The Apology The Defense (Section 4)
However, he does know that it is wrong to disobey his superior--whether man or god. For this reason, should they acquit him on the basis of his terminating his philosophical life, he would not agree. Although he would be grateful, he would rather die a hundred deaths.
All that his message says to the people, young and old alike, is that "'Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the State.'" Line 30b This message tells people that they should be trying to improve their soul, not their material position. If this is harmful to the young, then he corrupted the young. However, this is his message, and nothing else.
Socrates claims that by putting him to death, the jury will harm themselves more than they will harm him.
Although his accusers think that banishing him, depriving him of his civic rights, or putting him to death may harm him, he claims that these punishments will not. He believes that what they are doing now--trying to put him to death unjustly - is far worse than anything else. Furthermore, he claims that he is really pleading on behalf of the jury and society, for if he is put to death, they will not easily find somebody to replace him. God has assigned him to this city, "as though it were a large thoroughbred horse which because of its great size is inclined to be lazy and needs the stimulation of some stinging fly." Line 30e Thus, like the fly, he never settles and insists on provoking energy and thought. If they doubt that God has sent him here, he asks them to think of the fact that in order to busy himself with improving each and every one of them, he has neglected his family. In addition, he has never asked for a fee from anyone, as his poverty proves.
He acknowledges that it may seem strange that he goes around giving private advice and does not engage in public office. The reason for this, he repeats, is that he is subject to a divine experience, which started when he was a child. At that time, a certain voice starting coming to his head, dissuading him from doing whatever it was he wanted to do. This is what prevents him from joining public office. This is because:
"No man on earth who conscientiously opposes either you or any other organized democracy, and flatly prevents a great many wrongs and illegalities from taking place in the state to which he belongs, can possibly escape with his life." Line 31e
He will give them two examples of cases when this has personally happened, both of which plenty of people can testify to.
The first case was when he served on the Council in the city (the only office he ever held). This was in the presidency of the tribe, Antiochis. It was decided that the ten commanders who had failed to rescue the men lost in a naval engagement were to be tried en bloc, although later everybody found out that it was illegal. He was the only member to oppose this unconstitutional action, and everybody was ready to arrest him. However, he believed that to stand up for what he believed in is more important than to be scared of imprisonment or death.
In the second case, when the oligarchy came to power, the Thirty Commissioners tried to arrest as many people as possible for as many crimes as possible. They issued instructions for the people in office to go and collect somebody from his house for execution. Paying no heed to death or punishment, he refused to do this, as he did not feel that it was just. This would have cost him his life if the oligarchy did not fall soon after.
It is obvious that he would not have lived as long as he did if he had taken up public office and conducted himself in accordance with his conscience. He has never taken the position as any person's teacher; however, should anybody wish to listen to his conversations, they are more than welcome. Should anybody wish to ask him questions or converse with him and answer his questions, they are also more than welcome. The reason some people enjoy this more than others, he says, is simply because some people enjoy watching him examine others who think that they are wise when they are not, as it may be rather comical at times.
However, if it is a fact that he corrupts the young, then some of these young, whom he has corrupted in the past and are now grown up, should be complaining and want to punish him themselves. In defense of an argument that they are corrupt and do not know it, then their direct relatives who live with this corruption should want to punish him. However, he sees many of these people in the jury, and they are all there in his defense, as they know Meletus is lying.
Socrates says that this is all he can possibly say in his defense. He does, however, continue to state that some of the jury, in their own defenses, may have brought their children up to the stand in order to stir pity and help them be acquitted. Although he does not expect this, there may be some people who have done that and will cast their votes in anger.
To these people, he says that he too has family. However he does not intend to do anything of the kind because he does not think that it is honorable for him to use any of these methods in his age and with his reputation. Neither is it honorable for any man of reputation for wisdom or virtue to do so, as this shows that they are afraid of death, as if they would be immortal should the jury decide to acquit them.
Apart from all this, he does not think that such actions are just. Although a jury should have all the information, they should not be influenced by such emotions, and should return a just and lawful verdict. Therefore, he refuses to behave this way, as he does not consider it reputable, just or in accordance with his religious beliefs. He claims that if he did try to do such a thing, he would be teaching the jury contempt for religion, and thus accusing himself and proving that he has no religious belief. Since this is far from the truth and since he has more religious belief than his accusers, he tells them that he leaves it to them and to God to judge him.