How did Socrates defend himself against the accusation of impiety?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Apology of Socrates by Plato recounts how Socrates defended himself from the accusation of impiety, or asebeia. Socrates was accused of not worshipping the gods of the city and instead worshipping new and strange gods. It should be noted that impiety, in antiquity was not, as in modern Christianity, and issue of belief, but one of ritual performance (i.e. it was not about faith or belief, but about offering sacrifices). Socrates answers this accusation in two ways. First, he points out that he did sacrifice to the gods. Second, he argues that the accusation is based in partnot on his real behaviour but on the portrait of him in a comic play (Aristophanes Clouds) and that people should not take the comedy seriously. Finally, he discusses his daemon, the mysterious voice which forbids him from acting in certain ways. His frequent mentions of the daemon may well have justified the accusations, but while Socrates discusses the daemon at length, and shows it as generally benevoilent, he does not directly, in Apology, counter the arguemnt that he introduces new gods.