On Plato’s Apology of Socrates and Crito

"On Plato's Apology of Socrates and Crito," Essays in Honor of Jacob Klein, St. John's College, 1976.


The Apology of Socrates is the only Platonic work with Socrates in the title.  Yet Socrates is visibly the chief character in all Platonic dialogues: all Platonic dialogues are “apologies” of or for Socrates.  But the Apology of Socrates is the portal through which we enter the Platonic kosmos: it gives an account of Socrates’ whole life, of his whole way of life, to the largest multitude, to the authoritative multitude, to the city of Athens before which he was accused of a capital crime; it is the dialogue of Socrates with the city of Athens.

In the prooemium Socrates contrasts the manner in which he will speak with the manner of his accusers: the accusers spoke most persuasively and at the same time as untruthfully as possible; he on the other hand will say the whole truth, for the virtue of the speaker consists in saying the truth while the virtue of the judge or juryman consists in concentrating on whether that the speaker says is just.  For the speaker will not merely state the facts–what he did–but also that they were innocent–that what he did was justly done.  It is because Socrates trusts in the justice of what he has done that he will say the whole truth.

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