More than two thousand years ago, the great Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to death for making seditious comments against the city state of Athens.
His followers and disciples were legion. Ranging from Xenophon, the mercenary warrior and historian of the Peloponnesian War to the scholarly Plato, Socrates was described as the conscience-keeper of the nation, or the “gadfly” who would not let the massive machinery of the state rest in complacence.
The Apology of Socrates by Plato was thought to have been written following Socrates trial and death in 399 BC. It is one of many such accounts of this infamous trial. It is only through the Apology that we are today able to learn more about this most venerable Greek philosopher, Socrates, as he left very little written work himself. As a teacher and mentor to hundreds of young students, his thoughts and ideas were conveyed mostly through oral teachings. His method of teaching was though a series of dialogues with his students and he never lectured to them. One of his most famous quotes, “The unexamined life is not worth living...” forces us to introspect on our own motives and desires.
In the Apology, Plato describes the trial in detail and also Socrates defense of his every word, deed and action. He describes how he was inspired to conduct his search for the truth by the Oracle at Delphi and the consequent discovery that there were no wise men in this city. He considered it his duty to awaken the conscience of those in power. Straddling the thin line between philosophy and literature, the Apology is a brilliant and thought-provoking work, which examines themes like freedom of speech that are still plaguing our consciences today. It also teaches us that knowledge and humility should go ever hand in hand.
A deeply engrossing and inspiring work for every generation to read and ponder over.