Indeed, much more is made by the Xenophonic Socrates of the deterioration encountered in old age. 16. 4. "Xenophon's Defense of Socrates." ( Log Out / He however introduced nothing newer than those who, practising divination, consult auguries, voices, omens, and sacrifices; for they do not imagine that birds, or people who meet them, know what is advantageous for those seeking presages, but that the gods, by their means, signify what will be so; and such was the opinion that Socrates entertained. We can wonder to what extent this encounter was intended by Xenophon, at least in part, as a commentary on the unsuccessful efforts with a local ruler that Plato himself had made upon going to Sicily. Thus, also, he can move to reconcile quarreling brothers. Plutarch, another distinguished Greek author, does make more use of Xenophon than of Plato. The following passage is from the 1883 translation by J.S. It was only afterwards that the reputation of Plato, shining forth by his life, and because he subjected natural necessity to divine and more excellent principles, took away the obloquy and scandal that had attached to such contemplations, and obtained these studies currency among all people. 6. This is evident throughout the Memorabilia where Socrates takes the initiative on various subjects with a number of acquaintances, challenging some of their attitudes and practices. I have long been confident, on the other hand, that a formidable Xenophon (if he had been in Athens at the time) would have been able to “persuade” Socrates’ would-be accusers that it could not be in their personal interest to proceed with a prosecution. Symptomatic of the difficulties Plato’s Socrates “naturally” encountered is the deliberateness (the somewhat provocative deliberateness) of the nomenclature used by him in addressing the five hundred Athenians commissioned to pass judgment on him in his trial for impiety. This source is a little troublesome because Hermogenes' role is described by Plato in a way that raises some inconsistency. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. This would tend to question any allegations that Socrates is disposed to harm his fellow citizens. 8.1: "If anyone thinks that Socrates is proven to have lied about his daimon because the jury condemned him to death when he stated that a divinity revealed to him what he should and should not do, then let him take note of two things: The Apology of Socrates to the Jury (Greek: Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους πρὸς τοὺς Δικαστάς), by Xenophon of Athens, is a Socratic dialogue about the legal defence that the philosopher Socrates presented at his trial for the moral corruption of Athenian youth; and for asebeia (impiety) against the pantheon of Athens; judged guilty, Socrates was sentenced to death. This is particularly significant since there was in Pericles the greatest of the Athenian democrats that Anytus would have been obliged to defer to (Pericles, an Athenian leader, by the way, who [we shall see] respected the scientific work of Anaxagoras). The counterpart to the Anytus element in Xenophon can be said to have been anticipated in Plato’s Meno. Hence it was that Protagoras was banished, and Anaxagoras cast in prison, so that Pericles had much difficulty to procure his liberty; and Socrates, although he had no concern whatever with this sort of learning, yet was put to death for philosophy. Except for the dialogues of Plato, they are the only surviving representatives of the genre of Socratic dialogue. Anabasis), so he was not actually in Athens for the trial of Socrates. The Apology of Socrates to the Jury is Xenophon’s literary contribution to the many apologia written to explain the trial of Socrates (399 BC) to the Athenian public. Passage 6 below seems to reference a famous story concerning the young Xenophon and his teacher Socrates: Xenophon asked Socrates whether he should join the expedition of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes II of Persia. Change ). Xenophon's Defense of Socrates. 12. Differences between the two accounts of Socrates that we have been examining may reflect critical differences between the personal circumstances of Plato and of Xenophon. Xenophon apparently went to Delphi and instead asked the Oracle which of the gods would be most profitable to pray to for a successful expedition and safe return home. Consequently, Xenophon’s interpretation of Socrates’s megalēgoria (boastful speaking-manner) as a legal defense should always be considered in light of Plato's interpretation of Socrates' legal defense as presented in the Apology of Socrates. The Platonic account has the daimonion doing no more than stopping Socrates on rare occasions from doing what he is about to do, something that would be harmful to him. But, on the other hand, we can wonder whether anyone with the busybodyish tendencies that Xenophon insists on displaying in Socrates could personally develop and sustain a significant career of philosophical inquiry into the enduring questions. Xenophon’s works includes a selection of Socratic dialogues; these writings are completely preserved. Web. He is best known as the mercenary general who wrote The Anabasis, which relates his adventures in leading his men out of Persia and back to Greece after the disastrous campaign of Cyrus the Younger. 19. