Socrates was born in Athens in 470 B.C. Socrates was a classical Athenian intellectual philosopher and his work laid the foundation of contemporary Ethics and Western philosophy. Socrates was very controversial figure in Athens and was not liked by many, especially the ruling elite. Athenians associated Socrates teachings with sophism. At that time sophists were men with obscure reputation and earned a livelihood by teaching fallacious discourse, imposing public credulity and propagated immoral doctrines. However, Socrates did not record any of his teachings; his works is largely known from the writings of his students Aristotle’s and Plato.
At that time, Socrates was particularly disliked for he openly challenged anyone’s thinking through endless Socratic dialogue. In addition Socrates publicly questioned the gods that the Athenians worshiped at that time. A possible source of resentment could be with regards to political views that Socrates and his associates held. Socrates himself openly espoused anti-democratic views. Probably the most prominent one being the view that professional policy and genuine knowledge that is possessed by few yields correct policies rather than majority opinions. Plato accounts of Socrates portray him as being severely overcritical of some well-respected and prominent leaders of the democracy of Athenian.
Moreover, Socrates personally claimed officials appointed by Athenians system were not credible and could not be esteemed as benefactors since the system seem to benefit minority than the majority in the society. It is reported that two of his students had briefly tried to overthrow the democratic government of the city, resulting in terror under which thousands of city dwellers were banished and deprived of their property. Moreover, Socrates was known to often praise undemocratic regimes of Crete and Sparta. Besides, his political views, Socrates upheld unusual religious views and severally made claims of his personal spirit.
In essence, Socrates open criticism of prominent politicians created many enemies. In addition, Socrates was made scapegoat for a sequence of disaster that had stroke Athens such as droughts, floods and military defeat. Therefore, most citizens would have seen these events as a sign that their gods have been offended by Socrates’ legitimate questions on the gods.
It follows then that Socrates trials and execution took place in Athens in 399 B.C. at the age of 70, Socrates, the father of Greek philosophy was put on trial. Socrates the philosopher stood before a jury of 500 Athenians and a crowd of spectators accused of for corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety. Socrates’s three accusers were all prominent members in the Athens political scenes. Each were allotted time to present their case, instead of defending himself, Socrates question legitimacy of the trial.
After hearing Socrates and the accuser’s arguments, under the law of Athens, jurors did not deliberate but rather voted with an urn indicated “guilty” or “not guilty.” So the jurors voted. Socrates the great philosopher was found guilty by a vote of 280 against 220. While the jurors deliberated on Socrates penalty, a death penalty was proposed by his accusers. On the other hand, Socrates was also presented with the chance to defend himself. Under the Athenian system a defendant could suggest his own penalty. At first, Socrates humorously proposed that he should be charged for his actions. When further pressed for a justifiable punishment, Socrates eventually suggested a moderate sum.
Altogether, the jury decided on a death sentence for Socrates. So, Socrates was put in a nearby jail. Under Athenian law, his sentencing would be drinking a deadly portion of the hemlock plant. So Socrates would be his own executioner. Socrates died a hero to one group and a villain to another.