Socrates – A Trial and A Trail

It was Socrates who came later and who alongside the people around him at the time, really challenged the representations of the Greek Gods. With his reasoning and findings Socrates paved the path but he received a lot of attention for it along the way and not all of it was good…

Pericles Rule

437 BC. It was the official completion date of the Acropolis and for a while life was good under Pericles’ democratic rule. Pericles was to live from 495 BC to 429 BC. Before him Cleisthenes had led Athens and had founded democracy so free thought and free speech were the order of the day.

Pythagoras had already brought us Trigonometry and now Sophocles was writing Comedy, and Euripides, Tragedy. Hippocrates was developing Medical Knowledge, and Leucippus and Democritus were philosophizing over Physics. Another was philosophizing over it all.



The great philosopher Socrates was born in 469 BC and had grown up with his mother who was a Midwife, and his father who was a Stonemason. He spent many of his younger years as a Soldier and was acclaimed with great courage, although he returned to his passion for studying and learning as soon as he could. He also married and had three sons with his wife  Xanthippe.

Socrates The Teacher

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel


Later known as the Grand-father of Philosophy, Socrates was teacher to a number of students. Yet despite his depth of knowledge, Socrates didn’t just tell his students what he knew, instead he helped them to reach their own conclusions. He taught them How to think.

A Socratic Strategy

‘Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued’


Socrates spent over 50 years watching, listening, analysing, rationalizing, and learning. And from everything he discovered, there was a fundamental principle that formed the basis of everything he taught;

Compassion for others and integrity of the soul through knowledge.

The Socratic Strategy is a mental process. The concept and ability to think independently should not be underestimated. It enables the understanding and implementation of reasoning. The idea behind The Socratic Strategy, is that by asking a series of questions, it will ultimately illicit answers which will result in supporting or disproving a point. This strategy became officially known as The Socratic Strategy or The Socratic Technique and The Socratic Strategy is also the basis for any justice system still used today.

The Socratic Paradoxes

A Paradox is a statement that seemingly contradicts itself and yet at the same time reveals through rationalising, a singular truth and meaning. But that depends on perspective. And therein is the Paradox loop also brought to us by Socrates.

Socrates was big on morality and the belief that knowledge was key to happiness. The alternative seemingly bemused him. The Socratic Paradoxes are two seemingly opposing doctrines based on two statements:

‘No one desires evil things and all who pursue evil things, do so involuntarily’

‘Virtue is knowledge and all who do injustice or wrong, do so involuntarily’


The High City

Socrates 469-399 B.C. Leucippus c. 420 – 480 B.C. Democritus c. 460 – 370 B.C.

We skip forward to 407 BC and a bright sunny day in Athens. In the background is the now completed Acropolis, which means High City, and a group of men are gathered around. Two men in white togas stand talking in discussion. The one with the beard is Socrates, which means Love of Learning’ and the other is his friend Plato.

We can only imagine the discussions Socrates and Plato and this particular group of young men must have had. Records of their conclusions in matters relating to all things from; Morality, to Arithmetic, to Geometry, to Medicine to Drama, Physics and The Cosmos, have all stood the test of time and still form a basis for our understanding in these subjects, over two and half thousand years later.

Whilst we will never know all of what this group discussed, we do know that it was Socrates and his students and fellow intellectuals, who through their critical processes, determined that the history of the Greek Gods was not as it was being portrayed to the people…

Sokrates (Socrates) : And so you believe that there was really war between the gods, and fearful enmities and battles and other things of the sort, such as are told of by the poets and represented in varied designs by the great artists in our sacred places and especially on the robe which is carried up to the Akropolis (Acropolis) at the great Panathenaia? For this is covered with such representations. Shall we agree then that these things are true, Euthyphro?”

Plato, Euthyphro 6b (trans. Fowler) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.)

Neither must we admit at all,’ said I, ‘that gods war with gods . . . still less must we make battles of gods and Gigantes the subject for them of stories and embroideries. [woven on the pelos of Athena at the Panethenaic festival.]

Plato, Republic 378c (trans. Shorey)

The implications behind these small insights into the conversation between Socrates and Plato, are huge. As we learn more about Greek Mythology, and the tragedies they really represent in relation to the wars in our galaxy and the original fall of humanity, we can know that Socrates had or was about to discover those same truths.

The Arrest and The Apology

Alas, though he tried to avoid Politics and due to some unrelated drama, one day Socrates was commanded to assist in the arrest and execution of a man called  Leon the Salaminian.

Socrates refused and in addition to the unfavourable attention he had been receiving from his adversaries in relation to his teachings of the Greek Gods and the Cosmos, instead he was arrested and charged with disobedience, dishonour, and all manner of slander relating to the corruption of the youth.

Apologia in Greek means ‘Defence’ in English and The Apology of Socrates is just that, his Statement of Defence.

Below are excerpts from the full transcript of The Apology of Socrates, recorded by Plato and likely at the instruction of Socrates lest more truths be buried by his adversaries. It starts at the beginning of his ‘Statement of Defence’ as he addresses the court and the tone of the Trial is set…

How you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the speeches of my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that their persuasive words almost made me forget who I was – such was the effect of them; and yet they have hardly spoken a word of truth…
Well, then, I will make my defence, and I will endeavour in the short time which is allowed to do away with this evil opinion of me which you have held for such a long time; and I hope I may succeed, if this be well for you and me, and that my words may find favour with you. But I know that to accomplish this is not easy – I quite see the nature of the task. Let the event be as God wills: in obedience to the Law, I make my defence…

I will begin at the beginning and ask what the accusation is which has given rise to this slander of me, and which has encouraged Meletus to proceed against me. What do the slanderers say? They shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affidavit. “Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.” That is the nature of the accusation, and that is what you have seen yourselves in the comedy of Aristophanes…

The Apology of Socrates illustrates his character and shows him standing firm in his integrity as the Hearing continues. However ultimately Socrates is found guilty. He is noted to have commented on the close margin as his expectation from the off-set was that it would be a majority vote against him. It was during the trial that one of his responses was also to become one of the most well-known sayings in our recent history:

The unexamined life is not worth living


The Sentence and The Summing Up

For those who had condemned Socrates, his feelings were made clear as he addressed them and prophesized the consequences of their actions against him, whilst at the same time expressing his perspective of a personal triumph of his own resolve in spite of the consequences he would face.

