the Apology of Socrates

by Plato

Discussion Questions

1. Why does Socrates have to ask the Athenian jury not to make a disturbance as they listen to his speech? What does Socrates say that might provoke their anger?

2. To what extent does Socrates' story about the oracle present him as a religious man? Will Socrates' story about the oracle and his search for wisdom dispose the jury in his favor? Does the story have any bearing on the charge against Socrates that he does not believe in the gods of the city?

3.What does Socrates tell us about Chaerophon that makes him a good choice to mention at his trial?

4. Why did Chaerophon ask the oracle his question about Socrates? That is, what might have distinguished Socrates, so that Chaerophon would have posed this question?

5. Why does Socrates oppose the democracy's attempts to try the generals as a group rather than individually? What is the significance of this example of Socrates' insistence on the law?

6. What is the relation between Socrates' questioning others and his advising them to live virtuous lives and care for their souls?

7. Do you think that Socrates is telling "the whole truth," as he claims?

8. Of what use to political life is Socrates' "human wisdom"? How might it make a ruler a better ruler?

9. Is Socrates guilty of the charges made against him?

Paper topics

1. What sort of advice might Socrates give to a ruler?

2. What kinds of questions might Socrates ask Machiavelli? Compare Machiavelli's understanding of virtue with Socrates'.

3. To what extent do both Socrates and Machiavelli agree that politics and morality are incompatible? In what ways do they draw different conclusions from their understanding of the difference between the two?

Apology ReadingGuide to unit 1back to unit 1