Apology 2 - I was accused, is sometimes translated...

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I was accused, is sometimes translated lofty-speaking rather than arrogant speech, but in this context arrogance is clearly the issue. There is no reason why lofty-speaking in itself should seem foolish, or should be the cause of Socrates death, unless it seemed an expression of arrogance. And in the body of his speech, as Xenophon reports it, Socrates manifestly speaks with outrageous arrogance on several occasions. Xenophon s short statement deserves close attention. Clearly the question at issue in his mind while he was writing his Apology was Socrates poor showing in court, which made him look foolish, not his guilt or innocence, which are discussed in the Memorabilia. Socrates failure was attributed to his incompetent defense speech, and in particular to the gratuitous and offensive arrogance he displayed on that occasion. Making fatally foolish mistakes like this would be just as damaging to one s reputation as accusations of injustice, since failure in the Greek polis of the fourth century, as today, was perhaps the most powerful source of humiliation.19 We might even infer that it was widely thought that Socrates was innocent of the charges, for no one blames a guilty man for losing his case by making a poor presentation. This would help explain the lack of attention that both Plato and Xenophon pay to the question of Socrates guilt in their Apologies, and the rather incredulous attitude towards it that Xenophon exhibits when he does address it in his Memorabilia (1.1 2). It would also help explain the fact that both Xenophon and Plato seem to be concerned above all with refuting charges of failure and demonstrating that Socrates led a supremely happy, even enviable, life, and did not suffer in death. On at least one point Xenophon s narrator seems believable, the claim that Socrates spoke arrogantly. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that contradicts this claim, and no good reason for an historian to deny its veracity.20 On the contrary, we find confirmation of it in every report we have in our hands today. At the very least, Socrates was thought to have spoken arrogantly at his trial, and such perceptions are worth taking seriously. From this very small beginning we can already derive one valuable principle: we should be willing to grant prima facie plausibility to expressions of arrogance that are recorded for us in Plato s Apology. Xenophon responds to the criticisms by acknowledging the facts and disputing their interpretation: he acknowledges that Socrates spoke arrogantly and asserts that this, not any skill or justice in the arguments of the prosecu- 19 See Adkins 259 61. 20 Although Brickhouse and Smith do deny Socratic arrogance (for example at 1989:
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Apology 2 - I was accused, is sometimes translated...

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