But his best memorial of his old guide, philosopher, and friend is this work, in which Xenophon brought together in simple and direct form the views of life that had been made clear to himself by the teaching of Socrates. Xenophon is throughout opposing a plain tale to the false accusations against Socrates. He does not idealise, but he feels strongly, and he shows clearly the worth of the wisdom that touches at every point the actual conduct of the lives of men.
CHAPTER I. SOCRATES NOT A CONTEMNER OF THE GODS OF HIS COUNTRY, NOR AN INTRODUCER OF NEW ONES.
I have often wondered by what show of argument the accusers of Socrates could persuade the Athenians he had forfeited his life to the State. For though the crimes laid unto his charge were indeed great—“That he did not acknowledge the gods of the Republic; that he introduced new ones”—and, farther, “had debauched the youth;” yet none of these could, in the least, be proved against him.
For, as to the first, “That he did not worship the deities which the Republic adored,” how could this be made out against him, since, instead of paying no homage to the gods of his country, he was frequently seen to assist in sacrificing to them, both in his own family and in the public temples?—perpetually worshipping them in the most public, solemn, and religious manner.
What, in my opinion, gave his accusers a specious pretext for alleging against him that he introduced new deities was this—that he had frequently declared in public he had received counsel from a divine voice, which he called his Demon. But this was no proof at all of the matter. All that Socrates advanced about his demon was no more than what is daily advanced by those who believe in and practise divination; and if Socrates, because he said he received intelligence from his genius, must be accused of introducing new divinities, so also must they; for is it not certain that those who believe in divination, and practise that belief, do observe the flight of birds, consult the entrails of victims, and remark even unexpected words and accidental occurrences?