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Xenophon (430-354 BCE) was an early disciple of Socrates and a contemporary of Plato.He is best known as the mercenary general who wrote The Anabasis, which relates his adventures in leading his men out of Persia and back to Greece after the disastrous campaign of Cyrus the Younger. Xenophon seems to attribute Anytus’ deadly hatred of Socrates to the warning that Socrates had given Anytus about the career he planned for his son. He is known for his writings, especially his Anabasis, Memorobilia and his Apology (the latter two dealing with Socrates and, besides Platos writings, the basis for what we know of Socrates) though ancient sources claim that he wrote more than forty books which were very popular (including an important treatise on horses). In the first place, what evidence did they produce that Socrates refused to recognise the gods acknowledged by the state? Even so, Plutarch can include, in his Life of Nicias (Nicias being an Athenian leader who, because of his ignorance of the natural sciences [e.g., with respect to lunar eclipses], was ultimately responsible for a significant military disaster for Athens in Sicily) – Plutarch can include, in his Life of Nicias, a remarkable tribute to Plato: For he who the first, and most plainly of any, and with the greatest assurance committed to writing how the moon is enlightened and overshadowed, was Anaxagoras; but he was as yet but recent, nor was his argument much known, but was rather kept secret, passing only amongst a few, under some kind of caution and confidence. 15. Socrates’ provocative nomenclature with respect to his would-be judges must have been apparent to those who resented what he recalled about his having tested over the years all those in Athens who had ever been publicly considered “wise.” This had been (he explained) part of his effort to understand what the Delphic Oracle had said in revealing that no man was wiser than Socrates. He was constantly in public, for he went in the morning to the places for walking and the gymnasia; at the time when the market was full he was to be seen there; and the rest of the day he was where he was likely to meet the greatest number of people; he was generally engaged in discourse, and all who pleased were at liberty to hear him. In 399 BC, Xenophon was serving with the Greek mercenary army of the Ten Thousand (cf. 7. ( Log Out / The obviously authoritative account of that trial, for almost two and a half millennia now, has been Plato’s Apology of Socrates. One of the main plots of the Symposium is about the type of loving relationship (noble or base) … We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. These remarks (prepared for a University of Chicago seminar) should be included in Volume VIII (Reflections on Crime, Character, and the Constitution) in my projected ten-volume Reflections series (the fifth volume of which was published in 2013). Most people say that they are diverted from an object, or prompted to it, by birds, or by the people who meet them; but Socrates spoke as he thought, for he said it was the divinity that was his monitor. When, for example, did Aristophanes begin to take that notice of Socrates which led to his comedy, The Clouds, in which Socrates is shown both challenging conventional stories about the gods and as disturbing traditional family relations? Although nothing is said explicitly of Anytus’ son on that occasion, Anytus is offended by what he considers Socrates’ improper disparagement again and again of the Athenian way of life. Again and again, that is, Plato’s Socrates is displayed as far less “politic” than Xenophon’s. It does seem that Xenophon very much wants to display Socrates as someone who cares continually about the routine concerns of human beings, especially among the Athenians. Our questions here are complicated by our uncertainty (already noticed) as to what each did know about the other. A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. I have already suggested that Xenophon (if in Athens at the time) would have intervened to save the life of even the elderly Socrates, no matter what his teacher’s principles seemed to require. That is, the father was told that he did not recognize how corrupting the family business would be for this young man (who, it seems, did go bad). I have often wondered by what arguments the accusers of Socrates persuaded the Athenians that he deserved death from the state; for the indictment against him was to this effect: Socrates offends against the laws in not paying respect to those gods whom the city respects, and introducing other new deities; he also offends against the laws in corrupting the youth. Books He wondered, too, that it was not apparent to them that it is impossible for man to satisfy himself on such points, since even those who pride themselves most on discussing them, do not hold the same opinions one with another, but are compared with each other, like madmen. Xenophon has Chaerephon learning from the Oracle that no human being was more free, more just, or more temperate than Socrates. Ancient History Encyclopedia. He (unlike one of his accusers, Meletus) addresses them familiarly as “men” and as “men of Athens,” not deferentially as “judges.” Before he is done (that is, after his conviction and sentence) he makes explicit what had been evident throughout his trial – his belief that only those should ever be regarded as “judges” who rule correctly. In his Lives of Eminent Philosophers , the Greek biographer Diogenes Laërtius (who writes many centuries later) reports how Xenophon met Socrates. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. ____________________ [I] have never left off seeking after and learning every good thing that I could.”, Moreover, in Xenophon's Apology of Socrates, the philosopher’s daimonion (divine sign) is described as giving positive indications about what to do (12), whereas the philosopher Socrates portrayed by Plato consistently and explicitly describes the daimonion as meant to “turn me away from something I am about to do,” but “never encourage me to do anything.”, A further difference between Plato and Xenophon is that whereas Plato has Socrates finally suggest a thirty-mina penalty for himself, the Xenophon/Hermogenes version says that he refused to suggest any and refused to allow his friends to do so, claiming that to do otherwise would imply guilt. 13. And how could he, who trusted the gods, think that there were no gods?
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