Do you think that Socrates should be venerated as a martyr for the philosophy on the basis of Plato's Apology?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Many of the 18th and 19th century writers who commented on Plato's Apology drew parallels between Socrates and Christ. Both expressed unpopular views, did not themselves write anything, were killed for their public teaching, have been memorialized by disciples and followers, and started movements which have lasted for many centuries. Although in one way we can consider SOcrates a martyr, I am not sure he would have wished us to do so. As he points out in Crito, given his age, he would have been expected to die fairly soon anyway. Besides, he did not fear death, but regarded it as a welcome release of the soul from the body and perhaps a transition to a better world. Leo Strauss (a 20th century scholar) actually argued that Socrates deliberately used the trial as a form of assisted suicide. So although we should regard Socrates as a fine example of someone true to his beliefs, and willing to die for them. He himself states:


  • I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death. (38e-39a)

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