Perhaps Socrates most important gift was the ability to stay timeless. However, his teachings were cut short when he was sentenced to death. In his speech “The Apology”, he claimed that a “good man cannot be harmed either in life or death”. If Socrates was right in this statement, then those righteous people on earth have nothing to fear, not even death. Before the righteous run into traffic to see if this is true, we must dissect the statement for validity. First we have to look at what the definition of “good” is, and since this paper is to be my thoughts and ideas, I shall define it myself.
A good person is kind, generous, and knows what they believe in. A good person cannot be harmed in life; if they are truly a good person they will never do anything to harm anyone else, therefore evading a good deal of backlash from enemies. However, this is assuming that all people are reasonable and rationale. They are not, this judgment being made quickly from examples in history. People are able to hate with little or no reason, causing even the best person harm. For example, a Hispanic person may be a “good” person, but still be harmed by the prejudice against him for being Hispanic.
Yet, should he be a good person, he will be able to withstand any prejudice, because he is “good” and strong in his beliefs. These beliefs should be able to help him stand up to any hurtful enemies, because his “goodness” gives him inner strength. Should this person truly be good, he should have no fear of death, either. Citing my own religion, Christianity, shows that a “righteous person shall enjoy everlasting life” in the kingdom of Heaven by the hand of God. Most other religions in the world, even, believe that those good people shall move on to other realm or life where they will be rewarded for their goodness.
Socrates believed himself to be a good person. The oracle at Delphi told him he was the wisest among men; in Socrates’ mind, wise was a kin to good. Socrates had rationalize in his mind that death would never hurt him, because any theories he could come up with about death were only peaceful ones. For Socrates, the jury had little or no effect on him, for he was a good man. The gods would shine on him despite man’s attempt to ruin. He could only conclude that a “good man could be hurt neither in life or death”. Socrates also tells the jury that by killing him, they will be harming themselves more then they will be harming him.
Karma could be a possible conclusion to this statement: should they kill him, they will be punished for killing an innocent man by a higher being. However, karma is a false doctrine and cannot be properly used to understand these claims. So we must look elsewhere for the truth behind this utterance. By killing this man, they will loose one of their truest sources for wisdom. By killing him and taking that source away, they will suffer in their lives because they will never gain knowledge and truth. Perhaps this is true, but they should have been able to look within themselves to find the truth, not just to Socrates.
It seems that Socrates was too busy proclaiming himself to be deity like to realize that he too had to look within to find this wisdom. Socrates was in his seventies by the time he faced trial and eventually death. This may have been a driving factor in his acceptance of his impending death, or perhaps the demon senility had begun to creep in. Either way, his final speech was affecting in its power and drive of heart, and should be considered a well worded final speech bordering on art, rather then a doctrine on the way to live a life.