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C LASSICS 36: L ECTURE T WO P LATO : A POLOGY AND P HAEDO 1. Plato (427-342 B.C.) in historical context [see my introduction to the Griffith Republic translation; main source for Plato's biography is his 7th Letter ] 1.1 Aborted involvement in Athenian oligarchic politics: Critias and the Thirty Tyrants. Disgust with democratic politics: condemnation and execution of Socrates for impiety. 1.2 Factionalism and political turmoil in Greek world throughout Plato's lifetime. Aristocratic and philosophic “quietism” as a reaction to this turmoil. 1.3 The visits to Sicily and attempts to turn tyrant Dionysius II into a philosopher. 1.4 Foundation of the “Academy” (387); Plato as formal educator (vs. Socrates). 1.5 Historical and social context of Socrates’ trial: (i) Athenian trials like a town-hall meeting, before jury of hundreds of citizens chosen by lot, with no judge, no lawyers, no jury deliberation; (ii) Critias part of Soc.’s circle; Anytus (main prosecutor) a prominent; (iii) hostility at Athens towards philosophers and “sophists” (= itinerant professional teachers/ intellectuals), for spreading new-fangled, potentially immoral and impious notions ( Apol. 19b- e, 23d): earlier in 5C, philosopher Anaxagoras prosecuted for impiety and exiled. APOLOGY (=” DEFENCE ”) OF SOCRATES , 19 B -24 B , 28 B -32 C 2. Socrates and the oracle 2.1 Story of Apollo’s oracle (21a ff.) vs. traditional story-pattern of a great and powerful figure asking oracle whether anyone happier, richer, wiser etc. than he, and being told that so-and-so, an obscure non-entity, is in fact happier, richer etc. Soc. seems to be both the “great man” and the obscure non-entity in Plato’s version. 2.2
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