The Trial ended with his response to the sentencing bestowed upon him as Socrates addressed the court.

… Not much time will be gained, O Athenians, in return for the evil name which you will get from the detractors of the city, who will say that you killed Socrates, a wise man; for they will call me wise even although I am not wise when they want to reproach you. If you had waited a little while, your desire would have been fulfilled in the course of nature. For I am far advanced in years, as you may perceive, and not far from death. I am speaking now only to those of you who have condemned me to death. 
And I have another thing to say to them: You think that I was convicted through deficiency of words – I mean, that if I had thought fit to leave nothing undone, nothing unsaid, I might have gained an acquittal. Not so, the deficiency which led to my conviction was not of words – certainly not. But I had not the boldness or impudence or inclination to address you as you would have liked me to address you, weeping and wailing and lamenting, and saying and doing many things which you have been accustomed to hear from others, and which, as I say, are unworthy of me.
But I thought that I ought not to do anything common or mean in the hour of danger: nor do I now repent of the manner of my defence, and I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live.
For neither in war nor yet at law ought any man to use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do anything.
The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness, for that, runs faster than death

And now, O men who have condemned me, I would fain prophesy to you; for I am about to die, and that is the hour in which men are gifted with prophetic power. And I prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately after my death, punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you.
Me you have killed because you wanted to escape the accuser and not to give an account of your lives. But that will not be as you suppose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: and as they are younger, they will be more severe with you, and you will be more offended at them.
For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censuring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honourable; the easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.
This is the prophecy which I utter before my departure, to the judges who have condemned me.

Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to talk with you about this thing which has happened, while the magistrates are busy, and before I go to the place at which I must die. Stay then awhile, for we may as well talk with one another while there is time. You are my friends, and I should like to show you the meaning of this event which has happened to me.

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways – I to die, and you to live. Which is better? God only knows.

The Last Days of Socrates

Even though the execution was delayed for a month because of public holidays, no one could convince Socrates to escape Athens to save his life. Instead, he stayed in the capital, spending his last days with his friends and family.

Records show that on the day of his execution, ‘Socrates was in good mood’.  Socrates drank the executioners drink of Hemlock and walked around until the poison took him.

The year was 399 BC.

‘We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light’

Socrates 469bc – 399 BC

The Trail Is Laid

Soon afterwards the group were disbanded as due to the political unrest and fear for their own lives, many including Plato chose to flee Athens. But collectively it was this group of forward-thinking men that planted the seeds of knowledge. The trail was laid for others to follow and the spirit of the teachings of Socrates continued through others.


It was Leucippus, born 475 BC, who had realised that the divisibility of Matter cannot go on infinitely, that it must stop somewhere. So, he determined the smallest whole unit in the known Universe and that anything else would be a sub-part of that. Thus, he declared ‘The Atom’ – which means ‘not cut’ in Greek.


Hippocrates went on to open a medical school on the Island of Kos {400BC}. It is upon his teachings and ethics that the oath declared by all those in the medical profession in practises today is in tribute to – The Hippocratic Oath.


Following up on Pythagoras Theorem and amongst other things Plato brought us Geometry. He also founded an Academy that taught Platonism which Aristotle attended who in turn later became advisor to Alexander the Great.

Plato’s school of thought was heavily rooted in ‘Goodness’, of being good {‘ta kalon’}. The very concept of All in All its forms, creates a driving need for its’ source, in the same way and which is responsible for the world’s systems. But therein lies the problem. If all is inherently good, then where did our interpretation of evil come from?

Plato deals with it neatly and with great insight by explaining in brief that such a thing is the result of ‘imperfect reflections of ideas in Matter’.

So essentially it’s our fault and we manifested in error, without pure intention and ultimately valuing self-expression and or fear, over the intentions of the Divine. In other words because of Service to self, as opposed to service to One, which may sound the same on the surface, but are actually polar opposites.

The Science of Thought

Socrates brought us Philosophy through the Science of Thought. Cicero who also lived by the principles of Socrates said of him ‘He brought Philosophy down form the skies.’ Yet whilst we have learnt much about the Grand-father of Philosophy, Socrates also knew that intellectual understanding was not enough.

Knowledge without understanding is like asking a question and answering it half

Socrates – 469BC – 399 BC

So, why did Socrates and Plato and countless others emphasise Human Nature and compassion as key to understanding oneself, others, and the Universe? We know Socrates was an intellectual and academic thinker, a man with a depth of knowledge, an advocate of reason and evidence. A man who behaved with integrity and had faith in his own teachings ‘til the end. So why did Socrates insist on integrity of the soul through knowledge, as being paramount to existence? And what is the soul anyway?! And what evidence and facts was he privy to that led him to this conclusion, and for which he was prepared to die for?

From an academic knowledge perspective, it begins with an understanding of the principles of Energy and what is actually happening when we think, feel, and act. But there’s much, much, more, and that more, is a whole different mind bender. That’s what Socrates and countless others throughout History knew and have been trying to tell us…

Would you die for your beliefs or knowingly Live the Lie?

What is Life? What is the Lie? therein is it even possible to Live the Lie?


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