The Apology of Socrates by Thomas Cole
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
Athens, 399 BC
The set consists of three wooden stools, one each for the NARRATOR,
MELETUS and AN ACCUSER.
The NARRATOR stands at stage right. MELETUS and AN ACCUSER are seated
at stage left. SOCRATES stands at center stage.
This play is an adaptation of The Apology of Socrates by the most
famous disciple of Socrates, Plato. Here the word “apology” does
not have its ordinary meaning. Rather, it means a “reasoned argument.”
In 399 BC, at the age of seventy, Socrates was put on trial in
Athens, Greece for impiety and corrupting the youth. A verdict of
guilty could result in a sentence of death.
The jurors consisted of five hundred Athenian men. You, the
audience, represent the jurors.
Socrates spoke in his own defense.
How you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the speeches of my
accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that their persuasive words
almost made me, Socrates, forget who I was, such was the effect of
them; and yet they have hardly spoken a word of truth. But many as
their falsehoods were, there was one of them that quite amazed me: I
mean when they told you to be upon your guard, and not to let yourself
be deceived by the force of my eloquence. They ought to have been
ashamed of saying this, because they were sure to be detected as soon
as I opened my lips and displayed my deficiency.
I have to reply to the older charges and to my first accusers, and
then I will go to the later ones. For I have had many accusers, who
accused me of old, and their false charges have continued during many
years; and I am more afraid of them than of my prosecutor, Anytus,
and his associates, who are dangerous, too, in their own way. But far
more dangerous are these, who began when you were children, and took
possession of your minds with falsehoods.
I will begin at the beginning, and ask what the accusation is which
has given rise to this slander of me, and which has encouraged Meletus
to proceed against me. What do the slanderers say?
Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into
things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear
the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrine to others.
That is the nature of the accusation, and that is what you have seen
yourselves in the comedy of Aristophanes, who has introduced a man
whom he calls Socrates, going about and saying that he can walk in the
air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do
not pretend to know either much or little.
Speak then, you who have heard me, and tell your neighbors whether any
of you have known me to hold forth in few words or in many upon
matters of this sort.
Clusters of men broke into discussion. Many vouched for Socrates
You hear their answer.
I dare say that someone will ask the question --
Why is this, Socrates, and what is the origin of these accusations of
you: for there must have been something strange which you have been
doing? All this great fame and talk about you would never have
arisen if you had been like other men: tell us, then, why this is,
as we should be sorry to hastily judge you.
[End of Extract]