A martyr is someone who readily suffers death instead of renouncing his religion. It can also be an individual who undergoes great affliction due to his strong principles or belief. Therefore, for one to be a martyr, he or she must be a very principled person who adheres to his religion and beliefs and nothing can make him renounce them. Socrates was an Athenian and a Greek philosopher who had a deep effect on the prehistoric philosophy. He has been identified as the first philosophical martyr who died from hemlock toxin. An analysis of Socrates’ life and trial provides clear evidence that he was a martyr.
Socrates knew he was the wisest, as it was declared by Chaerephon, and so he sought out individuals with reputation for acumen. He revealed that the reputations of other people were not vindicated. He considered his behavior to be a way of serving the almighty; hence, he reminded and persuaded people of their ignorance (wisdom) and also motivated them to unite with him in a genuine search for reality. Socrates later realized that he had a calling to advance the moral teaching of his people and spend most of his time teaching the Athenian youths (Stone 5).
In this case, Socrates was ready for anything and nothing would stop him from spreading the good morals. He was ready for both physical and soul death, his strong belief in moral teachings makes him to be referred to as a martyr, since he could not renounce it despite being faced by tough situations. In Plato’s Apology, a number of statements indicate deliberation in his work. Reports on what he said and his actions give evidence that he found sense in his conversation and considered that he would serve a better function when he died than when being alive (Ferguson 6).
The origins of Socrates’ mission in life provide insight of his real mission. He points by inquiring acumen to an idol. It provides the basis of the assumption of his greater purpose in his work. The statement relating intelligence to a deity is the one that drove Socrates to finding those people who were regarded as wise. It can be seen that Socrates believed that he had acquired his wisdom from gods and no one was wiser than he was. This strong belief made him disregard other Athenians as not wiser than him. It created hatred and they ended up giving false accusations against Socrates. The above information clearly shows that Socrates was a martyr in that he suffered accusations due to his strong belief that he was the wisest and no one else could have overtaken him.
Moreover, Socrates expresses himself as a martyr when he was accused of immorality due to his negligence of city worships, practice of religious newness and corrupting the Athenian youth. The issue on corrupting the youths was not true, because Socrates was spreading his moral teachings to the youth. Whenever the youths saw him, they did go to where he was, and would stay there with him (Plato and Church 11).
The accusations were during the political period of the Athens. During this period, his friends arranged for his escape but he refused and stood by the rule of law. He was taken to prison and was sentenced to deathafterhe was found guilty, he considered unjustified. When he was given a chance to give a counter punishment that would save his life, he instead asked for the highest tribute one would get. His firm principles and beliefs on the rule of law made him suffer greatly in prison, since he refused to escape as his friends had planned for him. He, therefore, expresses himself as a martyr (Stone 13).
Socrates was declared the wisest by Chaerephon and having no opponent, he interpreted it as a way to find wiser men than him. He ended up questioning the Athenians regarding their knowledge and his findings were that he was wiser than them, yet he never knew anything. His illogical acumen made the famous Athenians look like fools. The Athenians turned against him and accused him of misconduct. Socrates’ strong stand that he was the wisest led to his accusations and this made him suffer later through death sentence (Santas 10).
In addition, Socrates was an opponent of democracy of the Athens and he, being put in trial, was a political squabbling. Socrates never supported any form of leadership that was not in line with the philosophers’ republic. The Athenian democracy was very far from being in line with the philosophers’ republic. Nevertheless, he supported the Spartans, since their democracy was like that of the philosophers’ republic.
He praised the succinct acumen of the Spartans and the Athenians were not happy about it, since they were well advanced military-wise and had great cultural achievements. Socrates stands as an opponent of the Athenians democracy, that made him suffer from accusations from citizens. He expresses martyrdom in a way that he suffers in prison due to his strong opposition against the Athenians.
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Another example where Socrates showed his martyrdom is during his trial at the Athens court. Socrates had a great opportunity to flee since his friends were capable of bribing the guards in the prison, but he refused to escape. The reasons for his refusal were as follows; he believed that if he escaped, it would mean that he feared death and a true philosopher like him should not fear death. He also believed that, even if he left, he would not be accepted by another nation (Santas 11).
Finally, he supported his refusal by saying that when he deliberately agreed to adhere to the laws of the city, he had inclined himself to any accusations by the general public. Therefore, doing the contrary would mean doing against the Socratic principle. The above explanation of his refusal to escape gives a clear picture of him as a martyr. He suffers death because he does not want to renounce the Socratic principle (Ferguson 12).
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