In 228). After the death of Socrates, one of

In the era of the
Enlightenment, many philosophers were creating their own understanding of how
the individuals of society function and the purpose of existence; one of these
philosophers was Socrates. Spending most of his life in Athens, Socrates exercised
his freedom of speech, for which, he had vocalized his opinions to the people
of Athens of the authority of the government and whether if the they are
suitable to help society function in a positive light (Brumbaugh 230). However,
in the development of government, the conservative government of Athens charged
Socrates with religious treason and the corruption of the youth of Athens
(Brumbaugh 228). During the trial, Socrates personally defended himself in
court with a jury of over 500 people, in which, the court found Socrates guilty
of his crimes and sentenced him to death (Brumbaugh 228). After the death of
Socrates, one of Socrates’ followers, Plato, recollected the events of the
trial and documented them in a document known as Plato’s “Apology”. Upon analyzing the events encountered in the “Apology” and the trial of Socrates, it is
seen that Socrates was portrayed as a tragic hero due to the dramatic retelling
of the Plato’s “Apology”. In this
essay, it will feature evidence of the dramatic portrayal of Socrates’ death
enhancing the tragedy that has led to his demise.

            In the terms of a tragic hero, Aristotle developed the
concept with the intention of distinguishing the characteristics of a tragic
hero within a dramatic setting, in which, Aristotle characterized a tragic hero
as a person who is neither less or more virtuous and just (Reeves 174). Along
with that characterization, the character must relate to the audience and form
an emotional connection between the two (Reeves 174). In Plato’s Apology, the format of the document
highlights and enhances the dramatics of the setting. Coulter explains in the
article The Tragic Structure of Plato’s
Apology that Plato “was under the same necessity as a dramatist of
condensing, eliminating, and selecting only significant details” (Coulter 139).
Plato had only focused on the important events that had occurred during the
trial and emphasized their role in the trial to gain an emotional connection
between the audience and the portrayal of Socrates in the trial. In an example
of his dramatic writing, Plato emphasizes on the portrayal of Socrates
addressment to the jury before they conclude their verdict on the case, in
which, Socrates says:

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From me you will hear the whole truth,
though not, by Zeus, gentlemen, expressed in embroidered and stylized phrases
like theirs, but things spoken at random and expressed in the first words that
come to mind, for I put my trust in the justice of wat I say, and let none of
you expect anything else. (Cooper 21)

Although this is a small
portion of the speech, Socrates bases his speech on the truth, in which, he
does not try to deceive the jury into believing that he is an ignorant
philosopher, but that his beliefs are indifferent than those of the society and
that punishing him on those terms is an injustice. This creates a sympathetic
connection to the audience as Plato shows that Socrates was not malicious or in
any form had dramatic reaction from the trial as he was acceptance of his fate,
in which, the jury would decide and only asked that they would take his
truthful speech into consideration while voting on the verdict.

            By the continuation of the aspect that Plato dramatized
the trial of Socrates to form an emotional connection with the audience, giving
the context of Socrates’ life adds to the emotional characterization as it
shows the hardships Socrates had to endure up until the context of the trial.
Socrates’ life before the infamous trial had various tribulations while
practicing and forming his philosophical thoughts. While being apart of a group
of young scientists, a young Socrates was targeted as a villain within the
comedic play named Clouds, in which,
denounced the use of scientific methods and the use of the freedom of speech
(Brumbaugh 229). This impacted Socrates’ image amongst society as in conflicted
between the real Socrates and the characterization of himself within the play.
Also, the fluctuation of the governments conflicted within Socrates’ life as
the democratic and conservative governments had differences of opinions of his
character. While Socrates exercised his freedom of speech, both government
parties were opposed to his vocal opinions as his opinions had an impact on
society as he was a well-known scholar amongst Athens (Brumbaugh 230). This
leads to the conservative party arresting Socrates on the grounds of treason
and the corruption of the youth of Athens as his vocal opinions were
conflicting with their power as Socrates often expressed his opinion that the
government were not fit to rule over society (Brumbaugh 230). The tribulations
that Socrates had to endure before the trial, can cause a sympathetic
connection with the audience as Socrates was seen not causing any harm to those
around him in society as he was following on what he believed to be right
during that period.

              Although the
legal setting of the trial had some resemblance to a modern legal setting such
as addressing the jury before they determine the verdict (Bonner 170), Socrates
had chosen to defend himself rather than have legal aid to help him defend his
case during the trial. With his friends perplexed with his decision to stand
trial, they were more surprised when Socrates turned down a written defense
from Lysias, who was one of the greatest writers of legal defense speeches
(Brumbaugh 233). Socrates’ explanation for denying legal council was not the
act of defiance, but as an act of respect for the truth. Although his portrayal
as an old man of seventy years and having family responsibilities had the
potential for an acquittal due to the jury’s sympathy, Socrates could not have
allowed that as it would have compromised his integrity of his truth (Brumbaugh
236). Despite knowing that his sentence would have been lower if he had pleaded
guilty, he speculated that he could not compromise on what he believed in and
would have had a guilty conscious is he denied the truth (Brumbaugh 236). The
actions that Socrates had done to preserve his philosophical thoughts is
characterized as a tragic hero. Although Socrates had an option that would have
let him live, he maintained his innocence and did not compromise in what he
believed in as it would have made him a worse person to deny what he had
expressed what the truth was to his followers (Brumbaugh 236). This lets
audiences relate to Socrates and have a sympathetic respect for him as he was
not taking the cowardly path of pleading guilty for the sake of just living.
Socrates sacrificed and accepted his fate in what he had vocalized to the
people of Athens.

            In the conclusion of the portrayal of Socrates in Plato’s
“Apology”, Plato emphasized the
dramatization of the trial to gain an emotional connection between the text and
the audience. With focusing on the highlighted events of the trial such as the
addressment speech given by Socrates directed at the jury before they concluded
their verdict, Plato implemented the characterization of Aristotle’s tragic
hero as Socrates was not deceiving or pleading to the jury that they should
acquit the charges against him, but explained that his truth will be the
deciding factor of whether they conclude that he is guilty or not guilty. Plato
had also implemented an emotional connection between the audience and the text
through giving context of Socrates’ life before the trial occurred as to show
the tribulations Socrates and endured through his life. The final argument that
showed Plato creating an emotional connection the audience can relate to is
Socrates decision to defend himself without legal aid and to establish that his
beliefs are his truth and that denying his beliefs for a chance at survival
would create a guilty conscious for himself. These examples and explanations
conclude that Plato’s “Apology”
focused on the emotional connection between the audience and the text to create
the portrayal of Socrates as a tragic hero for he was only sentenced to his
demise because of his beliefs differed from society. 


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