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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