Saturday, October 31, 2020

Closing Speech

It's not that it's not difficult to escape death, gentlemen, but it's much harder to escape wickedness, since it runs faster than death. And now, because I am a slow old man, I am being overtaken by the slower of the two, and my accusers, because they are clever and keen, by the swifter, by evil. And I am going away now, having been condemned to death by you, while they have been condemned by the truth to depravity and injustice. And both I and they will keep to our punishment. Perhaps this is how it had to be, and I suppose it's appropriate.

Next, I want to foretell the future to you my condemners, since I am now at the moment when men especially prophesy, whenever they are about to die. I declare that retribution will come to you swiftly after my death, you men who have killed me, and more troublesome, by Zeus, than the retribution you took when you sentenced me to die. You have done this just now by trying to avoid giving an account of your life, but I think the complete opposition will happen: you will have more prosecutors—whom I was holding back until now, though you did not notice—and as they are younger they will be more troublesome, and you will be more enraged. If you think that killing people will prevent anyone from rebuking you for not living properly, you are not thinking straight, since this escape is scarcely possible nor noble, whereas escape from the other is noblest and easiest: not by cutting down others but equipping oneself so that one can be as good as possible. With this prophecy to you who sentence me, I depart.

From Socrates' speech to the court following his death sentence in 399 BC, at least according to Plato's Apology. This translation is by Cathal Woods and Ryan Pack.

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