This paper will argue that during "The trial and Death of Socrates", Socrates could have given better arguments for his defense. First it will outline the prejudices or accusations Socrates has to face during his trial. It will then show how Socrates acted as tough he wanted to lose the case and finally it will conclude explaining the arguments Socrates could have given in order to be acquitted. During the first speech (18 a-19 b) Socrates has to overcome two different types of prejudices: the old prejudice against Socrates set by the plays of Aristophanes and the new prejudices that included impiety charged by Meletus as well as the corruption of the youth. In fact more than once is Socrates confused for someone else. Aristophanes is responsible for latter but it is reconstructed by Meletus as including both impiety and corruption and Socrates is portrayed as a corrupt teacher.
the first charge of impiety also originates with Aristophanes but Meletus confuses Socrates with the atheistic Anaxagoras when he describes Socrates as seeking to study the heavens (18 a) the second charge of corruption is also in Aristophanes' Clouds but confuses Socrates with Protagoras. This led to confusion (18 e) of Socrates with other sophists like Gorgias, Prodi cus, and Hippias. The new prejudice against Socrates really is because of the Socratic paradox (20 c-21 a): "he knows nothing and only in this he claims to be wise " this paradox aroused hatred against him (21 b, 23 ab), even though he explains that the knowledge of his ignorance lead to his philosophical mission in life. his mission to question and to seek "the unexamined life is no life for a man" (21 c-23 c) this is explained by Chaerephon's enquiry at Apollo's oracle at Delphi declaring Socrates the wisest of men (21 b-) Socrates turns this philosophical interrogation into his philosophical purpose, as a consequence the young followed him trying to copy his questions to their leaders (23 c) this arose the charge of corrupting the youth (23 d) since like Socrates, they also questioned the leaders of democracy and religion, claiming not to believe in the gods and discover the heavens (d). Having in mind all theses accusations Socrates, should had defend himself better but that was not the case.
Throughout the trial, he acted as though he wanted to lose the case. He went out of his way to antagonize the jury, making comments that associated himself with certain people and ideas that were offensive to the jury. He attacked the beliefs held by the jury, knowing that they held them dearly. He wanted to die-he wanted the death penalty. Still, with everything he gave to try to turn the jury against him, he was only convicted by the jury by a margin of approximately 280 to 230. The second part of the trial in Athens involved arguments over the penalty, which was also voted on by the jury.
It is here that Socrates makes extreme suggestions in order to be sure that they voted for the death penalty. The jury had two choices for a penalty Death penalty suggested by the prosecution and one given by the defense. Socrates, according to the writings of Plato, originally made a "vulgar" suggestion. He wanted to be named a hero and be given free meals for the remainder of his life at the city hall and a place of honor.
After changing his penalty once before, he finally settled on a fine of 30 minas of silver, which would have been a reasonable option, had he not done the damage with his original suggestion. The jury decided to give Socrates the death penalty; this was the result of Socrates' determination to die as a result of the trial. In the book we find enough arguments Socrates could have given in order to be acquitted. In regards to the accusations concerning his beliefs, or lack, in the gods of Athens, Socrates had forced Meletus to call him an atheist. Atheism was not illegal in Athens, and definitely not punishable by law. However Socrates does not even attempt to press this issue.
This was not the major focus of the trial. It was more of a secondary accusation, made only so that the prosecution would have a backup plan. Socrates did not need to argue this accusation, because it left plenty of room for escape. Concerning his teaching to the children and other listeners within the city, Socrates needed only to side with the Athenians and convince the jury that the trial was not a trial against him Socrates, but against the beliefs held dearly by the citizens of the city. They were attacking Socrates for his exercising of the people's right to free speech. When we know that the Athenians were proud of this freedom they had, Socrates did not use this to his advantage.
He did not use the fears of the jury to his advantage. He did not want to be acquitted. He did not want to win. Socrates wanted only one thing-for democracy to be disgraced.