Breaking News: Socrates Tried Again in Athens and Acquitted!

Note: the action starts at about the two minute mark, and the video is accompanied by an English translation.

The trial and execution of Socrates at Athens in 399 B.C.E. has come down to us as the archetype of intellectual martyrdom. But the facts of the case, as filtered through the writings of Socrates’ students Xenophon and Plato, are sketchy.  “Why,” asks Douglas Linder on the Famous Trials Web site, “in a society enjoying more freedom and democracy than any the world had ever seen, would a seventy-year-old philosopher be put to death for what he was teaching?”

Last Friday the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens gave Socrates a new trial, assembling a panel of distinguished jurists from Europe and America to reopen the case. As the Onassis Centre’s Web site explains, the event was “not a re-enactment but a modern perspective based on current legal framework supplemented with ancient Greek elements and comical theatrics.” This time the verdict was different–but just barely. The vote by the jury was a 5-5 tie, which meant Socrates was acquitted. The audience’s vote was more decisive: 5 to convict, 584 to acquit. Of course, it was a little late for Socrates.

You can download The Apology of Socrates from our collection of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

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