do people really repay harm with harm and is this really a factor in the behavior of those who do wrong?


# 17–Is this getting out only on a technicality?  Or is this the Platonic convention of offering bad arguments that only reach as high as his audience?




Plato, Apology,


Student Outline #2



Death is Not the Greatest Evil




  1. Antithesis: Death is the Greatest Evil and ought to be avoided at all costs—A,28b
  2. [Death and dishonor are aischron]—F
  3. Dishonor is the worst alternative (Achilles/Hector example)—F, 28c-d
  4. Not all aischron acts are on a par because dishonor is worse than death—2,3, 28d
  5. To fear x is to know what x is—A, 29a
  6. Death is unknown—F, 29b-c
  7. Death cannot be feared—5,6, 29d
  8. To fail to do what you believe to be best is to be dishonored—A, 29d
  9. [To act in the most aischron way is to be most avoided and feared]—A
  10. To fail to be your best is to be most avoided and feared—2,3,8,9
  11. To fail to do what you believe to be the best is worse than dying—3,4,7,10

Thesis: Antithesis is rejected—1,11



Plato, Apology


Student Outline #3



Socrates is innocent of both public and private crimes.



  1. Socrates has had a divine revelation to pursue the just—A [31d]
  2. One can only pursue the just purely via interaction in private affairs—A [32a]
  3. Socrates does not deal in public affairs, but merely private affairs—1,2 [31c]


  1. [Socrates is being accused of a public crime, dike]—F


  1. [Socrates has been improperly charged]—3,4


  1. Socrates has taken on public duties when they have been thrust upon him—F [32a-e]


  1. In all cases of Socrates’ public duties he has acted justly—F [32e-33b]


  1. [To be guilty of a public crime one must abuse the public trust and act injustly]—F


  1. [Socrates has been improperly charged]—6-8


  1. If Socrates had committed a private crime of corrupting the youth, then the youth who he corrupted would be his strongest accusers (especially those now grown who have had time to reflect upon their experience with Socrates)—F [33c-34a]


  1. Socrates’ strongest supporters are his students and former students—F [34a-b]


  1. [Socrates has not corrupted the youth of Athens]—10-11


  1. Socrates is innocent of both public and private crimes—5, 9, 12



Plato, Apology


Student Outline–#4



“No ultimate evil can befall a good man.”


  1. [The worst harm that may befall a good man is to die]—A


  1. 40c/Death is either a state in which one is nothing and perceives nothing or it is a transportation to another realm (afterlife)—F


  1. 40d/To be nothing and to perceive nothing is just like undergoing a dreamless sleep—A


  1. 40d/ A dreamless sleep is the most pleasant of all sleeps—F


  1. [To continually experience the most pleasant states of an activity is to receive an advantage]–F


  1. 40e/ If death is to be nothing and to perceive nothing, then death is an advantage—3-5


  1. 41a/ To be transformed to another realm in death is to be in a place of perfect justice—A


  1. 41d/ The good man will not be unfairly judged by the gods—7


  1. 41a-b/ The good man will have many interesting people to talk to in the afterlife—A


  1. 41c/ To talk to interesting people for eternity is a great blessing—A


  1. 41c/ If death is to be transformed to another realm it is a blessing—7-10


  1. 41c-d/Death is a blessing—2,6,11


  1. No ultimate evil can befall a good man—1, 12

Last Updated on November 4, 2019

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