The Apology The Defense (Section 3)
This duty has kept him too busy to do much else--so he ended up in poverty. Furthermore, he claims that wealthy young men with much leisure time on their hands follow him around as they enjoy hearing people cross-questioned. Taking him as their model, they go out and try to question people themselves. As their victims become annoyed, they blame Socrates for filling these youths' heads with wrong ideas. However, if they ask them what he does, they will not know what to say, and therefore they fall back on the charges given to any sophist: that he inquires about the heavens and below the earth, disbelieves in gods, and makes the weaker argument stronger.
Socrates claims that these are the reasons that Meletus, Anytus and Lycon have attacked him. Meletus' attack was on behalf of poets, Anytus on behalf of professionals, and Lycon on behalf of orators. It is apparent to him that his plain speaking is the reason for these attacks, and this goes to show that his statements are true.
First, he defends himself against Meletus' charges, which are that he is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young. Socrates first charges Meletus with a crime of treating a serious matter lightly because he "summons people to stand their trial on frivolous grounds, and professes concern and keen anxiety in matters about which he has never had the slightest interest." Line 24c He says that he will prove to the jury that Meletus is guilty. His first statement is that Meletus regards it of supreme importance that our young people should be exposed to the best possible influence, to which Meletus agrees. From here, Socrates states that Meletus seems to know exactly who disrupts the minds of the young, and asks him who influences the young for the better. To this, Meletus names jurymen, councilors and many others. Socrates claims that Meletus has named all the population of Athens, and compares this situation to a similar one: in the case of horses, only a few people improve them while most people harm them. Just as this is the case with all animals, it is also the case with humans. From this reasoning, and Meletus' answer, Socrates finds that it is obvious that Meletus has never even thought about the matter that he is using to indict Socrates.
The second part of his defense is based on the fact that it is obviously better to live in a good community than in a bad community; and that everybody prefers to be benefited than harmed. Therefore, if he is being indicted for intentionally harming the minds of the young, this is irrational, as he would never harm a society that he has to live in and then be harmed by it. On the other hand, if they are charging him for unintentionally harming the minds of the young, then they should not be charging him, but taking him aside and giving him some words of advice. But this would be difficult for them to do since them have been avoiding him in the past.
Following through this chain of reason, it is clear that no attention has been paid to this subject. However, he moves on to the next accusation which he claims is paradoxical as it states that he teaches the young to believe in gods not recognized by the state, and that he disbelieves in gods. This is a contradiction because just as there is nobody that believes in musical things but not music, there is nobody that believes in supernatural things, but not supernatural beings. Therefore, since they claim he teaches supernatural things, he most definitely must believe in supernatural beings. Since supernatural beings are gods, he most definitely believes in gods, and thus this charge is worthless.
Socrates believes that what he has said should be enough to clear him of Meletus's accusations. However, he believes that his destruction will not be brought about by Meletus's nor Anytus's accusations; instead it will be brought about by the hostility of the general public who have condemned so many before him because of their anger, and will do the same to him.
He addresses those who are curious as to whether he feels any remorse for acting in a way that put his life in danger by saying that he feels no remorse. Instead, he believes a man should not spend his time weighing up prospects of life and death, but instead be evaluating whether his actions are right or wrong, and just or unjust.
Here is an example taken from mythology:
"The heroes who died at Troy would be poor creatures, especially the son of Thetis. He, if you remember, made so light of danger in comparison with incurring dishonor that when his goddess mother warned him, eager as he was to kill Hector, in some such words as these, I fancy, 'My son, if you avenge your comrade Patroclus's death and kill Hector, you will die yourself; Next after Hector is thy fate prepared,'--when he heard this warning, he made light of his death and danger, being much more afraid of an ignoble life and of failing to avenge his friends. 'Let me die forthwith,' said he, 'when I have requited the villain, rather than remain here by the beaked ships to be mocked, a burden on the ground.'" Line 28c
Socrates believed that once a man has taken a stand for what he believes in, nothing would stop him from fighting for it--not even death.
Thus, when God appointed him to lead the philosophic life, nothing could stop him. With that in mind, he continues to say that if he decides not to lead the philosophic life, he should have been summoned to court for not believing the oracle, and being afraid of death. For him, being afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not because it is to think that one knows what death is, when in reality, one does not know. Nobody knows whether death is something we should look forward to or not, and yet people are afraid of it as though it was an evil.
This is where Socrates claims he is wiser than the rest--because he knows that he does not know.