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The Apology   By: (431 BC - 350? BC)

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By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Apology describes Socrates' state of mind at his trial and execution, and especially his view that it was better to die before senility set in than to escape execution by humbling himself be fore an unjust persecution. Xenophon was away at the time, involved in the events of the march of the ten thousand.


This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a four volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7 The Hellenica 7 The Cyropaedia 8 The Memorabilia 4 The Symposium 1 The Economist 1 On Horsemanship 1 The Sportsman 1 The Cavalry General 1 The Apology 1 On Revenues 1 The Hiero 1 The Agesilaus 1 The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The diacritical marks have been lost.


Among the reminiscences of Socrates, none, as it seems to me, is more deserving of record than the counsel he took with himself [2] (after being cited to appear before the court), not only with regard to his defence, but also as to the ending of his life. Others have written on this theme, and all without exception have touched upon [3] the lofty style of the philosopher, [4] which may be taken as a proof that the language used by Socrates was really of that type. But none of these writers has brought out clearly the fact that Socrates had come to regard death as for himself preferable to life; and consequently there is just a suspicion of foolhardiness in the arrogancy of his address. [5] We have, however, from the lips of one of his intimate acquaintances, Hermogenes, [6] the son of Hipponicus, an account of him which shows the high demeanour in question to have been altogether in keeping with the master's rational purpose. [7] Hermogenes says that, seeing Socrates discoursing on every topic rather than that of his impending trial, he roundly put it to him whether he ought not to be debating the line of his defence, to which Socrates in the first instance answered: "What! do I not seem to you to have spent my whole life in meditating my defence?" And when Hermogenes asked him, "How?" he added: "By a lifelong persistence in doing nothing wrong, and that I take to be the finest practice for his defence which a man could devise." Presently reverting to the topic, Hermogenes demanded: "Do you not see, Socrates, how often Athenian juries [8] are constrained by arguments to put quite innocent people to death, and not less often to acquit the guilty, either through some touch of pity excited by the pleadings, or that the defendant had skill to turn some charming phrase?" Thus appealed to, Socrates replied: "Nay, solemnly I tell you, twice already I have essayed to consider my defence, and twice the divinity [9] hinders me"; and to the remark of Hermogenes, "That is strange!" he answered again: "Strange, do you call it, that to God it should seem better for me to die at once? Do you not know that up to this moment I will not concede to any man to have lived a better life than I have; since what can exceed the pleasure, which has been mine, of knowing [10] that my whole life has been spent holily and justly? And indeed this verdict of self approval I found re echoed in the opinion which my friends and intimates have formed concerning me... Continue reading book >>

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