Literapedia Book Notes for

The Apology of Socrates by Plato


  • Socrates—a man in search of truth

The Introduction of the Defense of Socrates (Socrates is addressing the jury after the charges have been leveled against him) (pp. 500-2)

  1. Socrates praises the rhetorical style of his accusers and deprecates his own, plain style of speaking.
  2. Socrates explains that he must first answer old accusations (his reputation) and then these new charges.

Old Accusations (pp. 502-6)

  1. Wrongly thought to be a sophist—a hired teacher who taught speaking tricks.
  2. Declared by Apollo that there is no man wiser than Socrates.
  3. After questioning others, Socrates realizes that his wisdom is knowing his own ignorance.

Cross-Examination (pp. 506-9)

  1. Two charges: a) doer of evil and corruptor of the youth, and b) teaching false religion.
  2. Shows Meletus that if he does corrupt the youth, he cannot be doing so intentionally.
  3. Goads Meletus into a charge of atheism, which isn’t consistent with the charge.

True Character (pp. 509-11)

  1. Not ashamed of being in danger of losing his life—comparison to Achilles.
  2. Would never accept a bargain to promise to stop speaking his mind and questioning the unfair.

Service to Athens (pp. 511-13)

  1. Socrates is a God-given gadfly to the state.
  2. He obeys his “Spidey-Sense,” telling him right from wrong.
  3. In the past he has followed his conscience, both under the previous democracy and under the Thirty Tyrants.

Final Arguments (pp. 514-15)

  1. If he truly corrupted the youth, why aren’t those who listened to him as youth but are now adults accusing him?
  2. Socrates refuses to parade out friends and relatives to plead for his life and inspire pity.

Penalty Phase (pp. 516-517)—Socrates proposes only a small fine; the prosecution proposes death and wins.

  1. Socrates suggests that his “penalty” should be money and honor given by the state, which he has served with his questioning.
  2. Exile, the punishment that his accusers truly want, is refused by Socrates.
  3. Socrates begrudgingly offers a small fine as his suggested penalty.

Final Address (pp. 517ff.)—Socrates tells the Athenians why they are the true losers.

  1. “The difficulty, my friends, is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness…”
  2. Those who voted for death will be punished by the loss of Socrates.
  3. “…there is great reason to hope that death is a good…”
  4. Socrates asks that his sons will be reproved for any wrong as he reproved Athens.

Book Note Creator

Hal Waller, instructor