Socrates and His Innocence Socrates lived such a private life that it lead to the most important revelation of his entire life. He would go about his life doing nothing but self-examination. In examining his life so strenuously others would come to him to be taught, or to have their children be taught by Socrates. They would offer him money and he would refuse. They would do whatever they could to learn anything Socrates had to teach.
What they did not know is that Socrates was not teaching anyone he was simply going about his usual life and people just happened to learn from it. This was also why Socrates was put on trial. He was brought up on two charges, one of impiety and the other of corrupting the youth. These two charges set the course for the last month of his life.
Socrates was indicted to a court of law on the charges of impiety, and the corruption of the youth of Athens. Three different men brought these charges upon Socrates. These men represented those that Socrates examined in his search to find out if the Delphic Mission was true. In that search he found that none of the men that promoted what they believed that they knew was true was in fact completely false.
This made those men so angry that they band together and indicted Socrates on the charges of impiety and the corruption of the youth. Socrates then went to court and did what he could to refute the charges that were brought against him. Socrates starts by speaking of his first accusers. He speaks of the men that they talked to about his impiety and says that those that they persuaded in that Socrates is impious, that they themselves do not believe in gods (18 c 2).
He tells the court of how long they have been accusing him of impiety. He states that they spoke to others when they were at an impressionable age (18 c 5). These two reasons alone should have been good enough to refute the first accusers of how they were wrong about him but Socrates went on. He leaves the first accusers alone because since they accused him a long time ago it was not relevant in the current case and began to refute the second accusers. Socrates vindicates his innocence by stating that the many have heard what he has taught in public and that many of those that he taught were present in the court that day. Those people could stand up and tell if Socrates was lying or not (19 c-e).
Those men that were present in the court know that Socrates is telling the truth and since none of them stood up this should have shown that Socrates was telling the truth the entire time. Socrates reverses the accusations that he corrupts the young back to Meletus. Socrates states that Meletus is the one that does the injustice by bringing people to trial easily and pretending to be serious about things that he does not care about (24 c 3-8). Socrates tells a story that shows that he does not corrupt the young the same as a trainer does not corrupt a horse (25 b-d).
Socrates also uses Meletus' own sayings in that he believes in gods because both Meletus and Socrates believe in daimon ia. Since Socrates believes in daimon ia the accusation of impiety holds no water (27 a-d). During the whole time that Socrates makes his defense against his accusations Socrates asks Meletus questions. Meletus does not even present a case during most of the trial. He answers Socrates' questions and Socrates uses every answer against him. Meletus makes a weak case against Socrates basing most of it on his own desire to get back at Socrates for refuting that he is wise and falsely accuses Socrates of how he corrupts the youth.
Meletus states that the law, the councilmen, and the assembly are the ones that teach the youth. Meletus believes that every Athenian contributes to the teaching of the youth. He agrees that all but Socrates contributes to the teaching of the youth (25 a 3-4). Meletus agrees that Socrates voluntarily corrupts the youth.
Meletus agrees that his is wiser than Socrates and that Socrates himself is not cognizant that doing bad will return bad (25 e). Meletus' prosecution is based on nothing at all. He more or less gets his prosecution from Socrates who actually uses it against him. Meletus has no real case against Socrates and does little to prove that Socrates is guilty of the charges brought against him. Socrates is clearly innocent. He has spent his entire life doing nothing but examining his own life so he can better himself and help in on the path to become wise.
Socrates was put to death because he was not able to teach the entire city the knowledge that he possessed. Socrates stated at the beginning of his speech of some of the men that he taught in the past. He asked those to stand up and be heard. They either did not stand up because they were afraid of ridicule or they did not stand up because Socrates was true about all that he said in his speeches and anyone that knew him could have stood up or said if he was saying anything that was otherwise.
In either case the rest of the court should have taken that into consideration and realized that Socrates was innocent.