Is Socrates correct in the assertion that Athens will suffer more than he upon his death?
In the Apology, Socrates states that the city of Athens will suffer far more than he, if he is put to death. He is able to say this because he does not have a fear of death, as he feels it is foolish to fear the unknown. Also, he knew that he had lived the good life, the examined life, having the nerve to analyze and ponder the unheard of, taboo questions. Never had he put the material world of wealth, power, and passion before his soul, the most important thing, for all the luxuries of the flesh are temporary, but the soul is eternally present. Socrates realizes that his beliefs were never compromised, even in the face of imminent danger, which makes him a good and virtuous man, leaving him nothing to fear in the afterlife, whatever that may be. He enlightens everyone to the fact that in any case, he will not suffer in death, and goes on to explain the many possibilities, such as eternal sleep, which he has no gripe with, and then a paradise, which he feels he will surely go to, as he has lived as he knew he should, with great bravery. Socrates was able to die knowing that not one portion of his life is in question of regret, as he never allowed it.
Socrates knows that Athens will suffer more than he because of what the oracle at Delphi had told him, as well. The oracle revealed “No man is wiser than Socrates,” a riddle Socrates admits he doubted at first. Yet slowly, he came to see that many who thought they knew, were in reality, quite blind to the truth. This is the purest form of ignorance, the ignorance that Socrates had the ability to decipher, which is the reason he was such a hated man. He compares Athens to a sleeping person, who, once being aroused, is annoyed with its disturber and will strike out. If he is put to death there will be no other soul that isn’t “awake” amidst the vast populous dozing in the dark abyss of ignorance. Socrates makes the assertion that he was a gift to the people of Athens, bestowed by the gods, and that only Athens will be hurt by his death. His next argument is that there will not be many like him in the future, but that he would rather die a virtuous man than live a long life of impiety and materialism.
Socrates is correct when he makes the postulation of Athens suffering more than he, for no man possessed boldness like him. He was courageous enough to point out to the most powerful men their many shortfalls, despite the anger and resentment he was drawing. He didn’t simply lead his life as a sheep, pursuing what most people do: “wealth, household affairs, the position of general or public orator or the other offices, the political clubs and factions that exist in the city.” On the contrary, he lived his life, by retaining his innocent state of ignorance, and realizing that he was ignorant, and never ceasing his attempt to tell everyone who was in the dark, about the grandure of the light, which he alone could see. Athens, upon putting Socrates to death, spilled the blood of the innocent, much like the trial of the ten judges aforementioned by Socrates (Pg. 36). He knew the people would only realize this, or at least admit it, when it was too late, an unfortunate state of affairs. By being put to death, Socrates was also given immortality in the sense that he was martyred for his cause, serving only to sustain the ideas of the brilliant, which Socrates would have appreciated the most.