Plato and Xenophon on Socrates' Defense: Σωφροσυνη and Philosophy

Document Type



As a student with a dual major in Philosophy and Religious Studies and in Computer Science, Michal had a natural interest in classical languages. He took a total of four courses in Classical Greek. The third and fourth courses were devoted to a close reading, study and translation of Plato's Apology of Socrates, and Xenophon's dialogue The Defense of Socrates. The research involved an in-depth comparison of the Trials of Socrates according to Plato and Xenophon, and the researchers generated a paper that was read at the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy annual meeting at SUNY Binghampton Fall 2001. This is an extremely prestigious conference at which scholars from North America, Europe and, this year, one from Australia, meet to read their work and comment on the work of others. The presentation of the paper was extremely successful, as was the conference.

Information about the Student Author

Class of 2002, Major: Philosophy & Religious Studies; Computer Science

Summary of Research Experience

The project consisted of an analysis of two texts written in Classical Greek reporting on the trial of Socrates that took place in 399 B.C. in Athens with a focus on one of the prosecutor's charge of 'corrupting the youth of Athens.' The first was Plato's Apology and the other was Xenophon's Socrates on Trial. Besides these two texts, a number of scholarly articles, books, and other source materials pertinent to the events and the figure of Socrates were used in research. The Platonic and Xenophonic texts were used in three out of the four courses in Classical Greek I took at Pace and thus were a natural choice for research as a thorough familiarity with the original text facilitated the research and allowed for a more thorough analysis of the historical, linguistic and philosophical differences between the aforementioned texts. Aside from the textual and hermeneutical analysis of the texts themselves, we concentrated on the authors' styles and motivations in order to assess the validity of their reports as well as gain a better insight into their respective world-views. The result was a sizeable scholarly paper with what we feel is an original analysis of the 'corruption' charge. It was first presented at Pace University in a forum sponsored by the Philosophy Department during which faculty present their current research with a purpose of engaging in dialogue and perfecting it before the final presentation at a conference. Finally, it was presented at Binghampton University during the 2001 Annual Meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy; a professional society of philosophers and scholars dedicated to research in Classical Greek thought and Classical Greek language studies. It was very well received by the audience and received many favorable comments afterwards. Right now we are in the process of gathering pertinent information from journals and other publications specializing in classical Greek philosophy with the goal of publishing our work. This process will involve amending the size and possibly the content of the paper in order to suit the requirements and area of focus of the journals. This work contributed substantially to my understanding of Classical Greek thinking and allowed me to engage the subject with a depth and intensity that is rare for most undergraduates. The actual process of thinking through the issues, reading, writing and eventually presenting my work in a professional philosophical conference contributed to my decision to pursue philosophy and philosophical research at a graduate level where I hope to have similar experiences to the one I had at Pace. Currently I am a part of a team of technologists working in Aristotle Consulting; a firm that I co-founded with a friend. I plan to continue expanding on our opeerations but my ultimate goal is to pursue a graduate degree in Philosophy. The year hiatus in schoolwork will prove to be a much needed rest period after years of hard work at Pace. As I look ahead to graduate school, I am confident that I am ready for new challenges. The Eugene Lang Student Research Grant enabled me to have a "graduate type" experience during my undergraduate career at Pace.

Faculty Mentor

Harold Brown, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

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