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(506) Page 460 - SOC
s o c
Socrates. w^0 inful ted religion, by defacing the public fta-
tues of Mercury, and performing a mock reprefentation
of the Eleufinian myfteries, had in their youth been dif-
ciples of Socrates 5 and the minds of the populace be-
ing thus prepared, a direft aceufation was preferred
againfl him before the fupreme court of judicature. His
accufers were Anytus a leather-dreffer, who had long
entertained a perfonal enmity againft Socrates, for re¬
prehending his avarice, in depriving his fons of the be¬
nefits of learning, that they might purfue the gains of
trade*, Melitus, a young rhetorician, who was capable
of undertaking any thing for the fake of gain; and Ly-
con, who was glad of any opportunity of difplaymg his
talents. The accufation, which was delivered to the fe-
nate under the name of Melitus, was this: “ Melitus,
{'on of Melitus, of the tribe of Pythos, accufeth Socrates,
fori of Sophronifcus, of the tribe of Alopece. Socrates
violates the laws, in not acknowledging the gods which
the Hate acknowledges, and by introducing new divini¬
ties. He alfo violates the laws by corrupting the youth.
Be his punilhment death.”
'fhis charge was delivered upon oath to the fenate ^
and Crito a friend of Socrates became furety for his ap¬
pearance on the day of trial. Anytus foon afterwards
font a private meffage to Socrates, alfuring him that if
he would defifl from cenfuring his condua, he would
withdraw his accufation. But Socrates refufed to com¬
ply with fo degrading a condition; and with his ufual
fpirit replied, “ Whilft I live I will never difguife the
truth, nor fpeak other wife than my duty requires.”
The interval between the accufation and the trial he
fpent in philofophical converfations with his friends,
choofing to difcourfe upon any other fubjea rather than
his own fituation.
When the day of trial arrived, his accufers appeared
in the fenate, and attempted to fupport their charge in
three dillinft fpeeches, which ftrongly marked their re-
fpeftive chara&ers. Plato, who was a young man, and
a zealous follower of Socrates, then rofe up to addrefs
the judges in defence of his mafter; but whilft he was
attempting to apologife for his youth, he was abruptly
commanded by the court to fit down. Socrates, how¬
ever, needed no advocate. Amending the chair with all
the ferenity of confeious innocence, and with all the
dignity of fuperior merit, he delivered, in a firm and
manly tone, an unpremeditated defence ofhimfelf, which
filenced his opponents, and ought to have convinced his
judges. After tracing the progrefs of the conlpiracy
which had been raifed againft him to its true fource,
the jealoufy and refenlment of men whofe ignorance he
had expofed, and whofe vices he had ridiculed and re¬
proved' he diftin&ly replied to the feveral charges
brought againft him by Melitus. To prove that he
had not been guilty of impiety towards the gods ot his
460 ] s o c
and the effefl which had aftually been produced by his Socrates
doflrine upon the manners of the young, ihen, dif-~T-»
daining to folicit the mercy of his judges, he called up¬
on them for that juftice which their office and their
oath obliged them toadminifter; and profefling his faith
and confidence in God, refigned himielf to their plea-
The judges, whofe prejudices would not fuffer them
to pay due attention to this apology, or to examine with
impartiality the merits of the caufe, immediately de¬
clared him guilty of the crimes of which he itood ac-
cufed. Socrates, in this ftage of the trial, had a right
to enter his plea againft the punifhment which the ac¬
cufers demanded, and inftead of the fentence of death,
to propofe feme pecuniary amercement. But he at firft
peremptorily refufed to make any propofal of this kind,
imagining that it might be conftrued into an acknow¬
ledgement of guilt; and afferted, that his conduct merit¬
ed from the ftate reward rather than puniftiment. At
length, however, he wTas prevailed upon by his friends
to offer upon their credit a fine of thirty minx. The
judges, notwithftanding, ftill regained inexorable : they
proceeded, without farther delay, to pronounce fentence
upon him : and he was condemned to be put to death
by the poifon of hemlock.
The fentence being paffed, he was fent to prifon:
which, fays Seneca, he entered with the fame refold-
tion and firmnefs with which he had oppofed the thirty
tyrants; and took away all ignominy from the place,-
which could not be a prifon while he was thert. He
lay in fetters 30 days; and was conflantly vifited by
Crito, Plato, and other friends, with whom he paffed
the time in difpute after his ufual manner. Anxious to
fave fo valuable a life, they urged him to attempt his
efcape, or at leaft to permit them to convey him away;
and Crito went fo far, as to affure him that, by his in-
tereft with the jailor, it might be eafily aceompliffed,
and to offer him a retreat in Theffaly; but Socrates rc-
je&ed the propofal, as a criminal violation of the laws;
and afked them, whether there was any -place out of
Attica which death could not reach.
At length the day arrived when the officers to whofe
care he was committed delivered to Socrates early in
the morning the final order for his execution, and im¬
mediately, according to the law, fet him at liberty iiom
his bonds. His friends, who came thus, early to the
prifon that they might have an opportunity of conver-
fing with their mafter through the day, found his wife
fitting by him with a child in her arms. Socrates, that
the tranquillity of his laft moments might not be dif-
turbed by her unavailing lamentations, requefted that
{he might be conduced home. Mith the moft frantic
expreflions of grief the left the prifon. An intereftmg
converfation then paffed between Socrates and his friends,
had not been guilty of impiety towar s ie go ^ o is chjefj turned upon the immortality of the foul.
Mend, that his chief fupport in hisprefe* lUnation was
them. To refute the charge of his having been a cor¬
rupter of youth, he urged the example which he had
uniformly exhibited of juftice, moderation,, and tempe¬
rance; the moral fpirit and tendency of his difeourfes:
ed that it will conduft me into the prelence of the gods,
who are the moft righteous governors, and into the io-
ciety of juft and good men: but I derive confidence
from the hope that fomething of man remains alter

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