Search Menu

The Apology

Plato

Characters

Context

Summary

Socrates  -  The protagonist of The Apology, as well as all of Plato's other dialogues. Socrates seems to be a very simple man, not having many material possessions and speaking in a plain, conversational manner. However, this seeming plainness is all a part of the ironic characteristic of Socrates' method. Professing his own ignorance, he engages in conversation with someone claiming to be an expert, usually in ethical matters. By asking simple questions, Socrates gradually reveals that his interlocutor is in fact very confused and does not actually know anything about the matters about which he claimed to be an expert. The quest for wisdom and the instruction of others through dialogue and inquiry were considered by Socrates to be the highest aims in life: one of his most famous sayings is, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Some have argued that Socrates himself never advanced any theories of his own, and certainly many of the doctrines that appear in the later dialogues are of Plato's invention. In early dialogues, such as The Apology, Plato presents us with a Socrates who is less informed by Platonic philosophy and serves more as foil for his interlocutors who claim to have positive knowledge.
Meletus  -  The chief accuser of Socrates, responsible for bringing him to trial. Little is known about Meletus and by all accounts, he seems to have been a rather insignificant figure. Plato's portrayal of him, both in The Apology and in The Euthyphro (see 2b) is far from sympathetic. Socrates' cross-examination of him in The Apology puts Meletus to shame.

More Help

Previous Next
study questions

by ShahradC, February 07, 2015

"On one hand, he denies having any kind of specialized knowledge, and on the other hand, he makes assertions"

The assumptions of rationality are not knowledge.
Rationality might assume "an unexamined life is not worth living" although we have no knowledge what "life" really is.

2 Comments

2 out of 3 people found this helpful

Ambiguous Pronoun Found (Reply to Confirm)

by azasker60, March 16, 2015

"To prove Meletus wrong, Socrates undertakes to show that he must believe in gods of some sort."

He is ambiguous here. Can I assume that it points to Socrates? Is it indeed ambiguous?

1 Comments

2 out of 4 people found this helpful

Correction Needed

by azasker60, March 16, 2015

In

http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/apology/section5.rhtml

"Socrates is persists in saying "

The word "is" in the statement above should be removed. Reply to confirm.

See all 4 readers' notes   →