In 399 B.C., Athens sought
someone to blame for its humiliating defeat in the Peloponnesian War with Sparta
and its allies. This scapegoat, through default more than anything, became
Socrates, the legendary Athenian philosopher. Since Socrates often questioned
the intentions of Athens' politicians, he was blamed for attempting to ruin
Athens through slander of its leaders and religious tradition.
Socrates defends his actions
in The Apology, and defends his decision to carry out his conviction in Crito.
When the court suggests to Socrates that he will be acquitted if he agrees to
stop practicing philosophy, he responds by saying, "Athenians, I hold you
in the highest regard and love; but I will obey God rather than you: and as long
as I have breath and strength I will not cease from philosophy, and from
exhorting you, and declaring the truth to every one of you whom I meet.Either
acquit me, or do not acquit me, but be sure that I shall not alter my way of
life; no, not if I have to die for it many times."
takes place later, after Socrates is condemned to death and sitting in jail. At
this time, Socrates has many followers who hope he will agree to escape. When
Crito, a friend of the philosopher, comes to advocate this position, Socrates
logically refutes his argument.